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Fred Seibert's Blog

The Fairly Oddparents in “NJC:N!”

December 2nd, 2007

Continuing with our dance through the Frederator productions featured in the new Not Just Cartoons: Nicktoons! here’s an interview included in the book and some scans of the pages.
Butch Hartman, Creator: In 1996 I was working on Johnny Bravo over at Cartoon Network, having the time of my life. Then the first season came out, and they didn’t like it. Fred Seibert, whom I knew from Cartoon Network, had moved over to Nickelodeon to develop a series that featured original animated shorts called Oh Yeah! Cartoons. I decided that I would make up a cartoon for Fred.

Fred Seibert, Creator, Oh Yeah! Cartoons and Random Cartoons: I used to call Butch’s agents once a month and ask if he was free yet, and they would tell me he wasn’t. By the end of the year I stopped calling, because I was tired of being rejected. When his agents finally called me at the end of the year, I signed him, characters unseen. The first thing he brought in was The Fairly OddParents.

Butch Hartman: I wrote the pitch in fifteen minutes. I wanted to make a show about a boy who could go anywhere, because I never wanted to be stuck for a story transition. I wanted to be able to just pop him from place to place. Magic seemed to be the best way to handle that. I drew the boy, and I named him after my youngest brother, Timmy. Then I thought, Okay, how do I do the magic thing? I decided to give him a fairy godmother. So I drew Wanda. I thought that it would be even better if she had a husband. I’d never seen a fairy godfather before, but I drew Cosmo. Timmy is an only child–he’s lonely–which is why his godparents show up to help him in the first place. His enemy is his babysitter, Vicky. Once I mapped out the characters, the show developed from there, with one thing leading to another. I did ten Fairly OddParents shorts for Oh Yeah! Cartoons. Kevin Kay really liked them, so Nickelodeon tested three of them on a focus group. Lo and behold, they gave me six half-hours of an actual series to create.

Kevin Kay, Former EVP, Programming and Production, Nickelodeon: When we looked at The Fairly OddParents, we immediately said, “Well, there they are. Great characters, great frenetic energy.” And nobody has more frenetic energy than Butch Hartman.

Margie Cohn, EVP, Development and Original Programming, Nickelodeon: I went to Burbank for the first board pitch and literally almost jumped out of my skin. It was so funny and felt like it was going to be a monster hit.

Fred Seibert: The series was hugely successful. It is the second most popular show currently on Nickelodeon, and one of our three or four most popular shows since the network began.

Butch Hartman: The cool thing about The Fairly OddParents was that the ratings kept going up every time they’d run a new episode. Nick ordered more shows, and the original six episodes had to run by themselves for about a year. In that time, I took the original Oh Yeah! shorts that I did and reformatted them. By the time the new ones came out, The Fairly OddParents really started doing great. The show was just pure fun to work on. It was everything I had wanted to do as a kid. I got my wish.

Youngest? John Reynolds.

December 6th, 2005

Regarding our post on Alex Kirwan our loyal fan Stephen Levinson comments: “Is 16 the youngest age someone has been in the animation business?”

I can’t answer for the history of the animation business Stephen, but as for Frederator and Oh Yeah! Cartoons, believe it or not, the answer is an unequivocal “No!”

In 1998 Butch Hartman came into the office and introduced Larry Huber and me to 11 year old John Reynolds, a friend of a friend of the family, who had written his own cartoons. In and of itself that wasn’t too unusual, but the interesting part was that he also had worked out a complete storyboard and character designs. We were very impressed with Johnny’s initiative.

We liked his Terry & Chris best, and Butch agreed to supervise and direct the short. Johnny would become our creative consultant and come in Fridays after junior high in Simi Valley (and any other day he could squeeze it in). We finished John’s (and Butch’s) short in 1999, and it debuted in the second season of

So Stephen, there you you have it. John Reynolds, the youngest Frederator Studios creator.