Friday, August 08, 2008

Main Man Mania

That last post brought back memories of a busy time at Warner Brothers. I think I'd written the Lobo pilot months earlier and forgotten about it. But suddenly the Main Man had heat. Along with Boyd Kirkland, then Scotty Jeralds, we got the show rolling.

In the fall of 1998:

Lobo was test-marketed. Boys loved it. (Lobo broke things and didn't take any lip. What's not to love?)

We pitched the show to marketing. They went wild. ("We can sell toys based on this. We really can!")




We pitched the show to Jamie Kellner and our new bosses at Kids' WB. Nothing. A sea of Toltec masks.



We pitched the show to Warner Studios head, Bob Daley. While not a demonstrative man, he thought it just fine.

Models changed, props were drawn, Scotty's crew got the board started. Composer Richard Stone was fired up to do music, while Brad Garrett would voice Lobo. In addition, voice director Andrea Romano had cast William H. Macy and Linda Hamilton in supporting roles.

I had ideas for twelve half-hour episodes. Two writers (Ken Segall and Mitch Watson) were working on outlines.

This was shaping up to be fun.

On a Friday in late January 1999, boss Jean MacCurdy called me into her office. Monday was the production start date. Artists were already reporting to work. Scotty's crew had the first act boarded.

We were cancelled.

Jamie Kellner just didn't like the show.

Jean spent the day on the phone, calling different people, angling for ways we might proceed. But no go.

Scotty and the production manager (Haven Alexander?) let the artists know we'd been sunk. I told Stonini, Andrea, and the writers. It was a depressing day.

In 2000, Fox expressed interest in the project. We had a few meetings but never agreed on numbers. Also that year, Lobo webisodes appeared on the Warner Brothers' site.

Meanwhile, the show hurriedly purchased to replace Lobo on the schedule was having phenomenal success.

It was called Pokemon.

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

Kellner netted an eventual windfall from his Acme broadcasting station group Warners let him set up on the side while running their network. Villains seem to demand a well-appointed retirement, but Kellner's cash cow ended up rivalling his swollen prostate and made even the late Robert Vesco envious.

John P. McCann said...

I don't think he really liked Warner animation that much.

William said...

Kind of unrelated but i really wish they would bring Animaniacs and Tiny Toons back. And Loony Toons for that matter. TV over the past 13 years has declined into a sea of stupid fart jokes and 3rd rate animation. I weep bitter tears for the death of american animation.

John P. McCann said...

William,

Too many cooks these days between the creating and the final product you see.

But eventually someone will make something good and funny and the rush will be on to emulate that.

Armando said...

I'm gonna sound like the Fan Boy character but... I can't believe I'm posting on the Blogger page of *THE* John P. McCann. What an honor, sir!

I watched your show many times back when I was in high school. I hated that Kid Carrion, Candle Jack, Eye-of-Newt and the Lawn Gnomes didn't get enough or any development at all. (I know the rare characters because I did an article on Freakazoid for my site: http://www.pop-cult.net/Wikitainment/index.php/Steven_Spielberg_Presents_Freakazoid!/Villains check it out, you'll like it)

You should totally pitch DC a Freakazoid! miniseries. Either as a less wacky version within the DCU or for Johny DC.

Is there possibility for you to somehow release the unused scrips?? I'm sure there is to be a market for that. As well as the design sheets of Bruce Timm and the rest of the art team. If they ever decide to release season 2, all that could be killer bonus features!!

I salute your creativity!

John P. McCann said...

Hi Armando,

Glad you enjoyed the show.

Season 2 is out with a few extra items.

All scripts and artwork are the property of Warner Bros., since we were workers for-hire.

Alas, no one wants to make any more shows starring the Guy with Lightening in his Hair.

But he'll always have the Internet.

Stop by again.

Armando said...

Hey, Mr McCann,
I'm wondering, have you ever thought about writing for comics? I love McDuffie's Damage Control concept of a "sitcom within the Marvel Universe". I'd love to see something like that for DC (I'm already running out of Giffen/De Matteis stuff left to buy), specially with your style.

I also have another question for you (this one is less nosy), I realize you can't ask Pavarotti "how do I get to sing like you" just as you can't go to George Costanza and ask him to teach you to lie like him, but... How can I learn to write funny stories?

I have no problem imagining funny characters in detail, complete with their psychological profile if necessary, and I even design them to look great, but when I get them together and go "do something" in my mind, they just kinda just stay there looking at the wall.

Best regards, sir.

John P. McCann said...

Armando,

Actually, I have an outline for a graphic novel. I'm waiting on some roughs from an artist. There does seem to be a lot of freedom in the medium to have fun and develop characters.

As for your projects, you can wait for inspiration or push through to an end, then go back and rework it, then rework it again.

You might also do a small fragment that you think is funny and send it out to friends for comment.

Keep plugging away!