What's Up, Doc? It's Wabbit Season at Warner Bros.
More kids these days recognize Mickey Mouse than Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Porky Pig and Wile E. Coyote?! That's ... that's ... deshpicable!
Of course, you know, this means war!
If none of these catch phrases are familiar to you, the folks at Warner Bros. want to take you to school. The New York Times reports market researchers discovered America's children are dangerously close to losing touch with the company's classic cartoon characters.
So studio execs decided it was, in the words of Bugs Bunny, "time to employ a litte stragedy." The Times reports they've ordered 26 episodes of a half-hour series titled "The Looney Tunes Show."
Don't expect the classic (not to mention slightly subversive and politically incorrect) cartoons directed by Fritz Freleng and Chuck Jones in the '40s and '50s. This new series will feature Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck as odd-couple roommates living on a modern cul-de-sac.
Other characters -- such as Yosemite Sam, Tweety Bird, Sylvester the Cat and Marvin the Martian -- will be featured as their neighbors.
Meanwhile, if you're on the road and the Road Runner goes "beep beep," you best step aside or you might end up in a heap. That's right: The Road Runner is back, too (although if you're younger than 40, you probably didn't get that song reference, either).
The Times reports Wile E. Coyote (with the help of his Acme mail-order catalog) will be chasing the Road Runner in movie theaters through a series of 3-D short films. The first one is scheduled to play before the movie "Cats & Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore," which premieres June 30.
There was a time when cartoons were shown before all movies -- even ones without talking animals. Thus, Bugs and company were never intended just for children. Their snarky brand of comedy was meant for everyone.
The cartoons were eventually repackaged for children as Saturday morning TV shows. So, while kids may not be familiar with Bugs Bunny, many adults have very warm memories (and firm ideas) about the long-eared varmint and his cohorts.
"We talked at great length about whether we were audacious enough to take on such iconic treasures," Peter Roth, the president of Warner Bros. Television, tells The New York Times. "It's both costly and risky, but I think an extraordinary opportunity."
In addition to the new Bugs Bunny TV show and Road Runner theatrical cartoons, The Times reports studio execs are also releasing a new Nintendo game featuring the Tasmanian Devil and several DVD cartoon collections. The website LooneyTunes.com is also expanding.
Sam Register, executive vice president of creative affairs at Warner Bros. Animation, tells The Times these new efforts will be an attempt to return to the feel of the classic 1940s cartoons -- albeit with computer animation.
Jerry Beck, an animation historian and author of the upcoming "100 Greatest Looney Tunes Cartoons," tells The Times he's optimistic about the studio's efforts. Warner's has hired some of the best animators around for the project, he says.
"Bugs is down but not out," Beck tells the newspaper. "It's very, very difficult to reweave older characters back into the culture, but I'm glad that Warner is at least not giving up on these guys."
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