Once again we are left with only a featureless moving blur that could be an animal. Possibly a seal, a school of fish, a giant eel or maybe something else. What's your guess?
Onto Hollywood, and the demise of Warner Bros. Animation studio. Well, technically the animation division will continue on in a reduced capacity at another location, but this week WB Corporate shuttered its large building in Sherman Oaks. The studio was started in 1989 at the Sherman Oaks Galleria, where it produced such hits as ANIMANIACS, TINY TOON ADVENTURES, PINKY & THE BRAIN, BATMAN, JUSTICE LEAGUE and many others. In 2000 WB Animation moved to a bigger facility across the Galleria Courtyard, and while the studio briefly flourished in its new home, a creeping six year malaise set in that gradually withered the place like a dying vineyard. The reasons for the studio's demise were many. The most crucial, from a simple economic reason, the money to produce such series as TTA and ANIMANIACS simply no longer exists. In the early 90's, licensing fees were high for syndicated cartoons. Today they are next to nothing. There are too many channels showing cartoons. It doesn't matter if they are new series, or reruns or crudely-dubbed Asian imports. If you're only receiving X amount of dollars for commercial time on your program, then your program had better be cheap. Who cares if "Yakko's World" was nicely animated, if more kids are watching POKEMON, then the business edict is clear -- buy more POKEMON. I left Warners in early 2004, but would occassionally do some freelance series development or write episodes of JLU or THE BATMAN for my old pals Bruce Timm and Alan Burnett. As most of the building was empty, last fall I asked for and received permission to use one of the empty offices (at that time there were dozens) as a writer's office for COUNTDOWN, a godsend when I needed a place to store research materials or have a writer's meeting with Adam Beechen. As Bruce and I walked through the halls on Thursday, we watched in astonishment as workers hastily tossed stacks of artwork and personal possessions on trolleys or overloaded the elevators with boxes of office supplies. It felt like the evacuation of Bespin. As opposed to my stint from '89 to '04, (Jeezus, that long?!?) I had no toys to box up, no art to take off the wall, and no cels to send into storage. I simply pulled out all 51 COUNTDOWN story files, tossed them in a small Bekins box and that was it. Encountering Andrea Romano in the elevator, I suggested that the few of us left in the building should gather in the building foyer and sing "Anatevka" from FIDDLER ON THE ROOF before going our separate ways. Instead of the Jewish Fiddler being the last to depart, I could easily imagine the square dance-calling, fiddle-playing Bugs Bunny from "Hillbilly Hare" being the last one to exit the place, a wink to the camera before the final "That's All Folks."