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A lot of people (okay, maybe two) have asked where we got the idea to use a parody version of Paul Harvey on Freakazoid.
To commemorate Mr. Harvey's passing yesterday, I've decided that today is as good a time as any to spill the beans.
First we must journey to those money-soaked days of Warner Brothers Animation in the Spring of 1994.
Tom Ruegger had called me at home one night to tell me that we had won a Peabody for Animaniacs. I remember saying, "A Peabody? Are you sure? Do they give those to cartoons?"
60 Minutes had gobs of Peabodys so you can understand my confusion. They did stuff. We didn't. (Well, we did stuff, we just didn't do THAT sort of stuff.)
Happily, Tom was correct. We had won a Peabody. And within a month, many of us would be flying to New York to accept this prestigious diddy of all diddies.
We would all go to New York because Jean MacCurdy (president of Warner Brothers Animation) convinced the big boys at Warners that we all had to go. It was a group award, she argued. And, God Bless that woman, she won.
I might be leaving some folks out, but as I recall the attendees were as follows: Randy Rogel, Tom Minton, Peter Hastings, Tom Ruegger, John McCann, myself and...perhaps someone else that I'll kick myself for not remembering.
Here's a tip: If you ever go to New York to win an award, go with Jean MacCurdy. She planned two days filled with yumminess.
Having been to the Emmys on a number of occasions, let me just say that winning a Peabody is the best. Why? Because you already know you've won before you show up. There's no nervous tension, just happy little thoughts and limo rides and wine.
As we flew to New York we looked at who else would be at the Peabody Awards and who else was getting an award. The other winners were impressive. Christiane Anampour. 60 Minutes. (I told you.) The Larry Sanders Show. And lots of other smart people.
My eyes widened when I saw that Paul Harvey would win a special life-time achievement award. Paul Harvey. I had been doing an impression of him since I was a teenager. I started doing my (lame) impression and annoying everyone in my group. "Paul Harvey..........Good Day." I also started doing Paul Harvey saying the word, "Peabody." Over and over. Long drawn out, Paul Harvey...."PEA...BODY."
Anyway, we landed and Jean showed us the town. The morning of the award, Jean set up a special breakfast for us at the Regency Hotel...home of the original 'Power Breakfast.' As we ate, Randy Rogel pulled out his small date book in which he had entered that on that day he was going to win a Peabody award....just another chore in a long list of chores. It made us all laugh.
After breakfast we followed mother MacCurdy like little ducklings until we arrived at the Time Warner Building. She was taking us to meet Gerald Levin, the CEO of the company and VERY IMPORTANT MAN. We we got off the private elevator to his offices and blast of heat hit us. I'm telling you, it must have been 100 degrees. From that day on, we all agreed that Mr. Levin was an alien and could only survive in a climate much like his home planet. (It was also around this time that he was planning his merger with AOL. Too bad he didn't ask us, we'd have told him to forget about it.)
And then, the ducklings followed mom to the Waldorf Astoria for the awards. There was a reception before the actual event. We all had champagne. Then more. Then wine. By the time we were all in the ballroom for the awards, we were all very...happy. This is fun!
The actual awards were very respectable. Christiana Anampour talked about her efforts in the Middle East. I remember us all looking at each other. "What the hell are WE doing here?"
Then we won and Jean went up and said smart things. We had more wine. Happy. Happy.
Then, Paul Harvey was presented with his award. He came to the mic...and I swear this is true...took a long pause and then said...."PEA...BODY. THE PEA....BODY." It sounded like me doing an impression of him. John McCann and I started giggling. Then Ruegger. Then Peter Hastings. It was a church laugh. The laugh that you want to stop but can't. I had to duck my head under the table. Mama MacCurdy was not pleased with her young wards. We all tried our best. We got it under control. And then, Mr. Harvey once again said....'PEA...BODY." We lost it. Every time we got ourselves quiet he would say, "PEA....BODY" again.
I remember thinking, "Oh please. Please. Please, Lord. Make him finish."
He gave a great speech. I wish I would have heard it.
Anyway, when we all got back to LA, John and I would always say, "PEA...BODY." We'd go for walks during lunch and do Paul Harvey impressions.
When we came on board for Freakazoid, John and I were walking one day and started doing impressions of Paul Harvey telling Freakazoid stories. It made us laugh. A lot. We pitched it to Tom Ruegger and he agreed.
And now you know...THE REST OF THE STORY.