Randy Rogel – Writer of Batman: TAS! Animaniacs!
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Interview scheduled by Jeffery Haas
Theme music by Good Co Music:
Randy Rogel Interview
[00:00:00] Jeff: Hello listeners a split our country today on this very special show. We had the fantastic Randy Rogel how’s it going? Mr. Rodale?
Randy Rogel: Well, we have a global pandemic. I’m sorry to say. I live in California where we have fires ripping through everywhere. people having tough time to breathe. So it’s all challenging, but, you know, I, it’s still, I think we, you know, we live in a big, beautiful, wonderful world and, I’m busy with my normal writing and my composing, what I do is in television.
I also do. some theater because Warner brothers is licensed a show of the songs I wrote that I do with Rob Paulson and oftentimes with, you know, the other cast members of Animaniacs, which include Maurice. So Marsh, trust McNeil, [00:01:00] Jess RNL, and because of the pandemic, those were, were canceled for this summer.
And, and now we’re getting into fall. We’ve been booked again, our next, Our next performance is supposed to be in Phoenix in February. That’s been booked. So hopefully that means people are having confidence that this pandemic will be slowing down and things can return to normal. But in the meantime, I’ve been doing most of my writing and compose.
I am composing for the new Animaniacs show and, and for several other projects, mostly in television. So that’s, that’s what I’m up to Jeff. Thank you for asking.
Jeff: So. What’s your what’s the show coming back on during, obviously the pandemic. How is the pandemic affecting the dynamics of the concert?
Randy Rogel: Well, it’s not art. It’s not affecting our concert. Cause the concerts great. What it affects is people’s ability to go into a theater, same thing [00:02:00] with sporting events and restaurants and things, because, you know, people just can’t gather in close knit, you know, get together and close knit gatherings. So, you know, the, the theater is doing the right thing, had to stop all performances until we can get through the pandemic, come up with a vaccine or a cure of some sort.
So. It just put everything on hold. Basically. It’s the same thing. on Broadway, I was talking to a very close friend, today and she’s, you know, a big Broadway star and, it, everything has come to a stop, you know, for them that nobody’s, nobody’s able to, you know, to do their jobs also in theaters around the country.
So it’s, it’s hit them pretty hard. So that that’s really, you know, we, we actually did do a concert. Our, we’re represented by ICM. And they had suggested doing a concert on a venue called looped live. And we did it about two or three weeks ago and it went very, very well. Couple of basically you, you do the [00:03:00] concert from, you know, Robin, I did the concert and then it was, it was, You know, sent out through loop dot coms platform, all over the country, all over the world.
We had people in Saudi Arabia watching. We had people in London, we did a meet and greet after with several, as many as we were able to do. And that went very well. But, and so I was actually pleased. I thought, well, this is actually a pretty cool little venue, but there’s nothing like doing it live in theater where people get to come and actually meet you in person.
And we get to meet them in person. So hopefully that’ll be happening against it. But the show is ready to go. And it’s really a wonderful show. If you haven’t had a chance to see it yet, it’s called, it’s called Animaniacs in concert.
Jeff: I have, I have heard of it. I’m actually from Rhode Island. So unfortunately I don’t think you guys made it to my area yet.
I don’t think
Randy Rogel: we have, we’ve been to Boston and New York, that area we’ve been, we did, let’s see, did we go? We went up to Vermont, I think once when it was just North, North of New York, but, we definitely need to make it to your state, Jeff.
Jeff: Yes, you definitely do see the thing about Ronell [00:04:00] and you have to understand, is that anything beyond 15 minutes is basically an all day journey from our perspective.
So Boston might as well be in like Florida.
Randy Rogel: Yeah, exactly. No, no. We’ll come right into it. Where are you? Where are you in a, in Rhoda, on you and Providence?
Jeff: I’m actually I’m in work, which is two cities over from Providence.
Randy Rogel: Sure. Well, I’m sure they’re going to be booking us on tours up there and it will be great to meet you and, and, and the fans will love the show.
It’s really true. I mean, we’ve been doing it all over the country now. I mean, we even just moving to Hawaii too. I think I had it booked up in Mexico too, but mostly it’s in the continental United States and we’ve been Atlanta, Denver, Chicago, New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, I mean all over the country in Oklahoma, Florida.
So, the shows really picked up a lot of steam and, and, and people will, will enjoy it. What’s nice about it too, is you don’t really have to know Animaniacs in order to enjoy the show. Because it’s just a lot of the funny songs and the stories behind them. And then of course, these unbelievably talented voiceover, you know, when I have Rob that, you know, all the voices they can do.
[00:05:00] Marie, when I have Maurice, we have pinky and the brain now in the house at living with like tress MacNeille, who’s done what five episodes, a hundred episodes of the Simpsons. And she’s a regular in future. They break it, all those different favorite voices, you know, from all animation. So it’s, it’s really quite a fun show.
Jeff: It sounds like when I was, when we do interviews or prior to our interviews, we always do research on our guests and I was going through the information on Animaniacs, in concert and it just looks hilarious. And I, and I wanted, you know, when you watch the clip, you want to be there and listen to the stories and you want to see the.
Listen to the music that you guys have because Animaniacs has some plastic classic pieces of music. And often those pieces are yours
Randy Rogel: and, and it does turn into a musical concert, but, but between them all their story, and then we do things like we say, you want to hear a song. That they wouldn’t let us do, you know, a song that got cut or song that Stevens buildings, or we’re not doing that song.
You know, we could actually, because it’s a, [00:06:00] it’s a concert venue. We can say here, you want to hear the original lyrics to the song before they made me change them. And, you know, it’s sort of the story behind how things get made. And, and for that reason, it’s really a fun, you know, a fun experience for the, for the audience
Jeff: is, is there a favorite song that did get caught that you’re, that.
You’re basically you’re dying to now perform in these concerts.
Randy Rogel: Well, actually there is. And you’ll when you come to see the concert, you’ll hear it. I say, here’s the original song. And then here’s the song we ended up doing. Oh yeah. The audience is really, you know, they really respond to that.
Jeff: That, that, that is so awesome.
Can I say enemy next was one of those shows that was so important to, but my growth growing up, it was basically was one of the much watch program for me, in, in my early teen years.
Randy Rogel: Well, that makes me feel very good. We were trying to entertain you.
Jeff: You definitely did. And I think when the interesting things about you and, looking at your background is that you’re both a writer and you’ve written some of my favorite shows on TV, [00:07:00] including BEM in the animated series.
And also just briefly. yes, I wrote my favorite episode of, of money max was, which was big for me when I was little as well. and you also obviously are a composer and a lyricist. So at what, which part of you came first, the lyricist or the writer?
Randy Rogel: Well, that’s an interesting question, chef, because as she, I grew up as a little kid, I broke into theater at an early age and I just got exposed and it was professional theater.
So I got exposed to a lot of really great performers and, you know, real pros. And then also I got exposed to really good material, you know, just great writing and great composing. So I think I just. Just exposed to some of the gray posers. Cause if you listen to my songs, you know, they kind of come from that, that, that classic style of those standards of styles or Broadway.
And then when I got out of high school, I, you know, for some expo clickable reason, I wanted to go to West point, you know, someone had talked to me about the academies. And so I [00:08:00] didn’t quite understand the military side of it, but you know, you. You have to compete to get in there. You know, you have to get a Senator or Congressman to send you.
So when I went to one, I ended up going to West point. Yeah. That was completely divorced from anything to do with theater or entertainment. It, it was, you know, you’re studying to be a military officer and everything is physics and chemistry. mathematics, engineering, every, everybody graduated. At least when I.
And went, with an engineering degree that, that was when I went to a woman yeah. Permitted to go into the Academy. And so it was just really hardcore, you know, the sciences, I think they’ve gotten much better than that now, but I didn’t intend to make the military career. And so when I got out, I just needed.
The job. And I got picked up by, one of those fortune 500 corporations and it was Procter and gamble. Then they recruited me over to a company called digital. And so I was working, serving corporate life, but I always had wanted to be [00:09:00] working in film and television, but wherever I went, Jeff, I always had, you know, rented a piano.
And I, you know, I would always love playing music and songs. And I think that’s what affected me. So when I came down to LA, you know, I wanted to work in as an actor. And so maybe as a writer, I mean, I was no more as an actor, but I always thought I was pretty good writer and I started writing scripts and that’s what broken, you know, that’s what kinda hit.
And then I ended up being brought in by Warner brothers onto the Batman series, that animated series. At that time, I didn’t know anything about animation. So I had to quickly learn how that works and veteran. It was just a breakout show. It was great writing for it. some of the talent on it. But, I was working for Alan Burnett, Bruce, Tim was running, you know, all the visual side of it and production.
and, and Eric would, obviously, they did all the original character design. So I was working with some really terrific people and great writers too. And, no, go ahead.
Jeff: I’m saying [00:10:00] it’s incredible. When you just, you dropped the name of a West point, the, the Academy that has the legacy of having, was it Lucy’s S grant general, Pickett Robert E.
Lee at that school. I mean, that’s a hell of a legacy to be a part of.
Randy Rogel: Well, you’re good. For you for doing that. I mean, you know, Eisenhower graduated from that patent graduate, Omar Bradley, George Marshall. And so it’s really a school for soldiers. And in fact, you know, there’s an interesting, well, anecdotal, outcrop of this is when I went to West, I graduated from West point in 1976 West point was created in 1802 by then.
President Thomas Jefferson. Nice was going on the advice of George watt, former president George Washington, who said, we need a school for soldiers. That’s home. You know, we have to have homegrown American officers because all the officers in the America. Can revolutionary [00:11:00] war where European training, they were on Napoleonic tactics and so wanted to have it.
So, I mean, I know those are some big names to drop aren’t they? But in, in, in West point’s existence, since its creation in 1802, there, there was a class we all studied. We all learned about, it was the, it was called the class that stars fell on because so many of them became generals. And of course it was.
Eisenhower’s class, which I think was like 1915 or so now these are the guys who were generals in world war II, you know, who ran world war two. And so many of them ascended because of the war to become a huge number of them were male officers. So they were called the class that starts go on. Well, now there’s a new class that stars.
Fell on and they have more generals than Eisenhower’s class. And that’s my class, my class, the class was 76. We had Stan McChrystal who ran it. Or in [00:12:00] Afghanistan, we had a railroad Erno who ran the war in, in Iraq we had, I mean, we have so many, so many general officers and then, even, even, David betray us, but he, David, it was two years of David used to haze my class.
He was a class. But, you know, so he went on to grit. So it’s really surprising to me. Like if I go back to reunions, I’m running into classmates who are these big generals running Wars. And I knew them when we were just plebes, running scared and getting yelled at. I mean, when w
Jeff: when you’re hanging around these people and yourself as well, can you sense an individual that is going to go on to greatness?
I mean, for you as well? I mean, is there something about the aura around you guys that is different maybe than some others.
Randy Rogel: You know, Jeff, maybe with something people, but mostly I would say no, cause I’m a little older than you. So I can look back at who was then the big dog around and who became big.
There were a couple of people I really thought [00:13:00] were going to become big generals and they didn’t. And a lot of guys that were kind of the quiet guys are just sort of the average guys ascended to great Heights and not just in the military. Very, but in academia, one of the guys, I know he became ultra multimillionaire and another friend of mine guy named Bob Kolker, who was a, we just one of our classmates, a good guy.
But Bob. I mean, he w he had a career in the military and he did fine. He got out, but he was one of the people who came up first with faith recognition and he owns eight companies now flies his own job. And he, you know, he always told her, so you just never know. I was thinking, Oh God, you know, person landed there.
That person landed there. I always had an interest in theater, but I don’t know if anybody ever thought I would. You know, w it ended up working as, you know, as a professional in Hollywood. I do know I got a letter from West point and they did an article on me and they said, yes, I am. I’m officially, I’m the only West point it was ever won an Emmy.
So I thought, okay, I [00:14:00] have these with them. But, no, I, I, and you’ll find the show. I don’t. How old are you, Jeff? Can I
Jeff: ask, I’m about to turn 41.
Randy Rogel: Oh, okay. Well, you’re, you know, you’re middle-aged but I’m thinking for people out there in the spoiler, KA country, you know, listening to podcasts for those of you who are 17, 18, or in your early twenties or whatever, those you, you know, there’s a lot of people you think aren’t going to go anywhere that will.
And a lot of people you think, wow, that’s a real mover and shaker. That don’t, it’s a little, you know, a little hard to tell where people are going to land. That’s why you should be nice to everyone.
Jeff: And, and it’s also a great lesson for these kids to hear. I mean, my day job as, during the day, anyways, I’m a high school English teacher for a therapeutic high school and, and all my students have, different issues, usually things, it, sometimes it’s autism, other things of that nature.
And a lot of them probably do have the sense that they’re not going to go anywhere because of these struggles that they have now. I think it’s a good. The lesson for them to hear that the are going to have potential later on to become still great, [00:15:00] regardless of where they’re starting
Randy Rogel: now, you know, it really is true because it is important of course, to learn as much as you can to develop your skills, develop your education, all, you know, develop your tools.
But what’s also important is. To apply yourself. And if you persevere, if you throw yourself at something of, you know, you, you get yourself out of bed every day and get up early and start working towards set goals for yourself where you will achieve them. If those are the kinds of people who really get ahead, there’s very few people who just.
Just, you know, lay on the couch and suddenly fortune and fame find them. It’s, it’s hard work, but it’s a fun journey. So I would tell all of them, no matter where you are, no matter where you are in the spectrum, who you are, all of those opportunities are out there, at least in our society. I think that if you want it bad enough, you can go get it.
Jeff: Well, like if you ever have some free time and you want to talk to some. Kids need to hear some good news at a high school, please come talk to my kids. They would love probably to talk to you.
Randy Rogel: I would be very happy to do that. And, I can [00:16:00] certainly tell them from my own experience, you know, I, you know, and when I first got to Hollywood, I like to say I have, I know every door in Hollywood because they were all slammed in my face.
Where’s your directing degree? Where’s your acting writing degree? I go, well, no, I have an engineering degree from West point. It’s like, what the hell? What have you had produced? And nothing, you know, You just have to presume, you know, look at a guy like Rob Paulson, Rob, w you know, it was a big star and one of the premier voice actors, you know, he developed this throat cancer, and he called me to tell me, Hey, you know, I got, that might affect our constitutes.
You know, I got to tell you never once in all the time he went to treatment, did I ever hear Rob complain? Once I never heard him say woe is me. It was always telling me how brilliant the doctors were, but, you know, we had this talk rubs. Rob wasn’t in the military, but he’s a big proponent of, of the, you know, he, he’s developed a whole charity for wounded warriors, you know, directs many of that.
So he’s got a lot of respect for the military. So I’ve put it in those terms. But I said, Rob, this is the Hill you have to take. [00:17:00] He said, I, I captain. And he did it. You know, he just applied himself. He did all the stuff he did and he is completely cancer-free. And he’s now been ch he took over Michael Douglas, his role as the spokesman for.
Or, you know, the American cancer society. I don’t know if that’s the exact name of it, but you know, th that, that group that represents cancer patients and Rob can now go and talk to them and say, I know exactly what you’re going through. Cause I went through it too. You know, it. It’s just how you approach your life.
You can look at it with pessimism or what was made, or you can look at it as a, as an opportunity and a chance to grow and a chance to make life better, not just you for other people. So it’s just a choice.
Jeff: So, so would you say, this might be a tough question. do you think perseverance is more important than talent?
Randy Rogel: Well, that, you know, Jeff, that is the $64,000. Question. I have seen people who have a lot of towns who don’t go anywhere it’s because they just [00:18:00] don’t apply themselves. And then I’ve seen other people who work so hard at it that they really, really do develop those skills. It’s it didn’t come as naturally to them.
They had to work harder to get it, but generally. If you’re going to apply yourself and you, you surround yourself with capable people, you know, you take the lesson, just study what it is and you work at it hard enough. You’re going to get a real working ability. Will you be Mozart? I’m probably, I don’t know.
You know, you probably can’t do that, but you could, you could become a brilliant musician, you know, are you going to become Isaac Newton? Nope. But maybe you’ll become an absolutely brilliant physicist or what, you know, from whatever you do. And. And you will have a good life. You will have a good career.
And sometimes like me, you know, you find a career in another play, you know, here I am going with military I’m corporate life. And I really found my joy and my passion in, in Hollywood. And, and now in writing, you know, it, I mean, I do write lots of scripts, but now I do tons of music working on a Broadway show now.
[00:19:00] And it’s funny to me to look at it and go, how did I end up here? You know, You just follow where life takes you. It’s kinda like Forrest Gump, you know, you’re the feather, wherever you land, just do the best job you can do wherever you land.
Jeff: That’s fantastic. And I think it’s, I always tell my students that everything you do helps you better in the thing that you want to do.
And I, and I, and being from West point, and obviously later being a writer and a composer, are there skills you learned from West point that you’re now utilizing in a way maybe you didn’t even expect in these other areas?
Randy Rogel: You’re asking some really great questions, Jeff. yeah, the answer is absolutely.
Yes. one thing that I. If, if I had to say the one thing that Westpoint Emily, it gives you a solid foundation in the arts and science. So you get a good education, but what they, they teach you maybe sort of this military thing, it’s to be a self-starter it it’s to get off your butt and make it happen.
Take control, take [00:20:00] sees the situation and, and, you know, take control of your life and take control, you know, get your, get yourself up and get going in the morning. You know, you say, ah, God, I don’t want, I don’t want to ride my bike for two hours this morning, but I got to do it. You know, I got already to deal with, I’ve got to go run or exercise or study this thing.
The other thing is. Everything you learn informs you. You know, when, if you’re a high school student out there right now, and you’re saying go, what do I need to take this history class for? Because I am not going to be a history teacher. I don’t have a date, but what you will find to your surprise is somewhere along the path of your life, it will pay off.
That’s the whatever information you got there will inform you. It helps create the person you are and helps guide you down other paths. So don’t poopoo anything you’re learning. It, it, it, it all goes into the mix. And at the end of the day, it makes up who you are and what opportunity, not, not the opportunities you’re going to get, but the opportunities when they present themselves, you get to, you can take [00:21:00] advantage of the opportunity because you’re prepared.
Jeff: See you’re actually a perfect spokesperson for education. We gotta put you on, on, on a loop right in my classroom to say that over and over again.
Randy Rogel: Well, I like to say, you know, it’s funny because. I was writing all these funny songs for Animaniacs, but they were educated, you know, like I would do songs on geography or I would do things on, you know, on history or something like that.
I do remember I got, a nice Pat on the back from Jean McCurdy, who was the president? Of Warner brothers animation. You know, she sat on top of all those shows at Warner brothers back in that golden era. And I read, we were writing Animaniacs and Batman, all that during the 1990s. And there was a Republican revolution that happened and they took.
Control of the Senate was under Newt Gingrich. I remember, I don’t know if you’re old enough to know this may be like, yeah, yeah. Like 94, if you remember that,
Jeff: Bob Dole as well. Yeah.
Randy Rogel: Yeah. Bob Dole. Right. And so they, they [00:22:00] came actually, I kind of agreed with him on this. They came back, they started looking at talent.
I wish I said, Hey, you know what? You guys, we’ve granted you all these licenses to be doing these shows and you know, these networks and these studios, but you’re supposed to be doing educational stuff for the kids too. Not just trying to sell toys, you know? And well, people had gotten away from that. So everybody, you know, you know, people were doing the superhero shows or the little, you know, get on the playground shows and all that, but where’s the education.
And, you know, you guys are on the hook for that. You were supposed to be making some educational content. So Jean went and grabbed the songs from Animaniacs and just look in the countries of the world. We teach the States that we’re talking about now. That’s not why I was doing it. I was just doing it to crack you up,
Jeff: you know?
Randy Rogel: Yeah. But she came back, she just, Oh my God, it’s a good thing. You did those songs because they helped us to show
Jeff: that we’re doing something else.
Randy Rogel: Well good. That, that, wasn’t what I was trying to do, but I’m glad it helped.
Jeff: Well, it like that. I, I got, I have a bunch of questions for [00:23:00] animates, but I did have one question cause it is one of my favorite shows.
is, is your first, what’s your first writing credit? the muddy Mac show on David Cyclops.
Randy Rogel: Yeah, my first I did that one, but I think the first one I did was a Sonic, the hedgehog. Okay. I think I did one of those. I’m not sure what, but very quickly after I did madman, I did a couple of them and then, or mighty max, but then right after that Warner brothers picked me up for bed.
And then I had to sign an exclusive contract, which meant I was not permitted to write for other studios and shows without, without permission. Cause then, you know, you’re writing for their competitors. So right after that, I was strictly at Warner brothers. Others on, you know, Batman pinky in the brain Animaniacs hysteria.
Those shows, well, you’re, you’re
Jeff: running for animated series were definitely erode some of my favorite episodes of all time, even as, and I think maybe it’s definitely to your credit as an adult, I’m flexible about almost 41 years old. I can watch the Batman animated series episodes and they still. [00:24:00] Can reach me at this age.
I could still feel that it’s not being talked down to there’s no, it’s not a feeling I’m watching a kid show. It really does feel like a show that even adult can truly appreciate. And your episodes where some of the best for that.
Randy Rogel: Well, thank you. I really credit, Alan Berg knit with that, Allen was the sh you know, if you don’t know Allen, you definitely shouldn’t have him.
Jeff: he wait. He was on the show about four months ago.
Randy Rogel: Okay, great. Then show your coach. So, you know, Alan’s the godfather Allen created a lot of, you know, Alan taught Nita, right. He taught Bob Goodman was, was that. Allen’s was Alan secretary there, he came in. He wanted to be right. You know, I’m Bob God, Bob went on to create his own.
As he created Zeta, you would have a Superman, Denny left, and then he was on warehouse 13. Then he did elementary. Now he’s, you know, he’s running big television shows and he was one, one of Alan’s proteges too. And Alan brought a sensibility. This is a very important for a showrunner because the show on a runs.
the writer’s [00:25:00] room, sort of the vision of the show, but in the case of animation too, he works very closely with people like Bruce, some of what the look and the feel of the show is going to be too well in live action. They do that as well. So I remember when we came on board, Alan wanted to do real slow, like little mini movies that were real stories that just like you say, Jeff, they didn’t talk down to kids and we didn’t have to deal with a little bit of that with that, because it was.
Kids show at first and they’d say, Hey, can you work this, this new batch cycle into your episode? you know, for, cause we want us to an Al would say, no, it doesn’t fit in this, but we’ll do another episode later that maybe you can use it. So he, he really kept the quality of the show and he got all the writers writing in the same direction.
So I was surprised to say the future when the show came out was such a big hit that the, the audience skewed. Much higher as well. It wasn’t just kids your age. Right. But we were getting people. I remember Howard stern. [00:26:00] But that time he used to watch the Batman and he’d be talking about the episode. He, I thought, God Howard, Stern’s a grown man.
You know, we, we actually, we appeal to people in ill, certainly late teens, early twenties, but all the way up into full adults. And I considered that a real compliment that, that a show could do that. And you’re right. It, it, it still holds up because of that vision and it wasn’t, you know, some silly, you know, childishly written mood.
Cartoon. It, it, it had a lot of, had a lot, you know, a lot of meat to it and a lot of really deep stories and underlining thematic messages that worked very well too. I thought,
Jeff: yeah. We’ll say one of your episodes, the double face episode, where you went over, the, the origin of two phase that tells some really adult themes.
I mean, It, it was very layered. And like I said, the issues with Harvey dent and his wife, the issue with the mob issue with his schizophrenia, those are really adult. I mean, even having discussing and talking to a therapist as a writer, [00:27:00] is there was ever a concern when you’re writing it that your you’re, that there’s a line you’re getting adults for, for the kids.
Randy Rogel: Yeah. You’re, you’re hitting actually on a, on a pretty cool point for, for me and my Genesis as a, as a animation writer, because. When I was in, you know, starting out in Hollywood, I was dreading shows for live action. I remember I was writing spec scripts for coach and Roseanne and at the time fresh pants, a leather.
So when I got into animation to understand how you write for that was different. And, and I had written some spec scripts, and I remember I wrote a couple of really great scripts that, you know, to, to sort of show how I could do it. And God, those, those scripts should be done now, but Alan had read them.
And so he liked them. He brought me, he said, look, I’ll tell you what. I ha he says, I don’t have room on my staff. I run full up, but I like your scripts. I’ll tell you what. I have a, an outline I’ve written. So I’m going to take the story credit, but you, you, well, why don’t you write the script and then you’ll take the screenplay [00:28:00] credit?
And I said, well, yeah, hell yes. And that was, two face, the first episodes. That was my first script for Batman. And so he gave me a pretty cool outline. And from that I, you know, I’ve forged ahead and crafted the, the script from that. And you’re right. He had some pretty cool ideas in that. And, and the therapist, I believe was his idea.
I, I remember as I was writing, it was such a good online that’s, you know, all these wonderful ideas were coming to me. And I wasn’t limited, I think, by writing for animation show. So I just wrote it like real live action. Like I would have written a quitting Tara. Latino script and he had to calm it down.
He had to come. He says, no, no, no, no, you can. I remember I had one time where I had Batman, like up on a building on a guard glow. Right. And had I did what you call a helicopter shot, you know, where the helicopter goes around Batman and you’re getting all the city right now and looked at, he said, You can’t do that.
I said, why not? He said those are animating backgrounds. I said, what’s a, cause that shot would [00:29:00] cost us a million dollars. They’d have to draw every one of those. See now in CGI, whereas you can do that. I went,
Randy Rogel: I didn’t know that. So he’s educating on animation, but I went back to him after the first one went into production.
And it was doing very well and people liked it. And I said, Hey it, because it was too face, he said he made it a two-parter, you know? And so we had a cliffhanger at the end of the first one, so I said, Hey, do you have an idea for the second, you know, the second episode? And he goes, no, I don’t actually. I said, well, I do.
He said, what is it? So I told him, he said, Yeah, I really hate that. I said, I said, what about this? I had another idea. He goes one out that I like. And then, you know, that’s when he said, I tell you what I’m going to put you on my staff. And even though he brought me in, on staff after that, but I remember there was this really cool moment that at first they weren’t gonna let us do it.
But. Harvey flips that coin to figure out what to do, you know, excuse me [00:30:00] to face. He flips this coin. So his life’s on this sort of arbitrary edge at this point because of the girl, all of the, you know, all the angst that he’s. Going through when he flips that coin for Batman, you know, the next one is the chest of all the gold, all the coins they’ve stolen.
Batman hits it, knocks over. So when it lands the coin lands and all that, and he can’t figure out which one is his going and he just goes completely berserk and apeshit is screaming and yelling and, and, at first. We’re thinking we can’t do this, but Richard Molly remember did that. He did it so well that they kept it in and I was always, you know, very pleased with how that episode came out.
Jeff: It was such a brilliant episode. Like I said, I had them all on DVD and I do, go, go back every so often and rewatch them. And lastly, two faces one of the ones. I definitely go back to another show of yours. I episode of yours. I go back to know your story credit was tiger. Tiger based on the William, which to me, I thought it was based on the William Blake.
Poem, at least the title was. Yeah. Did you think of the poem first and then [00:31:00] write the story or did you write the story and go, Hey, you won’t be a great poem to line this up with
Randy Rogel: it came, I take credit for that. That was Michael Reeves. My uncle was a story editor and that was one of the initial ideas, you know, BGT he came up with and also kind of the Island of dr.
Moreau idea with it too. And, and, and. He’s Mike was very, very, well-read very literate kind of guy, you know, it’s Sam, I got Parkinson’s and he’s, you know, he’s, he’s not doing well anymore, but, at that time though, that was sort of a very hip reference. And so I was brought on to, you know, write it, you know, with Mike as Mike, Michael is my story editor.
Hey, by the way, you know, one of the things I’m really proud of, if you had a chance to see it, it’s a Batman movie that you did with Boyd Kirkland. Sub-Zero and, that, that I had, you know, much more time to tell the story with that. And I always thought that was a pretty cool little movie, at least that’s my opinion, you know?
Jeff: Oh yeah, let me, let me, Sub-Zero once scan, I watched that movie as well, [00:32:00] growing up, I thought that was a great movie. And especially there was a lot of, expectation on that movie because it followed up. From Baton mascot Phantasm, which also once again was a phenomenal movie. And I think it did a great job of continuing this story of Batman.
And I said, I think it was brilliant. And I do want to point out that a tiger tiger is a story that when I read the poem with my students, I do put on that clip with Batman, reciting the poem at the end, because it really is.
Randy Rogel: Oh, that’s great. Thank you. That makes me feel good.
Jeff: No problem. you also wrote once again, I mean, there’s so much to talk about.
I know you said you said 30 minutes, but if you don’t mind, I got a few more,
Randy Rogel: yeah, let’s go like there five or 10 and then I have to run if that’s okay with you.
Jeff: tell you what let’s just do. I’m going to ask one quick question about, Robin’s reckoning, because let’s say you won an Emmy for that one.
Yeah. And I D I was wondering when you were writing that, did you have in mind the eventual evolution from Robin to Nyman? Get the show kept going?
Randy Rogel: No, not at that point. We were just doing the origin. In story. And I worked with Alan on [00:33:00] that, cause he said, yeah, we have to do this origin story. So, that night we came later, I think did night we already exist in the comic book universe.
I think it may have. Yeah. So, yeah. So, I mean, that was something for later incarnations with, with, with the first, You know, with the first series of, I remember we wanted to have Batman and then some Robin, and so we could do some strictly Batman shows around. So what Alan did with you put Dick off at college and then he would come home.
So that way, if we were doing an episode without Dick there, you know, there was a reason he wasn’t there. He was off at college and then we could bring him back. But then we wanted to do kind of a flashback of what created him. And so that’s where Robin’s reckoning came from. And it had also been dealt with to some extent in the comic book universe, you know, with his parents being carnival performers and all that, we took it from there, but we did, we did, change some of the names.
We added a little bit of it, our own, but, but the basic idea was, was from, you know, who would create a comic book series.
[00:34:00] Jeff: That might’ve been my favorite, episodes of Batman may have been Robin’s wrecking it because it was, again, it was just so brilliant. It, so it delved deeply into Robin as a character who in the comic books for a long time was a bit of a joke.
And you took the character very seriously and kind of evolved into being a more serious adult character you could accept
Randy Rogel: and you’re right. And I, I, Oh, go ahead. I’m sorry. Please continue.
Jeff: No, no, go ahead. Go ahead.
Randy Rogel: Go ahead. I was going to say what I really liked about as a writer. You’re all, you know, you can write a good story, but you always begin to looking for thematic underpinnings to make the story go from good to great.
And I remember at the end, Robin finally catches Tony Zuko and he’s he’s, he’s going to kill him, you know, drop the bill and Batman stops him. You know, when Batman gets her, he goes, don’t, don’t do it. But he goes, and Robin’s basically saying how, how the hell could you possibly understand how I feel? And then he realizes what he just said.
You know, of course, Bruce, I don’t understand how he feels. The same thing happened to him. But the point that Bruce makes [00:35:00] to him, which is a good message to get to the kids is, do you want to become the thing that you hate? You drop him off that building. Then you enter his, what you become him. And that’s what makes us different.
That’s why that, that’s why, you know, cause if you think about Batman, he’s a vigilante, he’s outside the law. He’s a, he’s a law breaker and, and we don’t want people taking the law in their own hands, but what makes it work is. At least when I would, you know, I would never want to have Batman, you know, running up on the steps of city hall in the middle of the day.
He’s, he’s a creature of the night. And the, and the only reason he goes out is he goes out to places that the police can’t go because there w you know, because of rules of evidence, there’s Hershey Caesar, so he can deal with the bad guys on his own terms, but he has this moral code. He superimposes over himself of lines that he won’t cross.
And that message gets put across to Rob. So it took a much deeper meaning there, and a pretty good message to, to our audience.
Jeff: Lisa, I think it was brilliant. It was a [00:36:00] brilliant episode. And I also, when you mentioned this, when Robin says, how can you know, to me, it was such a perfect teenager, comic teenagers always seem to have that idea that you can’t pop those camp hops.
He know what I’m feeling right now. And that mean totally did. And it was just brilliant of your, to put that in, because. Because we’re low on time. Do you wanna move on to Animaniacs? real quick. So I would like to talk about Batman forever, but we’ll, we’ll move on. once again, as you mentioned earlier, when the best, most famous segments from Animaniacs is Yaquis world, which is taught in geography classes all the time and shown and is brilliant.
I heard a rumor that it came to you while I’m writing well, teaching your son geography. Is that true?
Randy Rogel: That’s absolutely true. My, my mom, my, his grandmother, my mother, had bought him one of those gloves. You know, all of us, his kids, or you see them in your school rooms, you know, that little globe that’s on the stand that you know, that every kid has gets her in every school room.
So she bought him one of us and I was sitting on the couch with him and I was showing, okay, well, here’s United States, Canada, Mexico pan. You know, as I was doing it at [00:37:00] that. I
Jeff: want to take it be a song
Randy Rogel: or gave me the impetus of trying to do it. And then when I was working on, when I was, on Batman, trying to break into Animaniacs, I thought, you know, I wonder if this song would be a fun, little cartoon, you know, like an animated cartoon kind of.
And so that’s when I. You know, really refined it and wrote it out and all that. And, and then of course, Tom Ruger liked it and he showed it to Steven Spielberg and he liked it. So then they came back and said, well, do another one. I do the state to the capitalist. So that’s how it started happening.
And then, then finally I got a piano rolled into my office with a little note from Steven Spielberg saying, okay, I didn’t know what I wanted to do with the show, but now I do, you know, you’re going to be. My little garage run, it’ll be a tin pan alley up here. And I thought, okay, great. And so that’s what it turned into.
Jeff: That is awesome. And did you know at the time it would be proved so popular that I think you guys even did an updated version of, the countries of the world? I think, I don’t know. Was it five, 10 years ago with Rob Paulson?
Randy Rogel: Well, what happens is when we do, when we do the, when we do the concerts, Rob, you know, Rob.
as well as [00:38:00] Jess and tress and Marino, they do lots of, you know, public appearances. They go to all the Comicons and all that. They’re constantly those. So Rob and I are, you know, we’re friends too. We’re not just colleagues. We know each other’s friends. So one day he told me, he said, yeah, you know, Hey, everybody always asks me to sing those songs.
And I went, Oh, that’s great. That’s great. Right. So at one point he told me, one guy said, Hey, That song is outdated now because the Soviet union and Rob goes, Oh yeah, will you try writing? So he tried. I said, well, no, he’s fine. He’s actually right. So I thought I’m going to sit down and I’ll write another verse that, that updates the song to show all the new countries that have come into being, or gone, not being, since I wrote the song to begin with.
And so we do that. Rob does that as an Encore, after we do the show at the end, we’re taking it, you know, people want more, he does an Encore. He says, well, I’m going to show you that. Yeah, we’ll do with the additional person. So that’s where that came from.
Jeff: But that, that is awesome. so in a, Mason’s coming back to Hulu, are you, are you going to be a part of the new show?
Randy Rogel: I am. Yes, I’m not on staff, [00:39:00] I’m doing other things, but I have written several songs. So the show and I just finished two new ones. and Wellesley wild is running the show. Wellesley came from family guy. So he’s got that real edge sensibility. And so the shows are going really well. I mean, th the, the. For first two seasons are going to be available.
I think it’s November 12th or 16th check your, your, Hulu channel, but th those seeds will be released. And so whether there’ll be a third season, I know they’re trying to anticipate it right now. So we’re, you know, doing some writing, but you know, you still need to get the green. Right on that. And I think part of that is because the pandemic, when can production go back in and all that, but everything, is going through those first two seasons, Steven’s very pleased with them.
The studio is pleased with them, so I can’t see why they wouldn’t want to do more.
Jeff: Are they, are they bringing back the classic characters like pinky and the brain will be back in some, on all the other classic characters?
Randy Rogel: I do know pinky and the brain will be back. and the Warners, they created some new franchises, some of the old ones they didn’t use.
So, [00:40:00] I’m not sure cause I haven’t been writing the scripts for them. So I’m not really sure which w which new ones they have, which old one. But I, I do know Robin Razorback, the pinky and the brain and that Robin tress and Jess are back is the Warner brothers character, as you know, the Warner kids.
Jeff: Well, like I said, I’m from one, can’t wait to watch him.
I’ve been looking forward to, I mean, just when I heard about MAs, I’ve been wanting to watch it since I’ve heard about it. It’s going to be a great show. I get the feeling because the original was so classic in my opinion. I did help you for a while. So I do want to thank you very much for sitting with me and talking, I know how busy you are.
Randy Rogel: Well, thank you. It’s been a real pleasure. And by the way, the new show, Steven Spielberg is producing it again.
Jeff: Yeah. I mean, I
Randy Rogel: love that. So, you know, he brings quality, so yeah.
Jeff: Yeah, I would say what the hell Spielberg on the shelf? I don’t think he’s listening to me.
Randy Rogel: I’ll probably not be a Stephen. He’s too busy, but, I’m sure he’d be flattered that you’d want to.
but Hey, what a joy to talk to Jeff and I look forward to meeting you in person. when I get, we get the show to Rhode Island and, to all you, you, you spoiler con country, [00:41:00] podcast fans has been great speaking with you today and what a lovely opportunity this has been for me.
Jeff: And for me as well.