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EDWARD ASNER

So...

This is hard.

It's been a bit of a stressful weekend, as my father went into the hospital with chest pains. A stint that had been replaced last year had failed and was replaced again Saturday morning during an angioplasty. I've been concerned, worried. But the procedure seemed to go well, and he was set to go home today. We seemed to have dodged a bullet.

But there was a second gun.

I slept in today. I woke up to two pieces of news:

1. My dad was good. Solid. My sister picked him up at the hospital and took him straight to breakfast. (My mother was annoyed at not being included - but that's a whole other story.) He's home now. I've talked to him. He sounded cheerful. All good.

2. Ed Asner had passed away.

I spent most of the day doing laundry and other mundane tasks. Life goes on, right? It has to. But it's been difficult getting my head around the whole thing. I've gotten many calls and texts today, offering condolences as if I were part of the Asner family. Folks seem to know how close I felt to Ed. But I don't want to exaggerate. Ed was my friend. I hope he knew I was his, as well. But I haven't talked to him in at least a couple of years. (You can partially blame that on the pandemic, I suppose. There are a lot of people I've lost touch with. If anything, this is a reminder to GET in touch. And I'm going to make an effort to do that.) In any case, there are many, many people who knew Ed better than I did, who were closer to Ed than I was.

Nevertheless, at the risk of turning this post into my own self-aggrandizement, I am going to spend a few paragraphs here on the subject of the Ed Asner that I knew and loved.

I was a fan of Ed's long before I met him. Like many, many people, he first entered my awareness playing Lou Grant on The Mary Tyler Moore Show. (Later, I got a kick out of picking him out of reruns, where he usually played the heavy in such series as The Wild Wild West and others.) But as Lou, Ed was simply brilliant. One of the truly classic scenes in all of television is the scene in the TMTMS pilot, where Lou interviews Mary for a job. Do yourself a favor and view it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zj286uBKCu0

That scene had a major effect on me, even seeing it as a kid.

Now, having just rewatched it, the genius of the writing and the two performances still knocks me out. But there was something else about Lou and Mary. Watching their interactions was a bit like watching my parents. The connection in my mind between Lou and my dad was especially strong.

Ed and my father were two Ashkenazi Jews from the midwest. My dad was from Chicago; Ed, from Kansas City. They were gruff AND loving. They even had mannerisms in common. There was much more, I'm sure, that they DIDN'T have in common. But something connected the two men in my mind. And, meanwhile, my admiration for Asner as a performer knew no bounds. When I saw him in the Lou Grant series, in Rich Man, Poor Man, in Roots, that admiration only increased. When I learned of his activism - and the price he paid for it - that admiration shot through the roof.

Years later, when we had begun pre-production on GARGOYLES, I thought of Ed Asner - or of Lou Grant, at least - as the inspiration for Hudson. In fact, when we held auditions for the role, I wrote at the bottom of the character description that "Hudson hates spunk." This was, of course, a variation on Lou's classic line from the above job interview scene. Now, to be clear, I never imagined we'd get Ed to play the role. I figured he was way too big a star for us to land. But low and behold, a few days later, Ed came in to audition for the part. Later, he told me that when he read the character description, he was initially thrilled. The "Hudson hates spunk" line made him feel like he was a lock to land the role. Then a couple minutes later, he thought that if he didn't land the role it would really be awful. But of course, he immediately understood the character and nailed his audition... only for Jamie Thomason and I to throw him a curveball, asking him to do it again in a Scottish accent. He nailed that, too.

Working with Ed was a joy. He was fun and funny and so supportive. In addition to playing Hudson (and Burbank and Jack Danforth/Dane) on Gargoyles, I also cast him as recurring characters on Max Steel (Chuck Marshak), 3x3 Eyes (Grandpa Ayanokoji), W.I.T.C.H. (Napoleon the talking cat), Young Justice (Kent Nelson) and Rain of the Ghosts (Joe Charone). When casting Peter Parker's late Uncle Ben in The Spectacular Spider-Man, Ed was the only person I ever considered. He always brought so much to each and every role.

And more than that he was a great friend to me. After the first season of Max Steel, when I couldn't find a job for over a year and thought I might have to give up on my writing career, Ed was there, offering me support. We had lunch at Musso & Frank's. He looked at pictures of my kids out of my wallet and told me to laminate them. He introduced me to his son, Matt Asner, a producer. He didn't allow me to wallow in self-pity or to badmouth guys who I believed had done me wrong. He just reassured me that I had ability and would find my way through. He was, in essence, my work dad.

So today, as you might imagine, has been complicated. My dad is home and healthy. And Ed is gone. I'm grateful and sorrowful. And struggling. But life goes on. It has to, right?

Finally, I'm going to quote Hudson from Gargoyles. In "The Price," an episode that spotlighted the character, Ed as Hudson told Xanatos: "A friendly word of advice: True immortality isn't about living forever, man. It's about what you do with the time you have. When all your scheming's done, what will be your legacy, Xanatos?"

I think we all know that Ed Asner did amazing things with the time he had. And though we'll miss him dearly, his legacy is clear and shining.


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Mr.Slim1997 writes...

What do you like about 3x3 eyes?

Greg responds...

I like nearly everything about it, but in particular the relationship between the two lead characters.

Response recorded on November 14, 2017

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Zergrinch writes...

Hypothetical question.

ALL of your past and present projects have been renewed, and you have been asked to help them all. Which one would you prioritize, and why?

Greg responds...

Well, as many regular readers of this site know, I'm not big on hypotheticals. Reality is so much more complicated, but I'll give it a shot:

GARGOYLES first, always. We're trying to get another comic book version now. Tweet the hashtag #WeLiveAgain!

YOUNG JUSTICE, second. Season Three is real. It's here. I'm working on it.

I'm also working on the second book in the WORLD OF WARCRAFT: TRAVELER series, THE SPIRAL PATH, and recently completed co-plotting work on THE FALL AND RISE OF CAPTAIN ATOM, w/my old Captain Atom partner Cary Bates.

The third book in the RAIN OF THE GHOSTS series, MASQUE OF BONES, which I still plan to get back to as soon as I possibly can.

Everything else falls into the category of it's just too hypothetical to differentiate. But I'm very fond of THE SPECTACULAR SPIDER-MAN, W.I.T.C.H., ROUGHNECKS: THE STARSHIP TROOPER CHRONICLES, STARBRAND & NIGHTMASK, anything with the STAR WARS REBELS characters [especially STAR WARS KANAN], 3X3 EYES, DISNEY'S VILLAINS and many others.

And I'm sure Edmund Tsabard would love to finish Last Tengu in Paris.

Response recorded on December 05, 2016

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Mr Steel writes...

Hey Greg! I'm a huge fan of your work and hope to see what you'll do in the future
Here's my question: If you were given the chance to revamp or handle writing an anime which one would it be?

Greg responds...

3x3 Eyes.

Response recorded on September 27, 2016

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safminako writes...

Do you think Keith David could voice any other of your characters? If so, which ones?

P.S
I am still a fan of the show and totally used jump off of an ironing board trying to fly when I watched Gargoyles as a kid.

Greg responds...

I don't understand what you mean. Keith is amazing, and has done a voice for me on nearly every series I've produced. The list includes Goliath (Gargoyles), Officer Morgan (Gargoyles), Thailog (Gargoyles), Mama (3x3 Eyes), Hades (Kidd/Hero), The Big Man (The Spectacular Spider-Man) and Mongul (Young Justice: Invasion).

Response recorded on September 16, 2016

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MJKJ writes...

Do you have any favorite english dubs when it comes to anime?

Greg responds...

3x3 Eyes. ;)

Response recorded on December 08, 2014

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Michael writes...

I know in the past you've directed a few english dubs for anime. Is this an experience you would like to repeat in the future if possible? When will we see you in the ADR Director's chair again in the future?

Greg responds...

I'd love to, but someone has to hire me for the gig. No job offers have come in since 3x3 Eyes. Though I'm told folks like that dub, so hopefully it's not because I screwed it up.

Response recorded on November 24, 2014

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ANIME VEGAS 2013 - Corrected Schedule

Let's try this again with the correct dates:

As I've mentioned before, I'm a guest at ANIME VEGAS this weekend, November 1-3rd, 2013, at the Renaissance Hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada:

http://www.animevegas.com/

Here's my schedule:

FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 1, 2013
01:00pm - 02:00pm - OPENING CEREMONIES
Cosplay Ballroom.

02:00pm - 03:30pm - GARGOYLES/THE SPECTACULAR SPIDER-MAN Panel and Signing
Cosplay Ballroom.

05:00pm - 06:30pm - YOUNG JUSTICE Panel and Signing
Paramount Room with Yuri Lowenthal, the voice of Lagoon Boy, Tempest, Icicle Jr. and Tommy Terror.

06:30pm - 08:00pm - IKKI TOUSEN Panel and Signing
Paramount Room with New Generation Pictures Voice Director and Producer Jonathan Klein.

SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 2, 2013
10:00am - 11:30am - "WRITER'S ROOM" Panel and Signing
Summit Room.

06:30pm - 07:30pm - SIGNING
Summit Room with Jonathan Klein.

SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 3, 2013
09:00am - 10:30am - 3X3 EYES SCREENING, Panel and Signing
Paramount Room with Jonathan Klein.

10:30am - 11:30am - VOICE DIRECTING Panel
Paramount Room with Jonathan Klein.

12:30pm - 01:00pm - SIGNING
Paramount Room with Jonathan Klein.

As you can see, I'm doing a LOT of signing. I'll sign anything you bring along for free. But I'm also bringing a single copy of EVERY one of my Young Justice teleplays (i.e. the ones that I personally wrote), which I'll be selling for $20 per script (cash only) - autographed and personalized to the buyer's taste - on a first-come, first-serve basis, starting with the Young Justice signing at 6pm Friday evening.
So if you're in the vicinity, plan to be there. As you all know, I'm not big on SPOILERS, but I'm WAY, WAY more likely to tease a few things in person than I am on either Twitter or here. So come and be (slightly) better informed!!!


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Anime Vegas - Schedule!

As I've mentioned before, I'll be a guest at ANIME VEGAS this weekend, November 1-3rd, 2013, at the Renaissance Hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada:

http://www.animevegas.com/

Here's my schedule:

FRIDAY, AUGUST 23, 2013
01:00pm - 02:00pm - OPENING CEREMONIES
Cosplay Ballroom

02:00pm - 03:30pm - GARGOYLES/THE SPECTACULAR SPIDER-MAN PANEL and SIGNING
Cosplay Ballroom

05:00pm - 06:30pm - YOUNG JUSTICE PANEL and SIGNING
Paramount Room with Yuri Lowenthal, the voice of Lagoon Boy, Tempest, Icicle Jr. and Tommy Terror.

06:30pm - 08:00pm - IKKI TOUSEN PANEL and SIGNING
Paramount Room with New Generation Pictures Voice Director and Producer Jonathan Klein

SATURDAY, AUGUST 24, 2013
10:00am - 11:30am - "WRITER'S ROOM" PANEL and SIGNING
Summit Room

06:30pm - 07:30pm - SIGNING
Summit Room with Jonathan Klein

SUNDAY, AUGUST 25, 2013
09:00am - 10:30am - 3X3 EYES SCREENING, PANEL and SIGNING
Paramount Room with Jonathan Klein

10:30am - 11:30am - VOICE DIRECTING
Paramount Room with Jonathan Klein

12:30pm - 01:00pm - SIGNING
Paramount Room with Jonathan Klein

As you can see, I'm doing a LOT of signing. I'll sign anything you bring along for free. But I'm also bringing a single copy of EVERY one of my Young Justice teleplays (i.e. the ones that I personally wrote), which I'll be selling for $20 per script (cash only) - autographed and personalized to the buyer's taste - on a first-come, first-serve basis, starting with the Young Justice signing at 6pm Friday evening.

So if you're in the vicinity, plan to be there. As you all know, I'm not big on SPOILERS, but I'm WAY, WAY more likely to tease a few things in person than I am on either Twitter or here. So come and be (slightly) better informed!!!


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Nina writes...

Dear Mr Weisman,
What was it like directing the 2001 English dub of the anime OVA series 3x3 Eyes? How different is it from working on American cartoons?

Greg responds...

Well, I not only voice directed 3X3 EYES, but I also story edited the English language translation. In those days, that meant a LOT of time with a relatively crude VCR, going back and forth, line by line (grunt by grunt, even) with a LITERAL translation given to me by Jonathan Klein, my boss at New Generation Pictures, in order to transform it into (a) American idiom and (b) something that would fit the already existing lip-synch. Generating usable scripts for this purpose was VERY time-consuming.

The next step was the voice recording. Generally, in American cartoons, we bring in the entire cast and record them together, and those voice tracks are then used by our storyboard artists, directors, timers and animators to help create the footage. That is to say, the pictures are drawn to match the actor's performances. But when dubbing an existing cartoon into English, obviously, the actors have to match the picture instead. That's a time-consuming process called ADR, which, I think, stands for "Automatic Dialogue Replacement" - though I have no idea what about it is automatic. This process is done with a single actor in the booth at a time. The first actor has only the Japanese dialogue to respond to. Later performers can listen to what some of their English-speaking fellows have already performed.

As a voice director for something like 3X3 EYES, I'm looking for the right sound, a good performance and a good match with the existing lip-synch. I mostly cast people I'd enjoyed working with before, with Brigitte Bako ("Angela" from GARGOYLES) and Christian Campbell ("Max Steel" from MAX STEEL) as the two leads plus other favorites of mine, including Keith David in a really wild role, Ed Asner and Thom Adcox among others. We also held auditions for a handful of roles, and some of the people (e.g. Susan Chesler, Yuji Okuomoto) who worked for me for the first time on 3X3, later became new favorites of mine that I used again on other series like W.I.T.C.H. and Young Justice.

For fun, I also took a couple parts myself: I was Hide, one of the buddies of the male protagonist, and I was also a bum, who hummed a semi-recognizable theme song.

Finally, I also participated in the sound mixes here, balancing the new dialogue track with the existing music and effects tracks.

Response recorded on November 28, 2012


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