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Anime Expo

Attention anime lovers...

I will be at Anime Expo on Saturday, July 2nd in Anaheim, California. I'll be on the New Generation Pictures panel at 1pm, where I'll largely be discussing 3X3 EYES. Other topics of discussion include NAZCA and NURSE NANAKO. (I'm not involved with the last one at all, so I hope I got the title right.) Stop by and say hi.

3X3 is a really fun series that I just finished voice directing into English. It stars Christian "Max Steel" Campbell and Brigitte "Angela" Bako, and features many former GARGOYLES actors including Goliath, Thailog, Morgan, Broadway, Hollywood, Lexington, Brentwood, Obsidiana, Coyote Trickster, Natsilane, Hudson, Jack Danforth and Burbank. It's the story of a three-eyed three hundred year old demon girl with multiple personality disorder and the teen-age zombie bodyguard who loves her.

Hope to see you there.


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More of the "Leader" memo...

Here we have Act Two from the Beat Sheet I gave Michael Reaves in my 7/94 memo on "Leader of the Pack":

ACT TWO
4. Hyena and Jackal are ready to kill Xanatos/Coyote for revenge. X/C puts them down hard. He reminds them that it was Fox who told them to go after him. She's out of the picture now. Besides, it was the gargoyles who really sent you down. They put him away once too. They've destroyed enough of his plans. He wants them bad. He's [sic] works the Pack up into a revenge-fest frenzy. They want the gargoyles. But how do they find them? As X/C puts on his helmet, he says, we let them find us.

5. Goliath, Broadway and Hudson arrive at the castle. Owen is there, but not Xanatos. Goliath is confrontational but cautious. Woen has the Pack's social calender and says they should be at PackMedia studios shortly. Goliath is immediately concerned about the others. They take off.

6. From a nearby shadowed rooftop, Brooklyn, Bronx and Lex watch the police (Elisa, Matt, maybe Morgan) check out the Studios. It gives Brooklyn time to talk to Lex. He knows how Lex feels. Everytime Demona's name get's [sic] mentioned Brooklyn feels the same way. But you can't let it take you over. You need to remember what's really important, etc. Lex isn't listening. The police leave. Lex insists on going in. Brook & Bronx follow.

7. Inside, the place is deserted -- UNTIL SUDDENLY the floor begins to open up beneath them. The PACK Assault vehicle, rises up from a secret entrance beneath. Brokklyn suggests retreat, at least until they can get reinforcements from Goliath, et al. Lex ignores him and wades right in. The battle is on. Lex (followed by Brooklyn) goes after the four pack members they recognize. Lex is a holy terror and they're doing all right, at first. His shocking ferocity making up for any deficiencies. Bronx for some reason beelines for Coyote. (Basically, he smells robot.) It's a good fight, but soon all three gargoyles are out cold and at the Pack's mercy.

ACT THREE
(To be completed next time... Finally.)


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More of the "Leader Memo"...

Sorry, everyone, I know this is going very slowly. But transcribing is really boring. So I can't stand to do too much at a time. Anyway, here's another chunk of my 7-2-94 memo to Michael Reaves regarding "Leader of the Pack":

Beat sheet:
ACT ONE
1. Sundown. Open w/prison break. Let's make it much more fast and furious. It can start quier, but almost immediately should go to explosions, alarms, etc. The guards become aware of the break IMMEDIATELY. A big action set-piece. No time for a lot of talk. Also, let's have Dingo bust out the boys, and Coyote bust out the girls. It's a more practical plan. They'll all meet up in the NEW all-terrain PACK ATTACK vehicle. (And no, Kenner isn't asking for this, I am. Xanatos has the resources. After he saw Macbeth's hover-thing, he'd start his people on R&D. This is the result. The Pack should not be hand-to-mouth. This thing should be a flying submarine multi-purpose thing. Real cool.)

2. Just after sundown at the clock tower, Elisa informs the argoyles that there's a prison break and the Pack's involved. Lex goes bananas. WE'VE GOT TO BRING THEM DOWN. Goliath agrees with the sentiment, if not he intensity. Manhattan is their castle to protect. But Broadway wants to know, how do they find the Pack? Lex is sure they'll return to Packmedia Studios. Elisa disagrees, that's the first place the cops are going to look. Lex is positive. They're like animals. They'll eventually return to their cave to hide. He's going there to wait and watch. Goliath figures on being more pro-active. He knows Xanatos is behind the Pack from Elisa's talk with Fox in "Brother's Keeper". He's going to the castle. Broadway & Hudson are going with him. Brooklyn is concerned about Lex. He insists on going with Lex to the studio. He also insists on taking Bronx.

3. Aboard the Pack's vehicle, Coyote and Wolf fight for the right to lead. (Let Wolf make the first challenge, so that we aren't forced to make Hyena politely step aside.) Coyote wins, but Hyena and Jackal insist on seeing his face. Coyote vouluntarily removes his helmet, revealing that he is "Xanatos".

ACT TWO
(to be continued...)


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Me and my daughter Erin

My daughter Erin is here with me, and together we will answer some ASK GREG questions for you.


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More of the "Leader of the Pack" memo...

This continues my transcription of the memo I wrote to Michael Reaves on 7-2-94 regarding Steve Perry's original outline on "Leader of the Pack"...

Specific Notes & Questions...
Some of these will be rendered moot by other changes, but for future reference...

--No YoYo's for Brooklyn. He's too old to be playing with that. (Not that I don't enjoy a well-balanced yo-yo myself, but it's embematic [sic] of being really young. Like having him play jacks. Remember, this is a guy who likes motorcycles.)

--I liked the Hudson game show scenelet. Maybe slip that in right before Elisa tells the gargs about the prison break. If it no longer fits, save it for another episode.

--I think Wolf is a descendant of Hakon's. [It's interesting to me now that I put this comment in this memo. It's absolutely apropos of nothing. I must have just wanted to write it down somewhere so that I'd remember. Greg 2000]

--The gargoyles exo-sheathe remnants don't dissolve into vapor.

--Is a smoking jacket really Xanatos' style?

--Suddenly, on the bottom of page 3, Goliath has spider-sense. Maybe not.

--Goliath seems to be brooding about things he's already come to terms with. "...enemy one day, friend the next." He learned that lesson from the Captain in episodes 1 & 2.

Beat sheet:
ACT ONE
(to be continued soon...)


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SEASON TWO

Well, my plan had been to finished transcribing the "Leader of the Pack" outline memo. Then start on my new ramble on seeing the episode last week. However, I'm at home today and the only copy of the memo is still at the office. So I'll finish the memo soon. Meantime, here's a ramble that "Leader" inspired with a little background info on the transition to Season Two...

So the second season begins. And we had a new system in place. Tiers and tentpoles. As you may recall from a previous ramble we had run into huge scheduling difficulties with "Enter Macbeth". The animation had come back very problematic and the nature of the story was such that we couldn't air it out of order. I received a mandate to make sure in Season Two's fifty-two episode killer schedule that we do everything possible not to run into that kind of problem again.

Trouble was, I liked the sequential nature of the series. If all the episodes could air in any order with no effect on each other then how could the characters grow, evolve, change? How could the situations?

My solution was tiers and tentpoles. We would create tiers of episodes that could air in any order as long as they aired BETWEEN their tentpole multi-parters. We'd pay special attention to the Tentpole episodes to make sure THEY didn't get into production trouble that would derail the entire airing schedule. But if an individual episode within a tier ran late, we could skootch another one forward without causing any harm.

Tentpole One was retroactively set as the "Awakening" five-parter. Tier One was retroactively everything between that and "Reawakening", which became Tentpole Two by default. (Now obviously the Season One airing order was very important, but they had aired already, so I didn't have to worry about them anymore.)

Tentpole Three would be the "City of Stone" four parter. Tier Two would include eight episodes: "Leader of the Pack", "Metamorphosis", "Legion", "A Lighthouse in the Sea of Time", "The Silver Falcon", "The Mirror", "Eye of the Beholder" and "Vows". In theory, I was supposed to make sure that these eight could air in any given order.

In practice, it never turned out to be that simple. For example, how could I air "Vows", the episode where Xanatos & Fox wed before "Eye of the Beholder" the episode where they get engaged? I wound up having a strong order preference for ALL 65 episodes. Tiers and Tentpoles be damned. But the truth is, the system served us well. It did tend to keep us on track. Creatively, it allowed us to build to strong multi-parters. And we rarely ever HAD to air episodes out of my preferred order. We only screwed up twice. "The Price" aired too soon. "Kingdom" aired too late. But only someone paying VERY careful attention would notice that. (Of course, anyone fanatical enough to be reading this was probably one of those people paying VERY careful attention.)

So anyway, "Leader" was my choice to open the new season. Lots of action. Some really great twists and turns. Some great character moments. It all seemed like a great way to intro potential new viewers to the series. BTWE, is there anyone out there for whom "Leader" was their first GARGOYLES episode? I'd love to hear from you here at ASK GREG.

We made other changes off the first season, as well. We had rebuilt the opening titles sequence to include some new footage. Keith David/Goliath's narration was added as well. This was written by Gary Sperling and myself. And hotly debated around our offices. Hotly debated inside my own brain as well. Frank Paur and I both felt that the titles were more powerful, more dramatic WITHOUT the narration. But we wanted to make sure that the series was still accessible to new viewers. The narration would serve the same function as the GILLIGAN'S ISLAND theme song. If you missed our pilot, you could still get the set up. Frank & I could see the wisdom of both positions. Even our boss, Gary Krisel, could. He left it up to me. I finally decided to err (and air) on the side of caution. I needn't have worried about "drama". Keith's voice, as usual, was so dramatic, that the opening narration became a classic -- reprinted on nearly every garg website I've ever seen. My kids love to shout out "WE LIVE AGAIN!" in chorus with Keith.

Another thing we did was to permanently install those "Previously on Gargoyles..." recaps at the head of EVERY episode. This was done for three reasons. One, see above, we wanted new viewers to have a chance to get what was going on without requiring them to see every episode that had come before. So the salient points could and would be summed up in those recaps. Two, since at some future time there was the possibility that the episodes WOULD air out of order, the recaps would help ground a viewer in when this particular episode was falling. And most important, three, it helped us in editing.

You see, footage would come back from overseas. And sometimes it would be great. And sometimes not. But no matter how good it was there wasn't a single episode that couldn't be improved by trimming a few frames here, a few frames there. No scenes were cut wholesale, but timing was improved and sped up. Mistakes were edited out. The recap gave us thirty extra seconds per episode of editing flexibility.

Now, on some level, the recaps may have backfired. Though they provided useful information, they may have given new viewers the IMPRESSION that there was too much to learn. I'm not sure it's true, but I've heard that argument. Also, I started hearing from the Disney Afternoon mailing list that everyone hated the recaps, because what they included tended to give away too much in the episode that was about to air. We fixed that problem midway through the season. Me, I still have no regrets. As I've mentioned before, HILL STREET BLUES was a major influence. The "Previously on..." format (which everyone uses today) came right out of Hill Street, so I was comfortable with it. And that 30 seconds of editing flexibility absolutely helped the shows play better.

NEXT TIME ON GREG'S RAMBLES...
More from my original memo to Michael Reaves and my specific responses to reviewing "Leader of the Pack"...


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I'm shocked...

There's nothing in the queue. I've got another hour and twenty minutes to kill and there's nothing left in the queue. ARGGGHHH!!!

Gore, Todd, help!!!!!


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Greg Weisman Update

As promised, here's a little update on what's been going on in my professional life...

The first season (all thirteen episodes) of MAX STEEL have been completed. I've lost track of how many have aired. I think they turned out pretty good. At any rate, the show is a success and will be back for a second season. Unfortunately, I won't be. The WB didn't invite me to produce/edit/write season two. So you can forget about any long term plans/arcs I had for the series. Still, I wish the show well. (After all, it'll still carry my "Developed By" credit.)

In other news, today I finished recording all of the two volume (seven episode) video anime series 3X3 EYES. I think we assembled a terrific cast for the English dub. Here's a complete list:

LEADS
Christian Cambell* as Yakumo Fujii
Brigitte Bako^ as Pai/Sanjiyan/Pabo Ayanokoji/Parvati/Howasho

SUPPORTING
Thom Adcox^* as Monkey
Edward Asner^* as Grandpa Ayanokoji
Earl Boen as Benares
Leslie Boone as Ken-Ken
Susan Chesler as Lee Ling-Ling
Bill Faggerbakke^ as Steve Long
Elisa Gabrielli^ as the Doll Demon
Jean Gilpin* as Mrs. Wong/Xunquai
Taliesin Jaffe as the Frog Demon and Feihong
William Katt as Tinzin
Mia Korf* as Natsuko
Ralph Lister as Choukai
Erin Matthews as Mei-Shin Long
Yuji Okumoto* as Chou and Naparva
Gregg Rainwater^* as Jake MacDonald
Dina Sherman as Dawn and Ran-Pao-Pao
Rick Simone as Tatsuya
Keith Szaribajka* as Professor Fujii and Ryouko
Rosie Taravella as Grandma Ayanokoji
Greg Weisman^ as Hide

and Keith David^ in a roll so rocking, I can't reveal it here. :)

* indicates a Voice Actor I worked with on MAX STEEL.
^ indicates a Voice Actor I worked with on GARGOYLES.

Anyway, the voices are all recorded. I've got three mix sessions left to do. I should be done in a week or so, at which point -- I'm unemployed.

Or nearly. I'm still teaching the animation writing course through UCLA extension. That's been a lot of fun and it keeps me pretty busy. Plus I'm working on writing a spec screenplay with my brother. And I go on the occasional job interview.

All this means is that it looks like I'll soon have plenty of time to dive back into ASK GREG. At one point we were closing in on completely catching up. Now we're over three months behind. But I'll try to make some fast progress. We've now got Todd Jensen helping Gorebash out to keep the site current, so that should help us avoid the "Nothing in queue" problems that were slowing us up before.

And I hope to see most of you at Gathering 2000 this August. It should be a GREAT con this year. I'll be there with Thom Adcox plus my wife and kids. We'll have new and special treats from Gargoyles, 3x3 Eyes and another EXCLUSIVE radio play event -- something that I guarantee you won't want to miss. Plus Disneyworld is a shuttle ride away. Make your reservations now.


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"Leader of the Pack" Background memo...

ASK GREG is back up and running. (Thank you, Gorebash.)

Unfortunately, Murphy's Law in in effect, and I'm now swamped with work. (More on that tomorrow.) I'll try to get to your questions and comments A.S.A.P. In the meantime, I've watched another episode "Leader of the Pack". I've taken notes to write a ramble but I don't have time to compose it tonight. But I also wanted to post my July, '94 memo to Michael Reaves regarding his first draft outline on this episode. (Like the one I posted for "Reawakening".) I have a hard copy of this memo, but unfortunately -- there's that Murphy's Law again -- I don't seem to have a computer file for it. (Which, frankly, is truly bizarre.) Still, retyping this is faster than composing something original. But I don't know if I'll have time to retype the entire five page memo tonight. So bear with me. This could take a while... (I'll try to keep all the typos intact. And I'll add a few new comments in [brackets].)

Greg Weisman 7-2-94

NOTES ON OUTLINE for "Leader of the Pack"
Michael, I think we can focus the story a little more. And I think there's quite a bit of padding that we can trim down, but on the whole, a good start.

General Notes...

--Let's focus this by making it Lexington's story. A real companion piece to "Thrill of the Hunt". In that story, Lex was too trusting. In this he'll be hell-bent on REVENGE. That's today's theme. And today's lesson is about setting priorities -- and how revenge ain't a great one. Lex comes close to letting his lust for revenge take priority over his concern for his life and his friends. Same with the Pack. They break prison; they could head for Rio. But they want revenge on the gargoyles more. It gets them in trouble. Ironically, only Xanatos has his priorities straight. He didn't give a damn about revenge on the gargoyles. He just cared about his "friend" Fox and getting her released from her unfortunate incarceration. [A DESIGNING WOMEN reference -- Greg 2000]

--Given the above. Let's see Lex as the true monster he can be. As frightening as possible, as often as possible.

--The stuff w/Dingo's change of heart was nice. It gave me a great idea for a story about him trying to go straight, set in Australia during the WORLD TOUR. But I think it's out of place here. It's distracting to the main story. I don't want Dingo to start to turn yet. He didn't have to come back from Europe to help the others. Let's keep him gung-ho for now. (When we do the Pack Upgrade Story, in which Wolf will submit to Doc Sevarius' genetic treatment ala Talon, and Hyena and Jackal will undergo cyborgizing ala Coldstone, we'll plant the seed there that Dingo thinks things are getting carried away. He'll choose removable robot-armor, and we'll play some of these beats then.) [When you're working on 65 episodes you try not to waste anything. And the characters begin to define their own destinies. But you need to pace them. -- Greg 2000]

--Coyote's abilities need some clarification. Let's start by thinking this is a stranger wearing some kind of power-armor. Jet black, anubis-headed armor. We'll modify or harmonize Jonathan's voice. Then when he removes the dog-faced armored head, we reveal that it's Xanatos inside the armor. The audience will buy this because of "The Edge" story. When COYOTE has the "helmet" off, we'll use Jonathan's voice un-harmonized. But obviously for battle scenes he'll put the helmet back on. A slight clue that Coyote isn't the real Xanatos will be that Coyote seems more determined to get revenge than we'd normally expect from the rational Xanatos we've come to know and love. Then at the end, we'll reveal the robot beneath the Xanatos face. We also need to make a bigger deal of this reveal. I think it would be cool, if after the body is damaged beyond repair, the semi-damaged head, takes off, shooting into the sky like a comet, abandoning the Pack. At any rate, we can now have Coyote be very powerful throughout the episode, without our audience suspecting the truth. What can the Coyote "armor" (i.e. the Coyote/Xanaots robot) do? Does it have built-in jet-boots and weapons systems? Let's make it real tough and cool.

--In general, we need to be really careful not to let the Pack seem weak or incompetent. I doubt Elisa can outshoot them. They've been defeated twice already. If we don't up the ante, we've lost these characters as effective adversaries.

--The huge emphasis on updrafts can be dumped. We've already shown the gargoyles glide to and from Liberty Island in "The Edge". How far out in the water is this tanker? Better not to go into too much detail.

--Same with the Pack's search for the gargoyles. Why raise the issue about how easy it is to find the gargoyles? Besides, the method used here could take weeks, if not months. Let the gargoyles find the Pack. We can dump the CD-ROM disk.

--The mirrored shields was a good idea. But it pre-supposes a Lexington who is rational enough to use his head and come up with it. Not this story. But remember it for later use. [O.K. I guess some things did get wasted. --Greg 2000]

--We definitely don't need or want Derek in this story. If it comes before "Metamorphosis" than we don't want to mess with his loyalty to Xanatos. If it comes after, then obviously he's not Derek anymore, but Talon. Anyway, we won't need him. The way I figure it, Elisa's role in this story is fairly minimal. I didn't like her as victim/hostage, so I largely dumped her. So we can leave Derek out, as well.

--Fox should protect he guard first, then refuse to go. When she refuses Hyena's inclined to kill her too. Coyote prevents it by indicating there's no time. Also, I've cut the middle Fox scene 14. Better that the audience forget about her until the end.

Specific Notes & Questions....
[to follow tomorrow, hopefully...]


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Reprinting a ramble...

Just reprinting my response to an AIRWALKER post in the comment room. (Like to save this stuff for posterity. I don't mean to pick on Airwalker.)

AIRWALKER - I don't know if you're already en route to Israel (have fun by the way) and I hate to defend my own stuff (after all if it doesn't speak for itself then I'm doomed anyway). But I have to heartily disagree with the following statement you made:

(I know the reasons that were given by Greg as to why this edited version was used for the video release but
still it stands out as a not particularly good edit. There were so many other, better ways to do an editing - the
version that is usually shown on Halloween on UPN is a hundred times better than the AWAKENINGS that's
out on video, mainly because they spliced the episodes together while leaving in as much material as possible...)

To the contrary, AIRWALKER, I believe the version that wound up on video is a VERY GOOD EDIT. If what we're talking about is the edit itself. You don't like it because so much was cut. You prefer the episodes -- and so do I -- because they are more complete. You even prefer the version BVTV edited together without any input from the producers (me & Frank). Also because it's more complete. But I'd argue that's an objectively WORSE edit. If what we mean is the editing itself. I wouldn't go so far as to call it sloppy, but it is choppy. This is mostly a lesson in semantics. You like to have more material. So do I. The five parter is 110 minutes long (total give-or-take). The recut movie version is 90+ minutes long (give-or-take) enough to fill a two hour tv timeslot. The version we did for the Orlando Big Screen premiere screening (which wound up -- against my advice -- going on the home video) is under 80 minutes. That's all the time we were allowed. Plus we were given an absolute mandate that the thing stand alone. The egg references, for example, HAD TO GO. That wasn't a choice, that was an order. Given those parameters, I think we did the best possible job we could. And I think the work that the editor did is terrific.

Basically, all I'm saying is that you shouldn't confuse the editing with the assignment the editor was given. Feel free to have a preference in terms of which cut you like. But if you're going to criticize the editing itself... Look very carefully at that work, before you disparage...



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