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Interview

Bob Bergen talks about doing cartoon voices and favorite books.

Since he was a kid Bob Bergen had the ambition of doing the voice of Porky Pig for Warner Brothers. Through the years he showed amazing dedication to achieving a career doing voiceovers, mastering the voices of hundreds of characters and other vocal effects. He's done a variety of other showbiz jobs over the years, too, from working at Universal Studios as a tour guide, to hosting a kids' game show, interviewing celebrities at the Hollywood Christmas Parade, and running his own one-man stage show. I started off by asking Bob Bergen a wacky question about his daily routine...

READERSVOICE.COM: Can you talk a bit about a typical day where you’ve gone to do voice over work, say at Warner Brothers, from the time you leave your house on.
BOB BERGEN: LOL!!!! (lots of laughs-ed) Wow, you really want to hear it all. Well, as I pull out of my driveway I’ll often have to decide if I want to go right or left. See, they both take me to the freeway, but sometimes one way or the other will be quicker depending on traffic. I usually go left.
Let’s say I go left. Now, if I need gas I’ll stop off at the Shell station that’s just before the freeway offramp. If I don’t, then I’ll just hit the freeway. There’s no turn on red at the freeway onramp before 9:00am, so if it’s early then I sometimes have a long wait at the light. I’ll often listen to talk radio while in the car. Sometimes an audio book. Right now I have the audio book Live from New York all about Saturday Night Live. (OK-I’m sure you don’t want all these details. I’ll take you to WB).
WB Animation is about 12 minutes from my house. The animation department is actually in The Sherman Oaks Galleria, a shopping center, and not the main movie lot.

We record Duck Dodgers there, but sometimes they’ll use other studios around the city for commercials and other projects. It really just depends on what’s available.
When you arrive at WB you have to sign in at the security table next to the door, get a badge, then walk to the recording studio that’s on the first floor just around the corner from reception. WB has one of the nicest recording studios in the biz!
It takes about 4 hours to record Duck Dodgers. They’ll assemble as many of the cast as possible, but sometimes schedules prevent everyone from recording together. Collette Sunderman directs us through the episode, as producers Tony Cervone, Spike Brandt, Tom Minton, and Paul Dini supervise. We actors work from a dialogue script, which just has the lines. Collette directs from the storyboard so she can see the action of the cartoon, which helps her make directorial suggestions.
Contrary to what some people might think, we see no cartoon while recording. The voices are done first, then they animate to the soundtrack. Like I said it takes about 4 hours to record a half hour show.

RV: What are some of your favorite books of all time, whether novels, or biographies of voice over actors, or absolutely anything, and can you say a bit about why you liked them?
BB: I’ve pretty much read em all if they are about voice actors or animation. Mel Blanc’s autobiography is great. So is Walter Lantz’s. If people are interested in reading how to break into the biz Susan Blu’s book Word of Mouth is good. It’s a little outdated, since trends in the business change all the time. But it gives you a nice overview of the business.
But I have and have read tons of books on animation covering all aspects of the biz. My library is full of em, from Peanuts, to Marvel/DC Comics, Disney, etc…..And you want titles of books I’ve read/recommend??? Word of Mouth, That’s Not All Folks, Desilu, Backstage at The Original Hollywood Squares, Hollywood Animal.
RV: What magazines or newspapers, industry or otherwise do you like to read and do you look for something in particular when you read industry magazines?
BB: I read Variety every day. It’s the newpaper of show biz. I also read the LA Times. I’m very interested in all aspects of the business, since my life/work isn’t all just animation.

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