Exclusive Interview Series: Andrea Romano On PINKY AND THE BRAIN And ANIMANIACS

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In this installment of our exclusive interview with Andrea Romano, the Emmy-winning voice and casting director of STEVEN SPIELBERG PRESENTS ANIMANIACS discusses one of the great delights of the series…the characters of Pinky and The Brain.  Audiences loved them so much that the mice were spun off to their own series…STEVEN SPIELBERG PRESENTS PINKY AND THE BRAIN.

Romano, who has garnered 8 Emmy Awards, over 40 Emmy nominations and a legion of fans over the years, speaks about STEVEN SPIELBERG PRESENTS PINKY AND THE BRAIN, its parent show, STEVEN SPIELBERG PRESENTS ANIMANIACS and what happens when you give 2 genetically-altered mice their own series.

To quote Pinky…Narf!

THE TV ADDICT:  One of my favorite shows ever is STEVEN SPIELBERG PRESENTS PINKY AND THE BRAIN.  I have maquettes of the characters on my mantle, and I love the fact that Brain sounds eerily like Orson Welles.  What can you tell me about that insanely funny series?

ANDREA ROMANO:  We can’t speak of ANIMANIACS without speaking about PINKY AND THE BRAIN, can we?  It was a wonderful spinoff.  Of course, all of the ANIMANIACS segments could have been spinoffs as far as I’m concerned, but PINKY AND THE BRAIN was special.

TVA:  Can you tell our readers a bit about the premise behind PINKY AND THE BRAIN in case  they never have never seen it?

AR:  Pinky and Brain are these two lab mice who have been genetically altered at Acme Labs where they live in a cage.  Brain is brilliant, but a kind of a schemer and speaks with a voice that is reminiscent of Orson Welles.  Pinky is sweet, but missed out a bit in the brains department.

Brain is interested in taking over the world, and Pinky wants to do whatever Brain wants to do.

The theme of the show is a conversation that they have in every episode.  Pinky asks Brain, “What do you want to do tonight, Brain?”  Brain responds, “The same thing we do every night, Pinky.  Try to take over the world!”

TVA:  How does that work out for them?

AR:  Brain devises a new plan to take over the world in every episode, which of course ends in epic failure, usually because the plan is ridiculously complex or because of Brain’s arrogance or because Pinky does something idiotic to blow up the plan.

The plots often were parodies of famous films or novels, and the execution was brilliant!

TVA:  When did you know that PINKY AND THE BRAIN would become a fan favorite?

AR:  I remember the first time that footage came back [from the animation studios].  It was a “rough cut” and wasn’t even fully animated at the time.  There were no sound effects or music cut to it yet.

It was the first ANIMANIACS episode that PINKY AND THE BRAIN were on, and the segment was called “Win Big.”

Brain’s big plan for the first episode was to go onto a parody of JEOPARDY called “Jip-parody” and win enough money to make whatever invention that he could make to take over the world.

Pinky and the Brain photo Win Big

In the segment, Brain makes this enormous “man-sized” suit, which had the controls inside so that his mouse-sized body can control it so he can make it walk and make its arms move, but it has his little tiny head on top of the man-suit.

Brain decides to leave the lab in his “man-suit.”  When he takes the controls in that suit and raises the arm to try to hail a cab, I burst into laughter.  I was laughing so hard that I missed the next three minutes of the cartoon.  I was laughing so hard that I was crying!

The visuals and voice acting on that show was so stellar…so stunning…that still, to this day, I have people come up to me and mention that particular scene.

Rob & Mo Pinky & the Brain photo

Rob Paulsen, who also did Yakko Warner, voiced Pinky and Maurice LaMarche voiced The Brain (above).

I so enjoyed PINKY & THE BRAIN, both as its own series and when it was part of ANIMANIACS.  Those shows were so wonderful!

I am so happy to have been a part of ANIMANIACS that I must give [Producer] Peter Hastings so much credit.  He came up with such wonderful ideas and brought in so many stories, due to the experience with his kids.

We did a wonderful episode called “Wakko’s 2-Note Song” when Wakko proves to Dr. Scratchinsniff that his song composed from two notes is actually music.

Peter would come in and sit in my office and say, “I have an idea for an episode.  Wouldn’t it be funny if…” before laying out his idea.  It always was so hysterical that I would go wild for it and tell him that I loved it!

Stay tooned for more of our exclusive interview series with Andrea Romano.  If you missed any previous installments, click here to read more with this multi-talented award winner!

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