Alvin and the Chipmunks Wiki
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Alvin and the Chipmunks Wiki

World Screen (TV Kids.ws) is a publication covering the international media business. In print and online it offers news and analysis on trends in the media industry across the globe, as well as insightful, exclusive interviews with leading executives.

On April 30, 2014, a YouTube interview about the ALVINNN!!! and The Chipmunks television series, entitled Alvin and the Chipmunks' Ross Bagdasarian & Janice Karman was released.

Synopsis[]

Following a trio of theatrical films, the beloved children's characters Alvin, Simon, and Theodore are set for their first TV series in more than 20 years. The new CGI-animated ALVINNN!!! and The Chipmunks was commissioned by M6 in France, and has been picked up for two seasons by Nickelodeon to air on more than 70 networks internationally outside of North America and Brazil in early 2015. PGS Entertainment has the worldwide media rights, excluding the U.S. and France, for the series, which comes from the husband and wife producing team of Ross Bagdasarian, Jr. and Janice Karman.

Main Questions[]

  1. What led you to bring the property back to TV?
  2. Are you updating the stories for a new generation?
  3. Has the look been updated?
  4. Do you feel that the brand has benefited from keeping it as a family business?

Full Interview[]

Host: What led you to bring the property back to TV?
Janice: In the movies you could only tell one story, and I'm interested in telling a lot of stories. And especially stories that are personal and that the kids can identify with. From the 80s we were able to tell some of those and those stories that we did tell, that were personal, just received loads of fan mail and that meant so much to us. So now we get to write dozens of shows, most all with a character journey and that to me is really fun and really exciting. So that's the thing that motivates us. Doing a series is a lot of work and if you're not gonna get something out of it or if you don't feel like your audience is gonna get something out of it it's like "why do it?"
Ross: You know, one of the things too is that the characters, what we love is kinda like an onion where you just continue to expose more and more layers. And when you start to look at these characters, you go "Well, Alvin is this, but he's also this and Brittany is this, but she's also that. And Theodore and Simon, etc." And so Janice has just been a great onion peeler of these characters over the years.
Janice: Not so much in the kitchen.
Host: Are you updating the stories for a new generation?
Janice: I think that families experience much of the same throughout time. So, either they're having difficulty with their parent, or their parent is having difficulty with them, or they're having difficulty with their siblings, or they're feeling left out, or they want to be in the cool group, or whatever those situations are, those are universal. So, we've updated the look and we've updated the jargon, the vernacular, and we've enlisted our kids as well, our 20 year old kids, who are now writing with us, which we never thought would happen.
Ross: Neither did they, by the way.
Janice: Neither did they.
Ross: But then all of a sudden they saw some of the stories that Janice wanted to tell and, you know, it's an interesting mix because there are universal story lines that resonate with people around the world and always have, literally for hundreds and hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of years. So, when Janice writes a story about bullying, for example, that's something that- we've both been bullied before, right, and that was a long time ago. There's sometimes new little ways that it occurs, and obviously Simon, who is bullied in this show, uses his inventiveness and creativity to stand up to that. But when it's an example, like Janice said, about parents, and that's why I think parents not only feel comfortable, 'cause they grew up with the shows that we did in the 80s, so they're happy to have their kids do it, but they know there's gonna be something there for them. And again, for us, content is the only thing that we focus on. It's about stories that we think we can tell humorously, entertainingly, and musically, but at the end, hopefully, it isn't going to feel like an empty meal that you forgot you had.
Janice: Well, there's a lot of love in this show. The characters love each other, they love Dave, Dave loves them. And at the end of the day, you need to know that, just like families, there's real love, there's real concern, and there's a journey in every show, a character learns something in every show, and that's what makes it exciting for us.
Host: Has the look been updated?
Ross: It is an all CGI look, and every time that Janice has looked at kind of reinventing and reinvigorating the brand, it's always "How can we do something a little different that, still, you're gonna totally feel the essence of the characters?," but when she created the look in the 80s, it was very different from what my dad had done in the 60s.
Janice: I loved that look, but it was very stylized for the 60s and I wanted to make it more of a classic look. So, along the way, even though the characters have changed somewhat, and even in the CGI world, the characters have a classic look.
Host: Do you feel that the brand has benefited from keeping it as a family business?
Janice: We really love these guys, and one of the great things about working with our kids as well, is they really love these guys. We didn't think they'd want to work with us, but they love these guys. And they know that at the end of the day they have to be appealing, and it's personal to us. So, you know it's-
Ross: Well, you know, one of the things that I would say is that it doesn't mean that a large company can't do it well, but it's harder to find people with that kind of passion and investment and care and concern. You know, it's all about the care and feeding of what it is you're doing and we have a sort of myopic vision when it comes to these characters. So, you know, there is a curse of caring so much. You know, you wanna do right by the characters, you wanna do right by the people who grow up and love them. And, you know, there are four generations of fans now. And so, each time you wanna make sure you're making not only shows you're proud of and putting your best our there, but you're representing the characters the best way you know how. And we're too stupid not to do that.
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