We've all heard stories about Eddie Selzer, the producer of Looney Tunes, and about how he had no sense of humor. Well, guess what? i actually uncovered an old magazine article dated August 4, 1969 from Film Culture magazine that included an interview with him! I received this magazine from a friend who collects old magazines. Reading this interview is actually quite laughable, and you'll see that the stories Chuck Jones told about Selzer being a humorless bozo, were not exaggerated.
My scanner does not work, so I had to actually RE-TYPE this thing word for word. The things I do for you guys.
FC: What was it like being the head producer for a company creating what many consider the greatest cartoons ever?
ES: You'd never know it, but I found it quite boring. Watching a cartoon get produced is tiring. Seeing storyboards, and looking a scripts is a pain. It's the equivalent of reading. I hate reading. And I know there are those who say reading is good for you. Well if hating to read is bad then I don't want to be right. The only entertaining part was seeing the final cartoon on the projection screen before release. Knowing you're the first person to see these cartoons makes me feel good. Like I'm ahead of the average person. And winning those Oscars was great.
FC: Explain your role as a cartoon producer.
ES: It is my duty to make sure the cartoons are funny. I attend story meetings, and look at the storyboards, see what the cartoon is about, look at the gags, and then let the directors and writers know which gags don't work, and which ones do. Or tell them if a new type of character is good or bad. Unfortunately, they rarely listen to me. I'm just one person, and don't have that much power over their work. For the most part it's up to Jack Warner the head of Warner Bros. Being the only producer in one cartoon studio is a pain. The cartoon executives of today have it easy. They work in groups now, and it's easier for them to control animation people, so we can get what we want.
FC: Why is it a bad thing to let the animators do their own thing, and not have a person looking over their shoulder? Can't they have a little freedom.
ES: That's what a teenager would say to their parent.
FC: I met Friz Freleng once. He said you two once fought over the character of Tweety Pie. You wanted to use a woodpecker character and Freleng wanted to use Tweety.
ES: There was a story man by the name of Bugs Hardaway, who worked at Warner Bros. long before I came aboard, and from what I understand he created Woody Woodpecker. Well that character became a hit. Friiz Freleng eventually made his own Woody Woodpecker cartoon, although oddly enough, he felt the need to redesign the character to be cuter, and he paired the woodpecker with Sylvester. Now I like Woody Woopdecker, and wanted Friz to do more cartoons with that character, but Friz wanted to use Tweety who was originally created by Bob Clampett. Friz threw a fit and walked out. Bob Clampett, who was in the process of being let go at the time, talked me into calling Friz back up. He convinced me that Friz was a terrible talent to lose, so that's what I did. Friz came back, he made the cartoon his own way, and it won an Oscar, which the Academy said I was allowed to keep. In fact, they said i could keep all the oscars we won, instead of the artists. That was real nice of them. I wonder if Walt Disney gets such special treatment. And the Woody Woodpecker cartoons continued as well, but strangely enough, they were made at another studio.
FC: Did you ever meet the original Looney Tunes producer Leon Schlesinger?
ES: No. And i can't really comment on his producing techniques, but just to point out, no Looney Tunes cartoon won an Oscar until I took over. Think about that.
FC: Of all the Looney Tunes characters, who is your favorite?
ES: Bugs Bunny. He makes us the most money.
FC: And least favorite?
ES: I hate Tasmanian devil, and that skunk Stinky, I guess that's his
name. It's never really mentioned in any of the cartoons. The odd thing is these characters are just as well-liked by the public as Bug and Daffy are. Honestly, where is this world coming to?
FC: Are there any cartoon shorts your regret producing?
ES: I hated the one where Bugs fights the bull. Bullfighting isn't funny. I also hated the one where Bugs is fighting a camel. Camels aren't funny. And they're ugly too. They're big lips, big humps, they spit everywhere, and go freakishly long without water. And have you ever looked at a camel's foot? Particularly their toes? Camels have some ugly toes.