Friday, December 12, 2008

Big Stars Doing Voice Over Work Is Mischief

Movies like Shrek (now Shrek III) are wildly popular these days, I don’t understand it myself, I find them mostly wooden and unfunny. I suppose if kids like them it’s a good thing, but there’s one aspect of it that really annoys me. Only one aspect? Maybe I’m trying to be nice here, but one aspect in particular.

Voice-over work, providing the voices for animated cartoons and features was done for most of the history of the movie business by voice-over actors and actresses. We never saw their faces, but many of them were famous in their own right and we knew their work when we heard it. Guys like Mel Blanc, and more recently Billy West. All of that has changed.

Now all of the characters are voiced by big-time movie actors and actresses. I’m sure that the original intention was to provide marquee value for what was essentially a cartoon. Now all of the big stars are scrambling for the business.

John Travolta got a plum role in a movie about a dog or something, a cartoon dog. He seemed very happy about it when I saw him on TV doing PR for the movie. And who could blame him? He got a huge fee, probably most of his usual fee, for sitting around for a few weeks in a bathrobe, unshaven, talking into a microphone. No location shooting, no cameras, no makeup, no losing or gaining weight, just sit and talk, bankers’ hours, sleep at home every night. That’s good work right there.

My point is that it should be work for real voice-over actors and actresses. That is a talent group that should be valued and nurtured. They should get the money, and a lot less money it would be too. Travolta already has seven jet aircraft, he doesn’t need to take food out of the mouths of the voice-over crowd.

I’m here to call for a return to normalcy.

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