December, 2007

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The Eddie Show

by Steve Moore

FLIP is proud to post the best Christmas Special never seen on TV.   The Eddie Show first premiered at Disney Studios in 1981, and became a cult hit.   This, the second show from 1982, is considered the best of them all.   Never heard of The Eddie Show?   Well here's the story, as told to me by art director Mike Giaimo, the mastermind behind it all.

In the summer of 1981, Mike's friend Brett Thompson had been working for the producers of the just completed Beatlemania: The Movie. Brett took Mike to the production house see the life-sized cutouts of movie stars that were used in a Sgt Pepper sequence in the film. Against the wall of a storeroom were stacks of cardboard stars begging Mike to take them home. Brett was a bit leery, unsure of what plans his bosses may have had for the cutouts.   Mike assured him they were destined for the dumpster. "What would they do with them?" he reasoned, and besides, how cool would they look in his apartment?   Brett finally caved, but told him to pick some "less famous ones", stars that his bosses wouldn't miss.   He chose Eddie Fisher, Marlon Brando, Zsa Zsa Gabor, and Doris Day. You can debate their level of fame in 1981 amongst yourselves.

Mike was working in the old animation building at Disney, which was then still the home to animators. He brought flat Eddie Fisher to display in the office that he shared with storyboard artist Jim Mitchell.   Jim was quite intrigued with the cut out, and suggested they make a puppet out of it.   Jim created a rig whereby the jaw and eyes could be manipulated, using rubber bands commonly used for binding animation scenes.   He then cut out holes at the elbows to place real arms through, creating a bizarre, photo cutout muppet of sorts.   To test it out, Mike popped a Louis Armstrong cassette into his stereo and manipulated Eddie Fisher to sing along. The result was so hilarious, that Jim urged him to make a complete show.   And so, on company time, The Eddie Show was born.

Mike teamed with designer Mike Gabriel to create a show using old Christmas recordings from the 1940's and '50's, crudely edited together using Gabriel's reel-to-reel tape deck and a trigger finger on the pause button.   The other flat stars were puppet-ized, and a routine was worked out enlisting the talents of Chris Buck, Joe Ranft, Sue Mantle (now DiCicco), Brian McEntee, Darrell Van Citters and Shawn Keller.

It was not an easy show to perform. Coordination of the different elements was extremely difficult.   It took two people to work each puppet, one to be the actual arms, and one to work the mouth and eyes. To do this gracefully and without being seen by the audience took lots of practice and great physical effort. Mike Gabriel and Joe Ranft used their animators' instincts in their teamwork as Zsa Zsa Gabor, bringing a subtlety that suggests they were having way too much fun. The Eddie team pulled all-nighters, sometimes at the studio, rehearsing a   show that was put together in a month.

The show was performed live from the window of Mike's office as employees made their way to work in the morning.   The sound system was nothing more than a tinny speaker hung from a rope and dangled outside the window. It was performed only once, and fortunately Tad Stones videotaped it. Camcorders were not so common in 1982.

Joe Ranft also appears as Santa Claus, a role he reluctantly accepted. "Part of him was Santa, but part of him hated Santa at the same time."   Giaimo explains.   "He did it, but didn't want people to think he was a Santa guy." Also appearing in the skit were Darrell Van Citters and Shawn Keller as the Gurney Guys.   Don't blink.

One blooper to look for: the blinds. The office blinds were supposed to close to end the show.   They malfunctioned quite ungracefully, and you can see Joe crack up over it.   Though unintentional, the studio was not amused by the damaged property.  

Five different Eddie Shows were performed over the years. Then the puppets retired, dying a slow death as Mike moved to different homes.   Damaged, with eyes and jaws missing, they were finally put out for trash in an alley behind Mike's place.   But the trash man would not take them!   "It's like they refused to die!" Mike said.   So they sat, Eddie, Doris, Zsa Zsa, and Marlon, staring at Mike's house, defiantly, for three weeks, then disappeared mysteriously. Over the years, people have urged Mike to do another show but he's content to let it rest, "Its part of its time."  

What do you get an animator? Its tricky! Common animation merchandise just won't cut it, so don't embarrass yourself giving that Looney Tunes embroidered sweatshirt you found at the mall. Just don't do it! Here's some unique animation gifts for the hunched and goofy. Most of the items are independent creations of people in the animation industry. Give them your support, won't you?

Ten Animated Films
by Signe Baumane

A collection of short films from 1991 to 2005 by Latvian animator Signe Baumane, who's short The Threatened One was featured in FLIP #3.

$20, plus shipping. BUY IT!

Avoid Eye Contact
Volumes 1 and 2

by various artists

Included in these collections are shorts from John Schnall, Patrick Smith, Fran Krause, Nina Paley, and Signe Baumane, all featured in FLIP #3! Also featured are films by George Griffin, Bill Plympton, and PES.

$20 for one, or $32 for both, plus shipping. BUY THEM!

Liquid Tales
by Patrick Smith

A collection of New York animator Patrick Smith's bizarre, morphing style and symbolic stories of identity and emotion have been assembled onto this single DVD. Includes five animated films, extra features and more. Smith's short Handshake was featured in FLIP #3, and he was FLIP #6's featured artist.

$25 plus shipping. BUY IT!

Queer Duck: The Movie
directed by Xeth Feinberg

Xeth is the genius behind MishMash Media, featuring whimsical characters like Papu and Bulbo. His short film Bulbo in Bulboland was featured in FLIP #3! Queer Duck first appeared as shorts series, created by Mike Reiss and featured on the Ice Box website.

$19.99 plus shipping. BUY IT!

Olive the Other Reindeer
directed by
Steve Moore

This very cool contemporary animated Christmas special was based on the equally cool childrens' book by Vivian Walsh and J.Otto Seibold.

$12.49 plus shipping. BUY IT!

Family Pants
by Dave Redl

Created and animated by New Jersey cartoonist Dave Redl, who's short Canned Ham was featured in FLIP #3. Family Pants was based loosely on his and his parents' marriage.

$13.95 plus shipping. BUY IT!

A recent survey of FLIP readers revealed this film as recommended favorite from the past year.


Writer Tim Hauser gave this assessment of the film:
"What a joy to see pure visual storytelling with beauty, sincerity and whimsy again. I cried like a baby."

c.2007 Moore Studios, Inc