Tiffany Ward: A Producer, A Legacy, & Fun With Mr. Peabody
Nov 21, 2013
Every dog has his day, but only one has a time machine. And that dog appears in his own movie next year with the release of Mr. Peabody & Sherman from Dreamworks Animation. In this interview, Jay Ward's daughter Tiffany Ward talks about the upcoming film and her role in continuing her father's legacy .
PREVIEWSworld: Tiffany, what’s the nature of your relationship with DreamWorks Animation?
Tiffany Ward: I think we did the initial contract in 2006 or 2007. I’m actually the Executive Producer on the film — Mr. Peabody & Sherman — but we have a bigger relationship than that. I did a joint venture years ago with Jay Ward Productions and Classics Media out of New York. Just about a year ago, DreamWorks Animation bought that company, and now it’s DreamWorks Classics. So we have a much closer relationship than just the Mr. Peabody & Sherman movie.
PREVIEWSworld: For the everyday person on the street, the term “Executive Producer” can be a loaded term. People may not know what this means. How would you explain the nature of your job duties as an Executive Producer concerning the movie, and the intellectual property?
Tiffany Ward: I’ve had the privilege of running the company for almost 24 years now since my father passed on, and in respect to the property I am involved in absolutely everything: every contract, every approval, every creative idea, piece of artwork, merchandise, you name it.
Now, in the case of the movie, I’m involved with all the artwork, all the casting, all the voice work, basically anything that relates to the original property.
And I have to say that DreamWorks has been a wonderful entity to deal with and they truly appreciate having me on board. I’m there to really make sure the characters stay true to themselves, and to the image my father had of them. We make sure to keep them true to the original property.
PREVIEWSworld: Did you have the chance to be a fly on the wall back in the day when Paul Frees and June Foray were doing voices for Rocky and his Friends?
Tiffany Ward: I did. I was a kid, but I got to go to quite a few of those recording sessions.
Certainly not all of them, but enough to get a feel for how they interacted in the studio. They had a great deal of fun in those recording sessions. The lines would crack them up, and there was a great camaraderie between all the voice actors.
My dad directed every episode, so I’d be in the control booth with him. He’d be laughing, too, but he’d say things like “Do that faster!” or “Do that slower!” or “I want the Brooklyn voice!” It was really fun just listening to them do it.
PREVIEWSworld: That “fun” factor, that chemistry, is something the voice actors have to bring to the Mr. Peabody & Sherman movie. Did you interact with the voice actors for this new DreamWorks Animation movie?
Tiffany Ward: Oh, they do them so differently now. Each actor comes in and does his or her own part separately. Whereas Dad had them all in a room together. And that bounced the energy off of them right in front of you. Now that’s not to say for the movie I didn’t listen to a person, and approve or disapprove on whether they sounded like the original character, or could do the job well. Yes, that is what I did for the film.
PREVIEWSworld: If you could have interacted with those voice actors who auditioned for the new movie, what would you have said to them in regards to what they would bring to the table?
Tiffany Ward: Well, I’m sure they all have unique personalities, and wonderful sets of skills and talents, but in this case, my advice to them would be to recreate the characters as much as possible to the originals.
PREVIEWSworld: Bringing 20th century characters into the 21st century can be challenging. Back in the day, we had to change the TV channels by turning a dial. So do you think the “older” generation and today’s kids can be brought together by the same appreciation for DreamWorks’ brand of animation? Do you think that will help bridge the two camps?
Tiffany Ward: Absolutely. The animation is just incredible. The animators have done just a remarkable job of creating the new likenesses, and especially giving them the heart and soul and humor of the characters. I’m fascinated with how delightful they look on the screen. They couldn’t look better.
PREVIEWSworld: So we hear Sherman’s nemesis is playing the role of Cleopatra in the film. True?
Tiffany Ward: (laughs) It’s not really Cleopatra, but, you know, close enough. Yes, she time travels back to Egypt and decides that looks like a pretty good life to her. At least for a while. She’s an entirely new character that we brought in as a counterpoint to Sherman, and I think it works very well.
PREVIEWSworld: Sherman’s also being seen in the classroom for the first time, correct?
Tiffany Ward: Yes, you will see Sherman on his first day of school and in the classroom! The wonderful thing about an 80 or 90-minute movie is that we get time to explore other characteristics that never got explored in the original cartoon. The Penny conflict, for example. He’s stealing her thunder!
PREVIEWSworld: Ok. Last question. Is there a possibility of another Rocky & Bullwinkle movie? Is it being talked about?
Tiffany Ward: Yes, we have an option for a Rocky and Bullwinkle movie which would be just an incredible opportunity.
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