WWLA: Robot Chicken Panel

Sun, March 16th, 2008 at 12:00am PDT

TV/Film
Jami Philbrick, Staff Writer

(L-R) Donald Faison, Matthew Senreich and Seth Green
A full crowd gathered on Saturday at the LA Convention Center's Petree Hall for Wizard World Los Angeles "Robot Chicken" panel.

Before the panel took the stage, the fan's enjoyed a quick montage of some of the show's greatest hits. It included clips of their parodies of "Star Wars," "Kill Bill" and "The Muppet Show" as well as a break dancing Voltron, a hip-hop Bugs Bunny and a carnage-happy Seth Green.

After the clip, Zach Odere of Toyfare magazine introduced the panel. Creator's Seth Green and Matt Senreich were on hand as well as writers Hugh Sterbakov and Kevin Schnick and director Chris McKay.

Once the introductions and a failed attempt at moderating were over, Green decided to jump right in by taking questions from the audience.

The first question came from an audience member wondering if there were any "Transformers" sketches coming up in the near future? "I think we do have at least one coming, it's in the works. It's just a matter if we think it will be hilarious or not," said McKay. They rejected three "Transformers" sketches because they didn't think they were funny.

With that, Senreich chimed in with an update on future episodes. "We just started writing season four and we're about two and half weeks in." To that Green replied, "And you know we have some genius stuff, but they said the same thing about "Lost" before it happened."

When asked about writing for the show, Green had this to say. "You just got to find something that works organically. Sometimes we'll aim at a property and say oh there's something I want to do with this but usually it's lead by a joke. You know what always struck me funny? Or did you ever notice this? That's usually where it comes from."

Senreich continued, "As far as what we look for in our writers, I don't think anybody came from the traditional wrought. Its random little clips we see on-line were we went after them and said this is funny. There were two guys who worked on a failed MTV pilot that we ended up hiring and we saw someone at the Groundlings and thought they were funny. That's where we end up getting most of our talent."

A fan then asked if they were going to be doing anything with the Bratz dolls? "Actually we did a sketch where it was like MTV's "Exposed" and it was Barbie and Bratz," replied Senreich.

"We try to play with the dynamic between Barbie and Bratz," said Green. "Where Barbies are preserved to be very affluent and accomplished, educated young women who are doctors, space shuttle pilots or equestrian masters. Where Bratz are just like, 'Whaz up? I love hot dogs, put one in my mouth.'"

A fan asked about a possible spoof involving "Can't Buy Me Love," a goofy 80's movie that stared Patrick Dempsey ("Grey's Anatomy") and a 13 year-old Seth Green. "Never say never, we come up with ideas all the time," answered Senreich. "It could happen but I doubt it," shouted Green.

He then mentioned in his defense that he did let air a spoof of his work in "Idle Hands." However, Senreich explained the show's unique veto policy. "It's four people voting to see if a sketch gets in and that was three to one." Indicating that Green had voted against the sketch. "Well sometimes I make bad decisions, what are you going to do," answered Green.

When asked by a fan if they would ever do a "Robot Chicken" movie, Green had this to say. "If the circumstances were correct and we could come up with something that makes sense, sure, totally."

Senreich continued, "The big conversation that goes back and forth is how do you do something that was designed to be ADD, 11 minutes, super fast and do it for two hours?" Green proclaimed, "Not yet, but someday."

When asked if he would ever make a "Scott Evil" film of his own, Green explained that the "Austin Powers" characters are the property of Mike Myers. "So I can make it in my house but if I tried to sell it, I'd be sued pretty quick."

He did say that Myer's mentioned in his "Shrek 3" press tour last summer that there is a possibility of doing a fourth "Austin Powers" movie, for which Green would return. He did state however, contrary to reports on IMDB, there are no plans for a sequel to "The Italian Job."

When asked about the rivalry between the show and "Family Guy," both of which have done "Star Wars" spoofs, Green said "The truth is, there's a lot of camaraderie between the two shows. A lot of shared assets. Seth McFarlane and I even talked to each other in celebration at one point. We couldn't believe we were being allowed to do this, because we're both such big Star Wars fans."

The actor continued, "There's room for everybody. What they did was so different. 'Family Guy' was really storytelling in the context of 'A New Hope' and ours was more like the in-between moments of things that you all ready know."

Senreich went on to mention that "Family Guy" is doing another "Star Wars" episode. When asked if "Robot Chicken" will have any more Lucas inspired episodes the creator replied coyly, "Maybe."

When asked if they had any plans on making fun of "Family Guy" in the future, Green mentioned a sketch in the works. It's a spoof on the old "Battle of the Network Stars" from the early 80's and its entitled "Battle of the Adult Swim Network Stars."

Another audience member asked if they felt that they ever did anything that crossed the line of decency, Green mentioned a recent vetoed episode, describing a sketch called "George Bush's last day in office." The sketch involved the President wanting to take one last "dump" in the presidential bathroom. Green went onto explain that Bush would then be seen defecating and vomiting at the same time and spinning out of control in circles. The caption below would read: "George W. Bush our 41st President." The sketch was voted down 3 to 1.

Who was responsible for the popular recurring character the humping robot? Director McKay stepped forward and said that it had been a total throwaway idea that was originally planned to be two seconds long. They found that the longer they let it play the funnier it became, and now it's a staple of the show.

When asked if they approach people to guest star on the show or if celebrities approach them, Senreich had this to say. " It's 50/50, Christian Slater stalked Seth at a party." "And we know each other so that's real awkward," added Green.

Green then went on about another celebrity encounter. "I'm a huge Gnarls Barkley fan, and I ran into Cee-Lo at a concert. We had never met before that and he yelled down the hall at me, 'SETH GREEN WHEN AM I GOING TO BE ON ROBOT CHICKEN?'"

This lead into a question about the "Cannonball Run" parody and working with Burt Reynolds. "I got to make a movie with Burt Reynolds and I fell desperately in love with him, like all Americans do." said Green. "At the end of the movie he was like, 'You know Seth, I'd be really happy if you called me sometime.' So I gave him my phone number and the next week he called and said, 'Seth, it's Burt. I want you to come by my house, a few people are going to come over and Dom (DeLuise) is going to get on the grill and I think it would be worth your while.' So I went to the dinner and just tried to make best friends with Burt and Dom."

Green went onto say that the next week they were working on an idea for a "Cannonball Run" sketch and he mentioned that he might be able to get Reynolds and DeLuise to do it. So he called them up and they said yes.

Senreich described meeting them for the first time. "They walked in and they're the nicest guys on the planet. Dom came in on a walker and Burt decided to do Tequila shots even though it was nine in the morning." "And I'm the only idiot who steps up and is like, "Lets do it, Burt!'" added Green.

Senreich continued, "And every time Dom screws up, and again he's on a walker, Burt slaps him. I mean they've been friends for like 40 or 50 years." "Don't misunderstand. Burt's an older man, but he has a chest like an oil drum, he's so massive," chimed Green.

"It was insane to see these two interact with each other, and they sat on the couch for the rest of the day when they were finished recording, for like eight hours, telling stories," said Senreich. "They would sit there and we had other people come in to record, and to every single lady that would pass by, Burt would say, 'Hey how are ya?' And not in a gross way, like a Michel Bay type of way, and actually one of the girls was like, 'I'm doing well how are you?' It was awesome."

In the last few moments, the panel was joined by "Scrubs" star Donald Faison who actually worked as an intern for Robot Chicken during the strike. He stated that his "head shaving" skills suck. Before the strike Faison had done voices on the show, including Lex Luthor and Dr. Amazon from the "Star Wars" special. He mentioned that he has a whole new respect for what the animators do. "I tried to animate," said the actor. "It isn't easy, it's an art form to do that on screen, and it takes a lot of people and a lot of work."

Senreich went on to say that Faison would come in three days a week and work full, long days. "It was funny to walk in and see Donald with a mask on working on puppets but as soon as the strike was over he was out of there. He had to go make real money." Who can blame him, right?

Finally, the panel wrapped up with another montage of scenes. Included were "Michael Bay Presents: Stuff Blowing Up," the Kool-Aid Zombie Man and a "300" parody with our forefathers called "1776."

We also caught glimpses of the Humping Robot having his way with Lindsay Lohan's "Herbie The Love Bug" and a "Grease" parody called "Humplightning." As well the "Pedophile Unicorn," a Gummy Bear that gets caught in a bear trap and has to eat her way out and a sketch featuring Sir Mix-A-Lot as one of King Arthur's Knights of the Round Table.

New episodes of "Robot Chicken" debut August 31st on Cartoon Network.

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