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A Late Louis Armstrong Album Even a Critic Could Love.

Jazz critic Kevin Whitehead reviews the reissue “Louis Armstrong: Satch Plays Fats” (Columbia/Legacy).

06:58

Other segments from the episode on July 5, 2000

Fresh Air with Terry Gross, July 5, 2000: Interview with Keith Scott; Review of Louis Armstrong's album "Satch Plays Fats"; Review of Myla Goldberg's novel "Bee Season."

Transcript

DATE July 5, 2000 ACCOUNT NUMBER N/A
TIME 12:00 Noon-1:00 PM AUDIENCE N/A
NETWORK NPR
PROGRAM Fresh Air

Interview: Voice artist Keith Scott discusses his role in the new
film "The Adventures of Rocky & Bullwinkle" and also some of the
older Rocky & Bullwinkle cartoons
TERRY GROSS, host:

This is FRESH AIR. I'm Terry Gross.

(Soundbite of Rocky & Bullwinkle)

"ROCKY": Let's go.

"BULLWINKLE": Not so fast, Rock. We're the heroes, remember.

ROCKY: So?

BULLWINKLE: So the heroes always arrive in the ta-dah, nick of time.

GROSS: During the Cold War, Rocky & Bullwinkle repeatedly managed to foil the
plans of the two evil spies Boris Badenov and Natasha Fatale. The cartoon
series premiered in 1959. Now Rocky, his friends and enemies are back in the
new movie, "The Adventures of Rocky & Bullwinkle." My guest Keith Scott does
the voices for Bullwinkle and the narrator in the new film. Scott is also the
historian and archivist for Jay Ward Productions, the animation studio that
created Rocky & Bullwinkle, "Crusader Rabbit" and "George of the Jungle."
Scott has written a new book about the studio called "The Moose That Roared."
Let's hear a scene from the new film. Boris and Natasha have crossed over
from their cartoon lives into the real world. Rocky and Bullwinkle manage to
follow, but the talking squirrel and dimwitted moose have trouble fitting into
the real world.

(Soundbite of "The Adventures of Rocky & Bullwinkle")

Mr. KEITH SCOTT: (As Narrator) So on they walked, two lone figures making
their way through a foreign and hostile live-action landscape.

(As Bullwinkle) I thought you said we were in Oklahoma.

(As Narrator) Would you like to narrate this movie?

(As Bullwinkle) No.

(As Narrator) And so on they walked...

GROSS: Keith Scott, welcome to FRESH AIR.

Mr. SCOTT: Thank you, Terry.

GROSS: Who was the originator of Bullwinkle's voice?

Mr. SCOTT: The originator was Bill Scott. And, you know, it's kind of
funny, there's this movie database dot-com that keeps insisting that I'm his
son, and we're not related, and yet I knew him very well, and--you know,
because I was always the world's biggest fan of this property. And he could
tell that, he could tell I wasn't just an autograph seeker. So he began a
correspondence with me. And he always used to kind of jokingly sign, you
know, `Perhaps I'm your long lost uncle, Bill Scott.'

GROSS: Did he talk with you about creating the voice?

Mr. SCOTT: Yes. Yes, he did. He said that originally Bullwinkle was always
conceived as kind of--you know, I guess a generic dumb cartoon voice. In old
cartoons you always heard the `Which way did he go, George?' or (imitating
Bullwinkle) `Duh, gee, Rocky,' you know, so it was always these dumb sort of
characters as they used to call them. And so he made him what he described as
a smart goof. In other words, there was a lot more going on in Bullwinkle's
head (imitating Bullwinkle) even though he had this kind of dumb voice.

GROSS: Right. Now what do you do to get that voice? Where do you place your
voice in your head?

Mr. SCOTT: Well, it's kind of hard for me to physically describe where my
throat is doing that, but I think it's because for I guess 40 years of my 46
years, I've been the world's biggest fan of this, so it's just osmosis.
Listening and also Bill Scott gave me all the original recording session
tapes, so you kind of became like a fly on the wall, you could hear the actors
developing these voices--or get inside the actors' heads, rather than just the
characters. (Imitating Bullwinkle) So really I can't describe how I do this.
There's a lot of air there, there's a lot of diaphragm. There's also a lot of
charisma, I think.

GROSS: You've also done the voice of the announcer, and you do the
announcer's voice for the new Rocky & Bullwinkle movie.

Mr. SCOTT: Right.

GROSS: Who was the original announcer?

Mr. SCOTT: Well, that was William Conrad who, as some of your listeners might
remember, the TV series "Cannon," and he was kind of a fairly rotund guy. But
of course, you know, all of these great voice actors that they used were
originally in the days of network radio drama and comedy--so William Conrad
was really well-known as the voice of Matt Dillon in the original "Gunsmoke."
(Imitating Matt Dillon character) And he had this very deep rolling sort of
voice, and I'm that man, Matt Dillon, United States marshal.

But, of course, when he did the show, the Rocky & Bullwinkle cartoons, he was
a lot more cartoony, so it was (imitating Conrad as "Rocky & Bullwinkle
narrator), `In our last episode, those intrepid heroes, Rocky and Bullwinkle,
were being followed by that vicious villain, Boris Badenov.

GROSS: That's great. I think it's really funny that you should be both doing
the voice of the goofy Bullwinkle and the authoritative announcer.

Mr. SCOTT: It's so weird, because in this new movie, there's even a line
where Bullwinkle's walking through this angry crowd at the university,
Wassamatta U., which they re-created from the old cartoons, and the
narrator says (imitating "The Adventures of Rocky & Bullwinkle" narrator) `And
our insipid hero made it through the crowd.' And then Bullwinkle says,
(imitating Bullwinkle) `Don't you mean intrepid hero?' and there's a little
pause and he goes (imitating narrator) `No.'

GROSS: And did you go those voices back to back, having a conversation with
yourself, or did you record them separately?

Mr. SCOTT: Well, pretty much back to back on the read-throughs and the
prerecord, but as you know, on a big-budget picture like this, eventually
everything gets replaced. And I think for consistency of character it's
better if you read just one character's lines. In fact, even in the old
Warner Bros. cartoons, Mel Blanc always used to admit that he'd do all of Bugs
Bunny's lines first and then come back and do Yosemite Sam, or he wouldn't
have a voice box left.

GROSS: Right. Now you don't do the voice of the Russian spy, Boris Badenov,
in the movie, but you have done Boris Badenov for other versions of Rocky &
Bullwinkle.

Mr. SCOTT: Well, you know, actually, I do do Boris' voice in the movie.

GROSS: Oh.

Mr. SCOTT: There's a short section where you see the characters in normal
cell animation, and I'd forgotten that. Because I hadn't seen the whole
picture until the premiere last Saturday on the 24th of June, and it was
amazing because there's a little tiny section where Boris and Fearless Leader
and Natasha enter the real world, and June and I did those voices. I did
Fearless Leader and Boris. And then, of course, they become Jason Alexander
and Robert De Niro.

GROSS: Mm-hmm. Do you want to give us a little taste of Boris?

Mr. SCOTT: (Imitating Boris Badenov) This is Boris Badenov, incompetent
little Pottsylvanian spy. Oh, boy, Natasha.

GROSS: What a great laugh. Now who's that voice based on?

Mr. SCOTT: Well, Paul Frees, the originator of the voice of Boris Badenov and
many, many other voices on the old cartoons, actually admitted that he took
Boris' voice from a veteran character actor named Akim Tamiroff who, you know,
I guess you could see him in Orson Welles' "Touch of Evil" and a lot of old
films from the '40s--"For Whom the Bell Tolls." And he was always these
(imitating Boris Badenov) little, very charismatic villains, often with that
Vulcan dialect.

So he took a bit of that, and then a little bit of this character that a
Jewish comic called Bert Gordon did on "The Eddie Cantor Show," and it
was one of those weekly characters that used to appear on old-time radio. The
audience would look forward to it. It was called "The Mad Russian," and it
was always (imitating Tamiroff) `How do you do?' So he--I think he just
kind of combined those two voices, and we had this crazy villain.

GROSS: My guest is voice artist Keith Scott, author of the new book "The
Moose that Roared."

(Soundbite of Rocky & Bullwinkle cartoon)

"Ms. NATASHA FATALE": Boris, why you are coughing?

"Mr. BORIS BADENOV": I'm used to breathing good old city smog, Natasha. This
fresh air is killing me.

GROSS: More after a break. This is FRESH AIR.

(Soundbite of music)

GROSS: My guest is Keith Scott. He does the voices for Bullwinkle and the
announcer in the new movie, "The Adventures of Rocky & Bullwinkle."

One more voice I want you to do, which is also a voice from Jay Ward cartoons,
and that's Dudley Do-Right.

Mr. SCOTT: Right. Yes, Dudley Do-Right of the Mounties, the (imitating
Dudley Do-Right) the only Mountie ever to arrest a redwood tree for loitering.

GROSS: Now is Dudley Do-Right based on the singer and actor Nelson Eddy and
his voice?

Mr. SCOTT: Yeah, I think originally Bill Scott did a kind of--I mean, in one
of the old Dudley Do-Right cartoons, they did him deliberately doing that
tribute to Nelson Eddy from "Rose-Marie" where he played the red-coated
Mountie.

GROSS: The singing Mountie.

Mr. SCOTT: Well, yeah, it was operatic, but that was a Victor Herbert opera,
"Rose-Marie." But when Nelson Eddy had a radio show in Hollywood in the '40s,
for some peculiar reason his theme song was (imitating Eddy and singing)
Mama's little baby loves shortening, shortening.

And in one of the "Dudley Do-Rights", Nell falls over in a fainting spell,
so Dudley says (imitating Dudley Do-Right) `I'll revive her with my glorious
voice. (Singing) "Mama's little baby loves shortening, shortening. Mama's
little baby loves shortening bread."' And then she comes to life again, so...

GROSS: Now let's get back to Rocky & Bullwinkle.

Mr. SCOTT: Sure.

GROSS: What do you love about the Rocky & Bullwinkle cartoons?

Mr. SCOTT: Well, I've loved them and been a booster of them for so many
years. I still think it boils down to the writing. They really were sort of
like light years ahead of their time. I mean, I think the younger audiences
coming up today who have been weaned on, you know, all the channels from the
days in the crib are far more media literate than audiences 35, 40 years ago.
But I think if Rocky & Bullwinkle began today, with that same sort of very hip
and self-reflexive writing style, it would be as big as "The Simpsons," I'm
sure. You know, Matt Groening, who created "The Simpsons," always used to say
that he was influenced by Bullwinkle.

GROSS: For anyone who's never seen Rocky & Bullwinkle cartoons, what's the
basic premise?

Mr. SCOTT: Well, the premise is that these two zany-looking heroes--you know,
the design is just so cheap and funny. This very tall moose and this very
short squirrel are best buddies, they live in Frostbite Falls, Minnesota,
and in every adventure they travel the world and foil the plans of this Cold
War villain couple, Boris Badenov and Natasha Fatale. And they do it just by
lucking out, mainly. So the whole thing is a takeoff on melodrama and, you
know, white-hatted heroes. But it's just done in a very light-hearted,
charming, satirical style. But the main thing to say about these cartoons is
that they all eventuated when there was so much competition of bland cartoons;
you know, cats chasing mice and that sort of thing, so that these stood out.
For anyone who Bill Scott used to call the smart kids, to suddenly pick these
out as something special--because at the same time that, you know, Yogi Bear
was stealing a pie off the windowsill, Rocky and Bullwinkle were satirizing
politics and TV executives and things that really were way over the kids'
heads, so that Bill Scott and Jay Ward used to say you could keep coming back
to these cartoons from young childhood through early high school and then into
adulthood, on three different levels, then you'd keep getting things that you
didn't get the previous time.

GROSS: Why don't we hear an excerpt of one of the early Rocky & Bullwinkle
cartoons. And in this one, the spies, Boris and Natasha, have drained Lake
Salle de Bain, which of course in French means bathroom.

Mr. SCOTT: Right.

GROSS: And have drained the lake and have basically pulled the plug to drain
the lake in order to get at a trunk of treasure buried at the bottom. And
after they get the chest...

Mr. SCOTT: Yes, the treasure chest of Monte Zoom.

GROSS: Yes, I kept expecting Monte Zoom's revenge to be the end of this.

Mr. SCOTT: Yes.

GROSS: But after they get the chest with the treasure in it, they can't open
the chest. So they throw it off a little mountain hoping that when it hits
the ground it will open. But what happens is Boris Badenov ends up falling
off the little mountain with the chest, and the chest lands on top of him. As
he's falling, Natasha yells some advice to him.

(Excerpt from Rocky & Bullwinkle cartoon)

"Ms. NATASHA FATALE": Don't worry, darling. Remember, this is just cartoon.

(Soundbite of explosion)

Ms. FATALE: Boris, are you all right?

"Mr. BORIS BADENOV": Natasha, I just found out what happens when a cartoon
chest falls on a cartoon character.

Ms. FATALE: What?

Mr. BADENOV: It hurts.

Ms. FATALE: And what's more, darling...

Mr. BADENOV: What could be what's more?

Ms. FATALE: ...the chest still isn't opened.

Mr. BADENOV: Phooey and double phooey.

"ROCKY": That voice, Bullwinkle, where have I heard that voice?

"BULLWINKLE": I heard something like it once when I dropped a chicken bone in
the garbage disposal.

Mr. BADENOV: That does it, Natasha. Come on, we're going to get an A-bomb.

Ms. FATALE: A-bomb?

Mr. BADENOV: A-bomb. Come on.

ROCKY: Did you hear that, Bullwinkle?

BULLWINKLE: Sure, they repeated it twice.

ROCKY: Do you know what A-bomb means?

BULLWINKLE: Certainly. A-bomb means what some people call our program.

ROCKY: I don't think that's so funny.

BULLWINKLE: Neither do they, apparently.

GROSS: Do you know why Jay Ward decided to have these two Russian spies and
make it a Cold War comedy?

Mr. SCOTT: I believe that was Bill Scott's decision. He wrote the script for
the pilot film. And I think he wrote it in--around about Christmas of 1957,
and that, of course, was Sputnik era and it was when the tensions of the Cold
War were, you know, at their height. So it was--I think it was just topical,
and he was a very topical person. He was--if he hadn't been in animation, I'm
sure he would have been one of these comedians like Stan Freberg, you know,
who was doing whatever was in the news at the time. Not mother-in-law jokes,
but I'm talking like political jokes, you know?

So I think then when they created the characters, they based the look of it
kind of as a tribute to Charles Addams, the cartoonist, you know, with "The
Addams Family," Gomez and Morticia as they were named in the TV show--they
never had a name in the old panel cartoons--looked very much like Boris and
Natasha. And I think once that story developed, and then the show was picked
up and renewed, they decided to keep those villains, because the Cold War had
continued, and they had ended up, in the first 40 episodes, as very funny,
bumbling characters that looked viable for a long life.

GROSS: Do you know anything about Jay Ward's and Bill Scott's politics?

Mr. SCOTT: The only thing I knew was that, you know, as I mentioned, Bill
Scott's son said that my dad was a screaming lefty, and he was. I mean, you
know, he was involved in many causes. He did commercials for Mental Health
Foundation, he was a member of the Civil Liberties Union. And Jay Ward,
strangely enough, was a staunch Republican. And yet these two got on and
giggled all day long, and they were totally politically opposed.

GROSS: Many of the jokes in Rocky & Bullwinkle had to go over the heads of
kids who were watching. Did Jay Ward care whether kids got the jokes or not?

Mr. SCOTT: I don't think he really cared, because he was clever enough to
realize that they could see it--especially very small kids could watch the
cartoons and be enchanted by the odd-looking design and just the story line
itself. There was a sense of adventure that even the youngest audiences got.
But he always spoke very intelligently about his audiences. Whenever he got
dictation from the networks or the sponsor saying, you know, `Too many adult
references, too much show biz material,' you know, `You're going to offend
some Greek national if you do that dialect'--you know, complaint after
complaint, and he would always say, you know, `The kids are going to get this,
you know. Audiences have brains.' So both of them presumed a degree of
intelligence in the viewers, which network people were renowned for doing the
complete opposite, you know.

GROSS: Who were the sponsors of Rocky & Bullwinkle on TV?

Mr. SCOTT: General Mills, the big breakfast cereal concern and flour mill.
they were the sponsors, and they still, because of a kind of a deal that had
to be made when Jay Ward was very ill to get the show sold--one of the
unfortunate things for Ward Productions is that there's one clause in there
which says that the continental United States, all the TV rights, remain with
General Mills into perpetuity.

GROSS: How did the sponsor have so much control that the sponsors were able
to complain about the content of the program?

Mr. SCOTT: Because I think in those days, which was only--you know,
television had only been a reality for a decade, so there was a lot of
practices that had come from, you know, four decades of network radio, and in
those days the sponsor--this kind of died out in the late '60s, early '70s,
but the sponsors used to own the shows. In fact, General Mills also owned
"The Lone Ranger," and so really, if you had a TV show, the sponsor kind of
controlled it through their advertising agency.

GROSS: You say that since the sponsor for Rocky & Bullwinkle had also
sponsored "The Lone Ranger," Rocky and Bullwinkle weren't allowed to make fun
of the Lone Ranger or even his horse, Silver.

Mr. SCOTT: Yes. Yes. Well, that's what they were told. I think they went
ahead and did. I know that there were references to `Who was that masked
man?' that famous line from "The Lone Ranger." So it was like they were
taunting the sponsor. And to be honest, the sponsors weren't the villains of
the story. I think the ones who were really a lot more finicky were the
advertising agencies, because they lived in fear of the sponsor dropping their
account, or the ABC TV network as I point out, you know, in the
book--especially NBC in those days. The three networks were far more
conservative than they are these days.

GROSS: Can you remember something that the network objected to?

Mr. SCOTT: They definitely objected to some of the voices in the early days,
especially if there was--I think in one of the "Hoppity Hooper" cartoons--that
was a lesser series that he did after "Bullwinkle"--Paul Frees imitated
Senator Everett Dirksen (imitating Dirksen) who had that kind of a voice.

And they got these fear-filled letters saying, `Oh, we can't do that voice.'
And, of course, Jay Ward would always play dumb, he said, `What? He just made
that funny voice up on the spot.' And of course it was a politician.

GROSS: You quote Jay Ward as once having once said, "If we paid attention to
the lists of dos and don'ts applied by the network, the sponsor and the
agency, all we could say would be `hello' and `goodbye,' and we'd even have to
shorten that a little."

Mr. SCOTT: That was his colorful publicity bit, but I guess in a kind of a
way it was truthful, because they would get memo after memo--I mean, Bill
Scott gave me a lot of the correspondences for my research in this book before
he passed away, and there was daily complaints. But I think a lot of that was
in the first season. Then, of course, "Rocky and His Friends," which was the
original title, went on to surprisingly become the highest rated daytime show,
and these directives got less and less. And they kind of formed that sort of
relationship that a lot of creative vs. suit things form. You know, finally
they learn to live with each other's eccentricities.

GROSS: Keith Scott does the voices of Bullwinkle and the narrator in the new
film "The Adventures of Rocky & Bullwinkle." And he's the author of the new
book, "The Moose that Roared." He'll be back in the second half of the show.
I'm Terry Gross, and this is FRESH AIR.

(Soundbite of Rocky & Bullwinkle cartoon)

"ROCKY": And now for the cultural part of our program, we bring you
"Bullwinkle's Corner," with that moose of letters Bullwinkle.

"BULLWINKLE": Hello, there. Today's poem is from Mother Moose.

ROCKY: Mother Goose.

BULLWINKLE: Goose? Must be a misprint. Anyways, the poem is "Little Miss
Muffet." `Little Miss Muffet sat on a tuffet...'

ROCKY: What's a tuffet?

BULLWINKLE: Hmm?

ROCKY: What's a tuffet?

BULLWINKLE: It's what I'm sitting on--`eating her curds and whey.' Boy, this
stuff is terrible. `Along come a spider and'--you're the spider?

ROCKY: He couldn't make it.

BULLWINKLE: But you ain't scary. You're supposed to scare me.

ROCKY: OK, fellas, up.

BULLWINKLE: Take two. `Along come a spider and sat down beside her and'--Ah,
a spider, a spider!

ROCKY: Hey.

BULLWINKLE: Hello, Rock.

ROCKY: Hey, Miss Muffet, your curds and whey are on your head.

BULLWINKLE: Let me tell you something, I'd rather wear them than eat them.

(Funding credits given)

GROSS: This is NPR, National Public Radio.

(Soundbite of music)

GROSS: We're listening to music from "Satch Plays Fats." Coming up, Kevin
Whitehead reviews this new Louis Armstrong reissue. Also, Maureen Corrigan
reviews the novel "Bee Season." And we continue our conversation with Keith
Scott, the voice of Bullwinkle in the new movie.

(Soundbite of music)

GROSS: This is FRESH AIR. I'm Terry Gross.

(Soundbite of "Rocky & Bullwinkle")

"ROCKY": Now it's time to get back to our story.

GROSS: My guest, Keith Scott, does the voices of Bullwinkle and the narrator
in the new film "The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle." He's also the
official historian of Jay Ward Productions, the animation studio that created
"Rocky & Bullwinkle," "Crusader Rabbit" and "George of the Jungle." Scott has
written a new book about the studio called "The Moose That Roared."

Now, Keith Scott, you grew up in Australia, and our listeners could probably
hear the remains of your Australian accent.

Mr. SCOTT: Right.

GROSS: You grew up in Sydney. When did "Rocky & Bullwinkle" come to Sydney
television?

Mr. SCOTT: It was in 1960. Australia was the first foreign sale that they
had. I don't know if it ever really went to England in a big way. I don't
think it did. It was certainly very big in Australia and New Zealand, but
yeah, 1960, when I was seven years of age.

GROSS: So TV was very new in your house when you started watching "Rocky &
Bullwinkle."

Mr. SCOTT: Yeah. I think we'd only had a set for, like, a year. And, of
course, I'd already seen "Crusader Rabbit" and "Huckleberry Hound" and "Tom
Terrific" and all of the competition, and again, you know, realized from a
very early age that I was one of these, you know, people who loved comic books
and cartoon art, Disney caricatures, Mad magazine--that type of pop culture.
And...

GROSS: Now how--yeah. Go ahead.

Mr. SCOTT: You know, kind of embarrassing to say; I still haven't grown up,
40 years later.

GROSS: How did you, as a kid growing up in Sydney, get to meet the people
behind "Rocky & Bullwinkle"?

Mr. SCOTT: I think it was just that my interest in the humor and the voices
in the show had gone on, and, of course, once that interest remains, you start
asking more and more questions that roll around in your head, like, `What do
these people look like?' or `Who are they?' or `What are their backgrounds?'
or `How do they come up with these voices?' or `Who wrote the scripts?' And
it just kept building and building in me until finally, on a whim, I wrote to
a local TV station and they gave me an address where they thought maybe my
correspondence would get to.

Well, the first one I wrote to was Daws Butler, who was probably more famous
for his Hanna-Barbera characters, like Huckleberry Hound and, you know, Mr.
Jinx from "Pixie & Dixie"--Mr. Jinx, (in character voice) who clobbered those
miserable meeses to pieces, like--(in normal voice) and those characters. But
he was, like, 5'2" tall and he was like a little Irish pixie and known for
being one of the warmest people in Hollywood. Well, you know, I never
expected to get an answer from these people, because they seemed so daunting
to someone so young. But he couldn't have been nicer. He sent a very
detailed letter. He gave me Bill Scott's address to write to, his home
address, June Foray's address.

So it really started as a kind of superfan meets his idols, and eventually got
into the same line of work as them while they were still alive to see that
happen. So it really--you know, it's very strange the way fate takes you
sometimes.

GROSS: You started off doing voices for cartoons and commercials in
Australia. What kinds of characters on the cartoons and commercials?

Mr. SCOTT: Very similar to what the Jay Ward actors did, because when you're
doing cartoons, sometimes they'll show you a model sheet of a character. And
they say, `Well, it's kind of like,' you know, and then generally when they
say that it means it's either an impersonation of a famous, you know, actor,
or an exaggeration of that person. So we do--there's a local cartoon series
that we make in Sydney based on a German property; of course, it's redubbed
when it goes back to Europe, but I do the two villainous characters in that.
(In character voice) I based one of them on this very sort of temperamental
character that is a radio actor here in Hollywood called Joseph Kearns, used
to play Mr. Wilson on "Dennis the Menace," you see.

(In normal voice) And then his off-sider was called James, but we were just
kidding around when we saw these little penguins, this very obsequious little
penguin, and for some reason they called him James, and so everyone just
looked at each other and said, `James Mason.' (In James Mason voice) So I've
got this little penguin who talks like James Mason. `Yes, master, whatever
you say.'

GROSS: Do you have to do anything to protect your voice and to protect your
throat?

Mr. SCOTT: Not really. No, I never have. I guess I'm blessed with a strong
constitution, because I do all the things I shouldn't: I drink too much
coffee; I still smoke an occasional cigarette. So I really think a lot of
these people who use their voice a lot--your voice just gets much stronger
with use, you know, and probably abuse. I've never had a sore throat in 40
years of doing this.

GROSS: Wow.

Mr. SCOTT: And yet the strange thing is, I've never had nodules or anything
like that. But I'm sure if a voice teacher heard me doing, you know, (in
Yosemite Sam voice) `I'm Yosemite Sam' (in normal voice) or anything like that
they'd be quaking, saying, `Don't do that to your throat.'

GROSS: It's funny, because one of the things you have to do while you're
doing all these voices is drop your Australian accent. Like, you can't do
Bullwinkle with an Australian accent. Or maybe you could; that would be
interesting.

Mr. SCOTT: (In Bullwinkle voice) `Well, I don't know about that, mate.'

GROSS: Right. So you had to learn to speak American, among other things.

Mr. SCOTT: Yes. I think it's because of my interest in animation history and
so on I've kind of had the American dialects in my head for so many decades
that it's very easy for me to hear with a pair of headphones on if I'm doing
the accent correctly, you know? And also with British voices. I mean, I can
put on a very broad Australian, (in Paul Hogan voice) you know, like Paul
Hogan, you know, one of those Australians.

GROSS: Right.

Mr. SCOTT: And then I think it's just through constant listening to tapes of
famous people that (in Paul Hogan voice) I can go from, you know, doing Paul
Hogan (in Alec Guinness voice) to a very well-known English voice like Alec
Guinness. `I want you to build that bridge and offices. We'll do the work of
enlisted men.' And then go to some American voice (in Bullwinkle voice) like
Bullwinkle Moose, or (in normal voice) even an amalgam, you know, like an
American star but with one of those odd accents like Schwarzenegger, who's
like (in Arnold Schwarzenegger voice) `I am a cybernetic organism, living
tissue over metallic parts,' or Stallone, which is kind of almost a cartoon
voice in himself: (Mumbles in Stallone voice).

GROSS: That's true. It is really almost a cartoon voice in itself.

Mr. SCOTT: It is. It's great. Yeah, 'cause I've seen him in "Rocky" with
Burgess Meredith, where he said, `Come on, kid, listen, I've got
(unintelligible), I got experience.' (In Stallone voice) `I got
(unintelligible), I got experience, too, you know?'

GROSS: My guest is Keith Scott. He does the voices for Bullwinkle and the
announcer in the new movie "The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle." More
after a break. This is FRESH AIR.

(Announcements)

GROSS: If you're just joining us, my guest is Keith Scott and he does the
voices for Bullwinkle and the narrator and a little bit of Boris Badenov
in the new Rocky and Bullwinkle movie and he's also written a book about the
history of "Rocky & Bullwinkle" and the other cartoons that were created by
Jay Ward Productions. The book is called "The Moose That Roared."

I grew up on cartoons. You grew up on cartoons.

Mr. SCOTT: Sure.

GROSS: I know some of my dreams were affected by cartoons. I used to have
this recurring dream where I'd be like driving in a convertible and I'd kind
of crash into something and I'd go kind of like flying up into the sky and
then slowly fly down as only happens in cartoons. But I'm wondering if any of
your sense of--if any of your dreams or things like that were influenced at
all by cartoon physics.

Mr. SCOTT: That could well be because I'm always thinking in terms of gags.
You know, when they were doing the old "Laurel & Hardy" shows here in
Hollywood--or Culver City, Stan Laurel had that kind of a mind. If he was
driving along and had to brake quickly, his mind would immediately snap to
what would happen in a gag even though he almost just got killed, you know. I
tend to be like that. It's this constant exposure to the comedy and the
dynamics of cartoons and the rhythm of comedy. So I don't know if that's a
good thing or bad.

GROSS: Do you have any strong feelings about parents and TV executives who
actually worry about cartoon violence?

Mr. SCOTT: Yeah. I think that's a little exaggerated because they always
seem to quote the Road Runner and the violence only happens to the coyote in
that and it's self-inflicted. His traps don't work or he keeps falling off a
cliff and ending up looking like an accordion when he walks and then suddenly
he's back to normal again. I think, to me, the more disturbing cartoons are
the realistically grown superhero ones with all of those--that constant
barrage of noise, of machine-gun fire, which I guess has now gone into a lot
of the computer games. You know, these awful, `Kill your opponent,' all that
thing. I think the gag cartoons, like "Bugs Bunny" and all that, I'm
convinced that all the kids I knew when I was very young, knew that it was
`just a cartoon,' in inverted commas, you know?

GROSS: Mm-hmm.

Mr. SCOTT: In other words, it was a gag. Another problem, too, is the fact
that because everything is now constantly repeated on video and
television--and there's two or three generations now who don't even realize
that 90 percent of those old theatrical cartoons were made for theaters for an
adult audience, to be seen maybe twice and then put on a shelf forever. And
then when this new recording technology, the videotape came along, nobody in
those days even knew that these things would have a life for 60 years.

GROSS: You know, I'm thinking of one of the early "Rocky & Bullwinkle"
cartoons. Rocky and Bullwinkle make a joke about how the network executives
don't like violent cartoons.

Mr. SCOTT: Yes.

GROSS: And this was back in the '50s or early '60s, this cartoon.

Mr. SCOTT: Yeah. I think that what happened was that they had drawn them in
one episode as if they were going to fall into a cannibal pot on this island
of Ricky-Ticky(ph) and they got some dictation from the network saying, `Well,
we won't allow cannibalism with our characters.' And Jay Ward actually sent a
serious letter saying, `Cannibalism to eat a moose and squirrel?' And so--and
that was publicized in Newsweek. And then about the second story line after
that, there was a scene where Rocky and Bullwinkle are captured by a gigantic
Native American and tied to a stake and just about to be set fire to and Rocky
whips out a contract and says, (in Rocky voice) `The network says, "No
cannibalism on TV."' (In normal voice) So he was always biting at the
heels--biting the hand that fed him. He was kind of a maverick. I'm sure he
was one of those people in those days they used to mutter and shake their
heads and say, `I don't know.' You know, `Can we end this contract as soon as
possible? This guy's too much trouble.'

GROSS: Keith Scott, it's been a real pleasure to talk with you. Thank you so
much.

Mr. SCOTT: Thank you, Terry. And I've just got a couple of friends here who
just want to say goodbye. (In Bullwinkle voice) Well, thanks a lot, Terry.
Bullwinkle J. Moose here. And doing your show has been kind of a breath of
fresh air. (Laughs) You get it? I said'--(in different character voice) Oh,
go away, Moose, that was stupid. (In Bullwinkle voice) Well, at least I'm
consistent.

GROSS: That's great. Very good. Thank you. Thank you.

Mr. SCOTT: Thank you a lot, Terry.

GROSS: Keith Scott is the voice of Bullwinkle and the narrator in the new
film "The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle," and he's the author of the new
book "The Moose That Roared."

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Review: Reissue of "Louis Armstrong: Satch Plays Fats"
(Soundbite of music)

TERRY GROSS, host:

That's music from the newly reissued recording "Satch Plays Fats," the music
of Fats Waller. Our jazz critic Kevin Whitehead says in the 1950s a lot of
jazz fans disliked Louis Armstrong's band the Allstars and hated their female
singer Velma Middleton. The band usually played a small repertoire and
highlighted Armstrong, the entertainer, more than the jazz virtuoso. Even so,
in the mid-'50s, Armstrong and company made two LPs even skeptics approved of.
One of those was "Satch Plays Fats." Kevin has a review.

(Soundbite of music)

Mr. LOUIS ARMSTRONG: (Sings) I'm walking on air for I've left all my blue
days behind and I've learned how to care and there's love, really love on my
mind. Yes, I'm the world's most happiest creature. Tell me, what, Ken(ph),
what'll it be. I'm crazy about my baby and my baby's crazy about me. Mr.
Cupid was our teacher...

Mr. KEVIN WHITEHEAD (Author, "New Dutch Swing"): Hard to imagine a better
marriage of artist and subject than Louis Armstrong and Fats Waller. Both
were early jazz modernists with a vision and superb instrumental technique.
Fats was one of the best of the 1920 stride piano players. Both also had a
keen sense of humor, including an ability to laugh at themselves. They'd been
friends since the mid-'20s, even before they'd played together a few times in
Chicago. In 1929, Armstrong's success singing Waller's "Ain't Misbehavin'" in
the Broadway show "Hot Chocolate," helped launched the trumpeter as a popular
entertainer. That may have also encouraged Waller to start singing on record.
And by spooky coincidence, when Fats died of pneumonia on a train stopped at
Kansas City Station in 1943, Armstrong was sitting on another train held up
nearby.

(Soundbite of "Ain't Misbehavin'")

WHITEHEAD: Recorded in 1955, "Satch Plays Fats" was Armstrong's follow-up to
a fine album of W.C. Handy composition. It was one of those rare sequels that
measured up to the original--his "Godfather: Part II." Half a century later,
it's puzzling that contemporary jazz hounds so resented his Allstars who were
really all right. This version included ex-Ellington clarinetist Barney
Bigard, Billy Kyle on piano and Barrett Deems on drums. By the 1950s,
Armstrong sang more and played less than most fans wished and his solos kept
close to the melody. But the ways he'd subtlety alter its timing and phrasing
defined what swing is.

(Soundbite of "I've Got a Feeling I'm Falling")

WHITEHEAD: That's "I've Got a Feeling I'm Falling." As good as Armstrong's
playing is here, it's still odd anyone complained--they got so much of
Armstrong, the most influential singer of his century. Most influential for
pioneering wordless scat singing and for popularizing a rough vocal texture.
Since we CD listeners don't have to watch singer Velma Middleton doing splits
on stage, a bloodcurdling sight by many reports, we can also judge her talents
more objectively. She's not one of the greats, but her more plain style could
really set up the boss. Middleton knew how to egg him on.

(Soundbite of music)

Ms. VELMA MIDDLETON: Say, I have no use for other sweets of any kind, baby,
since the day you came around. From the start, I instantly made up my mind
that you're the sweetest sweet that can be found.

Mr. ARMSTRONG: You so sweet...

Ms. MIDDLETON: Oh, Pops.

Mr. ARMSTRONG: ...can't be beat.

Ms. MIDDLETON: You mean it?

Mr. ARMSTRONG: Nothing sweeter ever stood on feet. Yes. Everyone you meet,
filled with jealousy, when they see you out with me. I don't blame me,
goodness knows. Honeysuckle rose. Ba-ba-do-do-ra-ra.

Ms. MIDDLETON: Say, when you're passing by, flowers droop and sigh and...

WHITEHEAD: Composer Fats Waller was such an entertaining singer himself,
folks may overlook how carefully crafted his songs are. His chord
progressions were so ingenious, generations of jazz musicians have borrowed
them for their own tunes. His melodies are equally clever. One reason to be
glad Armstrong doesn't mess with them much. It's good that "Satch Plays Fats"
is back out as Columbia had botched a previous CD of this material by
substituting alternate takes for most of the original masters. The new CD
restores the old LP program and adds four unreleased alternates, plus seven
Armstrong versions of Waller tunes from the late '20s and early '30s. That
makes almost 80 minutes of music, as much as a CD will hold. This time they
got it right.

GROSS: Kevin Whitehead is the author of "New Dutch Swing." He reviewed
"Satch Plays Fats," a reissue on the Columbia Legacy label.

(Soundbite of "Ain't Misbehavin'")

Mr. ARMSTRONG: No one to talk with. All by myself. No one to talk with.
I'm happy on a shelf, babe. Ain't misbehaving. Saving my love. I do love
you. Really do love you. And I know a certain one I love. I'm through with
flirting. You that I'm thinking of. Ain't misbehaving, saving my love--oh,
baby, my love for you. Jackie Horner(ph) in a corner. Don't go nowhere and I
don't care. Oh, your kiss is worth waiting for, babe. Donel-donel-doddy. I
don't stay out late. Don't care to go. I'm home, a body, me and my radio,
babe. Ain't misbehaving. Saving all my love for you.

(Soundbite of music)

GROSS: Coming up, book critic Maureen Corrigan reviews the new novel "Bee
Season." This is FRESH AIR.

(Soundbite of music)

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Review: New novel by Myla Goldberg, "Bee Season"
TERRY GROSS, host:

"Bee Season," a first novel by Myla Goldberg, has generated a lot of buzz in
literary circles. Book critic Maureen Corrigan says it's well-deserved.

Ms. MAUREEN CORRIGAN (Georgetown University): I couldn't sleep a few nights
ago, so I picked up Myla Goldberg's first novel, "Bee Season," and read it
almost in one wired sitting in the dead of night. That was probably the ideal
situation for reading this bleak, curious story. Madness of all shapes,
secular and divine, domesticated and dangerous, is Goldberg's subject and she
handles it with the jaded assurance of a young writer who probably grew up
watching "Twin Peaks" reruns and then went on to college to double major in
aberration and disillusionment. Which is not to say that I don't think
Goldberg is an extraordinary first-time novelist. I do. I'm just a little
afraid of her and her vivid, merciless imagination.

The bees in "Bee Season" are the spelling, not the stinging kind. The novel
opens with a description of fifth-grader Eliza Naumann, who's about to take
part in her class's spelling bee. Even if the rest of this novel weren't so
compelling, it would be worth reading for Goldberg's wry, malicious rendering
of the misguided, feel-good, pedagogical styles that have set the tone in
recent decades in middle-class American elementary schools. Eliza, Goldberg
informs us, has been designated as a student from whom great things should not
be expected. She's been shunted away from the gifted and talented programs
that proliferate in her school. Instead, her classroom is decorated with
posters of kittens and puppies trying to climb ladders above captions that
read: Hang in there.

After Eliza stuns everybody by winning her schoolwide spelling bee, she goes
on to the district contest where a beaming adult welcomes the young
contestants by assuring them that `this is not a competition, it's a
celebration.' No wonder Generation Y is so cynical. Eliza eventually goes on
to compete, or celebrate, in the National Bee(ph) in Washington. At every
stage of the process, Goldberg excruciatingly describes the thick, sadistic
atmosphere of suspense that hangs over these contests.

Here's a snippet of a passage describing the torment of Eliza's fellow
contestants. `The hardest to watch are those who know they have made a
mistake. Sometimes they stop mid-word, the air knocked out of them. Even
then, they are expected to continue until the word is finished. They flinch
their way to the word's end. Mere shadows of the child they were before the
mistake was made. Finally, the misspelled word is complete, its mistaken "A"
or extra "T" dangling like a flap of dead skin.'

Eliza loses the National Bee but her newly discovered spelling prowess sets
off a series of changes in her family, none of them good. Her father, Saul, a
canter and a lifelong student of Jewish mysticism, decides that Eliza
possesses the ability to commune with the divine through her almost magical
skill with words. He begins tutoring her in esoteric texts, shoving aside his
former star pupil, Eliza's teen-aged brother, Aaron. Rebuffed, Aaron finds
solace in a local Hare Krishna temple. And Eliza's mother, Miriam, who's also
had more time on her hands now that Saul is cloistered in his study with
Eliza, let's herself succumb more and more to the bizarre compulsions that
have secretly given her life meaning for years.

Miriam is the only weak element in this novel. Her craziness is so far
advanced, it needs more explaining to be plausible. But otherwise, Goldberg,
like her character Eliza, proves herself to be a whiz at parsing out things.
In Goldberg's case, not words, but intangible, emotional states. One stumble
and "Bee Season" could have turned into a farce, or even worse, a suburban
melodrama, but surefooted Goldberg doesn't stumble. In the ambiguous climax
of the novel, Eliza either surrenders to the family strain of madness or makes
an act of self-sacrifice on a par with that of Dickens' Sydney Carton in "A
Tale of Two Cities." If you lean toward the latter reading, then it is a far,
far better thing that she does than she had ever done and, like Carton, Eliza
loses her head, but regains her soul.

GROSS: Maureen Corrigan teaches literature at Georgetown University. She
reviewed "Bee Season," by Myla Goldberg.

(Soundbite of music)

(Closing credits)

GROSS: I'm Terry Gross, and I'd like to welcome the listeners of Public Radio
East, in eastern Carolina, which has just started broadcasting FRESH AIR.
Transcripts are created on a rush deadline, and accuracy and availability may vary. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Please be aware that the authoritative record of Fresh Air interviews and reviews are the audio recordings of each segment.

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