Quick, draw

After years of talking and hoping, DNA Productions finally inks a big-time deal

"It feels spooky, like lots of overhead with scary rent," Davis says. "The rent per month we're looking at on the new building is more than we made in a year for the first four years we were in business"

"We'll have to change how we work," Alcorn says, "purely because there is so much more work to do."

Looking at these men -- the 42-year-old Alcorn wears a denim jacket with matching jeans, the only "suit" he owns, and his 38-year-old partner sports a gimme cap over his butt-length ponytail and his perpetual grin -- it's hard to picture them as CEOs of a company doing business with one of the world's largest media conglomerates. (Paramount and Nickleodeon are subsidiaries of Viacom International Inc., which also owns the likes of MTV, Showtime, and Blockbuster Video.) And you can't picture them eating fish tacos with celebrities in Santa Monica.

"Don't ever change," Davis sarcastically whines to Alcorn.

"John is so perfect the way he is," Alcorn responds.

Alcorn and Davis say that the pace of the Nickelodeon deal is typical of the industry, and that they never lost faith along the way. And they found the cable network fairly flexible during the negotiations: Davis says the network is letting them produce the Jimmy Neutron film first, before the series debuts -- which is the antithesis of how this business usually operates.

"They usually build an audience with a TV series first, and then introduce a movie," Davis explains. After all, Nickelodeon and Paramount produced their Rugrats film long after the series had a few successful years on television. "While we're working on the movie, we'll introduce short segments of Jimmy on Nickelodeon to help build the audience before the movie is released," Alcorn says.

The pair, in conjunction with Oedekerk's O Entertainment, will also provide online games for www.nick.com. "It's designed to be this huge franchise, from the ground up now," Davis says. "That's really why it's taken so long. Nickelodeon has never done anything like this before."

And neither have Alcorn and Davis. Not to say theirs has been a story of failure and disappointment to this point; almost to the contrary. They've tasted success, but only as an appetizer: DNA has been featured on MTV (with Nanna and Lil' Puss Puss), CBS (their work was featured on The Weird Al Show), and NBC (as part of Oedekerk's stand-up comedy special, steve.oedekerk.com). They also produce an ongoing, direct-to-video series for Beckett Entertainment called Jingaroo, which features the voices of several local actors.

"We always had to take the side projects," Davis says. "We took on Olive because we needed something to fill the six months before we got started on Jimmy Neutron. It's been a fairly orderly process. Slow, but purposeful, I guess you'd say."

On the video monitor, Olive, the brown-and-white dog who longs to be a reindeer, has finished one of her more plaintive speeches, and the motley crew of offbeat Christmas stereotypes breaks into song. Alcorn and Davis are rapt, even though they've seen every frame of this production hundreds of times. "The thing that drew us to Olive was the unusual style of the book," Davis says. "And the chance to work with Matt Groening."

See -- it is Christmas around the DNA offices. Simpsons creator Groening co-produced Olive, along with Drew Barrymore's own Flower Films and, of course, Fox Television Studios. Groening's involvement could explain the adult orientation of the cartoon Christmas special. That, and the quirky comedy stylings of Alcorn and Davis -- who are, finally, happy someone is letting them join in their reindeer games.

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