NYCC ’21: ANIMANIACS Season 2 panel teases John Cena guest voice appearance

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It was one year ago that the much hyped Animaniacs reboot debuted on the Hulu streaming service. Fans had reservations whether or not it would live up to the original, and turned out to be a massive hit garnering not only a Season 3 renewal ahead of the second season but receiving five Daytime Emmy nominations. Ahead of the premiere of Animaniacs Season 2 and in lieu of an in-person panel, NYCC ’21 held a virtual Animaniacs Season 2 panel.

Executive producer Gabe Swarr opened the Animaniacs Season 2 panel thanking the fans for the success of a first season and revealed a clip from the new season, a parody to classic ’80s cartoon openings.

 

Moderator, TV Guide Magazine journalist Damian Holbrook introduced the panel, which consisted of the show’s voice actors including Rob Paulsen (Yakko Warner and Pinky), Tress MacNeille (Dot Warner), Jess Harnell (Wakko Warner), and Maurice LaMarche (The Brain). According to Paulsen, the head of Warner Bros. Animation Sam Register broached the idea of relaunching the series to the voice actors at a Hollywood dinner.

Animaniacs Season 2 panelHolbrook praised the original series for its ebullient energy and joy without being mean. LaMarche added that it was pure entertainment and wasn’t simply a commercial to sell toys. Harnell described Animaniacs as called it the “Trojan horse of cartoons in that it’s an adult musical satire disguised as a kids cartoon and the reboot takes it to a new level. Holbrook pointed out it can actually be quite educational in its own right.

Paulsen revealed that they recorded first 26 episodes in 2018 and was grateful for the 18 month lead time before the Animaniacs premiered, which was the same situation for the original Animaniacs cartoon. The first day of recording with Paulsen and MacNeille felt like “coming home” for Harnell. LaMarche conceded he is a bit of a cynic so just assumed that an Animaniacs reboot would have replaced the original voice actors with big celebrity stunt casting like Peter Dinklage as The Brain or Russell Brand as Pinky.

The beauty of recording digitally now is the cast no longer has to worry about wasting tape when they’re making each other crack up during recording sessions. Holbrook mentioned a massive Yakko song in Animaniacs Season 2 about William the Conqueror that Paulsen knocked out of the park.

MacNeille was nominated for a Daytime Emmy for her voice performance as Dot in the new series and had no idea that the showrunners submitted her as a nominee. Considering her immense talent, it is surprising has only been nominated three times for an Emmy during her career and has yet to win. Her colleagues are confident however that she inevitably due to win one.

As a fan of The Beatles and the Marx Brothers, Harnell found it serendipitous to find both of his interests combined with his performance of Wakko Warner.

Any Warner Bros. Animation fan is familiar with the legendary and now retired voice director Andrea Romano who worked on the original series. For the reboot, Sara Sherman has taken the reigns as voice director and incidentally won an Emmy nomination for her work. The cast all agreed voice directing is comparable to herding cats. Sherman follows in Romano’s footsteps in that she lets the actors be themselves but within certain confines according to MacNeille.

For Animaniacs Season 2, Harnell teased an episode featuring the Roman emperor Nero and some cross pollination between him and a recent controversial political figure. Moreover, one of the gladiators in the episodes is voiced by none other than John Cena who is clearly having a moment right now.

Right now they are currently working on Season 3 consisting of 10 episodes and all the cast members are hoping they get picked up for more episodes.

Animaniacs Season 2 premieres on Friday, November 5th on Hulu.

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Animaniacs Season 2 panel

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