I love running The Mommy's Guide- I really do. I love meeting new people and connecting with brands I love. But right now I am completely besotted because I had the great opportunity to meet the people behind the new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles television show on Nickelodeon. That's right I got to interview the voice of Donatello, Rob Paulsen, and Greg Cipes, the voice of Michelangelo along with executive producers Ciro Nieli and Brandon Auman. We met at the beautiful Toys R Us in Times Square and it was fantastic.
Rob Paulsen is an amazing voice actor that has been in the industry for years. He was in the original TMNT series as the voice of Raphael and now has come back years later to reintroduce the franchise to a new generation. Before the actual interview we met Mr. Paulsen and shared a couple of words. Guys he is awesome!!! I was super excited to meet him as he is literally the voice of my childhood. Besides TMNT he was the voice of Pinky from "Pinky And The Brain" and "Animaniacs" as well as Boober from the cartoonized version of "Fraggle Rock". It takes a lot for me to be nervous in front of someone. I mean it is my job to meet people known or otherwise, but I found my hands actually shaking as we took a selfie together. I grew up with the characters he portrayed and some of my favorite memories are of watching those shows with my friends and family and here was the 3D and humanized version of those characters! Dream come true.
So like I said we talked a bit before the actual interview and spoke of how he came to work on the new TMNT series. Like all fans when we hear that one of our beloved shows or movies are being remade our go to feeling is...nooooooo. Well when Mr. Paulsen's son heard that his father was asked to voice a turtle in the new show, he needed to know that this show was going to be just as good as the original that he grew up with and that his father worked so hard on. After watching a couple of episodes his son, as for a large amount of the TMNT fan base, gave his dad the go ahead and we are so excited that he did! .
During the interview we asked how it feels to be a staple in the franchise . "It is a huge blessing and an incredible gift," he said with a kid-like smile on his face. He said that he felt so lucky that they threw "this old turtle a bone" and invited him to come back to a show that he so loved being a part of. "It's amazing because it is just as big, or even bigger than it was the first time around." He could not believe that he was a part of such a great show and fans of the old show are now watching the new installment with their kids. Mr. Paulson said, "It is unprecedented to have such a huge generational gap of fans and to be a part of it is inexplicably wonderful. Quote me on that. It is inexplicably wonderful."
Also there was Greg Pipes who is a pretty stand up guy as well! As well as doing TMNT as the voice of Michelangelo he is also part of the vastly popular Teen Titans. We asked him how it feels to portray such well known characters. "It is such a blessing as well as a responsibility." He said in a very relaxed and soft voice (totally not what I expected), "to be a part of a show like TMNT that brings such positivity and to help bring about the positive messages with each episode is a great thing to be a part of." He went on to say that he is doubly blessed to be on TMNT because he was a huge fan of them as a kid. They inspired how he lives his life, and no he is not a pizza eating crime fighter. He went on to say that it was because of those turtles he learned how to surf and took up meditation. "I am a black belt because of the turtles," he stated, And they say that cartoons from the 80's did nothing for kids!
The producers of the show were just as big of fans of the show and they really respected that TMNT had a huge fan base from the original show that they had to please. "When the first few episodes aired it felt like nothing we could do would please everybody," Brandon said, "but now I think for the most part we have won them over. I was walking around on vacation and I was trying to just not think of work -of the show- and as I was looking around I saw kids and adults wearing TMNT shirts carrying around toys- it's everywhere. I feel like we brought unity to every fraction of the fan base. We have really done something right." Rob chimed in here and said "it's funny because I feel like I have rewound thirty years because I am seeing families again dressed up as the turtles, and over-hearing things like 'it's Friday night- time to watch the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles'- it's crazy." Ciro added "and we didn't take the characters far from the original show- they still have their same personalities- they still like the same things. And if you pay attention we pay tribute to the 80's show in every episode. I mean even the gaming console they play is a Nintendo- they are still in the 80's, just amped up a bit."
I asked how they knew it was a good time to bring TMNT back to TV. Brandon said 30 is a good number and it has been 30 years since the show first aired and the kids are now the parents. They get a kick out of sharing the same characters that they watched as a kid. " Ciro said the turtles are evergreen (literally): they don't have a certain time where they will be loved and then fade away- they can be around forever. "
And forever is just as long as I expect them to be around. The producers, the voice actors, and the guys at Viacom have done a fantastic job at introducing the beloved characters to a new generation. I love that I can show my child a program that is fun, has nostalgic value to me and shows that everyone -even mutant turtles- can be a stand up guy. Personally I cannot wait for the new episodes to come out to watch with my son and I look forward for a new video game (because we know that is going to be next) as well. But I am still waiting for someone to help me beat the original NES version! Thanks guys for letting us talk to you and for valuing the original fan base- we appreciate it!