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Father of the Pride aired from August until December 2004 on NBC.

Larry ( voice of John Goodman) was a father, a working stiff-and a lion-in this animated series about the denizens of a zoo full of performing animals kept by Las Vegas showmen Siegfried and Roy( Julian Holloway, David Herman). Although he had a huge mane and an imposing presence , Larry was constantly being bossed around by his smarter wife Kate ( Cheryl Hines), and his bossy, arrogant father-in-law Sarmoti( Carl Reiner), whom Larry had replaced as the star of Siegfried & Roy's stage show. Rebellious Sierra ( Danielle Harris) and awkward Hunter ( Daryl Sabara) were his two kids and Snack the gopher( Orlando Jones) his always-scheming best friend. The animals all talked to one another while in the zoo, then dropped to all fours and behaved like animals when they were with Siegfrield & Roy-who were portrayed here as preening doofuses. Stories involved little misadventures around the house, problems with the show ( was Larry getting too fat to jump through the hoop?) and visits from celebrities ( often voiced by real celebrities).

Father of the Pride was almost derailed when the real Roy Horn was badly mauled during a show in October 2003, but both he and partner Siegfried Fischbacher wanted it to continue. Alas, despite great efforts ( each episode reportedly cost $1.6 million and took nine months to produce), viewers were unimpressed and it was canceled after a few months.

An Article from Time Magazine

To the Drawing Board
Monday, Jun. 14, 2004 By AUSTIN RAMZY | HONG KONG Article

After illusionist Roy Horn was mauled by one of his own performing tigers on a Las Vegas stage last October, grieving fans held vigils outside the hospital where the critically injured showman was admitted, and placed mementos at the foot of a Siegfried & Roy statue on the city's Strip. Sixteen time zones away, in a drab industrial building at the far end of a Hong Kong subway line, the shock was felt just as much. Imagi, a fledgling animation company, was in the running to make Father of the Pride, a prime-time comedy cartoon about the private lives of Siegfried & Roy's feline co-stars. "I opened the newspaper and it said Roy was bitten by a tiger," says Francis Kao, founder of the company. Then calls started coming in from DreamWorks SKG, the Hollywood studio that dreamt up the idea. "I started to get nervous," Kao recalls.

Miraculously, Horn survived, and Father of the Pride debuts in the U.S. in August on NBC, which is awarding it the choice time slot vacated by Frasier. That makes Imagi, with its 300 employees, a small example of the kind of business high-cost Hong Kong needs in a big way: knowledge-based companies that don't require cheap inputs or production costs to compete. (Although the city has a world-famous film industry, Japan and South Korea have long been Asia's animation centers; mainland China and India are also on the rise in this field, capitalizing on their cheap labor pools.) Imagi is also a tale of the younger generation reinventing the family business, a venerable Hong Kong tradition.

The company traces its roots to Boto International, one of the world's largest manufacturers of artificial Christmas trees, which was founded by Kao's father, Michael Kao. The junior Kao joined the firm after graduating from Sacramento State University in California in 1998, and his first job was to produce an animated website for the company. Kao, a longtime fan of cartoons, was fascinated by the animators he met and persuaded his father to set up a cartoon unit. In April 2001, Kao went to a television programming conference in Cannes with six minutes of a cartoon, only half of it done in color, to sell to television networks. No one showed any interest, partly because Kao didn't arrange any meetings before getting on the plane. "We were there with a booth," Kao laughs, "but I was just drinking beer with the animators." Six months later he went back with a full episode, and sold the show, a time-traveling, robots-meet-dinosaurs adventure, to the French television network m6. In 2002, Boto sold off most of its manufacturing operations to an entity held by the Carlyle Group, an American private-equity firm, for $136 million. Boto said its manufacturing operations had peaked and the sale was a good deal for shareholders. Angry minority shareholders said they were being shortchanged and criticized the sale as an effort to benefit insiders. Led by shareholder and Hong Kong stock-market watchdog David Webb, they tried to block the restructuring, but narrowly lost a vote. "Christmas is canceled," Webb lamented. That left Kao's animation unit as the core of the company. "What do these guys know about the animation business?" Webb asked.

At the time, not much. But last year, the renamed Imagi International Holdings landed a contract to animate 13 episodes of Father of the Pride. The company doubled its staff to 300, and Raman Hui, the Hong Kong-born supervising animator of DreamWorks' Shrek and Shrek 2, flew in to oversee the work. According to Hui, DreamWorks considered more experienced companies in France, South Korea and the U.S. but picked Imagi because its employees were plucky and determined to learn. "It's really refreshing," says Hui, one of six DreamWorks employees supervising work in Hong Kong. "They say, 'Tell us how to do it.'"

As well as a great time slot, Father of the Pride has top-name talent-voice-overs will be done by John Goodman, Carl Reiner, and Cheryl Hines of Curb Your Enthusiasm. But it may yet be undermined by Horn's condition. Last month, NBC previewed the show in New York City for advertising executives, playing a video greeting from Horn, his first public appearance since the mauling. The effects of his attack, and a stroke he suffered after it, were apparent, says Kristi Argyilan, media director of the advertising firm Hill, Holliday, Connors, Cosmopulos. "They were trying to say, 'Look he's O.K.,' and he's not," she says. "He's got a long road ahead of him yet. You've got that hanging over the show." But even if Father of the Pride bombs, Imagi has other projects in the works, including a movie for Japanese toymaker Bandai and a feature film of its own. "For this to work, you have to be wild," Kao tells his staff. "Give me some wild ideas." How about a young man who, weary of making Christmas trees with his dad, thinks show biz might be more fun?

An Article from the LA Times

With 'Pride' Problems, NBC Finds It's a Jungle Out There
A mauling put the series in doubt. Its content has raised concerns.
August 27, 2004|Meg James | Times Staff Writer

Scripts had been written, voice tracks recorded and millions of dollars spent on DreamWorks Animation's upcoming TV comedy about the animals in Siegfried & Roy's Las Vegas show. Then tragedy intruded.

Roy Horn was mauled by a 600-pound Siberian tiger and dragged off the stage during an October performance. He was near death, his prognosis uncertain.

Back at DreamWorks' facility in Glendale, executives were confronted with a delicate but inescapable decision: Should production continue on the computer animated show "Father of the Pride"?

"We honestly didn't know what to do," said one of the show's creators, Jonathan Groff. "We were really shaken. We didn't know how this thing was going to turn out, but we were in this zone: 'Let's just keep going.' "

"Father of the Pride," believed to be the most expensive first-year TV comedy ever created, arrives Tuesday night on NBC -- but not without a slew of questions over taste, content and decisions made by executives who pressed ahead.

"We've had all kinds of challenges and hurdles along the way and setbacks and disappointments," said DreamWorks partner Jeffrey Katzenberg. "But we love the show, and we're very proud of it."

More than a few laughs are riding on the outcome.

The General Electric Co.-owned network needs new hits as it faces a fall TV season without its signature comedies "Friends" and "Frasier." NBC is spending more on "Father of the Pride" than on any of its other new shows: $1.6 million for each half-hour episode.

DreamWorks has even more at stake. The company is banking on the show's success to help entice investors to buy shares of a spinoff animation company that would be headed by Katzenberg, who came up with the idea for the program.

Some advertisers aren't certain that two of Hollywood's master performers -- Katzenberg and NBC entertainment chief Jeff Zucker -- can pull this one off.

"They've got their work cut out," said Stacey Lynn Koerner, an executive vice president with ad-buying firm Initiative.

Besides sensitivities surrounding the mauling, many advertisers thought the show featuring cute lions was aimed at family audiences, an impression reinforced by early clips and ads. But the first few episodes are laced with drug references and sexually suggestive humor meant for adults.

"These are cute, cuddly characters, and you just want to wrap your arms around them and take them home," Koerner said. "But then they open their mouths, and you don't know what to think."

Zucker, president of NBC Universal Television Group, conceded in an interview that NBC had failed several times in trying to bring animation to prime time. But, he said, the network needs a breakout hit comedy. "We have to take some swings, take some risks," he said.

Zucker first approached Katzenberg in 2001. At the time, "Shrek" was a monster box- office hit for DreamWorks. Zucker wanted to make the green ogre a TV star. But Katzenberg said no. Among other reasons, Katzenberg did not want to diminish the value of "Shrek" sequels by creating a television show. About a year later, however, he came up with an alternative.

After watching the Siegfried & Roy show for "something like the 14th or 15th time" in Las Vegas, Katzenberg said he started toying with the notion of a show based on a troupe of animals living in elaborate enclosures at the Mirage Hotel.

"What would it be like to be one of these animals and to raise a family, and live in the Jungle Palace and go to work every day at a place where the CEOs are these two eccentric guys, Siegfried & Roy?" Katzenberg said.

Zucker loved the idea, and by the end of last September stars including John Goodman and Carl Reiner had recorded several episodes, which had been shipped to a Hong Kong facility for the animation process.

Then came the Oct. 3 attack.

In Burbank, most NBC entertainment executives figured they should pull the plug. They worried that the mauling would make a satirical look at Siegfried & Roy and the animals seem in poor taste. Zucker, however, continued to champion the project, as did Katzenberg.

"Siegfried kept encouraging us not to stop," Katzenberg said. "He would say, 'Roy would want you to keep going.' And during Roy's recovery, this show suddenly became really important to them."

Horn and Siegfried Fischbacher are executive producers of the show.

As Horn's condition slowly improved, Zucker negotiated an exclusive prime-time special focused on Horn's recovery called "Siegfried & Roy: The Miracle." Hosted by Maria Shriver, former NBC news anchor and California's first lady, it's scheduled to air Sept. 15.

For a while, NBC executives considered running the Shriver special on the same night as "Father of the Pride." They changed course after hundreds of advertisers were left cringing in their seats during NBC's presentation of its fall lineup in May.

At New York's Radio City Music Hall, the network showed clips from "Father of the Pride," along with excerpts from an interview with a scarred and partially paralyzed Horn on a huge video screen.

"It really gave people the creeps," said Shari Anne Brill, programming director for ad-buying firm Carat USA. "You know, the public's memory is very fleeting, but then they put that guy up there and they remind you that [he] was almost murdered by the cartoon characters this show is based on."

Zucker acknowledged that NBC "did a bad job" with the clips. Network executives said they probably were trying too hard to assure people that Horn was on the mend. In numerous test screenings, they said, no one was turned off by the show because of the tiger attack.

"It was one of those things that we over-thought way too much," Zucker said. "All the audience wants to do is laugh."

But for advertisers, the age of that audience has been a puzzle.

Initially, many thought the show's content would be kid-friendly, especially because NBC received money for the show from the Family Friendly Programming Forum. The mission of the advertising group is to support prime-time programs parents can watch with their children.

But in an opening scene of Tuesday's episode, for example, the John Goodman character, Larry the lion, hurries home to his wife, who is in heat. He swivels his furry hips and announces: "Big Daddy's home.... It may be 9 o'clock in New York, but right here it's mountin' time."

Sensitive to the growing criticisms, NBC last month amended its on-air promotions to include the disclaimer that the show is "an adult comedy." Despite reservations, advertisers have purchased commercial time in all 13 episodes that have been ordered from DreamWorks.

Katzenberg, Zucker and others involved in the program insist that "Father of the Pride" was always intended to reach NBC's target demographic of 18-to-49-year-olds. "This show is edgy, subversive and a little irreverent," Katzenberg said.

These days, he suggested, that's the only breed of animated program that can claw its way to the top.

Times staff writer Maria Elena Fernandez contributed to this report.

A Review from USA TODAY
Published on August 30, 2004

Adult jokes can't rescue juvenile 'Pride'
By Robert Bianco, USA TODAY
Just because a show isn't suited for kids doesn't mean it's meant for adults.

Through an Olympic-fueled ad campaign that seems just as likely to entice teenagers as their parents, NBC has been strenuously pushing its high-profile, high-risk cartoon Father of the Pride as an "adult" show. And yes, with its potty-mouthed pandas and randy lions, Pride certainly isn't children's entertainment however juvenile the humor may sometimes be.

Unfortunately, as even the Discovery Channel has discovered, you can only get so much entertainment mileage out of animal sex. Too grown up for children and too childish for adults, this impressively animated effort from the makers of Shrek is ultimately neither fish nor fowl nor lion.

Pride is the story of a family of showbiz lions: Larry (John Goodman); his wife, Kate (Cheryl Hines); and Kate's irascible father, Sarmoti (Carl Reiner). They and a wide assortment of animal friends, from some vain tigers to a chatty gopher (Orlando Jones), work for Las Vegas magicians Siegfried and Roy (voiced by Julian Holloway and Dave Herman).

Ah, yes, Siegfried and Roy, who epitomize the best and worst of Pride. As characters, they are the show's best: flashy, fiery, hilariously self-absorbed wizards who behave like the adopted children of Paul Lynde's Uncle Arthur from Bewitched. They come into their own in a much better upcoming episode when a spot on the Today show brings up Roy's vendetta against the "non-threatening good-looks Matt Lauer."

They are, however, only supporting characters. And try as you might, you can't forget that the real-life version of that vain tiger almost killed the real Roy. While that may not make the show unseemly, it does put a creepy damper on the comedy.

Tuesday's special premiere deals with a less-than-special problem: Dad and Mom want to have "a little zoom zoom in the boom boom," but their friends keep getting in the way. The chief obstacle is a frustrated spinster panda, Foo-Lin (Lisa Kudrow), who is pining for an unresponsive male panda (Andy Richter).

For all its unusual aspects, the central flaw in Pride is one that's common to mediocre sitcoms: All the humor comes from secondary characters. With the exception of Reiner's Sarmoti, the main characters are as dull as they are ordinary. Bumbling dad, understanding mom, bratty daughter: How many times can we watch this same show?

If you're looking for adults, you need a fresher Pride than that.

A Review from The San Francisco Chronicle

Let's hope 'Father of the Pride' is on the road to extinction
August 31, 2004|By Tim Goodman

"Father of the Pride," sitcom, 9 p.m. Tuesdays, NBC. No doubt during the Olympics you noticed NBC's claims that "Father of the Pride" -- a CGI animation series about the animals in the Siegfried and Roy Vegas act -- was the new fall show that had everyone talking.

If this is the case, then talk is cheaper than we all thought.

Of course, NBC said this last season while touting "Coupling," which was over-hyped and under-funny. After that, the only talk about "Coupling" came between network executives about when to cancel it (pretty much right away, as it turned out).

Who knows how "Father of the Pride" will turn out, but this much is evident: Money can't buy funny.

This series comes from Hollywood producer Jeffrey Katzenberg, who has so much cash at hand the government comes to him in times of need. "Father of the Pride" is one expensive undertaking, what with the "Shrek"-like animation and the big voice-over cast. But all the money is apparently in the gloss and almost nothing was left for a good team of writers. The pilot episode is alternately crude and stupid, with any lame sex joke sufficing in the absence of true wit.

And here we all thought "Father of the Pride" would be objectionable and dripping bad taste because it was conceived before the wild tiger hootenanny at the last complete Siegfried and Roy show. Apparently mauling is not sufficient grounds for halting a series, and with Roy's blessing the show did indeed go on. Who knew, then, that the real scandal was how wretchedly juvenile the outcome would be.

One hopes it's not a harbinger of the coming season when the first new scripted series of the fall is an outright embarrassment of failed writing. It's not even a matter of prudishness (as if that was even a needed qualifier here). "Father of the Pride" seems to relish the fact it's a cartoon that will attract kids (why else tout that it's from the makers of "Shrek") when in fact it's geared entirely for adults. NBC has said, flat out, don't let your kids watch. But that's hard to justify with the prime-time Olympics exposure it got, whipping the young ones into a lather like Skittles on top of Cap' N Crunch.

And yet, this series isn't unfunny and unwatchable or a waste of assembled talent merely because it pushes the stupid button like a kid pushes a doorbell, or for the fact that it tries to parlay sexual innuendo into adult hipness. "Father of the Pride" isn't bad because it's trying to be bad. That's too easy. This late-to-the-party, wannabe modern-day version of "South Park" is bad because it shoots low and misses.

Granted, the second episode is marginally more funny as the Siegfried and Roy characters get weirder and more interesting, but what stooge will sit through the pilot and come back for more?

John Goodman plays Larry the lion, Cheryl Hines his wife Kate, Carl Reiner is Larry's disapproving father-in-law (and former head lion), and Orlando Jones is his gopher friend. They start the festivities off swiftly by diving into the sex jokes. Seems Kate is in heat and Larry wants some. "A little bungle in the jungle," he said, "a little zoom zoom in the boom boom." There's even a time-zone joke about "mountain time." Ah, yeah, to be 13 again.

But the nadir comes when Larry gets frustrated by everyone being in his house, messing up his limited time for sex. He pleads with Kate that, contrary to what she sees in the chaos around her, now is a perfect time to get busy: "You're in heat, I'm not hungry. I just peed."

Lovely stuff, NBC. Are there any old episodes of "Coupling" on the shelf?

The network is also launching "Hawaii" on Wednesday night, believing, as NBC always does, that a bad Xerox of a marginal show ("Las Vegas") is better than expending energy coming up with something original. So we get boys being boys in paradise (Sharif Atkins, Ivan Sergei, Eric Balfour) and guess what? They just happen to be cool cops. Before you can say two degrees of "Miami Vice," you realize that as the television industry is now littered with gritty crime and punishment series, "Hawaii" is the supposed antidote. All that crime scene investigation? Bo-ring. Big city detectives dealing with raw reality? Yawn-a-roo. How about bikinis and smart-aleck dialog and -- hey, anybody got an old Detroit Lions baseball cap?

Unfortunately for NBC, where "Las Vegas" is all glitzy, pretty-cast nonsense with James Caan there lending some old-school gravitas, "Hawaii" isn't half as cool as "Hawaii Five-O," nor nearly as frothy fun as "Magnum P.I. " What it amounts to, in an ocean of really good cop shows across the dial, is a retro failure built around people you don't really care about saying stupid things you can't muster enough interest to snicker over.

An Article from The Associated Press

Tuesday, August 31, 2004
NBC should take little pride in its new animated sitcom

By Frazier Moore
The Associated Press

Father of the Pride, the first and most iffy of NBC's lackluster lineup of new fall shows, premieres 9 p.m. today (Channels 5, 2).

It's being hyped as an innovative comedy with youth appeal but adult raciness, employing the same computer animation used for the Shrek films, and boasting top-notch voice talent, including John Goodman, Cheryl Hines and Carl Reiner.

The series fancifully depicts the family life of just-like-people lions featured in the Las Vegas animal act of Siegfried & Roy, who was critically injured by a tiger in October - after the series was well into production.

Now that Father of the Pride is on the air, the audience's challenge will be accepting the show as a thing apart from its real-life, tragically affected source material.

But what then? Even if the premise hadn't collapsed, would the show be everything it means to be? Doubtful.

For instance, the premiere episode finds Larry the head lion (Goodman) in a typical sitcom jam: Wife Kate (Hines) won't have sex with him until he can find someone to date a lovelorn friend.

"Larry, this isn't really the time," says Kate, whose friend is planted on the living room couch.

"This is the PERFECT time," he reasons. "You're in heat. I'm not hungry. I just peed."

Father of the Pride isn't irreverent enough to score many points with the cool crowd, but a more general audience may not relate to cuddly wild animals with a naughty streak.

Unlike The Simpsons, which caters to multiple tastes, Father of the Pride may end up satisfying no one. It's a family sitcom about lions that is neither fish nor fowl.

It's also a show that's been tainted by tragedy. In the aftermath of Horn's mauling, there's something ghoulish about watching him and Siegfried Fischbacher spoofed as a pair of flamboyant prisses, more cartoonish than the human-like animals that work for them.

This is a big, maybe insurmountable, problem for NBC. But oddly enough, the network dares to compound its dilemma. On Sept. 15, it will air a one-hour special, Siegfried & Roy: The Miracle, which promises an exclusive interview with Horn conducted by Maria Shriver.

If there's anything Father of the Pride doesn't need, it's for viewers to be reminded of "Roy's journey, beginning with the accident that caused his injuries and subsequent stroke, through his recuperation."

NBC should have already learned this lesson. At its annual "upfront" for advertisers last May, the network featured a pre-taped appearance by Horn as part of its gala presentation. But the sight of him bummed out many members of the audience.

NBC's special will score a big audience. But at what cost, once those viewers are reacquainted with Horn's harsh reality? Harsh reality can put a damper on laughs. Father of the Pride has none to spare.

To watch some clips from Father of the Pride go to

For more on Father of the Pride go to

For the official site of Siegfried & Roy go to

To watch the opening credits go to
Date: Sun May 4, 2008 � Filesize: 27.7kb � Dimensions: 309 x 206 �
Keywords: Father of Pride


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