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YOGI BEAR

Yogi And Boo Boo
Yogi Bear and Boo Boo made their first appearance on the small screen in 1958 as part of Hanna-Barbera's "The Huckleberry Hound Show,” the first cartoon series ever to earn an Emmy Award for Distinguished Children's Programming. The pair's popularity soon launched their own spin-off show, in 1961, followed by a nationally syndicated comic strip and, in 1964, their big-screen debut. In the ensuing years, the carefree mooch and his sweet-natured pal have been spotted in numerous series, specials, movies and DVD collections.

Throughout, one theme has remained constant: friendship. No matter what's at stake or whether or not Yogi's latest contraption will crash-land the two of them through the roof of the ranger station, at the heart of every "Yogi Bear” tale is the abiding camaraderie and comedic interplay between Yogi and Boo Boo. And their latest adventure is no exception.

"It's about loyalty. In the end, your friends are your friends and you gotta stand by them,” says Aykroyd.

"Their dynamic is wonderful to watch,” Brevig says. "Yogi always convinces Boo Boo that his latest and greatest plan is going to work, never mind that it never does. And Boo Boo is the devoted friend who's always there for his big buddy. He often tries to suggest a more sensible route—to no avail—and he usually gets the worst of the deal when things fall apart, but he still hangs in there.”

As many savvy viewers have come to understand, Boo Boo may really be the one who's smarter than the average bear, though it's a point he would never dream of pressing. "Boo Boo is definitely Yogi's conscience,” Timberlake notes. "He's the good angel on Yogi's shoulder, always there to remind him of what's important. But even as he's the voice of reason, he does it all while being a cute little bear with a nasal-y voice.”

"Yogi makes every crazy idea sound so attractive because of his enthusiasm, that Boo Boo always ends up going along with it, no matter how dangerous or ill-advised,” says Aykroyd, who laughingly cites a prime example: "One of my favorite scenes is Yogi up on a cliff, hooking himself up to a zip line. He actually thinks he has accurately targeted a picnic basket, and you know that's not going to happen…”

But what Yogi lacks in engineering acumen, he makes up for in charisma. He may be a tad vain, impulsive and sticky-fingered, but we love him because he's also decent, kindhearted and endlessly optimistic.

"Yogi's charm stems from his basic civility. He may be a thief but he's a very courteous thief and that's why no one, not even Ranger Smith, can truly hold it against him. His positive attitude and can-do spirit is infectious,” says Jeffrey Ventimilia, who, with writing partner Joshua Sternin, shares screenwriting credit on "Yogi Bear.”

"There's also a subtle subversiveness to Yogi that I think is part of his appeal to adults,” Sternin adds. "While the rest of us have to live by society's rules, he has an admirable sense of freedom. He lives by his own rules, acting in the moment.”

Aykroyd, who jokes that he and his character share "the Yogi Bear appetite,” attributes his Yogi-channeling ability to "just having him in my head from watching the show so many times.”

"He does it in a very classic way but also puts a little Dan Aykroyd spin on it, so it's familiar but with a little something that makes it fresh,” says De Line.

Recalling his meeting with the actor, Brevig adds, "I can't say we found our Yogi Bear because our Yogi found us. He started reading lines and if you were looking at him, you'd think, ‘That's Dan,' but if you turned away, you'd think, ‘That's Yogi.'” The filmmakers were also delighted with Timberlake's take on Boo Boo. "Donald, Karen and I met with him,” Brevig recounts. "We all know he's a multi-talent, an impressive actor with a great voice, but would this be in his skill set? People think they can do Boo Boo but it's not easy. As we were talking, he casually dropped into character and we just stopped and looked at each other. He was fantastic.'”

Timberlake, whose film credits include a starring role as the voice of Artie in the 2007 blockbuster hit "Shrek the Third,” says, "I always used to walk around the house imitating all kinds of cartoon voices. I would mimic everything, and so I was happy to give Boo Boo a try.”

"Like Dan, Justin has real gift for comedy,” says De Line. "They played around with the dialogue at their initial meeting and right away they hit all the beats and had a good time with it.”

Fortunately, their schedules lined up such that the actors were able to work together in the same space, an uncommon occurrence in the animation world, where isolated solo recordings are the norm. That not only facilitated a genuine rapport between the leads, but a fair amount of ad-libbing as well.

"I think it made a difference to the performances because Yogi and Boo Boo work so well as a left and right hand. I consider them a classic team like Abbott and Costello or Laurel and Hardy,” says Timberlake. "Dan had the perfect energy and working together created the opportunity for us to improv a bit.”

Aykroyd concurs, adding, "Whenever you have artists collaborating there's going to be some improvisation, you're going to go off on riffs. There were a lot of moments when we made stuff up on the spot. It was wonderful to have the opportunity to play off each other, and to chuckle about how funny it was to be there, in our adult lives, playing these characters that we loved as children.”

Brevig banked preliminary voice recordings for the animators' reference before beginning the live-action portion of the project. Meanwhile, on the Jellystone Park set in New Zealand, the live-action stars began playing to an imaginary Yogi and Boo Boo.

"When you have a big CG character interacting with actors it requires a lot of planning, but you also have to think on your feet,” says Rhythm & Hues animation supervisor Joe Ksander ("Night at the Museum”), whose on-set work included providing eye-line references and guiding the stand-ins. Ksander and animation supervisor Alex Orrelle ("The Incredibles”) worked in tandem with Brevig and Rhythm & Hues' visual effects supervisor Betsy Paterson ("The Incredible Hulk”) as part of a team numbering approximately 450 at its peak, keeping pace with one another between Los Angeles and New Zealand via Cinesync and Skype.

Pre-filming run-throughs gave the actors an idea of what their animated colleagues would be up to at any given moment, and provided Brevig and the animators additional ideas for actions and reactions. Says Orrelle, "It was a very collaborative environment. You never know where a great idea will come from, and Eric was always flexible.” As scenes were shot, simple cartoon versions of Yogi and Boo Boo were digitally drawn into the footage to provide a guide for the CG animators, "based on cues from the director as to the intent of each sequence and what Yogi and Boo Boo would be feeling,” he adds.

The edited footage was then screened for Aykroyd and Timberlake. At that point, "It was like video-game versions of the characters so the actors could see if they were standing, running for a train or hanging on the edge of a cliff,” Brevig explains. "I told them, ‘This is my best guess of what you're going to do. Your performances are now going to tell us how to change the animation.'”

It wasn't until after the two completed their scenes that their characters really began to come alive, calibrated by the animators to the pacing an

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