Nancy Cartwright's Voice Carries Weight at Fox

By Susan King, Times Staff Writer
From: ominous@LIMBO.BERKELEY.EDU (Anne Ominous)
Subject: Nancy Cartwright In The News
Date: 23 Mar 92 08:15:21 GMT
[Copied right 1992]

Los Angeles Times TV Times, March 22-28, 1992


Nancy Cartwright made an interesting discovery one night while she was reading "The Simpsons" alphabet book to her 2-year-old daughter Lucy.

"I was pointing out the characters," Cartwright recalled over lunch recently. "I said, 'Who is this?' And she said, 'Homer.' I said. 'Who is this?' and she said 'Lisa.' Then I pointed to Bart and I said, 'Who is this?' And she said, 'Mama.' I was shocked."

Like most Simpsons fans, Lucy knows that Cartwright, 32, is the voice of the well-liked wisenheimer of Fox's most popular series. But Cartwright is also the least visible member of the cast. Dan Castellaneta (Homer) is a regular on ABC's "Simbs," Julie Kavner (Marge) is starring in the film "This Is My Life" and Yeardley Smith (Lisa) is a regular on Fox's "Herman's Head."

After "The Simpsons" made its debut three years ago, Cartwright kept a low profile, she said, because the network thought "it was in the best interest of the show that we remain in the background. I undertand that point. Actually, it was cool because I was pregnant and had a couple of kids. [Her son Jackson is six months old.] But now we are going into our fourth season, and I am interested in letting people know I am interested in doing other things."

Cartwright's enthusiasm for doing "The Simpsons" has increased over the seasons. When "The Simpsons" were introduced five years ago as a small element of "The Tracey Ullman Show," Cartwright said, "the characters weren't as developed as they are now.

"It's a blast recording. [We] become the characters across the microphone. Most people think it is just a voice, but they don't take into consideration that we are acting behind the mike. To me, this is the best job in the planet, working on the show. We only tape one day a week. There's a lot of freedom so actors can do other projects."

Cartwright said she came up with the voice of Bart after studying a sketch of him and reading the scripts. "He was very antagonistic in this particular scene and was picking on his sister," Cartwright said. "That was the only voice I gave them. Sometimes I ... will give them several options."

Cartwright also is the voice of his cohorts Tood Flanders and Nelson Munce. "It's pretty funny," she said, " I don't do girls on the show."

Cartwright, who also supplies voices for such animated series as Disney's "Bonkers" and the upcoming "Goof Troop," learned her craft from a master, the late Daws Butler, the voice of Yogi Bear ahd Huckleberry Hound.

"He didn't teach me how to do voices," she said. "He taught me how to make it your own, how to take the author's words and personalize it. He taught me how to vary your pitch and your energy. I would learn through practices with him different techniques I could use on the microphone."

Cartwright also has pursued an acting career, starring in the 1982 CBS movie "Marian Rose White," and in "Twilight Zone: The Movie." She has guest-starred on "Empty Nest," "Mr. Belvedere" and "Cheers." She is writing a one-woman show, "In Search of Fellini," that she hopes to perform this year.

She has not lost acting jobs because of her cartoon work. "When I go into sessions, people ask me to do Bart," she said. "Everybody loves Bart. Don't you? I just love doing that. I think typecasting is the thing of the past because look at the guests we have had on our show. [See story below.]"

Lunch was over. But one last question. Could she do Bart?

Cartwright smiled slyly. "No way, man," Bart replied.

"The Simpsons" A-list

By Susan King

How has "The Simpsons" attracted such guest voices as Sting, Aerosmith, Tony Bennett, Danny DVito, Darryl Strawberry, Jose Canseco, Jackie Mason, Penny Marshall, Joe Mantega and Larry King?

"The writers get strange notions in their heads and we throw out the names of the people we would most like to do the role and call them up," said "Simpsons" creator Matt Groening. "They almost always say 'yes.' It's especially helpful if they have kids who like the show. I think that's why Danny DeVito did it because his kids like the show."

Groening also has a long list of celebs who have approached him about doing the show.

"Aerosmith let us know they wanted to do the show, so when we wrote a show with them in it we called their managers and they said, 'Forget it.' We said, 'Wait a minute, the band wants to do it.' These days virtually every arrogant, heavy metal band wants to do the show."

In the case of Sting, Groening said, the rocker had never seen the show. But his kids were fans. "Generally people as young as Sting have seen the show but some of the older people we have had on the show, like Tony Bennett, I don't think he had ever seen it. They do a little checking out and find out it is a hip thing to do. These days it's hard for us to imagine anybody turning us down."

The guest celebrities receive a free animation cell of themselves "without a chin," Groening said.

Aerosmith played themselves, but most stars don't. "We are really trying not to pander and do star turns on the show," Groening said. "We don't stop the comedy in order for a star to make a grand entrance ... I figure that the worst humiliation is the way we make them look. If they get past that obstacle, they don't have to memorize lines or put on make-up or block their stage moves."

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