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Animator Jessica Borutski had the future of some of the most beloved cartoon characters in history the Looney Tunes library, including Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck dropped in her lap.
She got the news through an email. A very brief, unsolicited email.
"It was: 'Hi. My name is Tony. Would you be interested in redesigning the Looney Tunes?' And that was it," said Borutski, who was 24 at the time. "So I wrote back, 'That's a little vague. Would you mind explaining yourself a little bit more?' I don't even know who this Tony guy is."
That would be Tony Cervone, co-director of Warner Bros. Animation. Charged with reviving Looney Tunes, he was impressed by Borutski's short film "I Like Pandas."
"He wrote back, 'We want to do a new show, and we wanted to see how you would draw the characters,' " Borutski said.
She wasn't interested at first, fearing Warner Bros. was planning some sort of drastic redesign.
But that was never the plan. "Part of our job at Warner Bros. Animation is to do something new with these characters to bring them to a new audience, but still be as respectful as they deserve,"said Sam Register, Warner Bros. Animation's executive vice president of creative affairs. "It's very difficult to do. The bar is high."
The new "Looney Tunes Show" features Bugs, Daffy, Porky Pig, Elmer Fudd, Speedy Gonzales, Lola, Yosemite Sam, Foghorn Leghorn, the Tasmanian Devil, Marvin the Martian, Pepe Le Pew, Tweety, Sylvester, Granny and more.
And it's a hoot, true to the original craziness of the characters, while bringing them into the 21st century.
The biggest change: Instead of seven-minute shorts, these are 22-minute stories about Bugs and Daffy, who share a house. They text. They use computers. They drive a car that sort of looks like a Prius.
And they look slightly different after the redesign.
"We also wanted to make the characters look a little bit different since the world was going to be new," said Sam Register, executive vice president of creative affairs at Warner Bros. Animation.
Actually, Bugs and Daffy have evolved many time over their 70-plus years of animated life, and Borutski was inspired by some earlier versions.
"I think that when you see the new Bugs and Daffy, you know who they are but they seem a little bit more fresh for today," she said. "I took elements of the character designs throughout all of the ages of Looney Tunes things from different directors that I really, really liked."
Daffy, in particular, has more of a retro flair. "I made their heads a bit bigger because I didn't like [how] in the '60s, '70s Bugs Bunny's head started to get really small and his body really long. He started to look like a weird guy in a bunny suit."
"The Looney Tunes Show" also features Merrie Melodies animated music videos starring classic characters. And the Road Runner and Wile E. Coyote are back in a computer-generated format.
It's all new, but harks back to the characters' history. The Looney Tunes creative team spends about one-third of its time arguing about the cartoons' past.
"They were so great that we spend a lot of time just thinking about how to make them as good as they were at one time," Register said, "and being respectful to them while still trying to do something new."
'The Looney Tunes Show'
The half-hour series premieres Tuesday, May 3, at 9 p.m. on the Cartoon Network.