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When Fox picked up an animated series based on the 2004 movie "Napoleon Dynamite," it raised a few eyebrows.

The movie was successful, but seven years is a lifetime in the entertainment industry. And that puts it out of the frame of reference of many of Fox's young viewers.

Jon Heder, however, thinks, "It was inevitable."

And if anybody knows Napoleon Dynamite, it's the guy who played him. According to Hess, the idea of turning the movie into a TV show has been kicking around for years.

"When the movie first came out, we talked about doing a live-action TV show," he said. "We talked about doing an animated TV show. We talked about doing a sequel. And then we just never did it."

Until now.

Fox has ordered six episodes of the animated "Napoleon Dynamite," which will get a tryout in the spring of 2012. It's a prequel to the movie, and the original actors provide the voices.

In addition to Heder, there's Aaron Ruell as Kip; Efren Ramirez as Pedro; Tina Majorino as Deb; Sandy Martin as Grandma; Jon Gries as Uncle Rico; and Diedrich Bader as Rex.

"It's all the same characters, all the same voices," Heder said. "But it's weird. I've done way more acting in this animated show than I did in the movie. Napoleon has a couple different girlfriends in this show. I get to explore different emotions that Napoleon's never had before.

"It's definitely fun. It's so worth it."

The actors go into a recording booth to record their lines individually, but — like a live-action sitcom — they get together to read through the scripts.

"The table reads were magical," Heder said. "It's just kind of cool to hear all those characters coming to life again. We're sitting at a table finally hearing these voices saying different things.

"It's a very quotable movie. Everybody says the lines over and over. And, finally, we've got fresh, new lines."

(Time put "Napoleon Dynamite" in its list of 10 most quotable movies for lines like, "Your mom goes to college.")

The TV series will be the same. Only different.

"We're trying to hold on to the integrity and the vision of the original film," Heder said. "But it's animated, so we can have a little bit of crazier, fantastical things happen."

The first episode they produced is about ligers. Not the magical ligers Napoloeon drew in the movie. Real ligers.

Well, real animated ligers.

"Napoleon goes to a liger breeding facility and they break loose and take over the town," Heder said. "And he's got to save the town."

"It's a blast. We can do whatever we want, and yet it's all still contained in smalltown Preston, Idaho. And we're having a great time."

Scott D. Pierce's column appears Mondays and Fridays in The Mix. Email him at; follow him on Twitter @ScottDPierce; read his blog at