Voice Actors Make News

newsThis is not just some news-guy-wanna-be-voice-actor rant.

This is open-your-eyes-’cause-voice-acting-is-everywhere-in-the-news chant.

For instance, didja see E.G. Daily’s appearance on The Voice the other night?  The voice of Tommy Pickles in RugRats, ButterCup in the PowerPuff Girls, and as Dottie in PeeWee’s Big Adventure… Daily just wanted to see if she “had it” as a singer.  (She does).  See the write up about Daily’s appearance in Huffington Post.

Stories about the latest nuances in popular video games are rife.  See “Rockstar Uses Actual Gang Members for Grand Theft Auto V Voice Acting”, and “Finally, A Better Taste Of ‘Metal Gear Solid V”s English Voice Acting

Feature profiles of individual voice-actors are as easy to find as Brian Cranston quotes:

Voice Actor Travis Willingham: I Love Anonymity

Voice actor Tom Kenny switches to adult-friendly role on ‘Brickleberry’ (in the online version of the Daily Nebraskan!)

And finally, voice-actors are busy defining what it means to be mentors, coaches, and pushing the envelope of technology:

Read about Lainie Frasier, a voice-actor from Austin, TX in the online version of the Houston Chronicle; Funny Voices Are Her Living.

And from the UK: “Technology brings increased opportunities for voice-over actors”

Yes, “In a World” did wonders for our business…but this stuff was happening…is happening…will happen because VO is reaching a threshold in cultural consciousness, and you know what?…people are fascinated by what we do.

Have a great weekend!


The “World” of Hal Douglas

hal douglasThe voice of Hal Douglas is iconic.  In fact, there is still plenty of debate about whether Douglas or Lafontaine most deserves to be associated with the phrase “In a World” because so many of the trailers he’s voiced start with those 3 words..

He’s darn-near done it all, and still going.  Disney, A&E, Warner Bros., History Channel, and even served in WWII.

Now, Filmmaker Casimir Nozkowski has a new short out about Hal Douglas, much of it in his own voice.  In the nine-minute documentary (seen below), he reflects on his body of work, his technique and the current state of his instrument.

We should all have such illustrious careers!

BTW, in case, for some reason you’ve never seen it.  Check out this fun video where Hal pokes fun at himself and the trailer business:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tIILUKJ74r0


Grammy’s Live Announcer

grammyDuring the Grammy’s last night I spent more than hour on the web seeking the name of the (obviously accomplished) live female announcer on CBS for the big show.

The frustrating search turned up nothing (and I’m pretty good at this).

I checked all over…CBS sites, Grammy sites, LA Times, Huffington Post, Entertainment sites.  I did advanced searches, Boolean searches. No mention no where. This is the business we work in.  Apparently we’re the only ones who care or notice.

Finally, I launched the question on FaceBook.

Interestingly, other Voice Actors were thinking the same thing, and a healthy thread got going.  Randy Thomas‘ name came up first, but in the end the defnitive answer came from ellen kMelanie Haynes, who (living in a different time zone) was able to fast forward her TIVO recording to the credits rolling at the end, and saw the listing for the announcer:  Ellen K.

Here is Ellen K’s IMDb.

Here is a webpage extolling her appearance as the announcer on the 2012 Grammys. (2012, not 2013)

Here are my unadorned observations about this whole experience:

1) I’ve never heard of Ellen K…but apparently that only shows my own (a) seclusion (b) stupidity (c) pop culture ignorance (d) lack of sophistication.
2) Do announcers from Dallas or Des Moines ever get these gigs? Certainly there are qualified talent all over the US.  Hollywood helps its own (or they’re too lazy to search, or Ellen has a great agent, or proximity really does count).
3) Is the identity of the live announcer for one of the most-watched shows on the year’s TV schedule so insignificant that even Google’s best search bots can’t find it (see #4)
4) …which means Ellen K’s publicist should be fired if the most recent  Ellen K hype is from LAST YEAR’S Grammy’s.
5)  Stop telling me radio is not a gateway to Voice Over jobs.  Even if it WAS Randy Thomas, or Beau Weaver, or Joe Cipriano (I could go on)…all of them made their name FIRST in radio.  (Ellen K is Ryan Seacrest’s sidekick on KIIS’s morning show in LA’s radio scene).
6) If being a voice actor making the really good coin, and it means EVERYTHING to you…move to LA or NYC.  Apparently proximity DOES count.

People finding fault with #6 above will quickly point out that certain high-earning talent (like Randy Thomas) no longer live in either of those cities.  Right.  But they moved only AFTER making it big in the big city.

Congrats Ellen K.  Good to meet you, and nice going on the Grammy’s last night!


Mixer Musings

Chris Mezzolesta, Darren Altman, CourVO

Monday, December 5, 2011 7am…I wake to the sound of an alarm in a hotel room in New York City.  13 hours later, I’m anchoring a newscast in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Don’t tell me there’s no such thing as a time machine.

And don’t tell me that voiceover people are anything but the most gregarious, social, fun-loving folks in the world.  I have the pictures to prove it, and they’re peppered throughout this blog (and I apologize that I crashed each and every shot!)

I really tried to “work the crowd” in the sense that I wanted to see everybody I wanted to see.  Amazingly, some key people managed to escape  my grasp…maybe by choice. :)  On the other hand, I DID see and talk to many people I admire and respect.

CourVO, Mrs. CourVO (Victoria) Kurt Kelly, Liz de Nesnera

First time encounters included the personable Darren Altman (above), the affable Paul Strikwerda, the witty Billy James, Chuck Davis, and Kurt Kelly.

The doggone laser blue lighting in the place was a camera challenge in some of these pics…but let’s give it up for Erik Sheppard and Lindsay for mounting an incredible event in a wonderful venue.  Lord knows the headaches and expenses they’ve lived with for the last few months to make this happen!

Billy James, CourVO

A thanks to all for making my wife feel so welcome.  I talk and I talk about all these VO people, and it was just time she gets a chance to meet them.  She was charmed.

She was also inquisitive.

Sunday, during our ambitious sight-seeing of NYC, she kept asking me great questions about the event.

Why do people come?

Paul Strikwerda, CourVO

What do they hope to accomplish?

Is it a networking venue?…a marketing opportunity?…a place to meet clients?

She wanted to know…and it really got me to thinking.  Why do VO’s show up at these things?

I know of at least one respected voice actor who left early, frustrated that a perfectly good possible marketing opportunity was wasted by the music, the blue lights, the crowded floor, and a delayed nametag line.

CourVO, Kelley Buttrick

I don’t think Erik and Lindsay made any promises beyond a chance to gather with others of our kind, maybe enjoy some holiday cheer, some camaraderie, and some face-to-face space-sharing for so many of us who mostly interact online.

In short: a meet-up, not a meet/market.

The intimation was and has always been (in my mind, anyway) that this should be a social event, and if perchance you are able to finesse some networked relationships that eventually lead to jobs…then that’s great…but not the purpose.

The fact that so many came in a relaxed atmosphere free of expectations (i.e. work), I think, proves my point.  There was a palpable excitement about rubbing shoulders with so many accomplished professionals.

Michael Schoen, Dan Friedman

Do some show up just to “make the scene“?…to hear and be heard?

Sure.  I think there’s a little of that.  But that’s true of ANY profession.  In my way of looking at it, there’s nothing wrong with attending as a commitment to the community.  To say:  “I want to be a part”.  Some may have more stature, and are able to bestow a greater sense of validation upon others.  Some come to bask in a little of the aura of

CourVO, Bob Hurley

accomplishment.  This, too, is an accepted norm of our business culture.

How many times have you told an up-and-comer…or been told yourself, that to be part of a new career path, you have to immerse yourself in the people, places, and culture of the profession?

So, in my mind, this leaves room under a big umbrella.  Those who knew each other were able to commiserate.  New faces become familiar faces.

Peter O'Connell, Melissa Exelberth, Peter Bishop

Names get associated with persons, relationships grow, and the network becomes more defined.  What’s not to like?

Again, my hat goes off to Erik and Lindsay for their commitment to this event.  How could they NOT be cheerleaders for it?  Erik and Lindsay met at Mixer #1, he proposed at Mixer #2, and now they’re married.

See?  Just socializing, not working, can lead to incredibly fruitful relationships.

My thanks to all who shook my hand, and said nice things.  I hope I left you with a similar feeling of acceptance. I know I did.



Rowe on Rowe

At last year’s Marice Tobias all-male weekend workshop in Las Vegas, Mike Rowe was all the talk.  The guy IS a force.  He’s seemingly everywhere…radio, TV, commercials, reality shows, and more.

‘Gotta give it to him, the guy’s a looker, great body, fetching smile, and a bold voice.  Plus, he’s just…a natural, and it comes across in his delivery.  That’s why he’s so sought-after.

There’s a great article on Rowe on Internet Voice Coach. including sound files and a transcript of the interview.  Give it a look, and to see his easy approach to copy, check out Mike on YouTube also.


She Dunn Good

Maxine Dunn is a voiceover constant.  Work in the business long enough, you’ll hear of, or run into Maxine.

While her natural dialect is British, Maxine excels at North American-speak, on-camera work, and live as a spokesperson.

With all that, should I be surprised that she’s turned out a cracker-jack primer for VoiceOver Marketing?

Click HERE to read her concise, meaty, and helpful guide to strategizing a better VO marketing plan.

Nice work, Maxine!


Politics vs. Voiceover

Even that title doesn’t do it justice.  But what would?

The passions of politics are SO polarized these days that no one can say or do ANYTHING.

Here’s the story.  I take no sides.

”A voice-over actor — best known for telling viewers they can save 15 percent or more on car insurance — says he lost his gig doing Geico commercials after leaving a voicemail with a group that organizes Tea Party events to ask how many of its employees are “mentally retarded.”

Los Angeles actor D.C. Douglas in a press release said he was dropped from the upcoming Geico “Shocking News” campaign after leaving a message with the press shop at FreedomWorks, a Washington-based organization led by former Republican leader Dick Armey that has been at the forefront of the Tea Party movement.” (Read more: http://dailycaller.com/2010/04/21/geico-voice-over-actor-fired-after-calling-tea-party-group-mentally-retarded/#ixzz0loTVRVmb)

See  more links here:


Even though, he took it down, see DC Douglas’s original blog here:

My only take:

I subscribe to the notion that there is no such thing as bad PR.  If you want to get noticed, you can do so with positive OR negative press.

The notoriety here goes to Geico, FreedomWorks, DC Douglas, and VoiceOver talent in general.  All are getting unbelievable press over this thing.


Porta-Booth Pro Demo

After a long day trolling the exhibit aisles at NAB (Nat’l Assoc of Broadcasters) in Las Vegas, George Whittam shows up at my TV station promptly as my 5 o’clock evening newscast begins.  Great!

He’s got with him a sharkfin-shaped, zippered nylon carry-bag, and I KNOW it’s the Harlan Hogan Porta-Booth Pro.  George confirms that, yes, he’d seen Harlan the day before at the convention, and Harlan insisted George take it for a test spin at home in his studio.

Determined to hold my focus for the rest of the half-hour’s newscast, I then gave George the nickel tour of the CBS affiliated station, and we settled into the news conference room where CNN had provided pizza for the news staff (not sure why).  There, I video’d George in an impromptu set-up of the Porta-Booth Pro.

It’s simple, intuitive, and obviously well-designed and made of quality materials.  When assembled, it shows an integrity of construction, and some nice little features that make it a cinch for an on-the-road voice actor.

Watch the video of George below (roughly 4:30), and pay special attention to a nice “insider” tip for your traveling voice talent types.

George Whittam Demos Porta-Booth Pro from Dave Courvoisier on Vimeo.

By the way, George spent the day at NAB talking to various vendors about the possibility of getting their participation in the Don LaFontaine Voice Over Lab at the SAG Actors Center.  Most, he said, had good interest in being a prt.

George plans to bring the Porta-Booth Pro to VOICE2010 for anyone to take a look.

VO Rabble-Rousin’

snake-oil Freelance VoiceOver talent have strong opinions, ‘specially when somebody does ‘em wrong… jus’ like any other well-meaning businessperson would.

Lately, some notables in our industry have been making it clear how THEY feel about certain personages who (it would appear) are disingenuous about the way they represent their wares.

Two Examples, one about coaching, the second about clients



When respected names like Harlan Hogan and Dan O’Day come on THIS strong, they must certainly feel adamant and assured in their comments

Start HERE to read the criticism…you’ll have to click some links to find the actually beginning of the thread, but it’s all clear when you click the above link to Dan O’Day’s blog.

Go do that, then come back.

OK, whadya think?  Here’s my one comment:  If you’re going to smack someone THAT hard, why not just name names.  I think most of us all know who she is, so just….call her out.  Anything less seems dissumulative given the intensity of the cynicism.


newspaper Double-Dutch Blogger and International Voice Talent Paul Strikwerda takes a salacious shot at one of his clients…and most would agree, rightly so.

See his diatribe HERE.

How does one see through the subterfuge and read another human being through virtual liaisons to tell if they’re honest or not.  Hmmmm, sounds like the worthy topic of a future blog!


All GOOD Stories are Personal

There are stories and then there are stories.  Here’s why the personal story is the only good story:

Story 1:  The Las Vegas unemployment rate topped 13% last month.  This is a true story, one that appeared as an item on many news products in Las Vegas.  It is accurate, timely, and indicative of the times.  It’s says very little, though, in and of itself.

Story 2:  Jeremy hasn’t been able to find a job in his field as an ironworker for 6 months in Las Vegas.  He’s foreclosing on his mortgage, changing plans to send his daughter to college, and his wife has had to go to work for the first time in their lives.  This is also a true story, accurate, timely and indicative.  Yet, Jeremy’s story and many other individual stories of loss in this recession touches a nerve with anyone who has a heart.  It’s personal.  Many feel Jeremy’s pain.

There are over 2,000 foster children in Clark County, NV…the county where Las Vegas is located.  You can report that tragic fact, but it’s almost impossible to get your head around it.  That’s why every week, I choose one child or one sibling set, and profile their unique personality, face, and needs on the Wednesday’s Child program.  THAT connects with people who hear the story.  Not 2,000.

You put focus on a story that deserves attention by profiling ONE who is affected, and forcing each single viewer to FEEL that one person’s pain.

All GOOD stories are personal.

You could say that the whole approach of Newspapers, Radio and TV in the first place (one-to-many distribution) is like Story #1.  The only thing that saves it are the personalities involved, who are trained to perform as if they are speaking one-on-one to their friend.  That, and the fact that each radio player, TV set, and newspaper is yours and yours alone to own, hold, hear, and see.  That makes it also seem personal.

But the days of one-to-many stories are waning and will continue to diminish.

This is why Social Media: Twitter, FaceBook, YouTube, and yes, even email are booming.  It’s a one-to-one paradigm.  It’s personal.  It’s a good story BECAUSE it’s personal.

Sure, you can send a message to your 17,000 Twitter followers in a shotgun approach, but when this follower or that follower responds individually, there’s a tug on your conscience to respond.  It’s personal.

PEOPLE ARE SMART (and fed up)
Billboards, TV ads, classified ads, $1-million SuperBowl ads, and magazines are suffering. People tune out mass ads, they unfollow obvious Twitter spam, and dodge marketing scams.  People are smarter.  They see through it.

This is why the new gestalt surrounding successful Twitter connections is based on a good story that’s personal.  You don’t even get to first base until you’re sincere, genuine, personal.

And forget Twitter for a second.  FaceBook is even more wildly popular than Twitter if you believe growth estimates.  Why?  FaceBook is a picture, and a profile, and favorite movies, and your birthday, and photos, and music and books…and on and on and on about who YOU are.  It’s personal, and it’s a good story BECAUSE it’s personal.

Is all this good?  Yeah.  I think so.  It’s a direct result of cultural change following technological advancement (just like TV was a radical change for its time).  That brought masses of people into a common experience.  But it wasn’t really personal.

Now, like never before, you have a chance to get personal.  All the avenues are there.  Social Media is creating opportunities like never before to make a personal connection with someone who is in a position to make something happen for your career.

Not getting enough work as a voice actor?  Seeking an agent?  Needing more connections to juicy jobs, leads, and studios?  Get personal. MAKE it personal.

When you think about the jobs you ARE getting, or HAVE gotten, there was a personal connection somewhere along the line.

All good stories are personal. 

Yours is. 

Use it.