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Keith Scott, voice of Bullwinkle, on his book 'The Moose That Roared'

(CNN)-- Jay Ward and Bill Scott, creators of "The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show," introduced the famous moose and squirrel duo to the world in the late 1950s. "The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show," a satirical and irreverent cartoon, has carved a unique place in American pop culture.

Keith Scott is a voice artist, animation historian and the voice of Bullwinkle J. Moose in the recently released motion picture "The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle." His new book, "The Moose That Roared," chronicles the history of Ward and Scott, two men he greatly admired and befriended while he was just a teenager.

Chat Moderator: Welcome to CNN Book Chat, Keith Scott. We are so pleased to have you with us today.

Keith Scott: Well I would have done it in here in the voice of Bullwinkle. [And he performs as Bullwinkle]

"It's not going to translate!"

Chat Moderator: Please tell us a bit about your book, "The Moose That Roared."

Keith Scott: My book was actually requested by Bill Scott, the original voice and writer of Bullwinkle back in the 1970's. I got to meet all of my heroes like Bill Scott; Daws Butler, who was the voice of Yogi Bear; June Foray, still the current voice of Rocky the Flying Squirrel, since 1959; and the people at Jay Ward Productions, makers of the original "Rocky and Bullwinkle."

They recognized that I was the "number one fan" in the world for many, many years. When all of the original people passed on, I was then determined to write a history tribute book covering the entire output of the studio.

Chat Moderator: How and when did you develop such a fascination with animation and this cartoon in particular?

Keith Scott: I was just one of those young kids, who was drawn to cartoons and comics from a very early age. And there was something in the satirical tone about all of the cartoons emanating from Jay Wardís studio that tickled my funny bone then and still does now.

I think that Jay Ward's cartoons were 30 years ahead of their time, because just like the current "Rocky and Bullwinkle" movie, they seem to appeal to three levels of viewing audience at once. The cartoons were smart and self-referential, 30 years before "The Simpsons" made the genre acceptable.

Question from Moose: Mr. Scott, it is a severe pleasure for me to talk with you today. All mooses, or is it meese, tip their antlers to you! I've always wondered what the J in Bullwinkle J. Moose stood for. Do you know?

Keith Scott: Yes! Thank you for your kind comments. The J was simply an in-joke, as a reference to Jay Ward the producer. We had Bullwinkle J. Moose and Rocket J. Squirrel, and occasionally, the narrator would say a portentous comment like, "Our boys were in dire peril!" To which one of the characters would ask, "Is that Dire J. Peril?"

Question from Jeff-CNN: Do you think young people will understand all the cold war references?

Keith Scott: No I don't. But this will work the same as the old TV shows. Young children, then, did not understand those references, but came to understand them, when they saw them a few years later.

When I was a child, my mother would laugh at jokes in "Rocky and Bullwinkle" that I didn't get, but as I said, there was always enough going on in the cartoons and the current movie for young kids to enjoy on their own level.

Chat Moderator: What was so special about the relationship between Ward and Scott?

Keith Scott: I think they were total opposites who had the greatest respect for each otherís abilities. They were certainly opposites politically as my book states.

Bill Scott's son refers to his father as a "screaming lefty," while Jay Ward was a Republican, but not really a political animal. It can be said, however, that they came together as a team, and it was just one of those intangible combinations that worked.

Question from Moose: Do you know if there is going to be a sequel to the just-released movie? And what was it like to work with DeNiro?

Keith Scott: We are not crossing our fingers about a sequel at the moment, unfortunately. For some reason, the movie seems to be a slow starter and misunderstood by several slightly snide critics.

As for working with Robert DeNiro, it was a pure delight, and quite surprising to discover how shy and gracious he was, particularly after you have seen him in "Cape Fear" and the "Untouchables."

But he was a total professional, and he seemed to respect June Foray and myself, when we were doing these crazy voices. Maybe, WE scared HIM!

Chat Moderator: How did you learn to do the voice of Bullwinkle, and was it a dream come true for you to do it?

Keith Scott: It really is the ultimate example of a childhood dream come true. As for learning the voice, I did the voice of Bullwinkle and the narrator for the movie.

I was always a natural mimic, and, in fact, I make a living doing impressions and character voices. But in this case, I believe it helped, because I knew the original voice actors so well.

That means it went beyond learning the voice, to the extent of almost getting inside the heads of the original, now-deceased voice actors, Bill Scott, Bullwinkle, and William Conrad, Narrator.

Question from CathyCNN: How does the new movie compare to the intelligent humor of the old cartoons?

Keith Scott: Well, we think that it is the most accurate attempt at a retro-movie yet accomplished. In other words, everyone who has seen it is amazed at how well the writer, Kenneth Lonergan, captured the original show's style. And those of us who worked on the picture are delighted with its accuracy. In fact, all the real cartoon buffs are amazed at how close it is to the spirit of the old shows.

Chat Moderator: The movie has a lot of cameo appearances by so many very funny actors. Was this a very fun film to make?

Keith Scott: Absolutely! It was terrific to work with Jonathan Winters, John Goodman and Whoopi Goldberg, all of whom entered into the spirit of fun with great alacrity.

Question from CathyCNN: What is the main difference between being a voice-over actor and a regular actor?

Keith Scott: That's a good question. One of the main differences is that you can enjoy a certain anonymity, while still expressing your artistic side, I guess.

And there could be an exception that cartoon voice acting is more fun than acting. But when you are doing it properly, you are still using your whole body, facial expressions, shoulder shrugs, emotions and comedy timing. At the end of a full day in the studio, you can be as drained as an on-camera performer.

Chat Moderator: Why was the cartoon cancelled, and why have Rocky and Bullwinkle made a comeback in the year 2000?

Keith Scott: All TV shows are eventually cancelled. I think they had been working on getting a movie up for the last eight years, and yet, for the last 25 years, "Rocky and Bullwinkle" had attained cult status, so it was probably just a matter of time.

What we'd really like to do is some new cartoons for television, bringing the characters into the new millennium. In the old days, they commented on politics, and so, imagine what a field day they would have now!

Question from Jeff-CNN: What do you think of today's cartoons, as compared with those of 30 years ago?

Keith Scott: On a personal level, I tend to hark back to the old days, particularly the old theatrical cartoons. I just don't care for much of the gross-out humor. I guess I am from the old school that considers it a slightly easy way to get a laugh. On the other hand, I am all-praise for anything, ala "The Simpsons," that is cleverly written.

But, I am afraid "Beevis and Butthead" leaves me colder than a mackerel.

Question from Moose: Mr. Scott, aside from the people you worked with in the "Rocky and Bullwinkle" movie, who do you regard as the top two or three voices working in the cartoon/animation business today?

Keith Scott: I would say Frank Welker, Corey Burton, and Tress MacNeille. But there are so many others.

Chat Moderator: Which are some of your own favorite "Rocky and Bullwinkle" episodes?

Keith Scott: The storylines called "Goof Gas Attack" and "Painting Theft" were two of the most blistering funny and fast-paced story lines, filled with puncturing satire and outrageously bad puns. They remain two of my favorites. I am also very partial to the "Fractured Fairy Tales."

Question from CathyCNN: What is the hardest word to say in the Bullwinkle voice?

Keith Scott: The hardest word to say, [Bullwinkle voice] "I'm a master of the English language, but at the moment, there are only three words that are tough for me to say: Box office returns."

Maybe they should have called our movie, "Perfect Storm in a Teacup."

But, we'll get there, slowly but surely!

Question from Minnie: I didn't think the trailer was very funny for the movie, and that may hurt it at the box office.

Keith Scott: A few people have said that, and yet, a few others loved the trailer, so who knows? The marketing of a movie is such a fragile art form, in itself, and I had no input into that.

Question from CathyCNN: What is your next project?

Keith Scott: I don't really know. There is a rumor that Disney is considering a sequel to "George of the Jungle," which I narrated.

But for the next six months, I will probably be back to my regular anonymous radio-TV-commercial voice-over work based in Sydney Australia. But, as they say in this business, "You don't know what is right around the corner."

Chat Moderator: Keith Scott, Bullwinkle, thanks so much for joining us today!

Keith Scott: That's great, terrific, thoroughly enjoyed doing it!

Goodbye, and go see the movie and read the book!

Keith Scott joined the chat via telephone from Los Angeles. provided a typist for him. The above is an edited transcript of the chat.

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'Bullwinkle's makers try to make a fun film -- and don't
July 3, 2000

The Advantures of Rocky and Bullwinkle

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