ABC Fun Facts

Happy with the work we did on Teen Wolf, Buzz Potamkin of Southern Star Productions in Los Angeles commissioned us to do a series of twenty 20-second ABC Fun Facts starring Yakov Smirnoff for ABC/Cap Cities. This happened before the Berlin Wall fell, and Yakov Smirnoff became well known as a Russian émigré comic - naïf to American ways and misunderstanding capitalism.

Yakov introduced the pieces which we shot with a motorized camera, and the photographs were then colorized and animated the same way we did with MTV at the beginning of the decade. The second half, the actual "fact", was illustrated in a number of different styles and techniques.  We asked various humorous illustrators, including Norm Bendell, Lee Lorenz, Arnie Levin and George Booth to design the pieces.

Buzz got the commission for a series of PSA's for ABC Networks and asked us to create them.  I went out to LA with Gilbert Ortiz to shoot Yakov Smirnoff. My storyboards had already been approved and Diane Steinmetz (Buzz's assistant) and I organized the shoots to make the most sense. The photos were then printed and pegged and we were ready to go! I had one team inking the other characters with Yakov using cel paint and brush (the technique we had developed with A Warm Reception in LA and countless other projects afterwards). The other team tinted Yakov's photos.

In the meantime, the "fact" boards were going out to a variety of different cartoonists and illustrators-- and it was eye-opening to see how they were interpreted!


Participated at Annecy International Film Festival in 1989.


Southern Star Productions: Buzz Potamkin, producer

Diane Steinmetz, assistant

Buzzco Associates, inc.

Directors: Candy Kugel and Vincent Cafarelli

Photographer: Gilbert Ortiz

Actor: Yakov Smirnoff

Animation: various Vincent Cafarelli, Candy Kugel, Fred Mogubgub, Janet Perlman

Design: various: Opera Singer: Keith Bendis

Dogs: Arnie Levin

Ants: Candy Kugel

Baseball: Fred Mogubgub

Pig: Lee Lorenz

Dolphin: George Booth

Poodle: Janet Perlman







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