KnitWits & KnitWits Revisited

KnitWits chronicles a Saturday afternoon in a knitting store in New York City where a group of regulars gather weekly to swap stories, gossip, advice and the trends of the day. The cast is almost exclusively female, ranging widely in age and backgrounds. The store is a safe haven. They can talk in a way they can't when they're with their friends and family. KnitWits was originally conceived as an animated television series, and this film introduces us to an eclectic and funny group of women.

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KnitWits Revisited brings us back to the KnitWits' knitting store, for this 6-minute TV pilot, originally produced for Oxygen Network. The cast has changed a little since their first encounter - the original mail carrier, Harriet (played by Carol Woods) has been replaced by a younger woman, Amina (played by Erika Alexander). But the rest of the ensemble has returned: Becky (Joan Rivers), Catherine (Debra Monk), Juanita (Liz Testa) and Juniper (Pam Woodruff).

In this episode Becky has a problem - her 15-year-old daughter is coming home from boarding school with a boy for the weekend. Becky is conflicted about how to deal with the sleeping arrangements, and even how to approach the issue with her daughter. Her knitting buddies have very strong, and conflicting, ideas.






A dear friend owned and ran a yarn store in New York. I would spend Saturday afternoons there, knitting and chatting with a half dozen other regulars, enjoying the quiet back-and-forth with people from all different neighborhoods and socio-economic backgrounds.  All we shared was the quiet clicking of needles. But after a few hours of discussing the news, problems with work, problems with husbands or children, we’d always announce-- “Well, we solved the problems of the world!” and giggle.

So it was natural when I was asked if I had any ideas for a TV series, that I came up with KnitWits (this was 1996-- years before "The Voice" premiered). I read magazine articles about how women speak and solve problems.  Unlike men who would give solutions for whatever issue, women tended to tell parallel personal stories that might suggest another way to look at the problem.  I insisted that this was a natural for animation for a couple of reasons-- instead of endless “talking heads” with live action women sitting around a table, using animation we can “see” the story.  With animation we can be as outrageous as necessary for a point-- something that real actors (at that time) would be embarrassed to do, or standards wouldn’t allow.  And I wanted to inject humor to all of this. Liz Lewis, the casting agent, rounded up a group of comedians. The cast was set with great people, except for the loudmouth leader of the group-- none of them seemed to fit my expectations. She asked me who I’d imagine it to be and tentatively I said “Joan Rivers?” And she agreed!

Before it was completed, the New York Film Festival contacted me asking if it would be done for Opening Night in 1997.  I still needed to transfer the computer files to 35mm film.  It would be shown in Avery Fisher Hall-- with an incredibly long throw from the projector to the screen and no time to fix. It actually was a magical night! The film looked and sounded great! I was backstage with the cast and crew of Ang Lee’s “Ice Storm” listening to hundreds of people laughing at my jokes. And a wonderful Opening Night party at Tavern on the Green, recognizing me in my borrowed Nicole Miller gown… a wonderful memory!



•I Castelli Animati
•Lucca Comics & Games
•Tricky Women Film Festival
•Cartoons on the Bay
•San Diego Film Festival


CREDITS (KnitWits):

The Cast
Becky - Joan Rivers
Harriet - Carol Woods
Juanita - Elizabeth Testa
Juniper - Pam Woodruff
Catherine - Deborah Monk
Amber - Brenda Cummings

Directors: Candy Kugel & Vincent Cafarelli
Designer: Candy Kugel
Animator: Vincent Cafarelli
Written By: Candy Kugel & The Cast
Animation Helpers: Toni Tysen, Maria Scavullo, Gail Ma
Production Co.: Buzzco Associates, Inc.
Executive Producer: Marilyn Kraemer
Represented By: Jim Arnoff, The Arnoff Company
Casting: Liz Lewis and Ross Mondschain
Music: Lanny Meyers
Produced & Performed By: Lanstronaut, Inc.
Recorded At: Manhattan Beach
Engineer: Jerry Pilato
Original Song: Hanging On By A Thread
Lyrics: Candy Kugel
Music: Lanny Meyers
Sound Mix: Jerry Pilato
Computer Output To Video: Princzco Productions
Output Guy: Joey Princz
Computer Output To Film: Ken Nordine
Technical Advisor: Richard Lainhart

Processed At: Technicolor East Coast Div.
Lab Liason: Tony Romano

CREDITS (KnitWits Revisited):

Becky - Joan Rivers
Juanita - Liz Testa
Amina - Erika Alexander
Juniper - Pam Woodruff
Catherine - Debra Monk

Casting: Liz Lewis
Associate Producer: Ross Mondschain
Dialogue Recording: Troy Halderson & Alan Silverman
at Clinton Recording Studios, NYC
Music by: Lanny Meyers
"Hanging on by a Thread-redux"
Music: Lanny Meyers
Lyrics: Candy Kugel
Singers: Suzanne Lorge, Emily Loesser, Linda Beasley
Music Produced at: Manhattan Beach Recording
Engineer: Daniel Lawrence
Sound Design & Mix: Alan Silverman, ARF! Productions
Digital to Video: Danny Princz, Princzco Productions
Technical Advisor: Richard Lainhart
Storyboard & Layout: Candy Kugel
Animation: Vincenzo IacobelliVincent CafarelliBill Peckmann
Additional Artists: Sheng Huang, Nouri Gabardi Zander, Rick Broas, George Stankevich
Produced By: Buzzco Associates, Inc., New York
Executive Producer: Marilyn Kraemer
Written By: Candy Kugel with additional dialogue provided by The Cast
Designed & Directed by: Candy Kugel & Vincent Cafarelli


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