Atticus Shaffer needed sound advice

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Thumbnail image for atticus.bmpIt struck me as being a little odd when director Tim Burton told me that part of his coaching of Atticus Shaffer to find the right voice for his character of Edgar “E” Gore in the animated film “Frankenweenie” was to sound like Peter Lorre.

Peter Lorre? A lot of people remember the talented actor from his TV and film roles from the ’30s to the ’60s. But, Lorre died in 1964, that’s 34 years before Atticus, who you probably know from his role as Brick on “The Middle,” was born. There was a time when every impersonator did Lorre’s voice but that was decades ago.

It seems that as soon as Burton mentioned Lorre, Atticus jumped at the chance to do an impersonation but needed some help.

“During the audition process — that took about a year — they said he’s sort of like the Igor character and so I knew his mannerisms. In the second or third audition, they said if possible, do a Peter Lorre impression. My mom, being the good home school mom that she is, she went off and rented ‘The Maltese Falcon.’ We already had ‘Casablanca’,” Atticus says. “I just sat down and studied his voice and his emotions.”

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The 14-year-old Atticus was delighted to get to do the impersonation because although he’s been acting for five years, no role has called for him to use anything but his own voice. This is also the first time Atticus has been a voice in an animated film. He loved the process because the first recording sessions were only a few feet away from the studio where he shots “The Middle” and the rest were done on breaks from shooting the ABC comedy.

For those of you too young to remember Peter Lorre or just want to hear the voice work Atticus did for “Frankenweenie,” the film opens Oct. 5.

Five Things You Should Do This Weekend


Other than the Fresno Philharmonic’s season debut.

The event dominating chatter this week is the Color Me Rad 5K, happening Saturday at Woodward Park. This ain’t any ol’ 5K. Runners get splattered with “color bombs” of paint as they run and end up looking like a life-size bag of Skittles. Color Me Rad is so popular that advanced registration sold out (and people have actually been re-selling their entries — is it a Justin Bieber concert?). But what you can do, is go watch. It’ll be colorful show, no doubt. [More]


Whatcha doing Willis?

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1136042 - LOOPER.JPGObservations from a grumpy old man.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt wears makeup in “Looper” that makes him look like a VERY young Bruce Willis. The first call he got was from Demi Moore.

Glad the real refs are back. It seems the NFL’s replacement refs were so bad, they got fired from the Lingerie League. To be fair, they didn’t get the boot for bad calls. They were sent packing because they kept having to throw flags on themselves for illegal use of the hands.

TLC has ordered more episodes of “Here Comes Honey Boo Boo” including a Halloween episode. You have to wonder what Honey Boo Boo would wear as a costume. It would be something outlandish and different such as going Trick-or-Treating as a normal little girl who’s not being raised to be the third stripper from the left.

Fiona Apple complained to a crowd at the House of Blues in New Orleans that news of her drug bust in Texas for having weed and hash has overshadowed her new album. She then asked the man in the front row if he was going to finish his chips because she had the munchies.

What’s the difference between the new ABC comedy, “The Neighbors,” and being hit in the face with a shovel while a rabid skunk chews on your foot and army ants crawl all over your body? Really? What’s the difference?

Entertainment this weekend


homeland_104_0927.JPGThere are several good entertainment choices for the weekend.

“Homeland,” 10 p.m. Sunday, Showtime: If you don’t pay for Showtime, the second season opener of this series is a good reason to spend the extra bucks. The series deals with a soldier (Damian Lewis) who after being missing in action in Afghanistan for eight years returns home to a hero’s welcome. The only problem is a CIA officer (Claire Danes) who is convinced he’s been turned and is part of a terrorist plot. This is one of the best written and acted shows on TV. And, if that wasn’t enough reason to order Showtime, the new season of “Dexter” starts at 9 p.m.

“Pitch Perfect”: A college freshman with no social skills is blackmailed by her father into agreeing to take part in an on-campus group. Her love of music leads her to Barden University’s The Bellas, an all-female singing group that missed out on a national title the year before. This year’s group is a motley crew. This is a “Glee” -ful hit.

“The Avengers”: Iron Man, Thor, Captain America and the rest of the gang come together to fight Loki and an alien invasion. Chris Hemsworth and Jeremy Renner star. The real hero of “The Avengers” is not Iron Man, Thor or even Nick Fury. It’s Joss Whedon. The film’s director managed to pull off the Herculean task of blending four huge Marvel Comics film franchises to give each time to shine individually and as a group. He even found time to toss in some of the trademark humor that made Whedon a king of the geeks with his “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” series. There’s not a wasted frame.

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