Monday, September 06, 2021

Rugrats | Cast & Crew Interviews | Paramount Plus

Hold on to your diapees, babies, as the Rugrats are back in a brand new CG-animated series, exclusively on Paramount+. To celebrate, below is a selection of hand-picked interviews with the cast and crew of the new Rugrats series!

Nickelodeon's ‘Rugrats' Returns with Bigger Adventures and a New Look

The original “Rugrats” debuted 30 years ago.

Tommy, Angelica, Chuckie and the rest of the Rugrats gang are back for an all-new, CG-animated series. The “Rugrats'' revival has been in the works since 2018 and will premiere on Paramount+ on May 27. The original cast (minus Christine Cavanaugh, who died in 2014) are reprising their roles.

E.G. Daily (Tommy Pickles), Cheryl Chase (Angelica Pickles), Nancy Cartwright (Chuckie Finster), Cree Summer (Susie Carmichael) and Kath Soucie (Phil and Lil DeVille) sat down with NBC to talk about what’s new in this revival, and the familiar faces fans can expect to see once again. Chase says “Rugrats” has meant a lot to people over the years because it resonates with kids and parents.

“The writers wrote from their own experiences in their lives,” Chase said. “They had small children when they were working on the show. So they would gather around and say, ‘Well what did your kid do?’ And they would take experiences from their babies, and put it into the writing.”

The show continues the tale of toddlers from the 90s hit with CG animation and even bigger adventures. When it premiered on Nickelodeon in 1991, “Rugrats” was part of the very first Nicktoons block, a vanguard idea at the time made up of three separate animated shows each with a distinct look and story.

The “Rugrats'' revival has been in the works since 2018 and will premiere on Paramount+ on May 27, 2021.

“Rugrats” was created by the then-husband-and-wife duo of Gábor Csupó and Arlene Klasky, along with Paul Germain in 1989. It’s the second longest running animated series on Nickelodeon after “SpongeBob SquarePants” and has had several history-making moments. It was widely praised for its groundbreaking portrayal of Jewish kids and families with a Chanukah and Passover special episode.

The series earned four Daytime Emmy Awards, six Kids' Choice Awards and its own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. It ran successfully until its final episode aired in 2004 and became a franchise, spawning video games, movies, and a spinoff. Now, the new “Rugrats” series hopes to introduce a new generation of audiences to their toddler tales when it debuts May 27 on the Paramount+ app.

The “Rugrats'' revival has been in the works since 2018 and will premiere on Paramount+ on May 27, 2021.


Omar Benson Miller & Timothy Simons Interview: Rugrats

Stars Omar Benson Miller & Timothy Simons chat about stepping into a decades-long franchise for the first time and modernizing Rugrats.

Paramount+ is combining the nostalgia of youth with the joys of adulting in its upcoming revival of Rugrats. The first season premieres through the streaming service on May 27 before airing on Nickelodeon at a later date, and it contains all the kernels of the original series with a few surprising flourishes.

Given that the show is now set in the modern day instead of continuing the 90s timeline, all the CG animation, technological trappings and sociopolitical discourse of today is present. The show is also focusing more on the parents and their work-baby balance, although the friendship between the kids remains the heart of the story.

Stars Omar Benson Miller and Timothy Simons, who play Drew Pickles and Randy Carmichael, spoke to Screen Rant about joining the iconic franchise and taking a deeper look at the lives of the parents.

You two are the new kids on the block, the babies of the series, despite playing adults. Omar, what was it like for you to come into this established universe, take this role and make it your own?

Omar Benson Miller: You know what, it's an honor. There's a responsibility, and I tried not to focus on any of that, because most of the time I was in my mom's closet while we were recording. And that kind of took me out of pressure, because I was more worried about being claustrophobic.

But I think that when you get involved with something with such a great history and something that's so beloved by people around the world, you always feel the weight of it to some degree. And I can't say it enough, we had a great creative team to lead us down the right path, because I don't know what I'm doing. Don't tell them, but I don't know what I'm doing.

Well, you faked it very well. Timothy, I assume you were also in someone's closet recording?

Timothy Simons: In my neighbor's closet. I did not have permission; there was an ongoing legal battle over that. They are calling it trespassing and theft, but I'm just saying we're being neighborly.

It's funny: Omar had a great experience as the new kid on the block, and I guess I was the only one that just got hazed. Every single time I would read a line, there would just be this long silence and they would go, "...Okay, yeah. I guess. If you want to do it like that, that's fine. You're just gonna be the anchor that drags down Rugrats."

No, it is a funny thing. It was so solitary, because we were recording during COVID, that I didn't really get a sense of any of it outside of just the Drew stuff that I was doing in the scenes that I was doing. Because we never got to hang out with the rest of the cast. You just have to trust the writers and the voice directors, and hope that you're going in the right direction.

Well, I love how it came together. I don't know if it's because I'm old now, but it feels like they're spending more time on the adults than they did last time. Omar, what was it like exploring more about Randy?

Omar Benson Miller: Yeah, what's a trip is that they incorporated different details about Randy, and I think all the adults. I don't think you're wrong in perceiving that; I think there's more time with the adults. Like Timothy said in another interview we did, when you were a kid and you watch this stuff, you don't even know the adults exist. And as an adult, obviously, you have a different perspective. I think that they've done a great job of being inclusive of the people who grew up watching Rugrats, who are now the age of the adults, so that they can now identify with the adults and have some fun with the kids.

For me, I'm there to play my position and support. The people who do all of these voices are so talented, it's just a joy to even be a part of the team.

Timothy Simons: You know, I do wonder when it comes to that. I wonder if they're focusing on the adults a little bit more because they know - when I was a kid, my parents were just like, "I don't know, go watch TV. I'm busy, like we're working." There was no parental supervision.

Maybe they just know that parents are going to be a little bit more on top of that, like, "I'm not just gonna like let my kids go on there and just watch anything." So, maybe they just know that I'm going to be there watching it with them, and they're trying to make it entertaining for me too. I'm very self-centered, so maybe that's why.

Rugrats premieres on Paramount+ May 27.


Ashley Spillers & Tommy Dewey Interview: Rugrats

Stars Ashley Spillers and Tommy Dewey chat about stepping into a decades-long franchise for the first time and modernizing Rugrats.

Paramount+ has been on a roll when it comes to reimagining iconic animated series rooted in the childhood of millennials. The revival of Rugrats is up to bat next, with its first season premiering through the streaming service on May 27 before airing on Nickelodeon at a later date.

This time around, the story is set in the modern day, with all the technological trappings and sociopolitical discourse that come with the new age. Aside from the new CG animation, the show is also focusing more on another set of characters it previously overlooked: the parents. While the friendship between the babies and Angelica's rivalry with everyone she meets still remain the heart of the story, the scope has now expanded to include what goes on behind the scenes of the playpen.

Stars Ashley Spillers & Tommy Dewey, who play Stu and Didi Pickles, spoke to Screen Rant about joining the iconic franchise and diving deeper into the lives of the parents.

rugrats - parents
You two are the new kids on the block, the babies of the series, despite playing adults. Tommy, what was it like for you to come into the neighborhood, take this role and make it your own?

Tommy Dewey: Well, it's just been an absolute blast. This is up there with the greatest animated shows of all time, and it's a legendary show. So, in some sense, you feel like there's big shoes to fill.

But I will say that the production team and our great voice director, Charlie Adler, have encouraged us to kind of do our thing in bringing voice to the new version of these characters. Huge respect to jack Riley, the original Stu, but trying to imitate him is a fool's errand. So, I'm just taking big swings and hoping it works.

I actually just watched what you just watched and, man, seeing it back and seeing what the old school voice cast is doing with the kids is just such a trip. I feel so lucky.
Definitely. And you guys are getting a lot more room to explore the parents and their dynamics. Ashley, can you talk about Didi and her fear of being separated from Tommy? How is she dealing with being a new mother and also living her life outside?

Ashley Spillers: Yeah, I love it. I love that dynamic, and I love that there's this nervousness to Didi.

It's hard to leave her baby, I think - I'm not a parent, but I have lots of parent friends around me, so I understand the sentiment. And I just think it's a really fun balance to play that. Didi's sort of nervous, but also she very much wants to live. She's so interested in so many things. She's an artist, and they go to this concert, and she's totally thrilled about it. Even though she's scared to go, she does it. And that's what I love about her. She fights through her fears. Yeah, I relate.

Tommy, Stu and Didi are probably some of the most memorable parents from the original series. But in the new series, what shift has there been or what's different about him for you?

Tommy Dewey: Yeah, I like - and I don't know if this is much of a shift, but it's certainly a through line that I appreciate - how much Didi and Stu support one another. They're both sort of dreamers. She's a crafter and selling stuff on eBay, she's got blogs and vlogs and everything in between. Stu, hilariously, is still inventing things in an era of Apple and Amazon and everything; still in a shed making stuff. I've said this before, but it's really fun to play with that anachronism, in a way. It's kind of old school, but it's not like Stu's unaware that there are these mega corporations making most of our stuff.

And also, all the millennial parenting satire is great. Originally, I think it was implied that Lou moved in with Stu and Didi. Now, it appears that Stu and Didi have maybe run into some trouble - which feels really current and right for the millennial generation sometimes. No disrespect, but sometimes [they're] having to move back in with their parents to make do.

All those shifts towards parents in the age of technology, I think, are great and so fun.

Rugrats premieres on Paramount+ May 27.


Watch Rugrats original cast recreate fan-favorite lines: 'I'm a big brave dog'

E.G. Daily, Nancy Cartwright, Cheryl Chase, Cree Summer, and Kath Soucie step into their Rugrats characters to deliver memorable lines from the series.

It's toddler time!

The Rugrats are back, with a revival series featuring the original voice stars arriving on Paramount+ today. And, to get you in the spirit of things, EW got the cast to share some of their most famous lines.

Have a watch above to see actors E.G. Daily (Tommy Pickles), Nancy Cartwright (Chuckie Finster), Cheryl Chase (Angelica Pickles), Cree Summer (Susie Carmichael), and Kath Soucie (Phil and Lil DeVille) tackle fan-favorite lines like, "Getting old is nothing but misery and woe," and "You're big and brave, like a big brave dog."

The new series is made out of three-dimensional CGI animation and is set to share "brand-new adventures" meant to "both complement and evolve the original series' beloved stories." 

The first batch of new Rugrats episodes is available on Paramount+ now.


The 'Rugrats' are back! New series drops today on Paramount+

The beloved '90s Nickelodeon cartoon Rugrats is back, in a new CG-animated form, debuting today on the streaming service Paramount+. 

The original series launched in August of 1991, and instantly became a pop culture phenomenon. It ran for 13 years on Nickelodeon, earning four Daytime Emmy Awards and even its own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

E.J. Daily, veteran of live action movies like Pee-Wee's Big Adventure and animated shows like The Powerpuff Girls, reprises her Rugrats role as smart-aleck baby Tommy Pickles in the new series. She tells ABC Audio she was surprised when her millennial daughters' "too cool for school" boyfriends recently outed themselves as serious Rugrats fans.

"The boys asked where [my daughters] were going, and they said, 'We're going to the premiere with our mom,' and the boys are like, 'Could I go?''' Daly recalls with a laugh, adding, "[A]ll the merchandise and t-shirts and hats, if you go online, all the Millennials are wearing Rugrat everything."

She adds, "I feel like there couldn't be a better time for the show to come out."

Cheryl Chase, who reprises her Rugrats: All Grown Up role as Tommy's bossy older sister, Angelica Pickles, has lent her voice to projects like Hayao Miyasaki's acclaimed My Neighbor Totoro, and live-action films like Addams Family Values.  She explains of the new series, "I think it's amazing that we get to bring to life this beloved cartoon show...and now we're bringing it back for a whole new generation. The children that were raised on it, they're grown up with their own children."

Chase promises the new show will be, "a miraculous, amazing, stupendous experience for everybody that loves the Rugrats." 


From BuzzFeed:

Which "Rugrats" Character Are You?

We can't all be Angelica...

To celebrate Paramount+'s all-new Rugrats series, we had the voice cast take a quiz to find out which characters they really are! That included the original voices of the babies — E.G. Daily, Nancy Cartwright, Cheryl Chase, Cree Summer, and Kath Soucie...

Just WAIT until you hear them speak in character. I got emotional, tbh... well as Ashley Rae Spillers, Tommy Dewey, Timothy Simons, and Omar Miller, who join the cast as some of our favorite parents.

Sometimes, you just have to let the grownups play too.

So did any of them actually get their own characters? Watch the video below to find out!

Now it's your turn, babies! Take our "Which Rugrats Character Are You?" quiz [here] and compare your results with the cast's!


Nancy Cartwright, Cree Summer, & Kath Soucie Interview: Rugrats

Stars Nancy Cartwright, Cree Summer, & Kath Soucie chat about reprising their roles as America's favorite babies in the upcoming Rugrats revival.

Paramount+ sets out to entice kids and parents alike once more with another animated series rooted in the childhood of millennials. This time it's the revival of Rugrats, premiering its first season on May 27 before airing on Nickelodeon at a later date.

Aside from the cosmetic changes to the series, which is now sporting new CG animation, the characters and setting have been modernized as well. But despite the use of apps and Facetime, the core of the story remain intact: the friendship between the babies and the everlasting rivalry between Angelica and everyone she meets.

Stars Nancy Cartwright, Cree Summer, and Kath Soucie spoke to Screen Rant about revisiting their favorite dynamics and returning to the stories of Chuckie, Susie, Phil and Lil.

You are slipping back into eternal youth with this Rugrats revival. What is it like to return to Chuckie's shoes, Nancy?

Nancy Cartwright: Oh, it's great. It's lovely. Because, to me, this is kind of my mantra with this show: I love doing it, and I think everybody does based on these interviews that we've done today.

But the heart of the show is these babies, and you get the viewpoint through these little baby's eyes. Life is bigger, the adventures are bigger, but it's put in modern day. You've got cell phones, you've got iPads, you've got dating with Grandpa Lou and all that. But the main thing is you've got the integrity of the writing, which is everything on any show, whether it's animated or live action. You've got to have the heart of what the creator's put there from the beginning, and I think the writers have maintained that. I love it. It's delightful.

Speaking of integrity, I feel like Susie out of the kindness of her heart just wants what's best for the babies, even if she doesn't always know what is best. Can you talk a little bit about her dynamic with them as opposed to Angelica?

Cree Summer: I also want to say that they've done a really cool thing with this reboot, and they've made Susie a peer. Susie used to be the same age as Angelica, but now she's the same age as the babies. So, that puts her at the heart of a lot of more adventures.

What I love about Susie is exactly what you said: her big, fat, compassionate, mighty heart. And like you said, she stands up to Angelica, which cracks me up every time. I love Angelica with a bass crack, I live for it. And I just love that she is willing to go the extra mile for her friends; that is one of the things I love about all the babies. Because friendship is so important. I always say all you need is one good friend to make life better, and they've got a bunch of good friends.

Susie, Tommy, Chuckie, Philip, and Lillian in the Rugrats Reboot on Paramount+.

Kath, you are two of those good friends. Not only do you know your characters like the back of your hand, but you also get to play off yourself. What is that like?

Kath Soucie: Well, it's weird. It's like they both live in different places in my voice box. Phil is kind of here [low and scratchy], and then Lil is up here [high and clear]. And they have different vocal idiosyncrasies, and they're both really separate characters.

I love getting a chance to talk to you, because you were one of the kids that watched Rugrats, right? And it's great that you love the new CGI, which has been so exciting for me. Because I feel like these little kids - Phil and Lil and Chucky and Susie and everybody - I feel like they come in everybody's houses; they're their little friends that visit them every day. And the fact that they're this new CGI, big, yummy, squishy, cozy new guys with these vibrant news stories - I think it's so lovely to know that we're gonna be going in and being everybody's friend again.

I love the new technology element that all the kids get to have fun with or fear. What has been like for the babies to interact with these new things, Cree?

Cree Summer: It makes it realistic. I mean, I've got two little ones, and I'll tell you what - I'm Amish compared to them. They're so tech savvy. But these babies are little, so what the technology gives you is so many opportunities for comedy. As you know, in the first episode, Angelica wreaks havoc on poor Grandpa. I won't spoil it, but it's very funny.

Rugrats premieres on Paramount+ May 27.


From UPI:

Nancy Cartwright juggles voices of 'Rugrats' Chuckie, Bart Simpson

LOS ANGELES, May 27 (UPI) -- Nancy Cartwright, who is back as the voice of Chuckie in the Paramount+ Rugrats revival, said the show's change from two-dimensional hand-drawn animation to 3D computer animation makes the characters look more tactile.

"Chuckie's hair looks like it's felt," Cartwright told UPI in a recent Zoom interview.

She said the episodes are updated for 2021, with the parents using smartphones and the rugrats playing with tablets. However, Cartwright said technology hasn't changed Chuckie or his friends' approach to childlike adventures.

"They've kept the integrity of the writing intact," Cartwright said.

The popular show originally ran from 1992 to 2006 on Nickelodeon and spawned three feature films. The revival premieres Thursday.

The rugrats are babies who have their own adventures under their parents' noses. Chuckie and his friends Tommy (E.G. Daily), Susie (Cree Summer) Phil and Lil (both Kath Soucie) imagine they are running from dinosaurs or turning into worms.

Cartwright became the voice of Chuckie in 2002 when previous voice actor Christine Cavanaugh retired. Cartwright said she always invited Cavanaugh to return if she wanted, but Cavanaugh never took her up on it before her death in 2014.

"I was just keeping his boots warm," Cartwright said.

By 2003, Cartwright said she felt Chuckie was her role. Cartwright said she added her own inflections, such as diphthongs to extend words like "feel" to two syllables.

Although the rugrats speak English, Chuckie still talks like a baby, mispronouncing words. He says "aminal" instead of "animal," which sometimes takes Cartwright multiple tries to get right in the recording studio.

"Sometimes, I have to look at it twice," Cartwright said. "You just go back and pick it up."

Childlike fears fuel a lot of the Rugrats episodes. For instance, Chuckie is the character who fears he will turn into a worm after he accidentally swallows a worm.

"Chuckie is such a complex character," Cartwright said. "He's in terror a lot of the time and then he can switch, and he changes."

Cartwright said Chuckie has endured since 1992 because of his ability to evolve.

"You see him try," Cartwright said. "He comes across, at first, maybe as a victim, but then he changes. He sets such a great example."

'The Simpsons' voices

Cartwright began doing voice-over work in 1980 and can be heard on classic shows like My Little Pony, Popeye, Snorks and Pound Puppies. The 63-year-old has been the voice of Bart Simpson since 1987 and is working on its 33rd season.

Cartwright said she recorded her lines for the Paramount+ Rugrats in her home studio. The Simpsons, however, reopened its recording studios on the former 20th Century Fox lot.

"To be honest with you, I prefer to drive on in," Cartwright said. "I'm a people person. I don't want to be stuck at my home, as much as I like it here."

In addition to Bart, Cartwright provides the voices for many other child characters on The Simpsons, like Nelson Muntz and Ralph Wiggum. On the day of her interview with UPI, Cartwright had just wrapped a session as Nelson.

"There's a lot of screaming and a lot of yelling of Nelson in this particular script," Cartwright said. "My throat can get a little sore from doing that but that's because of yelling."

Fox renewed The Simpsons for seasons 33 and 34 earlier this year. Recent episodes flashed forward to Bart in the future and back to Homer's childhood. Cartwright said she can continue to play Bart at any age indefinitely.

"You can make him an 80-year-old man or a 2-year-old baby," Cartwright said. "There's a lot of freedom there."

Now that Disney owns The Simpsons through its purchase of 20th Century Fox, it has announced the intention to make another Simpsons movie. Cartwright said she is all for a sequel to 2007's The Simpsons Movie.

"It's challenging to think that we could do it at the same time that we are doing the show," Cartwright said. "I think people are anxious to see another feature film."

The Master of voice work

In addition to recording Rugrats at home and driving to record The Simpsons, Cartwright also presented a seminar on voice acting for The online education portal animated Cartwright's lessons about animation.

"I just give you tips, how to develop characters, exercises you can do, a little bit of my background," Cartwright said.

Cartwright has conversations with her animated counterpart in the 2-hour, 43-minute lesson. She said the first time she did voice-over without altering her voice was in 1994 when she played Margo Sherman, sister of the title character, on The Critic.

"It was refreshing that I could just use my own voice," Cartwright said.

Cartwright said she feels the Master Class will help people trying to break into animation, and entertain fans of animation.

"It's not just for people that want to do voice-overs," Cartwright said.

Cartwright also formed her second production company in 2020. Her first, Spotted Cow Entertainment, produced the film In Search of Fellini, which Cartwright co-wrote based on her one-woman show.

CRE84U Entertainment is Cartwright's company with Monica Gil-Rodriguez and Jaime and Carolina Aymerich. CRE84U is developing live-action and animation projects, feature films and television series. Their film Borrego is in post-production. Lucy Hale and Nicholas Gonzalez star in the suspense thriller about a drug mule who crash lands and takes a woman hostage.

Cartwright said CRE84U is developing a Dreamworks Animation TV series based on the Gumazing Gum Girl books, and another animated project in Ontario, Canada. Cartwright said she has enjoyed lending her clout to the development of CRE84U projects.

"When Bart makes a phone call -- people will answer the phone for Bart Simpson," Cartwright said.


Rugrats (1993-)—“Susie Carmichael”

AVC: When we recently talked, it was for Rugrats, on which you play Susie Carmichael. You came into that show as the only character of color amongst a very white group of babies, and you even mentioned in some recent interviews that there still aren’t a lot of characters of color in cartoons. Do you feel like Susie has grown, in terms of her character on the show?

CS: When she first came on, first of all, I was struck by the animation. I thought, “This little brown girl looks like a real little brown girl, not like a white girl colored brown,” which is how we often occurred before Susie came along. Susie was allowed to exist in the complete authenticity of Black culture, and her family, the same. I was elated when Susie came along.

Rugrats has been very progressive about how they treat all kinds of different aspects of human beings. I hope that Susie’s made a difference in the world to encourage more people to make brown characters and Indigenous characters. I just joined the cast of an incredible show called Spirit Rangers that’s an all-Indigenous cast that I hope you talk to me about when that comes out. Things are changing, albeit very slowly, in my opinion, because I still think that there’s a grave inequality in who creates the cartoons. That’s still all white people, and I would like to start to have more Black creators. I have become a voice director myself, and that will further things. We need more and more directors, more animators, but mostly show runners and creators.

Look, I’m very sentimental and I love cartoons with all my heart because as a kid, it’s really one of the first times in your life you see yourself, and if you can see yourself, you can imagine yourself as all kinds of things. So when there is a disparity and there aren’t enough Black and brown characters, it’s not good.

AVC: Even in just the past couple of years, it does seem like the animation community has been realizing more and more that if there’s a brown character, it should be played by a brown person, and so on.

SC: How about that audacity? I mean, just the nerve. Well, I mean, sometimes I’ll be on Twitter and somebody will say, “well, Cree Summer plays white girls,” and that really gets in my craw, man. That pisses me off, because if I didn’t play white girls, I’d be living in my truck. I couldn’t support my kids. If I only played brown characters, I wouldn’t work very often. There aren’t enough brown characters.

The truth is there are so many white characters that they don’t need to play ours. And, you know, there is a difference. There’s a difference in interpreting a Black character if you’re a Black person, an Indigenous character, an Asian character and so on. Slowly, I think that’s being honored. I hope that it continues. It’s just about awareness.


Writers for ‘Rugrats’ reboot have roots in Windham

The new version of the popular Nickelodeon cartoon series from the '90s features two Windham High School grads in crucial roles, Kate Boutilier as executive producer and Sam Clarke as script coordinator.

In an episode of the relaunched “Rugrats,” there is a very minor character named Mr. Windham. He’s a neighbor to the hyperactive and extremely inquisitive group of animated toddlers who star in the show, though he’s never seen.

But Mr. Windham’s existence is not some random act, a name picked haphazardly by a Hollywood writer. It’s a nod to the Maine hometown of two crucial members of the “Rugrats” team, executive producer and head writer Kate Boutilier and script coordinator and writer Sam Clarke. They are both from Windham and both went to Windham High School, though years apart.

“It’s been a great fit, working with someone from my hometown,” said Boutilier, who has been working out of her Shapleigh home during the pandemic but had been based in Los Angeles. “You don’t run into too many other people from Maine in this business. People will laugh when we sometimes drop into the accent or start talking about some memory of home.”

The new “Rugrats” is produced by Nickelodeon and was launched in May, with a handful of episodes airing on the Paramount Plus streaming service. More of the new series’ 26 episodes will air later this year, but no date has been announced. The original “Rugrats” ran on the Nickelodeon cable network from 1991 to 2004. The series was a hit with parents and kids alike, detailing with humor and heart the adventures of a group of toddlers through their eyes and thoughts.

The new series follows the same characters, including Chuckie, Tommy and Angelica. Chuckie is still voiced by Nancy Cartwright, the veteran voice acting star who has also given life to Bart Simpson of “The Simpsons” for more than 30 years.

The two Mainers on the new “Rugrats” each bring a unique skill set and background to the project. Boutilier was a writer and producer during several seasons of the original “Rugrats,” beginning in the late ’90s. She was co-producer of another Nickelodeon hit animated show, “The Wild Thornberrys,” from 1999 to 2003. She began writing for TV in the late 1980s, and worked on episodes of the sitcoms “Family Ties” and “Growing Pains,” among many others.

Clarke is the father of a 21-month-old son – Colby – which makes him especially attuned to how toddlers act and think. It also makes him a millennial parent, a big part of the audience the new show is targeting. He’s worked a variety of jobs in TV production over the past decade as he pursued his goal of writing, including as a contestant wrangler on NBC’s “The Voice,” a production assistant on the ABC sitcom “Modern Family” and a writer’s assistant on the ABC drama “A Million Little Things.”

“I think they both have that New England work ethic and practicality,” said Eryk Casemiro, also an executive producer on “Rugrats.”  “Kate pays such close attention to each character, she finds uniqueness in the characters. She brings a thoughtfulness to the way she approaches every story. Sam is very whimsical and writes with a lot of heart. If a story has a hiccup in it, he works tirelessly to fix it.”

One of the episodes that Clarke wrote focuses on the toddlers being given a balloon and told it’s “the last one.” In typical “Rugrats” fashion, they think of this very literally, as if it’s the last balloon on Earth and they must guard and protect it at all costs. If not, no other child will ever know the great joy a balloon brings, and it will be all their fault.

“It’s about Chuckie being afraid to shoulder this responsibility, that because of him no child would ever get a balloon to play with,” Clarke said. “I don’t think having a son that age necessarily had a direct impact on that episode, but it does inform my writing for the show. ”


Boutilier and Clarke have only been working together for a couple of years, but their connection goes back more than 15 years. Clarke, 33, was involved in theater and music while at Windham High School, where he graduated in 2006. But he also loved writing and set his sights on becoming a humor columnist. He was able to get some work, while in high school, writing for the Lakes Region Weekly newspaper. One of his assignments was to interview a famous Windham High grad who was working in TV in Hollywood – Boutilier.

“My mom and dad were still in Windham and were always pushing me to connect with hometown people, so I talked to him,” Boutilier said. “I remember he said he was going to Emerson College (in Boston), where I went.”

A few years later Boutilier and Clarke both attended an event Emerson set up to connect students with professionals who had established careers. They did not connect in person, but a friend of Clarke’s told him that Boutilier had been there, so he called her the next day. Boutilier graduated from Emerson in 1981 with a degree in mass communications, Clarke graduated in 2010, with a degree in print and multimedia journalism.

“My friend said, ‘Did you talk to Kate Boutilier, she works in TV animation and she’s from a small town in Maine, Windham,” Clarke said.

After chatting, Clarke told Boutilier he’d like to stay in touch. He thought he’d move to New York to try to pursue a stand-up comedy career after college, but says more of his friends were moving to Los Angeles. So he moved there and eventually decided to seek work in TV.

He worked in various assistant and associate positions on several shows. He was an assistant to the supervising talent producer on “America’s Next Top Model” on the CW Network and a writer’s assistant on several shows, including “Get Shorty” on EPIX. As a writer’s assistant, Clarke said, his main job was to take notes in the writers’ room, keeping track of all the ideas and plots writers throw out. Plus, sometimes, he added in his own.

While Clarke was building his TV career, Boutilier was firmly established in hers. Her pre-“Rugrats” credits include writing episodes in the ’80s and ’90s of the CBS dramas “Falcon Crest” and “Northern Exposure,” among many others. After her stints on the original “Rugrats” and “The Wild Thornberrys,” she stayed in children’s TV. In the 2000s, she worked as a writer and/or producer on the animated Nickelodeon series “All Grown Up!” and “Olivia” and “The Mr. Men Show” on Cartoon Network.

Over the years, Clarke and Boutilier had lunch once in a while and kept in touch via email. Boutilier said she watched with interest the experience Clarke was gaining and the projects he was working on.

Around 2019, Clarke said he was thinking about leaving TV. He was working 12-hour days, largely as a sort of stenographer, taking notes for others. He also had worked on a couple “dark and violent” shows, including “Powerless” on NBC, and said that was starting to get to him. His creative juices always flowed more toward gentle humor.

Jon Miele, who directed drama productions at Windham High when Clarke was there and has stayed in touch with him, calls Clarke “one of the most smiley, upbeat guys I’ve ever met.” Rick Nickerson, choral music director at the high school, said Clarke stood out largely for his “positive attitude” and that “not much ever got to him.”

Then, just as Clarke was thinking about what else he might do, Boutilier called. She had been approached about joining the new “Rugrats” as an executive producer and head writer. Now she was looking to hire somebody to be script coordinator and to write some episodes. She knew Clarke wanted to write, but wasn’t sure he was looking for a new job.

“I asked if he knew anyone who might be interested. When he said he would, I said, ‘OK, you’re it,’ ” Boutilier said.

Clarke says it’s “phenomenal” that he’s been able to write six scripts for the new “Rugrats” and has gotten to work with seasoned TV professionals like Boutilier and others on the show. Because of the pandemic, they’ve all been working remotely for the last year or more. Boutlier is currently working at her home in Shapleigh while Clarke works and lives in North Carolina, near his wife’s family. Although many live-action shows were shut down for long stretches because of COVID-19, they were able to continue to work because the show is animated.

Boutilier says adults who find out she worked on the original “Rugrats” often thank her and tell her much the show meant to them growing up. She says the new show will try to retain the qualities that made the original so relatable to parents and kids.

“We don’t want to be too obviously writerly or precious,” Boutilier said. “It’s trying to figure out how babies might talk and think, capturing that innocence and honesty.”


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Originally published: Tuesday, May 25, 2021.

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