Friday, July 22, 2022

The SpongeBob Team Talks 'Expanding the SpongeBob Universe'

Executive producer Marc Ceccarelli says they want each series to feel "completely different" but still interconnected.

SpongeBob is going from Bikini Bottom to San Diego.

It's been a long time since everyone's favorite cheery undersea fry cook first started flipping burgers on Nickelodeon in 1999. Over the last few decades, SpongeBob SquarePants has expanded well beyond the borders of Bikini Bottom, spawning movies, a Broadway musical, and the spin-off series Kamp Koral (on Paramount+) and The Patrick Star Show (on Nickelodeon).

Now the eponymous yellow sponge is taking over San Diego Comic-Con too. Before SpongeBob's SDCC panel Thursday (moderated by Entertainment Weekly's Patrick Gomez), the cast and creative team stopped by EW's studio to talk about the ever-growing franchise.

"Kamp Koral was the first one because it was a spin-off from the third movie," executive producer Marc Ceccarelli explains. "Nickelodeon wants to keep expanding the SpongeBob universe, so Patrick seemed like the next logical step from that. We want each show to feel completely different, but still be within the SpongeBob universe."

Cast members like Tom Kenny (SpongeBob), Bill Fagerbakke (Patrick), and Jill Talley (Karen and Squidina) have been involved with the series for years, but they say they jumped at the chance to explore new corners of Bikini Bottom.

"The fun of the Patrick show is that it's almost like a sketch show, right?" Kenny says. "It's almost like a revue, where Patrick and Squidina and various people in their universe get to spoof different genres and different things. So there's a talk show for a couple of minutes, and then we're spoofing Ridley Scott's Alien for a couple of minutes, and then we're spoofing an outer-space show. It's kind of in and out of everything. We have these Dr. Plankenstein bits that are beautiful stop-motion, like a Rankin and Bass holiday special from 1962. It's incredible, and it's very different from SpongeBob or Kamp Koral. They're all really different from each other, and it's just fun to be those characters in these different milieus."

Each series also introduces plenty of new characters as well — like Nobby and Narlene on Kamp Koral, voiced by Carlos Alazraqui and Kate Higgins. For Talley, one of her favorite parts of working on a series like The Patrick Star Show was getting to share the recording booth with Fagerbakke. "On SpongeBob, we never exchanged dialogue ever, in these 20-something years," Fagerbakke says.

"But being Squidina, I get to work with my big brother, and he's so fun," Talley says with a laugh.

Watch the video team for more from the SpongeBob team.

Watch SpongeBob SquarePantsKamp Koral: SpongeBob's Under Years and The Patrick Star Show on Nickelodeon, and 200 episodes of SpongeBobThe SpongeBob Movie: Sponge On The Run and The SpongeBob Musical on Paramount+! Try it FREE at

Listen to The SpongeBob Musical here!

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Originally published: July 22, 2022.

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