Jerry Beck

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Jerry Beck
Born (1955-02-09) February 9, 1955 (age 59)
Alma mater School of Visual Arts
Occupation Animation historian, writer
Years active 1978-present

Jerry Beck (born February 9, 1955) is an animation historian,[1] and author. He is also an animation producer, an industry consultant to Warner Bros., and has been an executive with Nickelodeon and Disney.

Biography[edit]

Jerry Beck graduated John Bowne High School in Queens, New York City, where he was a member of the staff of Opus, the school's yearbook. While at Bowne, he was also developing his own comic art style as well as a keen interest in animated films and film in general. After high school, Beck studied at The School of Visual Arts in New York City intent on becoming a great animator. But his interest in animation's history led him to working with Leonard Maltin, becoming his research associate on the landmark book, Of Mice and Magic: A History of American Animated Cartoons. In the course of doing this work, Beck became well versed in the histories and films of every Hollywood cartoon studio.

Early career[edit]

Beck began his career in the film industry at United Artists in 1978, working with the MGM/UA film library as a salesman in the non-theatrical division.

In 1981, Beck teamed with colleague Will Friedwald to produce the filmography The Warner Brothers [sic] Cartoons, published by Scarecrow Press. In 1984 Beck joined Orion Classics.

Expanded Entertainment[edit]

His interest in animation and knowledge of film distribution brought him to the attention of Terry Thoren's Expanded Entertainment company in 1986. With Beck's expertise, Expanded began distributing the International Tournee of Animation, The Festival of Claymation and The Puppetoon Movie to theatres. At Expanded, Beck helped organize two animation festivals (Los Angeles Animation Celebration in 1987 and 1989) and was instrumental in the creation of Animation magazine. In addition to his writing for Animation, Beck has contributed to Variety, Hollywood Reporter, Video Business, The Whole Toon Catalog, Animation Blast, Animato!, Wild Cartoon Kingdom and the on-line Animation World Magazine.

Warner Bros.[edit]

Teacher[edit]

Recognized as an authority on animation, Beck taught a nine-week course at the UCLA Extension on "Animation: The State of the Art" in 1992 and conducted seminars on "The History of the Hollywood Cartoon" for the American Film Institute in 1994. In 1995 Beck taught "The History of Animation" at NYU and in the spring of 1996 taught "Promotion for Animation" at the School of Visual Arts. He was a founding member of the Cartoon Network advisory board in 1993, and serves on the board of directors of ASIFA-Hollywood, a chapter of (The International Animated Film Association). Beck is currently teaching animation history at Woodbury University in Burbank, CA.

The 1990s[edit]

In the 1990s, Beck co-produced a successful series of laserdisc compilations for MGM/UA Home Video, including The Golden Age of Looney Tunes, The Compleat Tex Avery and The Art of Tom & Jerry, and he has programmed over 100 video tape collections. He has been an animation consultant to Walt Disney Home Video, Warner Home Video, Rhino Records and Republic Entertainment (curating the best-selling Betty Boop: The Definitive Collection).

More recently, Beck compiled the 15 volume sets of Looney Tunes: The Collector’s Edition and Woody Woodpecker and Friends: The Collectors Edition for Columbia House. He also co-produced Somewhere in Dreamland: The Definitive Max Fleischer Color Classics for VCI Entertainment. He is now a consulting producer for the annual DVD compilation Looney Tunes Golden Collection.

Streamline Pictures[edit]

In 1989, Beck partnered with producer Carl Macek to form Streamline Pictures. Streamline was the first company devoted to importing Japanese animation and distributing anime to North American theatres, television and home video. Among Streamline's many titles were Akira, Fist of the North Star, Vampire Hunter D, Nadia: The Secret of Blue Water, Wicked City, Robotech, and Robot Carnival. Beck also co-produced the 1993 Fox English language version of My Neighbor Totoro and compiled Speed Racer: The Movie for Family Home Entertainment.

Beck parted with Streamline in 1993 to pursue other areas of animation. He became executive producer of The Baby Huey Show for The Harvey Entertainment Company Beck then joined Nickelodeon Movies as Vice President of Animation. At Nickelodeon, Beck was instrumental in developing The Rugrats Movie, and the unfinished Mighty Mouse and The Stinky Cheese Man.

Late 1990s[edit]

From September 1997 through April 1998, Beck had an exclusive consulting and development deal with Walt Disney Television Animation. Also in 1997, Beck formed Cartoon Research Co. to write books, consult on animation projects, compile compact discs, DVDs and home video products, supply cartoon stock footage and develop new features and TV series. More recently, Beck compiled the 15 volume sets of Looney Tunes: The Collector’s Edition and Woody Woodpecker and Friends: The Collectors Edition for Columbia House. He also co-produced Somewhere in Dreamland: The Definitive Max Fleischer Color Classics for VCI Entertainment. He is now a consulting producer for the annual DVD compilation Looney Tunes Golden Collection.

In 1999, Beck produced Totally Tooned In for Columbia Tri-Star International Television, a 65-episode series that restored the Columbia theatrical cartoon library; and for Cartoon Network wrote and co-produced the special Toonheads: The Lost Cartoons.

Beck was co-creator, co-producer and co-writer of Karen and Kirby for Warner Bros. Television Animation. Thirteen Karen and Kirby interstitialss were produced and were shown on Kids' WB's The Big Cartoonie Show.

Writer[edit]

Beck was the West Coast Bureau Chief for KidScreen magazine for one year (July 2000 through July 2001), and co-wrote the 2001 Cartoon Network special Toonheads: The Wartime Cartoons. Beck also co-wrote Toonheads: The 12 Missing Hares and Toonheads: The Worst Cartoons Ever (both projects were shelved). In 2002, Beck became a writer/producer for Rubberbug Animation, which produced an award winning educational DVD project named algebra'school.

Beck has authored over fifteen books on animation subjects. Among them are Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies: A Complete Illustrated Guide To The Warner Bros. Cartoons (co-authored with Will Friedwald), The Fifty Greatest Cartoons, Looney Tunes The Ultimate Visual Guide, The Hanna Barbera Treasury, The Animated Movie Guide, The 100 Greatest Looney Tunes Cartoons, The Spongebob Squarepants Experience, and The Pink Panther: The Ultimate Visual Guide.

Current activities[edit]

Beck's six minute cartoon short Hornswiggle, produced by Frederator Studios, aired as part of the Random! Cartoons series December 20, 2008 on Nicktoons Network. From 2007 through 2012, Beck collaborated with Mystery Science Theater 3000 '​s Frank Conniff to produce Cartoon Dump as a monthly live comedy show at the The Steve Allen Theater in Hollywood. At the same venue the first Thursday of each month he screens a selection of classic short films and cartoons as part of a program of live, late twenties/early 30s jazz music performed by Janet Klein and her Parlor Boys. He has also programmed and hosted programs at the American Cinematheque, Annecy International Animated Film Festival, Ottawa International Animation Festival, Los Angeles County Museum of Art and Cinefamily and provided advice regarding appropriate classic cartoons to accompany features screening during a film noir festival in 2010 at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.[2] On October 21, 2012 he co-hosted with Robert Osborne a program of rare animation features and shorts on Turner Classic Movies.[3]

An annual show of Worst Cartoons has become a Friday night staple of Comic-Con International, drawing an audience of over a thousand to watch Beck's latest selection of terrible but commercially distributed television cartoon series episodes (mostly drawn from low budget 1960s syndicated programs).

Beck founded, with Amid Amidi, of the animation blog Cartoon Brew, from 2004 until February 12, 2013, when he departed and left Amidi solely in charge of the blog. Beck is currently writing two blogs, Cartoon Research and Animation Scoop.

Bibliography[edit]

As author or editor[edit]

As contributor[edit]

References[edit]

External links[edit]