Jealousy is never pretty, but it’s easy to feel a little green when listening to Tim Cahill and Julie McNally Cahill talk about their leap from the toy industry to the TV world. Not only did Warner Bros. hire the husband and wife team to work full time after they cold pitched a Looney Tunes short, but Cartoon Network picked up their first show idea – the slapstick, core-kid toon presented at this years Up Front, My Gym Partner is a Monkey.
Before becoming TV show creators, the duo worked at the Woodland Hills, California toyco Applause (before its 1994 purchase by Russ Berrie and Company). She was a copywriter, and he designed licensed products. Because Tim created toys based on properties from Warner Bros., the duo managed to get a foot in the door to pitch their first toon, the 1995, seven-minute short called Carrotblanca. ‘We’d have meetings with the consumer products executives all the time to show them the latest designs,’ he says.
Although the light bulb went off to parody the 1942, Bogart vehicle Casablanca using classic Looney Tunes characters, the Cahills had no idea how to pitch animation execs. But Tim knew how to draw the characters and Julie had worked her way up to copywriter in a few short years, so she had a way with words. The pitch not only landed a production deal, but culminated in the company hiring them to create and write for Warner Bros.’ slate of in-house animated productions. ‘Having never had plans to start a career in animation, we were literally shocked,’ Tim says. ‘We figured they would meet with us and tell us to go away.’
Eight years later, the couple was inspired to pitch again when a friend mentioned how he grew up spending time with a monkey at an alternative school. This idea evolved into the concept for My Gym Partner is a Monkey, which the pair mentioned in passing to Warner Bros.’ sister cable-net Cartoon Network while pitching a more fleshed-out show idea. Not surprisingly, the execs preferred the idea about a kid who accidentally gets sent to an all-animal middle school.
And even though their show ideas seem to be laced with lucky charms, the Cahills have been so busy they haven’t had an opportunity to plan out their next animated pitch. So far, 13 eps are in the can and the team is currently wrapping up production on the show’s second season and penning ideas for a third. LS