Emmy winner pushes coverage in cartoons

Animation Writing Award: Patric Verrone

Not many scribes can claim that they’ve written lines for babies with the gift of speech, a one-eyed space alien, a robot and an insane laboratory mouse, but the WGAW has presented Patric Verrone with a Lifetime Achievement Award for just that. He’s also being honored for his work on behalf of animation writers.

A former attorney who began his showbiz career writing for Johnny Carson on “The Tonight Show,” Verrone wrote for “Rugrats” briefly in the early ’90s before teaming up with his Harvard pals Al Jean and Mike Reese on “The Critic” in 1995. Verrone found the medium freeing.

“You can write one scene in Paris and the next scene on the moon and the next scene inside somebody’s brain. You’ve got a canvas that’s limitless.”

After “The Critic,” Verrone wrote briefly for “Pinky and the Brain,” before signing on to the short-lived Muppets revival, “Muppets Tonight!”, where he won his first Emmy. He worked on “Futurama” for the past four years and picked up his second Emmy last fall.

Verrone became active in the WGAW when he and fellow Fox animation writers negotiated successfully with the net for guild representation. He’s worked on the guild’s board of directors and is now the secretary-treasurer.

While primarily writing for toons, Verrone is a prolific writer across media, penning everything from joke-laden speeches for Bob Dole on the campaign trail to articles on entertainment law.

With the influx of computer animation, Verrone notes that films often contain both animated and live-action elements, blurring the lines between standard screenwriting and animation writing. Yet the methods remain the same.

“Writing is writing, for the most part,” he says. “The process is still rubbing your chin, scratching your head and then writing something that puts words into characters’ mouths.”

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