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Cartoon producer Jed Spingarn 85 has a knack for getting laughs out of chaos. On February 7 The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron, Boy Genius, his Nickelodeon show about a science whiz with a genius for trouble, won an Annie, the animation industrys top award for childrens TV.

BAM How did you get started in cartoons?
JS I sort of backed into it by accident. I was in New York writing magazine stuff, with the goal of eventually doing TV comedy writing. It dawned on me that if I wanted to write comedy for TV, I should be where they make television shows. So I loaded up the truck and I moved to Im not even going to finish that sentence. Its too embarrassing. When I got out here [Hollywood], I had some spec scripts for live-action shows, because my intention was to write sitcoms. The first work I got was a staff job on Pinky and the Brain. I was lucky enough to win an Emmy on that show, and Ive been toiling in that garden ever since.

Ive written for Celebrity Deathmatch, Duckman, and The Tick. Now, on Jimmy Neutron, Im coexecutive producer. Its the first time Ive ever run a show, from breaking the story to the completion of it, eight months later.

BAM The Tick is about superhero losers; Pinky and the Brain is about a supergenius whose plans for world domination always go horribly wrong; and now Jimmy Neutron
JS is the story of a boy who, while trying to solve problems with science, usually ends up making bigger problems.

BAM Is this pattern disturbing to you?
JS Ive always been drawn to spectacular failures. No, theres just an intrinsic comedy element to that sort of character, and especially with a cartoon, you want to see chaos ensue, because thats where the fun visuals come in.

BAM How much science research do you do for the show?
JS We try to do just enough so that the kids dont write in and say, You guys are idiots.

BAM A lot of Jimmy Neutrons humor seems geared toward grown-ups.
JS When were in the room, were really just trying to make ourselves laugh, and were all college-educated I dont know what sophisticates. So its odd that were also entertaining seven-year-olds, but it seems to work out.

BAM It sounds as if youve found your niche.
JS From when I was a kid, even, Ive had this romantic concept of what it would be like to be in a room with the best comedy writers, working against the clock to come up with great stuff. Thats why it was so great when we had Mel Brooks come in to play Santa Claus for the Christmas special. He came with all this history, and I just sat there with my mouth open the whole time. We put in a line where he tells Jimmy at the end, Have a merry Christmas and stay away from fried foods, and he recognized it as a 2,000-Year-Old Man reference. And I thought at that moment, I can die happy now.

Interview by Jake Miller 91

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