Episode 41 – Selling a show to Nickelodeon at 40

Gili Dolev wasn’t especially studious as a young kid growing up in Binyamina. However, one of his teachers saw his potential and helped him pave his way to a successful career in animation. The road was not so easy. There were ups, downs, twists and turns but eventually, at 40, against all odds, Gili sold the first Israeli kids animation series to an international TV network, Nickelodeon.

Two Nice Jewish Boys had the privilege to sit with Gili and talk about his work, his career and the deal that changed his life.

RSS Subscribe

Direct Download


Amanda Bynes melts down on Twitter

Just a day after tweeting lingerie-clad selfies, former Nickelodeon star Amanda Bynes star posted an even louder cry for attention (and help?): topless photos of herself.

It’s not just the nudity that indicates a depressing rock bottomness to her downward spiral. It’s seeing her all alone in her bathroom, her tweaked-out expressions, her photo captions (“Rawr!”). Eek.

And just when you think it can’t get worse, Bynes goes off on actress and author Jenny McCarthy, who shared over Twitter that the police were at Bynes’ house and that hopefully the troubled 27-year-old would now get the help she needs.

@JennyMcCarthy I need help? What are u talking about?” Bynes ranted. “Aren’t u 50 years old? I’m 27, u look 80 compared to me! Why are you talking about me?”

And: “@JennyMcCarthy you’re ugly! Police weren’t at my house old lady! Shut the f**k up!”

For once Bynes seemed somewhat aware of her mania, eventually removing the tweets and apologizing. ”You’re beautiful! I was lying!”

Hess Kramer Gets Wacky

Petroleum jelly-covered watermelon relays, gunk-filled balloon popping and prom dress-clad swimming pool races — not your typical day at Camp Hess Kramer in Malibu.

The Wilshire Boulevard Temple camp was turned upside down on Tuesday, Aug. 6, when it became the location for the last episode of Nickelodeon’s 10-week summer series, “Wild and Crazy Kids” (WACK) — “WACK at Camp.” “WACK,” which originally appeared on Nickelodeon between 1990 and 1992, has returned and is even wilder and crazier than before.

The show has a different theme each week, including “WACK on the Farm,” and “WACK at the Beach,” and features two 15- to 20-member teams of kids between the ages of 8 and 12 going head-to-head in a series of wacky, hybrid sports.

The inspiration came from the experiences of Woody Fraser, the show’s creator and executive producer, who is an only child. “When I was a kid I had to keep myself from getting bored,” Fraser said.

Some of Fraser’s other creations have included “Good Morning America,” “Nightline” and TNN’s “Ultimate Revenge.”

Fraser discovered the Hess Kramer location because a classmate of his 11-year-old son was a camper there. He approached Howard Kaplan, director of Camp Hess Kramer, who consented to the shoot and recruited 10 of his campers, including his son, Ari, to participate. “It would have been all of our campers, but there was a schedule change and we were between sessions,” Kaplan said.

Approximately half of the kids who participated in “WACK at Camp” were Hess Kramer campers.

“My dad told me that ‘Wild and Crazy Kids’ was going to come here and that I would get really messy and I love getting messy, so I thought it would be fun,” said Ari Kaplan, 12.

“This is a wonderful use of the camp,” said Rabbi Steven Z. Leder of Wilshire Boulevard Temple. “It showcases the camp beautifully and exposes it to a lot of kids who aren’t Jewish.”

“Wild and Crazy Kids” airs Mondays at 6 p.m. on Nickelodeon. The “WACK at Camp” episode will air on Sept. 30. — Rachel Brand Contributing Writer

Water Years

Remember Hanna-Barbara’s "Squiddly Diddly?" Well, a new cartoon cephalopod has come to town, and his name is Oswald the octopus. Voicing the title character on "Oswald," Nickelodeon’s new addition to its children’s line-up, is a Valley boy who has been a popular actor since childhood, Fred Savage.

Savage had captured the hearts of millions of viewers on the nostalgic ABC series "Wonder Years" (1988-1993), with his vulnerable portrayal of Kevin Arnold, a boy just trying to make sense of growing up. Now 25, Savage sees "Oswald" as an opportunity to do it again, albeit with a much younger audience in mind.

"I knew more of what I didn’t want Oswald to be," Savage told The Journal. "I didn’t want the show to talk down to kids."

"Oswald" centers around the cartoon’s eponymous eight-tentacled hero, a sensitive, positive-thinking big blue octopus who, with canine companion Weenie and friends Henry (a penguin) and Daisy (a flower), goes on adventures in Big City. Plots include the search for an ice cream truck, flightless Henry’s dream to fly and Daisy’s flirtation with the bongo drums. The series stresses themes of teamwork and tolerance.

Savage’s greatest challenge on "Oswald" might be refraining from going off the scripted page, playing opposite talented cut-ups David Lander (Squiggy of "Laverne & Shirley" fame) who voices Henry, and Laraine Newman ("Saturday Night Live") as Madame Butterfly.

Originally from Chicago, Savage and his family moved to the Valley when he was 12, after he landed the "Wonder Years" part. While Savage was growing up, his family attended Stephen S. Wise Temple for holiday services, and he participated in activities at the campus Hillel as a student at Stanford University.

Savage still stays in touch with former "Wonder Years" castmates, including Danica McKellar (who played love interest Winnie Cooper). McKellar went on to become a brilliant mathematician in real life. So, was it unnerving playing opposite a genius for five years?

"I think if I were in math class with her, it would have been more intimidating," said Savage, who directed episodes of TV shows such as "Boy Meets World" and, this year, "All About Us."

While he portrays an octopus on TV, Savage won’t be acting like one on any blind dates. He’s been dating a "nice Jewish girl" from Chicago’s North Shore. Savage said that his friendship with this woman, a former childhood acquaintance, has blossomed into his first serious relationship.

Sounds a lot like the plot to a "Wonder Years" reunion special. "Oswald" airs at 10:30 a.m. weekdays on Nickelodeon.