Soon millions will make Medicare coverage decisions for next year, and UnitedHealthcare can help you feel confident about your choices. For those eligible, Medicare Annual Enrollment runs from October 15th through December 7th.
If you're working past age 65, you might be able to delay Medicare enrollment depending on your employer coverage. It can seem confusing, but it doesn't have to be. Visit uhcmedicarehealthplans.com to learn more.
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Vanguard Marketing Corporation distributor. This is Lee Habib, and this is Our American Stories. And we tell stories about everything here on this show, including your stories. Send them to OurAmericanStories.com.
They're some of our favorites. And up next, a curious case of contract law. In 1996, one John Leonard sued Pepsi over a promise that he saw as Renegdon. But that's only half of the story. Here's our own Monty Montgomery to help tell the rest. Court cases are serious business. If I put this knit cap on, who am I? I'm still Johnny Cochran with a knit cap. Court cases are important. If Douglas touches me, you will not be happy, Your Honor. You know what? If Douglas beats you to a pulp, I'll be delighted.
Get out. And there's one court case in the 90s that was truly astounding. And no, it's not the people versus O.J. I'm talking about Leonard versus PepsiCo, Inc.
Here's Sean Kernan of Medium with this dramatic story of deceit, twists and turns, and contract law. In 1996, Pepsi rolled out one of its Drink Pepsi, Get Stuffed campaigns. It was your usual promotion where you get points for purchases that you can later use.
The TV ad targeted teenage and early 20s customers. It showed all these cool things you could win with Pepsi points. They showed a kid wearing a Pepsi T-shirt, 75 Pepsi points. He was wearing a leather jacket that was 1,450 points.
He had sunglasses on that were 175 points. They then boasted, the more Pepsi you drink, the more great stuff you're going to get. Then it escalated. The commercial ends with that same kid who was wearing the leather jacket and sunglasses landing a Harrier jet in front of a school. Everyone's papers were blowing off of their desks, and kids were crowding to the window to see the jet landing.
And there, in the courtyard, is a literal Harrier with the kid in it. The jet is armed to the teeth, and below it, it says, Harrier Fighter, 7 million Pepsi points. The campaign was mostly a success, as sales increased significantly, but there would be an interesting twist in this promotion.
A 21-year-old business student, John Leonard, saw the commercial and took a particular interest in that jet. To get the Harrier, he would need to buy millions of Pepsis. Most winning Pepsis only had one point on the label. Some had three and five, but there were no 1 million Pepsi point bottles.
But there was a workaround. John noticed the fine print said you could buy points to get the merchandise instead. Each point was 10 cents. So, for example, the 1,450-point jacket cost $145.
The 175-point sunglasses would cost $17.50. Notably, both items likely cost a fraction of that to make, but it was good margins and smart business. What Pepsi failed to notice was the margins on the Harrier, which wasn't listed in the catalog, but was advertised in the commercial. John did some quick math and realized that the 7 million point Harrier would cost $700,000. Back in the real world, a fresh Harrier sells for north of $30 million.
John Leonard found four investors who all pitched in. He then sent the check for $700,000 directly to Pepsi. His check said he wished to redeem his points for the Harrier they'd advertised in the commercial.
And thus began a war of letters. Pepsi's marketing team wrote back, The item you've requested is not part of the Pepsi stuff collection. It is not included in the catalog or in the order form. Only catalog merchandise can be redeemed under this program.
The Harrier Jet in the commercial is fanciful and is included simply to create a humorous and entertaining ad. We apologize for any misunderstanding or confusion that you may have experienced. We are including some free product coupons for your use. John Leonard was not satisfied. His lawyer wrote a response. Your letter of May 7th, 1996 is totally unacceptable. We have reviewed the video tape of the Pepsi stuff commercial and it clearly offers a new Harrier Jet for 7 million Pepsi points. Our client followed your rules explicitly. This is a formal demand that you honor your commitment and make immediate arrangements to transfer the new Harrier Jet to our client. If we do not receive transfer instructions within 10 business days of the date of this letter, you will leave us with no choice but to file an appropriate action against Pepsi.
Pepsi's senior marketing executive, Raymond McGovern, then jumped in with his own letter. I find it hard to believe that you are of the opinion that the Pepsi stuff commercial quote commercial really offers a new Harrier Jet. The use of the jet was clearly a joke that was meant to make the commercial more humorous and entertaining.
In my opinion, no reasonable person would agree with your analysis of the commercial. This is when formal court cases started firing up. Quite comically, Pepsi had to file an official case stating they shouldn't be required to furnish a Harrier Jet to John Leonard. For the next three years, this case weaved through court systems before a judge ruled in Pepsi's favor for two key reasons. One, a commercial is not a contractual offer. Two, the commercial was clearly tongue-in-cheek.
No reasonable person would have thought the offer was real. Lastly, and quite humorously again, the judge added this commentary. In light of the Harrier Jet's well-documented function in attacking and destroying surface-to-air targets, armed reconnaissance and air interdiction, and offensive and defensive anti-aircraft warfare, depiction of such a jet as a way to get to school in the morning is clearly not serious even if the plaintiff contends the jet can be delivered in a form that removes its military use. Pepsi went on to amend its commercial, changing 7 million points to 700 million points.
They would also add a small print to the advertisement, saying, Just kidding. If there's any silver lining to all this madness, the case has now become a staple in law schools. A good majority of legal students will end up studying Leonard v. PepsiCo, Inc. as the case offers an entertaining look into the infinite gray area of contract law. All that being said, a small part of me still wishes they'd just given the guy the Harrier or done something cool for him besides offering a few coupons. And a great job by Monty Montgomery and just a delight to listen to and, in its own way, a kind of prank. And I just wanted to see what would happen with the idea of wrangling together $700,000 to just, well, stick it to Pepsi.
Just have some fun. And, of course, the court stuck it right back to these folks. But they've always had this story as a result and a great law case. The story of John Leonard and a suit against Pepsi for a Harrier jet here on Our American Stories. And help us keep the great American stories coming.
That's our American stories dot com. Hey, you guys, this is Tori and Jenny with the 9 0 2 1 OMG podcast. We have such a special episode brought to you by nerd tech O.D.T.. We recorded it at I heart radio's 10th pole event, Wingo Tango. Did you know that nerd tech O.D.T. Remedapants 75 milligrams can help migraine sufferers still attend such an exciting event like Wingo Tango? It's true. I had one that night and I took my nerd tech O.D.T. and I was present and had an amazing time.
Here's a little glimpse of our conversation with some of our closest friends. This episode was brought to you by nerd tech O.D.T. Remedapants 75 milligrams. Life with migraine attacks can mean missing out on big moments with friends and family. But thankfully, nerd tech O.D.T.
Remedapants 75 milligrams is the only medication that is proven to treat a migraine attack and prevent episodic migraines in adults. So lively events like Wingo Tango don't have to be missed. Soon millions will make Medicare coverage decisions for next year. And UnitedHealthcare can help you feel confident about your choices. For those eligible, Medicare annual enrollment runs from October 15th through December 7th. If you're working past age 65, you might be able to delay Medicare enrollment depending on your employer coverage.
It can seem confusing, but it doesn't have to be. Visit UHCmedicarehealthplans.com to learn more. UnitedHealthcare, helping people live healthier lives. I know everything there is to know about running a coffee shop, but for small business insurance, I need my State Farm agent. They make sure my business stays piping hot and I stay cool and confident. See, they're small business owners, too, so they know how to help you best. State Farm is in your corner and on it. Like a good neighbor, State Farm is there.
Call your local State Farm agent for a quote today. And we continue with our American stories. Up next, a story about a marine turned cartoon animator. And so much more.
Without any further ado, here's Mike Jens. I am a cartoonist, an animator, a cartoon director. And my story really began, as far as that goes, that end of my story when I was seven years old. I was at a little school and I was in second grade. And I just remember sitting in a row and looking over at this little blonde girl right next to me. And she was drawing trees. And she just had a particular way of drawing them that intrigued me. And as far as I can remember or think, that was the first discretionary, discriminatory thought I ever had regarding my cartoons.
She drew trees and I wanted to draw them like her. So that kind of began my artistic career, as it were, seven years old. From that time on, I just was a cartoonist. Every time I could get a piece of paper in my hands, I was drawing cartoons.
My dad was a career marine, so we traveled all the time. Every year we were moving to a new school, a new location. And, you know, for me to help identify or become identified as something to gain approval, I guess it was, with my peers, I drew cartoons. And that won friends. And, you know, really that is what established me as a young man. I had an identity as a cartoonist and that was very important to me. That lasted all the way through high school. I drew cartoons for the school newspapers and everything else. I went into, graduated from high school and went into Arizona State. I wanted to be an architect at the time. And, you know what, I just really wasn't ready for school. I was set free and just kind of did everything I wanted to do except crack a book. And so after one semester of school, I ended up dropping out.
And it had nothing going on for me. And this was during the Vietnam War, so the draft was very much a part of our lives at that time. And I had a low number, so I knew that Uncle Sam was going to come calling for me.
And sure enough, he did. However, I beat him to the punch by one day. I enlisted in the Marine Corps because I was at a point in my life where I just didn't know who I was, where I was going. I had no purpose, as it were. And so I said, you know what, the thing I know the most is the Marine Corps. And I joined the Marines.
And that was at the end of 1970. At this time drill instructor sent four private soldiers to PMI Shack. I was in boot camp in January of 1971, and I remember standing out on the grinder, 240 of us as we're waiting for our company to be formed. And the drill instructor comes out and he says, how many of you guys, of course he didn't say guys, he said something else, but how many of you fellows know how to drive 18-wheelers? And a few hands raised in the crowd.
And then he says, how many people know how to type? And a few more hands raised in the crowd. And I remember thinking, there's these guys, two guys behind me, and they said, I'm not volunteering for nothing. Well, of course, those are the guys that were going to become grunts because they had no specialty. But anyways, he asked, how many artists are there in the bunch?
And there's two of us out of 240 that raised our hands. And after he broke up the assembly there, we were brought, the two of us were brought into a room and basically told to draw something, anything that was on our minds. And I drew a bulldog with a helmet and a machine gun firing at the camera, or at the person looking at the cartoon. And afterward the guy, the troop handler goes, well, why'd you draw that? And he says, well, I was raised in the Marine Corps and I know that the bulldog is our mascot. And well, anyways, long story short, that became my MOS, my Military Occupational Specialty, 1411.
Or 4911, I'm sorry. And that was a combat illustrator. So when I graduated from boot camp and ITR, by the way, I was the honor man in boot camp because I wanted something to show who I was and the Marine Corps became my identity. And that was very important that I excel in something that I wanted to pursue. And at that time I wanted to pursue, like my dad did, the Marine Corps as a career. And I was then on my way to Naples, Italy. And very soon became known in the barracks of 100 men as the barracks cartoonist.
And I would draw cartoons for officers, parties, and everything else going. And that really sustained me. Again, it helped me to make friends. And it consolidated, confirmed my identity as a Marine, number one. And number two, I was a cartoonist. I'd been in a Marine now for about a year or so. And I just started feeling a great loneliness, a great emptiness in me that the identities of being a cartoonist and being a Marine just were not fulfilling. And one night after liberty, these two Marines basically shared Jesus Christ with me and I became a Christian. He became my new identity.
And believe me, it was an identity that took and changed my whole course in life. So I got out of the Marine Corps with an honorable discharge. I wanted to become a chaplain or a pastor, something behind a regular pulpit. And so I went to Bible College in Santa Cruz, California. There I became an English major because I loved to write. I loved books and reading and such. And again, I was like the school cartoonist. I drew cartoons for the annuals, the yearbooks, for the school newspapers, et cetera.
So I'm thinking, well, maybe God wants me to be somehow involved with cartooning as a career or as a ministry, augmenting somehow my pastorate. But anyways, I went to four years of Bible College. There I met my wife, Kathy.
And we were married after two years of school and then we had another two years. And then graduated, I didn't feel any more as though God wanted me to be a pastor. I had no idea what he wanted me to do. So we decided we would call Kathy's parents, and they both lived down in Burbank area. We called them up and they said they were just praying that God would bring us down to Burbank. To do what we had no idea, but we took that as a, okay, Lord, you're telling us something. We don't have anything else to go on, so we're going to step out in faith and go down to Burbank.
Well, we did. We got down there and I started going around all the different Christian organizations like Gospel Light, World Vision, David C. Cook, all of these organizations that would hire cartoonists to work on their magazines and whatever else. None of the doors opened, all of those closed.
Nobody was hiring. And so with portfolio in my hand, I'm going, okay, God, now what? Well, my mother-in-law, Marcine, she knew someone at her church named Glaia Vaughn. And Glaia was the wife of an animator, a Warner Brothers animator named Lloyd Vaughn. And she says, well, what if I set up a meeting with you and Lloyd?
I said, great, wonderful. Now Lloyd was one of Chuck Jones' stable of animators. Chuck Jones was an Oscar-winning cartoon producer, director. He was known most notably for his Bugs Bunnies, et cetera. Anyways, and Lloyd was one of his chief animators.
You can see his name on the credits. And you've been listening to Mike Jens tell the story of his life as a career Marine, going from town to town, finding his identity in this thing called cartooning. He dropped out of college, knew Uncle Sam was beckoning, beat him to the chase, avoiding the draft by enlisting in the Marines.
And it was 1970, no less. The Marine Corps became my identity. I excelled there. He became a combat illustrator. And when God beckoned him to become a pastor, well, it didn't work out, and he wondered what God's plans were for him. He'd become a Christian. That was his new identity. He drove down to Burbank hoping to work with a Christian ministry, but was denied, only to have a door open with the great, the legendary Chuck Jones and the Warner Bros. animation team. More of this remarkable story here on Our American Stories.
Hey, you guys. This is Tori and Jenny with the 90210MG podcast. We have such a special episode brought to you by NerdTechODT. We recorded it at iHeartRadio's 10th poll event, Wango Tango. Did you know that NerdTechODT, Ramejipant, 75 milligrams, can help migraine sufferers still attend such an exciting event like Wango Tango?
It's true. I had one that night, and I took my NerdTechODT, and I was present and had an amazing time. Here's a little glimpse of our conversation with some of our closest friends. This episode was brought to you by NerdTechODT, Ramejipant, 75 milligrams. Life with migraine attacks can mean missing out on big moments with friends and family.
But thankfully, NerdTechODT, Ramejipant, 75 milligrams, is the only medication that is proven to treat a migraine attack and prevent episodic migraines in adults. So lively events like Wango Tango don't have to be missed. Soon millions will make Medicare coverage decisions for next year, and UnitedHealthcare can help you feel confident about your choices. For those eligible, Medicare annual enrollment runs from October 15th through December 7th. If you're working past age 65, you might be able to delay Medicare enrollment depending on your employer coverage.
It can seem confusing, but it doesn't have to be. Visit UHCMedicareHealthPlans.com to learn more. UnitedHealthcare, helping people live healthier lives. I know everything there is to know about running a coffee shop, but for small business insurance, I need my State Farm agent. They make sure my business stays piping hot, and I stay cool and confident. See, they're small business owners too, so they know how to help you best. State Farm is in your corner and on it. Like a good neighbor, State Farm is there.
Call your local State Farm agent for a quote today. And we continue with Our American Stories, and let's pick up where we last left off, with Mike Jens telling us the story of getting a meeting with cartoon animator Lloyd Vaughn. Vaughn is known for his work at Warner Brothers, working for legendary Looney Tunes cartoonist Chuck Jones. Here again is Mike Jens. Anyhow, so I'm in Lloyd's house and showing him my portfolio, and he looked at it and he looked at me and he said, Mike, you need to be in cartoon animation.
I said, really? He said, yeah, you need to be in cartoon animation. And here, let me make a call for you. This was back in 1977, and so he gets on the phone and calls a guy by the name of Harry Love. And Harry was an animator at Hanna-Barbera at the time, and he was also teaching a night class on animation. And so he gets Harry on the phone and says, I'd like to send Mike over and have him show you his portfolio, which he did. Went over there, met Harry, showed him my portfolio, and Harry goes, Mike, how would you like to be in our night class?
Of course, you know, just a gog. And I said, absolutely, I'd love it. So at night I'm learning how to animate. I'm sitting at the desks of animators who had animated on Yogi Bear, Huckleberry Hound, Flintstones. I mean, this place is like, you know, the mecca for cartoonists.
And I had arrived, and it was wonderful. So for the next couple of months, I'm going to the class at night learning how to animate. And it was like all the bells and whistles in my head started sounding because I had now arrived as a cartoonist.
I love to see my drawings animate. So I had these five shows that I created while at Hanna-Barbera's Ink and Paint Department. And we learned at the Harry Loves class that Filmation was hiring assistant animators.
And I go, oh, wow, that would be cool. Filmation Studios, they did Fat Albert and Tarzan and those kinds of Saturday morning shows. And a guy by the name of Lou Irwin was in charge of the assistant animators there at Filmation.
And he saw my stuff. He said, Mike, you got a job. So all of a sudden now from Ink and Paint, I am now an official assistant animator working on, you know, Mighty Mouse, Fat Albert, Tarzan, et cetera, these shows that were being shown on Saturday morning cartoons, which I was just completely thrilled about. And furthermore, I was making a decent salary at that point, was able to join the union, the Cartoonist Guild.
My wife and I were able to move out of the parents' house, who were supporting us at the time, and move into our own place. Anyways, I'm now an assistant animator. And I worked there until the Christmas season, at which point I got laid off. Everybody, most people get laid off at the Christmas season because that's when the season ends.
And during that holiday break over Christmas is when the producers are trying to sell their new shows to the networks. Well, here I am unemployed, and I've got, you know, bills to pay. And I'm wondering, okay, God, what do we do? And Kathy and I prayed, of course. And so I went driving around all over the different animation studios with my portfolio in hand and trying to find a job.
Nothing was available. They're all shut down for the season. Anyway, so here I'm driving along Cahuenga Boulevard in the Burbank area. And I see the Hanna-Barbera Studios there. And I just had a prompting, an interprompting, Mike, go in there and try to get a job there. Now, why would I go there when I had just worked there earlier and gotten laid off from the Ink and Paint department? Anyways, I went into the studio.
The parking lot was empty, and that's not a good sign that tells me that they're all laid off, too. But I walked into the studio and went up to the receptionist and I said, I'd like to know if there's somebody here I can show my portfolio to for a job. And she said, and I'm not kidding, hold on, let me see if Bill Hanna is available. And before I could register what she just said, Bill Hanna of Hanna-Barbera, the guy who created Huckleberry Hound and The Flintstones and all of those great cartoons that were on television, she said, let me see if I can get a hold of Bill for you. Two seconds later, Mike, head on up to Bill Hanna's office. So here I am shaking like a leaf with my portfolio, and I went in there and there he was. And I'm not kidding, he had his feet up on his desk.
There's Bill Hanna. I introduced myself, and he said, well, what do you got, Mike? And so I brought out the five shows that I had created, and he was very interested in those.
It took a great interest. We were there talking in his office for an hour and a half. And at one point he brought in all of these studio heads to introduce them to me. And he said, here's Mike, has anybody here got any work? I know that it's the layoff time, but does anybody have any work for Mike? And one guy by the name of Raj Paron stepped forward and said, yeah, I got something if he's interested in doing a coloring book.
So I said, well, absolutely. And it gave me enough money to pay for our bills that helped us through the layoff period. I was then rehired after that was completed. I was rehired by Filmation, and I met one of the producers there, Don Christensen, and he saw my coloring book, and he saw my drawings that I'd done that I'd showed Bill Hanna. He said, how would you like to be a storyboard artist? Didn't realize it at the time, but this was a turning point in my career. And if anybody doesn't know what a storyboard artist does, he's the guy that takes a script and turns it into its visual form, first visual form, scene by scene, shot by shot, close-up long shot, down shot, up shot, all of the different approaches to producing a cartoon are done through the storyboard artist. So basically what I was being handed was the gift, the ability, the teaching instruction on how to create films.
It was during that time, actually in 1977, when I came up with an idea called Theo. And at that point I thought, you know what, cartoons are a universal language. Kids love cartoons.
It doesn't matter what part of the world they're from, what ethnicity, what age really, people love cartoons. What a great vehicle for communicating biblical truth. What a great pulpit to be working from behind. My animation desk, my drawing table became my pulpit. I did not realize it in 1978 when I created Theo that it was going to take 30 years before God finally gave me the financing to produce that series. But I'm glad I didn't know because what I had to go through was basically I left Filmation and I started working for Marvel productions of Spider-Man fame. I used to play chess in my lunch hours with Stan Lee. I used to beat him. He beat me too.
But we had a great time together, he was a great guy. But anyways, I worked at Marvel for seven years. It was during that time that I went from being a storyboard artist to being a writer and also for being, also being a director of shows and finally as a producer of shows.
Primetime Specials, I produced their very first feature film and I'm a little embarrassed to say this but the My Little Pony feature film, you may have seen that before, that was me who produced that and directed it. My little pony, my little pony All in a twinkling spring is here And you've been listening to Mike Jens tell his journeyman story, his story of an artist actually because this is how artists live, out of a job, in a job, out of a job, fired, rehired, laid off, brought back. But he stayed with it, he stayed with his calling, his purpose. And soon, well, he was about to do his own show. But that conversation with that secretary, let me see if Bill Hanna is available. And there he was, feet on his desk.
My goodness, what a moment in his life. When we come back, more of Mike Jens' story here on Our American Stories. Can help migraine sufferers still attend such an exciting event like Wango Tango?
It's true. I had one that night and I took my NURTEC ODT and I was present and had an amazing time. Here's a little glimpse of our conversation with some of our closest friends. This episode was brought to you by NURTEC ODT Remedipant 75 milligrams. Life with migraine attacks can mean missing out on big moments with friends and family.
But thankfully, NURTEC ODT Remedipant 75 milligrams is the only medication that is proven to treat a migraine attack and prevent episodic migraines in adults. So lively events like Wango Tango don't have to be missed. Soon millions will make Medicare coverage decisions for next year. And UnitedHealthcare can help you feel confident about your choices. For those eligible, Medicare annual enrollment runs from October 15th through December 7th. If you're working past age 65, you might be able to delay Medicare enrollment depending on your employer coverage.
It can seem confusing, but it doesn't have to be. Visit UHCmedicarehealthplans.com to learn more. UnitedHealthcare, helping people live healthier lives. I know everything there is to know about running a coffee shop. But for small business insurance, I need my State Farm agent. They make sure my business stays piping hot.
And I stay cool and confident. See, they're small business owners too, so they know how to help you best. State Farm is in your corner and on it. Like a good neighbor, State Farm is there.
Call your local State Farm agent for a quote today. And we continue with our American stories. And let's return to our storyteller, Mike Jens, who was just sharing how his rise in the animation industry involved working for the likes of Marvel productions and playing chess with Stan Lee in his spare time to producing primetime cartoon specials like My Little Pony, the movie, in 1986 featuring the voices of Danny DeVito, Madeline Kahn, Rhea Perlman, and Tony Randall.
Here again is Mike Jens. I produced Fraggle Rock for NBC, the animated version of Fraggle Rock with Jim Henson. I had a great time at Marvel and learned everything I needed to know to have my own studio with my own cartoons going through it.
I left Marvel in 1988. There was a big change in the industry at that time. A lot of people from New York were moving and buying up animation studios. Back in the earlier days, studios were run by guys like Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera. They were animators. They were directors. Even at Film Nation, Lou Shimer was an animator.
These were guys that understood the process and understood the artistic mentality or the temperament. So in 1988, things had all changed. And Marvel had been bought out by an organization called New World Entertainment.
And the handwriting was on the wall. Anyway, Fraggle Rock came to a close. And I ended up working for a couple of other studios. I worked for DreamWorks Television.
Then after that, I worked for Saban Entertainment, where I produced three shows for them. They ran out of work. I was no longer needed. And so now I'm unemployed. And it was kind of a hard time in my life because I go, I'm not producing anything. I'm not doing anything.
Nobody wants me. I know a sad story. And that lasted for three years.
But again, I just felt like, OK, God, what is it? What happened to Theo? What happened to that vision that I had back in 1978 about creating this particular series for you? And one day I got called into my father-in-law's. I'm not going to tell you what he does, but he has a small business. And he asked me, Mike, do you want to work for me? And I said, well, sure.
I need a job. So I became a machinist for two years, working in a machine. And I don't know, I guess it was God humbling me, bringing me, because I was a little full of myself then.
And so I think it was kind of a process of God humbling me and teaching me what it means to truly just sit and wait upon him, because he is the one who is in control, not me. And so Kurt asked me, my father-in-law asked me, he said, Mike, how much would it cost to produce Theo? And I'm thinking, you don't know what you're asking me. It would cost millions of dollars. Because the kind of animation I want to do is, you know, American animation, which is the best in the world.
But it's very, very expensive. So I just, I told him what it would cost for me to do a five-minute promo video, if I did it kind of guerrilla-like and just hired guys and they're all working together. So I went to one of the animator friends of mine and said, can we do this for $10,000?
He said, yeah, we can do it. That grew, the money started coming in and it grew and it grew and it grew and it grew. And we ended up doing 17 episodes of Theo, 10-minute episodes of Theo, 170 minutes worth of animation, extremely expensive, millions of dollars worth of monies came in. Anyways, Theo was produced and people can watch it today, see it today and go to theopresents.com. That's how they can look at this project.
But the dream was fulfilled. People may not know what Theo is. Theo, I wanted to, I created Theo back, like I said, in 1978. My idea was to create an animated theologian. Now that may scare people a lot, just hearing the word theologian, but it's basically, he's a kindly English gentleman who lives in England on the Cone River. And he has mice, church mice that he talks to and they talk to him.
It's very much using the medium of cartoons, but it's done in a way that I think is very endearing. Now, the first rule in our new exclusive club is that I am the Grand Vizier. You're that Grand Vizier?
Vizier, Grand Vizier. What's the second rule? The second rule is that we won't let anyone into our club we don't like. They're snubbed. How about Theo? Theo's a human, no humans allowed, snubbed. That just leaves us only, Luther. The us only club.
What a name. How exclusive can you get? Just think, we can be as messy as we want, stay up past our bedtime, eat snacks between meals, collect dues. Dues? But there's only you and me in the club. Have to think that one through. Anyways. And he teaches the mice because they usually mess up in some way and he will use that as a springboard that launches into a biblical story as well as he will wrap it up in a way that is entertaining to children. If the kids aren't going to be entertained, they're not going to listen to what you have to say.
So, in that sense, Theo is a very entertaining project. What an interesting hat you have there, Belfry. It's our official us only club hat. You can't have one because you got snubbed. I got snubbed? Oh, dear. Luther snubbed you. He's the grand fish ear.
Did he say fish ear? Luther said humans don't have clubs. Oh, but they do. Humans have many sorts of clubs. Is this your club, Theo? No, this is where the church meets. The church isn't a club? No, but unfortunately people sometimes treat the church like a club.
It's very sad. Others think of it as a place where people who look and think alike get together once a week. Some take pride in their church but look down their noses on others. And then there are those who avoid going to church altogether. This isn't what God intended at all.
Here is what a healthy church in the first century looked like. Fully animated with beautiful music. The animators that we ended up getting 30 years later were top drawer animators.
Why? Because at that time, which was not the case in 1978 when I created Theo, at the time there was CGI or 3D animation through Pixar. Everybody was doing this kind of stuff. And the 2D animators, the traditional animators, most of them were no longer needed.
Some very, very talented men and women were suddenly out on the streets. And at my disposal, I was able to hire these people to work on Theo when the time finally came. And also we had some top rated guy by the name of John Sponzler. He had worked with Hans Zimmer and with the guys that did the Pirates of the Caribbean franchises. He's a brilliant composer and he was available to work on the Theo series. Every single episode of Theo is scored.
And by that I mean it's not library music. Typically in a cartoon show, television show, they will create library cues. This is a cue for sadness. This is a cue for adventure. This is a cue for excitement or whatever, danger. And when they're editing the film, they will bring those cues out to help underscore a picture. Here's the case with Theo.
Every single frame of film was scored two picture by John. So I say that boasting because it speaks to what God has done and allowed to happen with the creation of this project. I had to wait 30 years, yes, but it was worth the wait. And now I have finally retired, although I am writing, write books. And I'm living here in Montana, enjoying a place that I always wanted to live.
But of course, at the time when I got into the cartoon business, there were no cartoonists or no animation studios here in Montana. Anyways, that is how I would like to end my little story here. And I hope you enjoyed it. And a great job on the production by Greg Hengler and a special thanks to Mike Jens for sharing with us his story. The story of a cartoonist turned marine turned Christian who thought God called him to be a pastor and who ended up using his animation gifts to create his own ministry through his art and craft with his project, his love, Theo. If you wish to learn more about Theo, go to theopresents.com. And to hear the podcast version of the show, subscribe on the iHeartRadio app or wherever you get your podcasts.
Mike Jens' story here on Our American Stories. Stay up to date with appointments and talk to your doctor if you have any concerns. Knowing your body and what's normal is important.
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Whisper: medium.en / 2023-02-16 03:41:20 / 2023-02-16 03:58:27 / 17