The lovely and talented Lori Alan, voice of newscaster Diane Simmons, took out time from her busy schedule (she’s co-starring in the new Pee Wee Herman live show) to give us here at Stewie’s Playground insight into the craziness that is Family Guy. Here’s the interview:
What is the story behind you getting on Family Guy?
I did an animation short called, “Larry and Steve” that Seth MacFarlane wrote in his senior year at Rhode Island School of Design. He won a contest and Hanna Barbera produced his senior project with a nice big budget! I played a mattress saleslady and he played both Larry and Steve. A man and his talking dog. My uber perky saleslady sold the man a bed for his dog! I stayed friends with Seth for quite a while after. I knew he was so talented and gonna make it with all that creativity, brains and charisma. Cut to several years later, I was testing at FOX for the role of “Lois” and I walked in then, and there he was!!! A “big wig” making “Larry and Steve” into “Family Guy”. Obviously, the lovely and insanely talented Alex Borstein got the role of “Lois”, but I was so excited to get the role of “Diane the Anchorwoman”. The scripts were so different I didn’t even make the connection that it might be Seth’s show. You’d think a show about a guy and his talking dog would’ve tipped me off, but it had been a while and the show was suddenly in “Quahog”!!
What is the inspiration for you behind the character of Diane Simmons?
You’d really have to ask Seth what his motivation is for having Tom and Diane in the show–I love the constant commentary they provide, but for me–for the actual character voice- I seriously imitated my mother who did a lot whole of on-air pledge drive “acting”. She was a well known actress in the D.C. area, where I grew up, and she would get asked to do the local pledge-a thons for the local tv stations to help them raise money. She did a ton of Voice Overs and has this fabulous, serious, news anchor voice that I adore and was honored to use as my “Diane”.
Are there any Diane storylines coming up that you can tell us about?
Oh I wish I could tell you!!! BUT, I will say you should definitely keep an eye out for a two parter where we (most of the cast) are at James Wood’s house and well….let’s just there’s an Agatha Christie murder mystery type thing going on!!!!! I will get killed if I say more:-))))
Do you improvise some of your dialogue – such as your interchanges with Tom Tucker or Asian reporter Trisha Takanawa? Or is everything pretty scripted out?
Actually, Seth is such a great writer–along with the staff of incredibly gifted writers– so, it’s a pretty darn scripted show. They know how to write the funny in every line!!
Pearl Krabs (character on Sponge Bob Square Pants) – tell us your inspiration for that character. What is your favorite Sponge Bob episode?
My inspiration was seeing this great picture of her before I auditioned. The Spongebob artists and creators are amazing. (And actually got alot of their inspiration from the show I am currently opening in, THE LIVE PEE WEE HERMAN SHOW! COME TO CLUB NOKIA IN LOS ANGELES AND SEE IT JAN. 12- FEB 7TH. GO TO PEEWEE.COM FOR SHOW DETAILS) I knew she had to sound like the world’s largest, whale teenager. Girly, feminine, loud, bratty, spoiled, lovable all at the same time. My favorite episode by far, which I pitched to the writers, is “Whale of a Birthday”. Hilarious to have Pearl singing when she first wakes on her 16th birthday to the made up group, “Boys Who Cry” and then heads to the mall to have Spongebob take her Dad’s credit card and buy her any and everything she wants!!!!! Sounded like a good birthday to me!!!
Was “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs” one of your favorite books growing up, like many people who went to see the movie?(Lori was one of the voices in this movie)
Actually it became a favorite of mine when my niece and nephew, Isaac and Nina, started to want it read to them every time I went home!! I never read it as a kid, I think I’m aging myself here, but what an incredible book!! When we did the voices for the movie, it was so fun. The group of folks I work with on the Pixar movies are so talented and it is a real joy to be working alongside with Jess Harnell, Laraine Newman, Bob Bergen and many others. It’s like being at Voice Over camp!! The wonderful Micky MCGowen heads up this great group and I was so honored to be asked to play with them!!! We have done Wall-E, Toy Story 3–can’t talk about that either-among many other Pixar shorts. Crazy fun! Not a day goes by that I don’t remember just how very grateful I am to do what I love to do for a living and get paid for it!
Tell us about Seth MacFarlane. What is it like working with him?
Never met a more talented man. Kind, silly, wacked, generous, shy, a great singer…you name it, he is it. Truly a Renissance Man. I believe he minored in like Music Theory or Composition or something like that. He’s also one of the greatest singers ever! That’s why there’s so many musical numbers in the show. Every cast or wrap party he’s up there singing with a Big Band!! He loves that Swing era, to sing to, the style of it. I think he is a missing member of the Rat Pack!! People wouldn’t guess that cool side of him, they might just think he’s this brainy, brilliantly funny dude! But he’s a glorious piano player and singer too! To work with someone whose brain works that fast is great. There’s a great energy in the booth, and time literally flies. It’s sometimes hard to believe we are taking it so seriously. But sombody’s gotta report the news!!:-))) Oh, I will add that as producer, creator, actor, drawer, etc….Seth has to wear 17 million hats and does so beautifully.
Who’s the biggest prankster on the set of Family Guy?
Hmmmm…good question!! either Mike Henry (Cleveland-CONGRATS ON YOUR SPINOFF MIKE!) or my buddy Phil LaMarr (voice of Ollie Williams).
What storyline on Family Guy would you like to see the writers explore further? Or less?
Well, I love all of Meg‘s teenage dilemas, Stewie‘s frustration with …well, everything. I would soooooooooo love to see Diane and Tom have a crazy affair. It’s implied on early episodes but to see them in their “off air’ lives is so great. Which leads me to your last question about my favorite episode!!! Well, without a doubt, where Diane is in the local production of “The King and I”. So great, like I said, to see that character (any character) where she’s least expected!! That’s what I love about the show in general..the random, yet precise nature of every single joke, story line, and character!!! The writing seems almost crazy and scattered, but is so tight I tip my hat to the writers…even though I do wish they’d write more for girls! Women are funny too darnit!!!
Who has been your favorite voice that you’ve done in your career?
Wow, total tossup between Pearl, Diane, and Sue Richards, The Invisible Woman from Marvel’s remake of The Fantastic Four!!! The Boss From the Metal Gear Solid Games has been a blast too!!! Keep your ears peeled for The Boss…can’t say much about that either…BUT I’LL JUST SAY…WOW!!!! Thanks Wendy for asking me to chat with you!! HAPPY NEW YEAR EVERYBODY!!!!
image Fox Broadcasting