Your show Drawing with Fred turns 20 this year - first of
all, what's the show about, and what's the philosophy behind it?
I like to call Drawing With Fred as being reminiscent of the adult
hosted children's programs which were a staple on television from the
1950's to 1980's. The host would talk to the audience on the set or directly to the
viewers at home. Many of these shows were used to showcase the popular
cartoons of the period:
Looney Tunes, Popeye, Felix the Cat,
Bullwinkle, The Mighty Hercules,
Dick Tracy or Mr. Magoo.
On Drawing With Fred I demonstrate how to draw
a cartoon character or object. An animated film follows featuring what
was in the drawing lesson. Usually an original water safety, health or
nutritional segment is featured. I finish out an episode with additional
cartoons. On occasion I would interview a special guest. These have
included a professional photographer, a dentist and an opera singer.
Some lessons you'd like for your young audience to walk
away with from your show?
I hope the children walk away
with remembering the original water safety, health and nutritional tips
presented. Many adults have told me they love being reintroduced to the
classic cartoon characters whom they grew up with. It is a great way for
children to be introduced to them for the first time.
years is a mighty long time for any kind of show - so how has Drawing
with Fred evolved from its (presumably humble) beginnings, and some of
the show's highlights over the years?
Drawing With Fred
actually began as an idea I had for a television pilot. My hope was to
reintroduce a similar type of format which worked for several years on
independent television stations across the country. I was told, by people
in the know, the format I wanted to bring back was "dead". I did
not want to give up the idea so began producing, writing and hosting the
series for my local cable access channel. Originally it was strictly a
drawing lesson and a few cartoons but, as previously mentioned, I squeeze
more into roughly a 25:00 to 29:00 minute episode.
and Cuyle Carvin stay in shape
A few highlights
from the series include The Opera Show which featured singer Logan
McCarty. This was a fun way to introduce children to a subject which would
normally make invoke snoozing. An original cartoon, Logan Likes His
Lyrics, was produced based upon this episode. I also enjoyed The Italian
Dentist Show where I talk about Dr. Domenic D'Amico who is a popular
dentist in my hometown of Watertown. Popeye cartoons, dubbed into Italian,
were aired on the episode. Of course Drawing With Fred winning three cable
television awards for excellence was a highlight! Clutching my first award
I felt like Lucille Ball at the Emmys.
A very basic
question, what keeps you going after all these years?
always say the animated cartoons are the star of the show and I am always
finding different ones to create episodes for. Additionally I have donated
programs to various children's organizations for several years. I recall
getting a letter from a woman, working in a hospital, and being told my
program kept a hospitalized boy active.
What were your
inspirations to do the show to begin with?
I believe one of
the reasons children's basic value systems have become so warped is the
lack of children's show hosts which my generation grew up with and
admired. In Boston Massachusetts these included Rex Trailer of Boomtown,
Uncle Gus from The Uncle Gus Show, Major Mudd and Bozo the Clown. The
hosts would remind the audience the importance of obeying their parents,
respecting teachers and quietly pass along health and safety tips. I try
to do the same thing on Drawing With Fred.
publicity photo from Drawing With Fred
the cartoon characters appearing on the program
What can you tell
us about your showbiz endeavours before Drawing with Fred?
high school I participated in all of the plays winning acting awards. I
often played the 'Paul Lynde' or 'Gale Gordon' roles. I was also an extra
in a few television shows and films produced in Boston. Since 1983 I have
written about many characters from "showbiz" including Popeye,
Dream of Jeannie, The Batman Family and Bozo the
go even further back: What got you into drawing as such in the first
place, and how would you describe your drawing style?
mother recalls, at a very early age, all she had to do was give me paper
and a pencil to keep me happy. I grew up reading Popeye, Bringing Up
Father, The Katzenjammer Kids, Ponytail and Henry in the comic sections.
cartooning style is very much rooted in the 1930's era. At this stage of
my life I do not care to change it.
Your show also features
safety and fitness segments, featuring the likes of Cuyle Carvin [Cuyle
Carvin interview - click here], Kazy Tauginas [Kazy
Tauginas interview - click here] and Brandon Stumpf [Brandon
Stumpf interview - click here], all better known for their
involvement in horror movies. So what can you tell us about these
segments, and why and how did you get these guys to do them?
all started with Cuyle Carvin's blue eyes (laugh!). I had written a water
safety segment in 2009 called He Knows Safety which began with a close up
of a man's eyes. I came across a photo of Cuyle and was drawn to his blue
eyes! I knew he was the actor I needed and contacted him. Within an hour
Cuyle replied saying how he would love to be a part of my show. Since then
he has promoted exercising in a segment introducing Popeye's adventures.
Cuyle also teamed up with Eugene the Jeep, the one-eyed sailor's dog, to
promote water safety and illustrated the benefits of drinking milk in
Create Your Own Storm - Drink Milk! Cuyle is becoming much in demand as both
a film and television actor. I do not know how much time he can devote
working with my show but I am very grateful for what he has contributed.
was introduced to Brandon Stumpf via a modeling web site and contacted him
about a water safety segment which combined elements of Bewitched,
of Jeannie, Sabrina the Teenage Witch and Popeye. The segment became
Wearing What's Right and was a lot of fun to create. In addition to acting
and modeling Brandon is a full time art teacher so he was a perfect fit
for the program. Later Brandon and his family became animated cartoon
characters for The Stumpf Family Goes to the Beach. This short, featuring
music culled from Popeye theatricals from the 1950's features Brandon
eating a can of spinach to rescue his wandering daughter at the beach.
met Kazy Taugnias through his appearance with Cuyle in the science fiction
film Terminal Legacy. Kazy has a boxing background and I created a segment
where he discusses the importance of eating the right foods to stay in
shape. All three have been great to work with, and in return for donating
their time and talent, I try to promote their careers and projects. Each
actor's segments can be found on YouTube under the FGrandinetti channel.
Brandon Stumpf and his cartoon self
can you tell us about other show regulars, and your show's crew of course?
have had a sea of changing faces for crew at the cable station. They have
all done a great job and I am very appreciative. My camera crew, for many
shows, Linda and Edward Collins, have become dear friends. I had a lot of
fun working with program director Michael Atkinson for four years. I have
to give special mention to Vatche Arabian of Watertown Massachusetts. I
have known Vatche since he was ten or eleven and he has become a talented
filmmaker and editor. Whenever I give Vatche my original segments to edit
he projects what is in my brain and adds his creative touches. People can
check out his work at www.vatchearabian.com.
As for the shows cast it has been Fred with hair and skinny becoming Fred
with less hair and gaining weight!
How would you describe
the whole process of putting a show together, and what are typically the
biggest challenges and most satisfying moments?
The first thing is to select an opening cartoon which
features a character or object easy to translate into a three to five
minute drawing segment. I then gather together segments to place between
the cartoons whether they feature Cuyle, Brandon, Kazy, Popeye or
Porky Pig. I write out each episode step by step and give all of the needed
material to the editor.
The biggest challenge of doing the show, to which I am always
apologizing to my various editors and programmers, is quality control. I
want to be happy
with each episode but occasionally due to technical issues, on my part or
the cable station, I get frustrated. I do not hear any complaints from the
audience but I am very anal at times.
Any future projects besides more Drawing with Fred
you'd like to share?
I have been writing about characters
from popular culture since 1983 and do not plan on giving this up. I also
became active with Operation Comix Relief in 2012, which is an organization
which sends comic books to our troops. I have been drawing Popeye and his
pals to help raise awareness of the need to send a little bit of 'home' to
our service people. You can learn more at
TV-hosts, filmmakers, whatever else who inspire you?
great respect for Barbara Eden and had the pleasure of interviewing her a
few years ago for an article about I Dream of Jeannie in Filmfax. What I
admire most is she does not shy away from her association with the series.
I am sure she has lost roles because narrow-minded casting agents have her
pegged as a genie yet she does not trash the role or program. Other
performers, in similar situations, unfortunately have put down the
proprieties which made them household names.
I also admire performers who
have had the thankless task to step into projects made popular by others.
These include my favorite Avenger's girl Linda Thorson and (dare I say it)
Joe Besser of The Three
Stooges. While I adore Julie Newmar's Catwoman,
both Lee Meriwether and Eartha Kitt were fantastic in the part. My last
role on the stage was playing a cat turned into a human and I challenged
all three actresses which was a ball to do.
And since this
is a film site, your favourite and least favourite movies?
Feeling lucky ?
any of my partnershops yourself
for more, better results ?
The links below
will take you
am pretty much a fan of horror and science fiction films from the 1930's
through the 1960's. Many of the Universal horror
films and Godzilla
pictures come to mind.
I do not appreciate the films where you think the
monster or murderer dies at the end, only to see an eye 'blink' just
before the movie fades out. There is too much of this especially with the
original productions from the Sci-Fi
Channel. I also enjoy the Charlie
Chan films produced by Monogram especially for the comic relief provided
by Mantan Moreland [Mantan
Moreland bio - click here]. I am very old fashioned.
show's website, Facebook, whatever else?
Drawing With Fred
episodes can be viewed on The Watertown Community Access Channel's website
In addition to seeing segments from my show on You Tube I have
created a Drawing With Fred face book page located at
Anything else you are dying to
mention and I have merely forgotten to ask?
Thank you for
Thanks for the interview!
courtesy of David Hudon