October 15

Disney Goes to Emmy

Phineas and FerbEver wonder what it’s like to be nominated for an Emmy® Award? What would you wear on the red carpet, and would you rehearse your speech … just in case? A new crop of nominees are facing the elation — and the butterflies in the stomach — that an Emmy nod bring. You can catch the excitement at home when “The 60th Primetime Emmy® Awards” air live from the NOKIA Theatre in Los Angeles on Sunday, September 21 (8:00-11:00 PM, ET/PT) on the ABC Television Network. “High School Musical 2,” “Hannah Montana,” “The Suite Life of Zack and Cody,” and more are in the running — and among the nominees is the brand-new Disney Channel series “Phineas and Ferb,” which has snagged two nods for its music. The animated show has wowed audiences with its combination of cutting-edge animation, endearing characters, and catchy songs.

The Insider had a chat with proud nominees Jeff “Swampy” Marsh and Dan Povenmire, both writers for “Phineas and Ferb,” about what it’s like to be nominated, what’s unique about “Phineas and Ferb,” and how they write all those songs.

For those who imagine that Emmy nominees are notified by a midnight congratulatory phone call, the truth turns out to be less glamorous. Dan says, “I didn’t know we had been nominated until a friend sent me an e-mail saying ‘by the way, congratulations!’ and I didn’t know what she was congratulating me for. She said on the Emmy nominations, so then I left Swampy a message …”
Swampy adds,” … which I didn’t get that morning, so I had no idea!” Dan laughs, “We had a whole conversation about the Emmys that morning, and I didn’t know Swampy hadn’t gotten my message. About midway through the conversation, he said ‘What are we talking about? I’m lost here!’”

Conversation with the two writers is often like this — they riff off each other, finishing sentences and laughing frequently. So perhaps it’s no surprise that their songwriting partnership works the same way. One of the best aspects of “Phineas and Ferb,” they say, is getting to compose together. Dan explains, “Swampy and I are both frustrated musicians, we’ve both played in bands and wrote songs all the time when we were younger. So we got together and wrote songs!” Swampy continues, “That’s our Friday night! We get together, Dan and I, and usually a couple of members of the crew and we’ll drag out the guitars and a keyboard, and we say ‘All right, this week we need a song about giraffes and motor boats, in a Broadway musical style.’” Dan adds, “Or a song that sounds like ABBA about miniature golf! The great thing is that we write the song, we sing it into our composer’s answering machine on Friday night, he produces it over the weekend, and we get a finished song back, ready for the air, by Monday. It takes us about an hour to write a song about anything.”

“Phineas and Ferb” is all about exactly that kind of invention and imagination. And as Swampy and Dan point out, that spirit is very Disney. “Walt Disney said that ‘it’s kind of fun to do the impossible’,” observes Swampy. “Well, that’s ‘Phineas and Ferb’ in a nutshell! The whole premise of the show is ‘dream big and go out and do stuff,’ and that’s Disney all over!”

Another Disney hallmark is family entertainment that’s fun without being snide or insulting, and that has been a hallmark of “Phineas and Ferb.” Swampy explains, “One of the things we’ve always felt about Disney is that parents see it as a safe place for kids, and we’re both parents. We like to make sure that ‘Phineas and Ferb’ keeps its edge but is never anything parents wouldn’t want their kids to watch.” Dan agrees, “We try to keep them very innocent — they’re never mean or snotty. We always try to remember that Phineas and Ferb are motivated by fun.”

With a writing team planning to attend the Emmys in kilts, it’s clear that the spirit of fun is the heart and soul of “Phineas and Ferb” — as well as the heart and soul of Disney. After all, Walt Disney himself was always one to embrace new opportunities and technologies, and television was no exception. Way back in 1955, when television was in its infancy, he created the pioneering “Disneyland” TV series. “Disneyland” was honored with no less than three Emmy awards that year, and Walt would surely be smiling as Disney goes to the Emmys once again.

Taken from Disney Insider