Jonny Quest movie project resurfaces

The cast of Jonny Quest

A live-action movie based on the Jonny Quest adventure cartoon has resurfaced, according to the entertainment news website The Wrap.

Chris McKay, director of The Lego Batman movie, will helm the Quest project, The Wrap said. The website said it got the information from “individuals with knowledge of the project.” The Hollywood Reporter said it confirmed the news.

Three years ago, there were reports that Robert Rodriguez would co-write and direct a live-action Quest film.

Jonny Quest debuted in 1964 on ABC. It was made by Hanna-Barbera and created by cartoonist Doug Wildey. The series featured realistically drawn characters (with the except of Jonny’s dog, Bandit), a departure for H-B. The original version only lasted one season, although there were revivals in the 1980s and 1990s.

Jonny Quest was the son of widower scientist Dr. Benton Quest. They were protected by U.S. government agent Race Bannon. The group took in Hadji, a native of India.

Quest was Hanna-Barbera’s answer to James Bond. Development began after producer Joseph Barbera saw Dr. No. Hanna-Barbera initially intended to adapt the radio program Jack Armstrong, the All-American Boy, but went with original characters instead.

The Hanna-Barbera cartoon brand was later absorbed by Warner Bros.’s animation unit. The movie, if it goes into production, would be released by Warner Bros.

In 2016, La-La Land Records released a soundtrack set of music from the 1964-65 season of Quest.

Jonny Quest score available from La-La Land Records

Race Bannon about to rescue Jonny Quest

Race Bannon about to rescue Jonny Quest

The score to the original 1964-65 Jonny Quest cartoon series is now AVAILABLE FROM LA-LA LAND RECORDS.

The series, created by cartoonist Doug Wildey, originally ran on prime-time on ABC. It was Hanna-Barbera’s first attempt at a realistic-looking presentation (well, except for Jonny’s pet dog, Bandit).

There were later revivals but for some fans, nothing tops the original.

Here’s an excerpt from the announcement:

La-La Land Records and Warner Bros. present the world premiere release of the original television score to the 1964-65 classic animated Hanna-Barbera adventure series JONNY QUEST, with music by William Hanna, Joseph Barbera and Hoyt Curtin and musical direction by Hoyt Curtin and Ted Nichols. Requested by fans for decades, the thrilling and groundbreaking original music from one of the most beloved 60’s animated shows of all time finally makes its official debut with this deluxe, knockout 2-CD presentation.

Only 3,000 of the soundtrack sets will be sold and the price is $24.98. The set includes liner notes by Jon Burlingame and Jeff Bond. Burlingame has produced soundtracks to The Man From U.N.C.L.E. and Mission: Impossible series.

Below is an excerpt from an online documentary about Jonny Quest that highlights Hoyt Curtin’s work.

Robert Rodriguez to direct Jonny Quest movie, Variety says

Race Bannon about to rescue Jonny Quest

Race Bannon about to rescue Jonny Quest

Robert Rodriguez will direct and co-write a live-action Jonny Quest movie, VARIETY REPORTED.

Here’s an excerpt:

Rodriguez has made a name for himself for his violent action pics, but his most successful films to date have been the family-friendly “Spy Kids” movies. That franchise comes from the same mold as “Jonny Quest,” making him seem like the perfect fit for the adaptation.

There are have been three versions of the cartoon, but the most popular among fans is the original, The Adventures of Jonny Quest. That consisted of 26 episodes that aired in prime-time on ABC during the 1964-65 season. Jonny Quest was the only son of important scientist Benton Quest. As a result, U.S. intelligent agent Race Bannon was assigned as combination tutor and bodyguard.

The cartoon was created by cartoonist Doug Wildey for producers William Hanna and Joseph Barbera. It was Hanna-Barbera’s answer to James Bond and development began after Barbera saw Dr. No. Hanna-Barbera initially intended to adapt the radio program Jack Armstrong, the All-American Boy, but went with original characters instead. The Hanna-Barbera cartoon brand was later absorbed by Warner Bros.’s animation unit.

UPDATE (8 p.m.): If you want to check them out, THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER and DEADLINE: HOLLYWOOD have stories on this subject.

John Stephenson, original Dr. Quest, dies

John Stephenson

John Stephenson

John Stephenson, a veteran character actor and the original voice of Dr. Benton Quest, has died at 91, according to BLOGGER MARK EVANIER, who frequently writes about television and comics.

Stephenson was part of a Jonny Quest cast that also included the voices of Tim Matheson, Danny Bravo and Mike Road. After the first several episodes, Don Messick took over as Dr. Quest’s voice but Stephenson continued to do a lot of voice work for Hanna-Barbera.

Stephenson also served as the announcer who informed the audience of the outcome of a case in the 1960s version of Dragnet. He also was a frustrated Thrush official in New York forced to take orders from Cesar Romero’s Victor Gervais in The Never-Never Affair episode of The Man From U.N.C.L.E., one of the most popular installments of that spy series.

Jonny Quest’s 50th: espionage gets animated

Race Bannon about to rescue Jonny Quest

Race Bannon about to rescue Jonny Quest

A half-century ago, one piece of spy-related entertainment involved a villain planning to use a laser beam to shoot down a U.S. rocket being launched to go to the moon.

A mix of Dr. No and Goldfinger? Sort of. It was the debut of The Adventures of Jonny Quest, later shortened to just Jonny Quest.

The Hanna-Barbera cartoon debuted on Sept. 18, 1964, with The Mystery of the Lizard Men on ABC’s prime-time schedule.

The series chronicled the adventures of Jonny, only son of key American scientist Benton Quest. The importance of Dr. Quest, a widower, was such that U.S. intelligence operative assigned agent Roger “Race” Bannon as bodyguard and tutor.

According to AN ONLINE DOCUMENTARY, the project originated when producer Joseph Barbera saw Dr. No, the first James Bond film. Barbera knew it was a genre he and partner William Hanna had to develop a cartoon for.

The producers initially thought they could revive the radio series Jack Armstrong, the All-American Boy. A test cartoon was made and, the Quest documentary states, part of it was incorporated into the start of Jonny Quest’s end titles.

Hanna and Barbera soon dropped that idea and opted to develop their own characters. They enlisted cartoonist Doug Wildey, who ended up doing much of the heavy lifting of devising characters. Much of the finished product was Wildey’s. One major exception, according to the documentary, was Jonny’s pet dog, Bandit. Wildey wanted a more exotic pet while Bandit ended up an obvious cartoon dog.

In the opener, ships are being destroyed in the Sargasso Sea by mysterious means. Thus, Benton Quest is called in to investigate with his son and Bannon in tow. Soon after, Jonny, Race and Bandit are soon in peril and stumble upon the conspiracy by an unnamed foreign power headed by an unnamed villain.

The story — written by Wildey, Hanna, Barbera and Alex Lovy — reflected its Bondian influences. The plot’s McGuffin resembles Dr. No. The villain’s main gadget, a laser gun, was part of Goldfinger, which was debuting in the U.K. at the same time (and wouldn’t reach the U.S. until December).

Quest was different than previous H-B productions. Characters (with the exception of Bandit) were drawn realistically, including shadowing.

The series was helped significantly by composer Hoyt Curtin, especially the debut episode. According to the Quest documentary, Curtin wrote the signature theme in such a way that trombone players couldn’t actually play it correctly. It was Curtin’s way of getting back at the musicians who playfully complained that the composer’s music was too easy to perform.

The credits on Jonny Quest downplayed the significance of Wildey and Curtin. Wildey wasn’t created as the show’s creator. On some episodes, he was listed as “supervising art director,” in others it was stated the show was “based on ideas created by” Wildey. Curtin was credited for “musical direction.” Meanwhile Hanna and Barbera got a “produced and directed by” credit in larger type for each episode.

Quest wasn’t a big hit. It ran only season in prime time. It would later be rerun on Saturday mornings. In the 1980s and ’90s, there would be Quest cartoon revivals. But it was never the same.

In the 2000s, there was a DVD release of that first season. But there were changes. Some politically incorrect lines were taken out. Also, the end titles from two episodes were used over and over. The writing credits for each episode were in the end titles. As a result, the viewer doesn’t really know who penned the episodes.

In any case, for people of a certain age, Jonny Quest still resonates, especially Curtin’s theme. Quest’s golden anniversary, understandably, will be overlooked because of the 50th anniversary of Goldfinger. Still, for some, will look back at the series with great fondness.

1964: ABC promotes the debut of Jonny Quest

A half-century ago, U.S. television networks would air extended promos for their upcoming program offerings. So it was for upstart ABC (which was once part of NBC until U.S. regulators began to apply pressure).

ABC aired a program-length promo for its 1964-65 lineup. For Friday night, the promo included an extended promo for the upcoming debut of The Adventures of Jonny Quest. The show originated when Joseph Barbera, the “Barbera” half of Hanna-Barbera, saw an early print of Dr. No. The promo doesn’t exactly match up to the series debut (the Hoyt Curtin music doesn’t match the same scenes of the premier episode), but it’s interesting to watch (it begins at the 0:35 mark of this video):

UPDATE: Joseph Barbera, in an interview for the Archive of American Television, discusses the origins of Jonny Quest:

James Bond’s influence on Jonny Quest

We came across an excellent documentary on The Adventures of Jonny Quest, the Hanna-Barbera prime time cartoon that debuted in September 1964. There’s a lot of fascinating behind-the-scenes information, including some James Bond ties to the series.

Producers William Hanna and Joseph Barbera hired cartoonist Doug Wildey to spearhead the project. It was originally intended to be an adaptation of the radio show Jack Armstrong, the All-American Boy but that was scrapped for an original series. One notion behind the show involved Barbera’s happening to view a certain gentleman agent with a license to kill, as evidenced in this clip starting around the 23-second mark:

The title character of Jonny Quest was the young son of a scientist cosntantly in peril. The show’s Bond surrogate was Roger T. “Race” Bannon, a U.S. agent assigned to protect the Quests. Here’s Race’s origins:

To see the entire documentary, you can CLICK HERE and get instructions how to download it. You can also CLICK OUT THIS BLOG for more Jonny Quest information, art and commentary.

You can also see the entire documentary on YouTube, where it’s divided into 27 parts. Here’s part one, and you should be able to navigate to the others. Again, it’s excellent and takes a critical look at events where it’s warranted: