Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Hey, that voice is familiar!

Animation films over the years have heavily promoted celebrity voices portraying characters. In “Toy Story”, there’s Tom Hanks and Tim Allen. “Shrek 2” had Mike Myers, Eddie Murphy, Cameron Diaz and Antonio Banderas. What we don’t hear publicized are the voices that narrate TV and radio ads.

Here are some examples:
Honda – In previous years, we had Burgess Meredith (best known as “The Penguin” from ABC’s “Batman” and Jack Lemmon (“The Odd Couple”). Coincidentially, both Mr. Meredith and Mr. Lemmon starred in "Grumpy Old Men". Recent ads have featured Kevin Spacey (“American Beauty” and “The Usual Suspects”). Mr. Spacey and Mr. Lemmon have appeared together in "Glengarry Glen Ross" and "Dad".

Lowe’s (home improvement retailer) – Gene Hackman, who starred in “Unforgiven”, “The French Connection” and “The Conversation”.

BMW – I’ve only heard her on radio ads, but I know it has to be indy film queen Patricia Clarkson (“The Station Agent” and “Good Night and Good Luck”).

Kaiser Permanente Hospital – These radio ads air primarily in California, but again, the voice has to be Allison Janney of NBC’s “The West Wing”.

Mercedes-Benz – Previous TV ads featured Joe Mantegna. Mr. Mantegna is best known as Will Girardi from the recently cancelled CBS series “Joan of Arcadia” and the voice of recurring character “Fat Tony” on Fox’s “The Simpsons”. He also starred in the stage version of "Glengarry Glen Ross" on Broadway.

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