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Saturday morning cartoons getting big-screen treatment

“Eh, what’s up, Doc?”

Few would fail to recognize this catch phrase or the “wascally wabbit” who first spoke it almost 60 years ago.

For the first time, Bugs Bunny and his pals, the Warner Bros.’ “Looney Tunes” animated characters, will be featured in the exclusive Chuck Jones Saturday Morning Cartoon series screened as part of the Newport Beach Film Festival.

The cartoon show will take place at 11 a.m. Saturday at the Starlight Triangle Square Cinemas in Costa Mesa. Admission is $5.


While the film festival is known for drawing celebrities to the Newport Beach area, and for its glamorous opening-night parties, it has always hosted a family-oriented cartoon series. This is the first year that the festival is hosting the series in partnership with the Chuck Jones Center for Creativity, a nonprofit in Orange.

Jones, a longtime Newport Beach resident, died at his Corona del Mar home in February 2002 at age 89.

“What we found in the cartoons Chuck created is that they are one of the only set of characters created that can bridge between now and six generations,” said center Chairman Craig Kausen, Jones’s grandson. “Grandparents and kids all love these characters just the same.”

Ten short cartoons from the “Looney Tunes” collection, featuring favorites such as Road Runner, Wile E. Coyote and Marvin the Martian, as well as the 1973 short film, “The Cricket in Times Square,” are expected to be part of the series, Kausen said.


The Saturday showing is attracting both people with and without children because of the unique combination of slapstick humor and dry wit, the signature of Jones’s creations, Kausen said.

“You can look at, for example, a Bugs Bunny or Road Runner cartoon, and there is no humor topical to the day,” Kausen said. “Because it was funny — not funny in what was going on in time. Each generation will understand the humor.”

In addition to the cartoons, the Creativity Through Art workshop will coincide with the screening, said festival Director of Special Projects Rand Collins.

Tables where children can draw, create art projects and have their artistic talents encouraged by volunteers will be set up in the theater lobby.

“As a film festival, we’re almost entirely volunteer-staffed,” Collins said of the festival’s ongoing commitment to provide screenings and events for children. “For us here, we love that kind of quality entertainment and it’s always important to encourage kids to get into it.”

Families are encouraged to come to the screening in their pajamas and spend the morning at the workshop, he said.

Kausen will be taking his own daughter, Samantha, whose 6-year-old heart sways between love for Bugs Bunny one day and Road Runner the next.

“Chuck’s work is as applicable and poignant as it was 30, 40 years ago,” Kausen said. “What is entertaining and funny classically will be entertaining and funny for centuries to come. His work will be known and revered for generations.”