You Got That, Wright!

I’d like to introduce you to one of the acquaintances I’ve made over the years. A fellow by the name of Bill Wright.

Bill has been employed over the years by various companies and that’s about all I know. It’s apparently the kind of stuff that, if he tells you, he has to kill you. So, I didn’t ask.

I’ve known Bill as a determined producer. A guy with ideas who passionately does all he can to make those ideas become reality.

I don’t exactly remember how met all those years ago, except that I was a hired voice for some projects he produced. Bill has always been a major fan of the Wizard of Oz books.  Yes, that was meant to be plural. 13 of them were written by the original author, L. Frank Baum. A total of 43 official books have been written by various authors over the years.

Back in the 1990s, Bill decided he wanted to turn a couple of those adventures into audio books. He brought in Seattle radio traffic legend Debbie Deutsch to do the narrating, hired a 12-year-old girl named Alexandra Barkley to provide the voice of Dorothy, and yours truly did ALL the other voices.  There were many a Saturday and Sunday afternoon in the Lake City recording studio where we spent hours laying down all the voice tracks.  Local audio guru Bob Majors did the tweaking and the next thing you know, there were audio books. (although, as of this writing, they are only available on cassette)

Over the years, it seems like Bill & I would get together, hear about each other’s lives and then off we’d go to our neutral corners. A couple of years ago, I helped his daughter with a demo video for a cooking show. Then, earlier this year, he reached out to me about a special project.

And this one is special.

Without going too much into detail, I can give you the headlines. Bill has done research about some lost stories from World War II. He’s even gotten the state of Hawaii to fund his project and we are at the beginning stages of bringing one story to video. I will be providing the narrator voice.  The long and short of it is, during World War II, the United States decided to set up camps where Japanese Americans had to ride out the war. The Japanese-American males of military age were used to form units that were deployed to Europe to fight the war.  One of those units provided the heroes that  freed 5,000 Jewish prisoners from the notorious Dachau Nazi camp when they intercepted a death march. The irony is thick. There they were, risking their lives to free prisoners from a German concentration camp, while back home, their families were locked up.

Finally, that story is going to be told. When there’s a finished project, I’ll do my best to bring it to your attention.

Then, after a few decades pass, maybe Bill & I will collaborate on yet another project. Don’t be surprised when it happens.

Tim Hunter

THE BIG BREAKOUT

Read the label and you'll find my name there!

Read the label and you’ll find my name there!

The other day, I was thinking about those “almost big deals.”  Projects that I got involved with and thought, if nothing else, for a little while—this is going to be the big one.

When you flitter about professionally, as I do, you have the chance to get involved in a diverse collection of projects or events. I’ve emceed 7 lutefisk eating contests, been the host for a Mr. Bothell Pageant, wrote one liners for Bill Gate’s Salute to Warren Buffett on his 75th birthday and so on.  Unique experiences that were pretty much one-offs.  Fun and done.

But then there were those special projects that you thought might pave the way to a life of leisure and a lasting reputation as being “that guy!”

I was fortunate enough to spend many an afternoon with Stan Boreson one summer, helping him write silly Christmas songs for an album that was released in the 1980s.  I thought it would be the beginning of a long string of albums, but it was at the time when he was beginning to wind down his career and the recording industry was doing a complete makeover.

I somehow got hooked up with a company that was making an Inspector Gadget computer game.  Again, in the 1980s, in the infancy of that industry.  When the actual voice of Inspector Gadget asked for a million dollars to do it, they settled for my mediocre impersonation to provide the soundtrack for their game.  It was the most fun $10 an hour gig I ever had.  The game was produced, but didn’t work that well on computers.  The company went bankrupt and I have a copy of the game.

Another entrepreneur hired me to be the voice of his “Travel Around Edmonds” tapes.  Yep, we’re talking cassettes.  You’d get a map, drive to that location, then press play on your car’s cassette machine and then a friendly voice would tell you about the touristy aspects of this part of town. I’ve got some of those cassettes at home, too.

One of the more interesting ventures I partnered in was creating audiobooks of the Wizard of Oz series.  I believe we recorded three of the books with narrator Debbie Deutsch and a young girl named Alexandria.  Man, we spent a lot of time in the studio doing those.  I was every other voice in the book—the Wizard, the Scarecrow, the Tin Woodsman, the Lion, the Winkies, etc.  A guy named Bill Wright was a major Oz fan and wanted to create a franchise.  Again, on cassettes and technology soon made them obsolete.

Probably the most disappointing attempt at greatness was pursuing a career as a screenwriter.  Oh, scripts have been written and I’m pretty proud of them.  Several were carried around by an agent for three years, hoping to find that crack in Hollywood’s door.  Alas, we came up empty.

But I tell you what—a couple of those movies WILL be made.  As my skill-set increases, I’ve been learning more and more about what goes into filming and my plans are, to some day just do the darn movies myself.

Especially if the market for cassettes of Inspector Gadget giving you a guided tour through the land of Oz takes off.

 

Tim Hunter