Exclusive Interview: Nick Weidenfeld on the future of Animation Domination on FXX


We’ve seen this episode before. It’s a rerun…an also ran. Nick Weidenfeld is taking on the arduous task of helping pretty much build a television network from scratch. He did it once with a number of names that are now legendary at the inception of split-Adult leaning television network in 2004. Nick, along with Keith Crofford, Mike Lazzo, and legions of hungry talent had decided that they wanted to create a different kind of a ‘Cartoon Network’, and did so by producing television that today is now considered required reading for fans of cartoons. It’s at this time where franchises like Aqua Teen, Robot Chicken, and Venture Bros. were born and names like Seth Green, Jackson Publick/Doc Hammer, and Dino Stamatopoulos became figure-heads. However, even with all of this talent, it would have been a hell of a lot more difficult to make that TV network the success it is today had Seth MacFarlane’s Family Guy not been cancelled on FOX, then picked up as reruns on the network now known as Adult Swim. By far, the young network had more to gain from the acquisition of Family Guy than it had to lose, and one could say it was one of those few chances that up and coming TV talent could ask for. Nick helped lead a team that capitalized, and as of today, Adult Swim is one of the most important networks on the dial.

Fast forward to 2015, Nick recounts those early days and notes that he is again at the helm of building out animated content on a relatively new network in FXX that features THE animated franchise The Simpsons as a strong foundation of which to build an audience, ”It’s definitely similar, it’s definitely great to have that foundation of which to build cartoons on because there are only two shows that you can do this with, Family Guy and The Simpsons, but there’s also a lot of pressure because you’re on after the The Simpsons!” 

Now, that’s not to say that Nick and the ADHD Studios are just picking up their shit and leaving FOX all together, as a matter of fact it’s quite the opposite. Not only is his crew continuing to develop new content for FOX network, but that one of those being developed is a 30-minute series that should air in 2015, if not by June. The franchise? Golan the Insatiable. We last saw Golan the Insatiable last year as a quarter-hour series on the late-night FOX ADHD lineup, however the series was always designed to be the most ‘FOX prime-time ready’ combining the family elements with that of a fantasy world with monsters which should make it feel right at home with the FOX cartoons typically found on Sunday Nights on FOX prime-time, but should also give it enough to stick out. Nick notes, ”In the 30-minute show, the dad is gone, and in it’s place Golan the Insatiable follows a single mother raising two teen girls, one a drama queen (Alexis), the other a social outcast (Dylan), and the brotherly/fatherly type in Golan.” Nick says the show is being delivered as we speak, so yea, consider this one on the way.

So while ADHD Studio producers/fellow-New Jerseans Dave Jeser and Matt Silverstein (Drawn Together) lead the charge into prime-time for the young studio, Nick will focus his expertise in the late-night comedy arena. First up, he’s got season two of Lucas Bros. and Stone Quackers, both franchises we’ve had samples of since Halloween, but are now in full gear. With the block of cartoons, you definitely get your fair share of talent that Nick has kind of approached in doing a series, the Lucas Bros. being a prime example having seen them on Jimmy Fallon and pretty much placing a phone call that would later produce maybe one of the best animated shows on TV right now. But, a lot of the time, Nick is on the receiving end of hearing about franchises from the big-time players. Nick Offerman is the one whom was a fan of Axe Cop, hence the pitch that would give us arguably the cartoon block’s most popular franchise (and yes, season two is coming with the second wave of original premiers on FXX later this year). Similarly, Nick speaks of John C. Reilly’s fan dom of ADHD Studios’ fine art connoisseur (and creative head) Ben Jones  as the inspiration that is now Stone Quackers, ”John and Ben came up with this idea of John being a sort of authority figure in the lives of the three main characters Whit, Clay, and Barf, and I really wanted to work with these Power Violence live artists, and that’s how that show came about.”

You guys want more new? Well, the revamped Animation Domination lineup is offering it up in two flavors. As mentioned, Axe Cop season two is indeed on the way, and will be paired with Diplo’s Major Lazer, of which we first saw back in Halloween as part of the night of sneak peeks. But, also look for a more concerted effort to literally animate an entire 60 minutes worth of content, not just the four core series’, ‘We really want to experiment, and it’s awesome getting feedback from network execs that really want to push you to do more. ” Nick notes that returning favorites like Scientifically Accurate figure to be regulars on both the Youtube channel and on TV, but also ideas like OG Sherlock Kush which almost acts like a mini-series among a bunch of series’. Finally, new episodes of High School USA! are NOT being produced at the moment, however he did note that the unaired episode is coming to FXX and Nick says that if the reruns do really well on FXX, we could definitely get more from the Stamatopoulos-written series, ”I LOOOVE High School USA!, it’s one of the most insane fucking casts I’ve ever worked with, it’s so good.”

So in essence, Nick gets a fresh start with a cable network in producing some really unique content, an opportunity he has had only one time before that eventually turned into the Adult Swim we love and cherish now. The future looks bright for Animation Domination, and Nick has noted that while as of now the focus of the cartoons is 2D Flash and After Effects produced content, that the door is certainly open for stop-motion and CG type projects, even if they have to go out and partner with a studio that has more of a background in those slightly more costly aesthetics. Don’t worry though, if there’s one thing Nick knows, it’s how to turn an idea into a viable franchise.

Animation Domination airs on Thursday Nights @ Midnight EST/PST only on FXX, check your local listings.

John Schwarz

John is the Chief Editor and Founder of Bubbleblabber.com. While at first a part-time project, Bubbleblabber quickly grew into a full-fledged operation and officially became a company in 2014. When John isn't running a business full-time, he likes to go to concerts and also spends time with his dog, Mitsy.

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