Last night, in the midst of the afterglow from the Academy Awards, thousands of million-dollar hopefuls gathered in an impromptu cattle-call-that-wasn’t-actually-called, on the word of Chris Rock’s presentation for Best Animated Feature during the Oscar broadcast.
People began gathering because apparently, animated voice work is the easiest thing in the world to do, according to Rock. During his presentation, Rock said, ”I hate when people go on TV and tell you how hard it is to do animation. No, UPS is hard work. Stripping wood is hard work. I’ve done some animation, it’s the easiest job in the world. I go in a booth and I go, ‘what’s the line?’ And the guy goes, ‘it’s time to go to the store.’ And I go, ‘it’s time to go to the store!’ And then they give me a million dollars.”
The furor began outside the Kodak Theatre just minutes after the announcement.
"For a moment, I couldn’t believe what I had just heard," said Theodore Jones, who took to the streets a moment after Rock’s bold statement.
"I told my wife that if Jennifer Lopez’s areola made it past the six-second delay, then this absolutely must be true."
Jones then called up at least a dozen friends, and according to reports, those dozen then called dozens more people who had “been told that they have a great voice.”
Jane Oswald is another person in the crowd. She stands holding a sign that reads, “WILL VOICE FOR $999,999.” When asked about the nature of the sign, Oswald said, “well, this is already a competitive market, and so I figure if I undercut all these people enough, then I am guaranteed to get work.”
Oswald grabbed her sign and hit the street after Rock’s presentation, but for a different reason entirely, she says.
"Chris Rock said that, ‘[in animated voiceover] if you’re a white man, you can play an Arabian prince.’ Well Jake Gyllenhall played one in that Prince of Persia movie, and that was live action. Imagine what I could play in an animated movie! That’s why I’m here.”
Several crowd-goers nearby nodded in agreement.
And the mob was on.
The crowd showed its observational savvy and viral potential by bursting out in a pitch-perfect rendition of the Barenaked Ladies song, “If I Had $1000000.”
One member of the press that was waiting to report on the post-Oscar party-hopping was overheard saying, “man, those folks have some great voices.”
Not all people outside the Kodak Theatre were as in good spirits as the burgeoning crowd.
One animation casting director, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, declared what Rock said had ruined a huge Hollywood secret.
"The reason that it’s so easy for Chris Rock to do voiceovers, is that when we cast Chris in the past, it’s because we wanted an animated character that sounded like Chris Rock," the casting director said.
"It certainly wasn’t because he had any particular on-mic skill set. This is true for most celebrities. If we wanted someone that could actually build a character in the booth, we’d cast a real voice actor.”
An agent with CAA was furiously attentive to his mobile phone as he spoke.
"Sorry. I have to send like two hundred emails before I can even get a drink tonight," said the agent.
"I rep like thirty celebs, and if we don’t get them an animated gig quick, their kids will never get to watch one of Mom or Dad’s movies," he said, in reference to the mature content of a typical celebrity’s films. "Chris and [Oscar show writer] Carol Leifer really let the cat out of the bag tonight."
The malaise seemed to creep into party talk, as well.
"The untold secret of celebrities doing voice work was just broadcast to, like, a billion people," a producer said. "It’s like a dark cloud hanging over the festivities."
Outside, some of the crowd entertained each other with dueling character voices from popular animated shows, while others began showing off how easy voice work really is by doing impersonations of celebrities that were walking by.
"It’s a revelation," said Theodore Jones, who is now bare-chested with "TEDDYTALKS.COM" scrawled in marker on his skin.
"My wife is at home working on my website as we speak. Now I just go home and wait for the phone to ring."