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Wednesday, 15 September 1999

If the SquarePants Fit... | | Rocket Power | Ooze News | SpongeBob SquarePants | September 1999

Ooze News - September 1999

If the SquarePants Fit...

GLUB-GLUB (clockwise from above, left): Steve diving; holding a land crab in Tahiti; and surfing in Baja, Mexico.
Sea-loving Steve Hillenburg (right) is the creator of SpongeBob SquarePants. It's a new Nicktoon about the underwater adventures of a happy-go-lucky sponge (above) and his splashy pals. We found Steve's answers to our questions quite absorbing.

NICKELODEON MAGAZINE: How did you come up with the character SpongeBob?
STEVE HILLENBURG: I've always been an ocean freak, so I thought I'd like to do a show about lesser-known creatures that live under the sea. Then I thought, What would be the funniest, weirdest kind of character to be the star? After considering the octopus, starfish, squid, and crab, I decided the sponge was the most ridiculous.

Is it true that you used to be a marine biologist?
I studied marine biology in college and then worked at a school program at the Orange County Marine Institute [in California]. We had all sorts of tanks, labs, and pools where kids could observe and interact with sea life, and we also ran whale watches.

Do you scuba dive?
I've done some diving, but if I go on a trip, I usually snorkel and surf.

How did you get into animation?
As much as I loved my work at the marine institute, I'd always been interested in drawing and painting, so I decided to go back to school for animation. Some of the films I made in school helped me get my start [in cartoons] on Nickelodeon's Rocko's Modern Life, which I worked on for three years.

When you were a kid, did anyone encourage you to become an artist?
My third-grade teacher, Mrs. McMahon, was very excited about my drawings. She asked me to draw her portrait once, and she thought it turned out really funny. She was definitely an inspiration.

What were you like when you were ten?
I grew up in Southern California, so pretty early on I was interested in critters and the ocean. I was into science and collecting bugs, and I had a tendency to build strange, smelly things, such as a dinosaur out of chicken bones.

What advice do you have for kids who are interested in animation or science-or both?
Sometimes people say you can only take one path. To that, I say, "Maybe that's not true." My work in marine biology helped me create a cartoon that might appear new to everyone. My other piece of advice is to follow your own instincts as an artist. If you have a style that seems different, have fun it with; be proud of it.

BUBBLY BOTTOM: SpongeBob and his friends (clockwise from top) Squidward, Sandy Cheeks, and Patrick.
How would you describe the style of SpongeBob SquarePants?
Whimsical. Since I love surfing, and the show takes place in the ocean, I decided to add a lot of Hawaiian surf culture-music, design, SpongeBob's pineapple house. I think that adds to the show's sense of optimism and fun.

Which SpongeBob character do you most identify with?
I identify with all the characters on some level. Sometimes I'm grumpy or being snobby about something, so I'm like Squidward (below). And sometimes I'm optimistic and naive, just like SpongeBob.

What's more fun: being a cartoonist or working with sea creatures?
They both have their advantages. I miss being able to work at the ocean every day. But when I was working by the ocean, I missed drawing and creating. I'll have to make a studio under the water, I guess.

SpongeBob SquarePants airs on Friday nights at 8 PM and Saturday and Sunday mornings at 10 AM. Show times are subject to change. Check, America Online (keyword: nick), or local listings for details. Behind the Screen

Nickelodeon's website ( was started in 1997 to deliver up-to-the-minute Nick news, games, contests, and polls. As we learned on a recent trip to their offices, it takes about 30 people to bring it all together. Here are some of them.


As the writers of the website's "Inside Nick: Your Backstage Pass to Nickelodeon" area, Sean McEvoy and Deb Levine (left) travel frequently to Los Angeles, California, and Orlando, Florida (where most Nickelodeon shows are taped), to interview Nick stars. Sure, it's fun for them, but only occasionally do they get starstruck. "I must admit, I was a little nervous interviewing [model] Rebecca Romijn-Stamos at Kids' Choice," says Sean. As for Deb, a highlight was meeting actor Chris Elliott on the set of an upcoming Nickelodeon movie. "I was psyched to meet him," says Deb, "and he turned out to be really funny and nice."


As a kid, Nathan Potter (above) wasn't very good at learning foreign languages. But to become the technical manager of, he had to master several website-building computer languages, starting with the most basic, HTML. Nathan and his staff are responsible for taking other people's designs and words and making them function as a game or activity. For more advanced games and animation, he works with languages such as Perl and Java. And unlike many of his coworkers, one computer just isn't enough to get his job done. With both a PC and a Macintosh at his desk and about 20 servers that link the different parts of the site together, he has learned to accept technical break-downs. "If my computers don't crash two to three times a day, I'm not really working," says Nathan.


To design games for, Steve Milaro (left) spends his weekends the same way many kids do: watching Nickelodeon. That's the easy part. The hard part is finding characters or scenes in Figure It Out, All That, Hey Arnold!, and CatDog that can be turned into funny, challenging games. Once he has an idea, Steve works with the shows' creators to decide how the game will look, sound, and play. Then it's up to a technical programmer, such as Nathan Potter, to turn the idea into reality. The whole process takes about six weeks. Steve is especially proud of the All That game in which players have to pitch peas into Miss Pidlin's mouth. He also has a soft spot for the cartoon kid known as Football Head. "I could watch Hey Arnold! all day long," says Steve. "In fact, I have!"

Extreme Friends
by Jessica Cutler

Meet the adventurous foursome of the new cartoon Nickelodeon Rocket Power. Otto and his sister Reggie team up with their friends Twister and Sam to skateboard, surf, and ski their way through their seaside town, Ocean Shores.


Always the center of attention

Nickname: Rocket Boy
Hair: Red dreadlocks
Family: Dad - Ray Rocket, an aging surfer - and sister, Reggie
Hobby: Excelling at all extreme sports
Also: He's known as much for his devilish personality as for his athletic talent. He received a V-- in classroom citizenship on his report card.


The amateur filmmaker

Real name: Maurice - but don't tell anyone!
Hair: Red, and it's always covered by a hat.
Family: An older brother, Lars - who calls Twister and his pals Munchkins - and an ice-dancing cousin, Cleo
Hobby: Making videos in Twist-O-Vision (his own filmmaking style)
Also: He's Otto's best friend, but he's not as sharp as he is loyal. He also tends to accuse Sam (below) of embarrassing acts, such as picking his nose in the goalie box during roller hockey.


The voice of reason

Nickname: Rocket Girl
Hair: Wavy and purple
Family: She's Otto's sister.
Hobby: Publishing her own magazine, called Reggie's 'Zine
Also: She's considered the most responsible member of the Rocket family. A natural athlete, she even won a figure-skating competition without ever taking a lesson.


The brains of the bunch

Nickname: Squid
Hair: Blond brush cut
Family: An only child, Sam lives with his mother.
Hobbies: Computers, complaining, and wiping out on his skateboard
Also: He just moved to Ocean Shores from Kansas. He has a tendency to save the day with his technical know-how, but insists on wearing a babyish brand of pajamas called "Shmoopy Woopy Bears."

Nickelodeon Rocket Power premieres Monday, August 16, at 8:30 PM, then airs Mondays and Wednesdays at 8:30 PM. Show times are subject to change. Check, America Online (keyword: nick), or local listings for details.

HeY, HeRb!

Where you ask the president of Nickelodeon, Herb Scannell, anything you want.

Did you ever run for a student council office as a kid?

I was elected treasurer of my elementary school and president of my class in junior high school. I still have the campaign posters my dad helped me make. One of them was in the shape and style of a Superman shield and said SCANNELL FOR TREASURER [far right]. Another one was a play on an advertisement for Smucker's preserves [right]. My dad drew a jar of jam with a label on it that said SCANNELL'S: HERB'S PRESERVES and around it was the slogan WITH A NAME LIKE SCANNELL, HE'S GOT TO BE GOOD!!!

Send your questions to:

HeY, HeRb!

1515 Broadway, 40th floor
New York, NY 10036

What's New on Nick


ALIEN VACATION: Arjay Smith as Allen Strange on his most incredible trip yet.
In "Alien Vacation," a 90-minute episode of The Journey of Allen Strange, Allen sets out on a trek across Earth with his friends Robbie and Josh. His mission: to find a message he thinks his fellow Xelans have left for him. Tune in to the premiere on SNICK, September 18, from 8:30 to 10 PM.


Have the folks at Figure It Out gone completely wild? Find out, when the game show starts airing all-new episodes called Figure It Out Wild Style. The new season focuses on kids and their talented animals, including dogs, parakeets, and snakes. Look for it this fall!

Shows air an hour earlier in the central time zone. Show times are subject to change. Check, America Online (keyword: nick), or local listings for details.

Wednesday, 30 June 1999

Are They Afraid of the Dark? | Ooze News | June & July 1999

In the June / July 1999 edition of Nickelodeon Magazine's OOZE NEWS:

- In Are They Afraid of the Dark?, the cast of the Midnight Society from Nickelodeon's 1999 Are You Afraid of the Dark? revival, Kareem Blackwell (Quinn), Elisha Cuthbert (Megan), Daniel DeSanto (Tucker), David Deveau (Andy) and Vanessa Lengies (Vange) reveals to Nick Mag reporter Julie Rottenberg what makes the professional frighters scream offscreen, their favorite scary movies and campfire snacks, and the most scariest subjects in school!

In Hey, Herb!, Nickelodeon President Herb Scannell reveals that his first name is actually William, and that the first scary movie that he ever saw was Night of the Living Dead!

In What's New on Nick, reporter Meredith Hart tells us about:

- Happy Birthday to Nick! In June 1999, Nickelodeon celebrate its 20th birthday on-air with a 20th birthday blowout, including contests, The Best of Nickelodeon, slimings, and a live birthday bash in SNICK!

- New Nicktoon! The premiere of SpongeBob SquarePants on Nickelodeon on Saturday, July 17, 1999!

- Declare Your Independence! Nickelodeon's Summer Toons blasted off on the day after Fourth of July, and featured Rugrats, Hey Arnold!, The Wild Thornberrys, Angry Beavers and Doug!

- Henry and June in June! KABLAM!'s Henry and June hosted their own special in June 1999, in which they brought a slew of special guests, including WWF (WWE) star Stone Cold Steve Austin, into their animated world!

Bonus: A Click Nick print advertisement featuring Rocko (Rocko's Modern Life), Arnold Shortman (Hey Arnold!), Daggett Beaver (Angry Beavers), Ickis (Aaahh!!! Real Monsters) and Angelica Pickles (Rugrats)!

Check it out below!:

Additional source: IMDb.