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The World's Finest Presents



Alan Burnett is no stranger to the Dark Knight or the animated universe. Having been involved with these comic characters for many years, there was no question he'd step up for the newest animated rendition of the Dark Knight - The Batman. Burnett talks to The World's Finest about what we can expect in the popular show's fifth season.

The World’s Finest (WF): First off, describe your role in The Batman in as much detail as possible.

Alan Burnett (AB):I'm a supervising producer this year along with Michael Goguen and I'm the story editor too. I oversee the scripts and go to recordings. Then Mike and the directors take over, producing gargantuan boards. I give notes, never very many because the boards have been terrific, and by the time I finish turning all the pages, I'm exhausted. Then the next step in which I'm involved is post-production with additional lines to be recorded. By this time I'm usually onto pre-production on another show.

The World’s Finest (WF): The Batman has introduced to a Batman who has been constantly evolving, from loner, to Dynamic Due, to a Terrific Threesome. Now, we’re bringing in a bit of Justice. How would you describe this version of The Batman, specifically at the beginning of the fifth season?

Alan Burnett (AB):It's the season of the super team-ups. Almost all the League characters Batman met in the Watchtower last season come back, plus the big blue guy who hasn't been seen yet.

The World’s Finest (WF): How will The Batman be approaching Superman’s character? Can we expect the traditional approach to the character, like what we’ve seen in Superman: The Animated Series (another series you have worked on), or something completely new? Explain.

Alan Burnett (AB):We've made Superman a tad bit less friendly – more the inscrutable alien, especially with Batman. In our story Batman's already joined the League. Superman doesn't give a flying fig about it. We've also gone back to Clark as the loveable klutz. Very Christopher Reeve. That's my favorite Clark. Superman wants to be part of humanity so bad, he'll even act the fool. That's probably how he sees us: a bunch of idiots. You know, as tragic as the first act is in the Superman story – Krypton blowing up and all that - the second act is all comedy.

The World’s Finest (WF): You’ve been working on an assortment of projects with an incredible range, from Krypto The Superdog to The Zeta Project. How does working on such a wide assortment of properties, and the experience that comes with it, help when approaching a new project?

Alan Burnett (AB):That's a good question. Everything you do informs what you do next to some extent. But writers need to try new areas to keep the juices flowing. At least that's how I feel. After Batman Beyond, I absolutely had to get out of the Batcave. Fortunately at Warner Bros. there's always a wide variety of shows being developed. So I got a chance to do comedy again with "Ozzy and Drix," a more juvenile superhero show in "Static," an even younger show in "Krypto," and even younger with "Firehouse Tales." I'm sure if they had a show for kids in utero, I would consider that, too. Right now I'm trying to develop a show for a girl audience. I have two daughters. They like my jokes.

The World’s Finest (WF): Many fans know you from your projects ranging from Batman: The Animated Series to present day. However, not many know you also worked on the Superfriends series. Could you describe your tenure on Superfriends and how obviously different it must be to work in animation today?

Alan Burnett (AB):I story-edited the last two seasons, when the show had a different name – "Galactic Guardians" or something like that. Each season had a different name in keeping with the toy line. We tried to inject more of a D.C. feel into the series, bring a little more threat to the stories, but a lot of good intentions got watered down by Broadcast Standards and ABC's desire to be able to program the show early in the schedule, when the wee little ones are watching. I recently reviewed my first season for DVD commentary and found it almost impossible to watch. By today's standards the shows feel pre-school, and the film on which they were produced might have made better guitar picks. But people have a lot of affection for them. I even get teenagers coming up to me at conventions saying how much they enjoyed such-and-such an episode, usually from my second season, which I have yet to look at again.

The World’s Finest (WF): A brief question, can we expect any Superfriends nods in The Batman in the upcoming season?

Alan Burnett (AB):No. No Hall of Justice. No Wonder Twins. And no monkeys!

The World’s Finest (WF): I previously mentioned Batman: The Animated Series. This year marks the 15th anniversary of that animated series. Do you have any comments on the show’s lasting effects, and the fact that fans still call it the best comic-based animated series ever? Do you have any memories from your time on the series you’d like to share?

Alan Burnett (AB):It was such a wonderfully stylized show, like watching a painting come to life on black velvet. The noir, pulpy feel, Shirley Walker's music, those quiet moments in which all you hear is room noise; it all works to pull you into its world. (The quietness of that show, by the way, is something that has never been repeated in American superhero animation.) I was very lucky to be a part of it and to have worked with Eric Radomski and Bruce Timm. It was their test footage on Batman that got me to Warner Bros. It was their artistry that makes it so watchable today.

The World’s Finest (WF): Are there any episodes from your time on Batman, Superman, Batman Beyond, or any series for that matter, that you’re particularly proud of? With these episodes now on DVD, is there any recommended spinning you’d suggest of your personal highlights?

Alan Burnett (AB):I think the biggest highlight for me was the "World's Finest" three-parter. That was a difficult story to structure, so I'm pretty proud of that. But my writing on these shows is largely invisible. Batman and Superman fans can't get a handle on me because my work is buried in re-writing, and my credits are all with co-writers, mostly with Paul Dini, who is just the best. In fact my first solo writing credit at Warner Bros. didn't come until halfway through "Batman Beyond," an episode called "Mindgames", and I only wrote that by myself because we were in a production crunch and the story was in my head. I like working out stories and writing with partners. Writing is an often tedious and lonely job, but to be in a room with the likes of Dini, Stan Berkowitz, Bob Goodman, and so many others, discussing story, that's where the excitement is for me.

By the way, one of the big reasons I wrote "Torment," the 6-issue "Superman/Batman" comic, was a way of saying to the fans: This is me, guys, pure and unadulterated. It also afforded me the opportunity to say something about Batman that I've never been able to say on TV.

The World’s Finest (WF): Now, back to The Batman. What prompted you to take on this series in its’ fifth and possibly last season. What mark are you hoping to leave on the series?

Alan Burnett (AB): The network wanted to shift Michael Jelenic, the story editor last season, over to the "Legion of Super Heroes." So when "The Batman" got picked up for another season, the show sort of fell to me. I had worked in an executive producing capacity with Michael during his reign on "Batman," so I was very much up-to-speed on the show's continuing evolution. If there's any mark I'd like to make, it's that I've continued Michael's fine work. I would love to be able to tell you all the great stuff we're doing this season, but you'll have to wait until that wondrous Tribute to Testosterone, the Comic-Con.

The World’s Finest (WF): And finally, outside of The Batman, are there any other projects you’d like to give the fans a heads-up about?

Alan Burnett (AB): Nothing that I can talk about now. You know Warner Bros. It's like the C.I.A. with laughs.

[Back to Backstage]

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