A-listers flock to ëYo Gabba Gabba!í
TV shows for pre-schoolers have seldom been called cool, or celebrity-friendly ó Sesame Street being one notable exception.
But itís clear that Yo Gabba Gabba! has struck a chord with both A-list celebrities and regular folk alike. The program is now in its third season on the Nick Jr. cable channel in the U.S., and on Treehouse TV in Canada.
According to the current issue of Entertainment Weekly, ìitís a the coolest kids show on TV … because of its guests and pop-culture references.î
Among those making guest appearances on the program ó which revolves around five costumed characters as toys brought to life by their human host, DJ Lance Rock ó have been Jack Black, Andy Samberg, Elijah Wood, Jack McBrayer (30 Rock) and music acts including The Shins, MGMT and The Ting Tings.
Season 3 will feature appearances by Sarah Silverman and ìWeird Alî Yankovic, and performances by The Flaming Lips, Weezer and The Killers.
ìMost all of the (stars) have kind of approached us as fans of the show,î said co-creator Scott Schultz, 38, down the line from Knotts Berry Farm in Orange County, Calif., where screaming children on rollercoaster could be heard in the background.
ìWe went after our favourite bands, but really most of those people either have kids or are really kind of doing it for the kids. Theyíre not just coming on the show to play their newest single or hit song, theyíre recording a brand new kids song that we wrote.î
Still to come: the feature-film version, which could be out as soon as next year (Canadian director Jason Reitman is rumoured to be involved). Thereís already a touring version, Yo Gabba Gabba! Live!: Thereís a Party in My City, which arrives at Torontoís Elgin Theatre for shows Tuesday and Wednesday (at 11 a.m. and 3 p.m both days) on their first North American tour, which is promoted by Torontoís Michael Cohl via S2BN Entertainment.
ìFrom the very start of the show, being musicians ourselves and playing in bands and being real music connoisseurs, we were really excited and waiting for the time we could translate this to the live stage,î said Schultz, who created the program with cousin-in-law Christian Jacobs. ìWe were really excited to kind of go for more of a live concert feeling, where we could all sing our favourite songs, and kids could jump around and dance in more of a concert type of setting than watching a play.î
Schultz says the duoís mandate was simple in 2001, when they both became fathers for the first time.
ìWe just thought thereís kind of a wide-open hole here for kids entertainment, for music shows, that could (play) different styles of music, a variety. Kind of like Sesame Street but maybe for our generation … a more updated version,î Schultz said. ìWe wanted a show where two- or three-year-olds could be really excited about, just on face value, and jump around and dance around. And not just the kids but also the parents could maybe feel a little bit more involved. Not just sitting their kids in front of the TV, but making a show that I wanted to watch with my pre-school kid at that time.î
Showbiz in the blood for ëGabbaí co-creators
Yo Gabba Gabba! co-creators Scott Schultz and Christian Jacobs both come from showbiz backgrounds.
Schultzís father produced touring variety shows, and Jacobs was a child actor who appeared on All in the Family and The Love Boat.
The duo also grew up skateboarding with the likes of Spike Jonze and Tony Hawk, and played in each otherís bands ó Schultzís defunct indie-pop outfit Majestic, and Jacobsí cartoon-rock act The Aquabats, who are part of the touring Yo Gabba Gabba! Live! show.
So itís no surprise that Yo Gabba Gabba! ó the title of the kids TV show, a reference to ìthe magic wordsî that host DJ Lance utters to bring the five toy characters to life ó also has huge celebrity cache.
When Brad Pitt was spotted dressed up for Halloween as DJ Lance, it was the Hollywood equivalent of a royal blessing of the show.
Actors such as Dennis Quaid, Christina Aguilera and Jason Bateman have been spotted at Yo Gabba Gabba! Live! events.
ìThereís some street cred for sure,î Schultz said. ìWeíre just doing a show that we want to see, and weíve just been lucky enough that everyone else has bought into it and been excited about it.î
A-listers flock to ëYo Gabba Gabba!í