ABC pumps up 'Great Pumpkin' with rapping Charlie Brown
Charlie Brown may never kick that football or pitch a winning game, but turns out the kid's not a half-bad rapper.
ABC is running a beefed-up version of last year's promo of "Charlie B," extolling the virtues, over a hip-hop beat, of "It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown," the 1966 Peanuts animated special that runs Thursday night and has aired on the network since 2001.
"Rakin' leaves, and rollin' on a pumpkin/trick or treat, then the party get thumpin,'" Charlie raps.
Some critics on Twitter aren't amused. "You get those people and you get some of those mothers that say you're kind of demeaning a classic, who are righteous and want to be pure about it," Marla Provencio, executive vice president of marketing at the ABC Entertainment Group, said in an interview. "But our goal as marketers is to try to get attention.
"We just thought it was a great opportunity to really kind of do something different," she added. "We've had this franchise for a long, long time. ... How many times can you do the traditional straightforward sell?
"We opted to do something that was relevant for our time, that would maybe bring in a whole different audience and would be just attention-getting."
Actually, Charlie's rap sounds more 1985 than 2010, but at least that's a start in terms of freshening the Peanuts franchise.
This isn't the first time ABC has turned to music to help blow some dust off the Peanuts specials. Earlier this year, Barry White's "You're the First, My Last, My Everything" was invoked to help sell a Charlie Brown Valentine's Day show.
The estate of Peanuts creator Charles M. Schulz doesn't mind, Provencio said. "They have called us often and said how pleased [they] are with the way we market Charlie."
For the rap, the ABC marketing team wrote all the lyrics, then shipped the project off to voice actor Bunker King to supply the rap. The picture footage all comes from the special.
"That's the fabulous and fun thing about animation," Provencio said. "You can put anything in their mouths."
UPDATED: An earlier version of this post did not contain the embedded video and incorrectly identified the voice actor who provided the rap as Greg Ippolito.
— Scott Collins
Photo: Sally and Linus in "It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown." Credit: ABC.