Arlene Klasky
Birthing cartoon babies
Emru Townsend: You're one of the producers of [Rugrats], right?

Arlene Klasky: Right. I'm one of the executive producers on Rugrats.

Okay, and that's three executive producers: you, Gabor, and...

Uh, no, no, no... two executive producers, Gabor Csupo and myself. Three creators: myself, Gabor Csupo, and Paul Germain.

So what exactly does a producer do in this case? I know "producer" is a pretty flexible term so far as anything Hollywood is concerned, but in the case of Rugrats, what did the title of producer entail?

I'm a creative producer. We have a person here with the title of creative producer [Paul Germain], but really I'm a creative producer and so is Gabor. I mean, we have people that are in charge of budgets and money and all that stuff, but basically Gabor and I own the company, we have the vision of where our company should go, what our shows should be like. So basically I would say it's overseeing our vision.

Where did the idea for Rugrats come from, originally?

Okay, the original idea came from me. I was sitting home, taking care of my fifteen-month-old second child, and I knew we were going to pitch to Nickelodeon the next day. Paul Germain called me up, and told me we were pitching--I knew we were pitching, actually. Maybe I called him. One of us called the other, and I said, "I've got an idea," it was just jotted down on a scrap of paper, I just wrote down, 'One-year-old point of view,' 'If babies could talk, what would they say,' 'What motivates babies,' 'First-time yuppie parents...' And that was basically it. We had a few other things to pitch, and Paul and Gabor were pitching, and Paul pitched everything. And I guess Vanessa Coffey, who was in charge of development, she wasn't going for anything, so I guess we just sort of pulled that out of a hat as a last-ditch effort, and she went for it! She loved it. And we literally had no drawings, nothing on it, it was really just on a scrap of paper. Then we developed it. Gabor, myself and Paul developed the show originally, together. We developed more characters to go around there. The original character I based on my son.

Tommy, right?

Tommy. The name Tommy came from Paul Germain's son. Gabor drew the drawing of Tommy, the original drawing, to look like my son: pigeon-toed, skinny legs, big head, no hair--and it looked like him. And then, it was later developed by the story editor, who was Paul Germain, and his staff, his crew of writers.

So it was more or less an accidental start, there.

Yeah, it was an accidental start. It was one of those lucky breaks.

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