At the 2017 New York Comic Con, Warner Bros. launched the Get Animation Invasion as a new way to bring its classic cartoon characters to communities worldwide. This past week, Get Animated returned to New York as it transformed a park in Brooklyn.
On Thursday August 1st, the Williamsburg neighborhood celebrated the grand opening of Rodney Park North’s newly refurbished basketball court and the unveiling of its very own Tune Squad Court mural.
Warner Bros.’ Get Animated collaborates with artists and other creatives by giving them the opportunity to reinterpret classic Warner Bros. cartoons. By doing so, Get Animated is reuniting beloved Warner Bros. characters with old fans and introducing them to a whole new generation.
For its latest character invasion, Get Animated collaborated with California artists Evan Rossell and Dee Rosse, who brought the “Tune Squad” Space Jam characters to life in Brooklyn.
Brittney Gmerek of Warner Bros., who was at the event, explained that the new court opening was a great event for Get Animated. “The focus is revitalizing enthusiasm behind Looney Tunes and basketball culture by representing our characters in a cool and artistic way,” Gmerek said. She stated that Warner Bros. scoped out a park which they felt was in a community that would appreciate a Tune Squad Court, and partnered with the New York City Parks Department when they found their ideal location in Brooklyn. “We chose Rodney Park because we felt [Tune Squad] resonated with our fans here,” Gmerek explained.
The entire floor of the court as well as the backboards were adorned with artwork designed by Rossell and based on the popular hoops-shooting Looney Tunes characters from the iconic 1996 film starring Michael Jordan.
“Warner Bros. reached out to us,” Rosse shared about being commissioned for the court project. “They know us as artists and we had a relationship blossoming so this was very organic.” Rossell designed the original image and its layout for Warner Bros. before heading to New York from Los Angeles to bring the mural to life. “Evan loves Space Jam, he’s always talking about it,” Rosse emphasized. “So this was perfect for him.”
The turnaround time for this formidable project was impressive. “It took us 14 days to paint,” Rossell explained. “But it probably would have taken us a week or less if it had not been for the weather . . . weather was definitely our biggest challenge.” The pair painted through a heatwave, in lightning, and worked around darkness and storms.
The artists’ patience and hard work paid off, as the court was met with great excitement both locally and in national news. “We wanted it to create buzz about Get Animated,” Rosse said. The court is a timely Looney Tunes reminder for fans anticipating the upcoming Space Jam 2 starring LeBron James. The event also debuted limited-edition Tune Squad merchandise by New Era and NTWRK featuring original artwork by Rossell.
The festive launch event brought together enthusiastic fans of all ages in the Brooklyn neighborhood. “This is about community, which is so great,” Rosee said. “Look at all the people who came out, we’re so excited.”
Celebrities, fans, and members of the community turned out for a lively launch event to celebrate the Tune Squad Court’s grand opening. Two teams were assembled for a game of HORSE — renamed “LOONEY” for the occasion. “Team Bugs” played on behalf of Peace Players International, and “Team Daffy” played on behalf of Pro Scholars Athletics, and competed on the newly painted court for a charitable donation from Warner Bros. as part of its corporate responsibility initiative.
Local kids crowded around to cheer on their favorite character’s team. A retro ice cream cart from New York’s Milk & Cream Cereal Bar served up two new looney flavors — The Bugs Bunny Alley Scoop and The Daffy Duck Dunk. A DJ spun ’90s hip hop hits reminiscent of the Space Jam generation, and even Bugs Bunny himself made an appearance.
The game was emceed by New York streetball legend Team Cha Ching and renowned voiceover artist Eric Bauza, who is the current voice of Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Tweety Bird, and Marvin the Martian. Bauza brought the Looney hosts to life by entertaining fans with in-character commentary that sounded as if Daffy and Bugs had secured a new sportscasting gig.
As a life-long Looney Tunes fan himself, Bauza was ecstatic to be asked to host the event. “If you told me in 1996 that in 23 years I’d be co-hosting an unveiling of a Space Jam Basketball Court (in Brooklyn of all places) I’d tell you you were crazy,” he joked.
“Even before Space Jam, as a kid I was obsessed with the two Super Bowl ads which originally teamed Michael Jordan with Bugs Bunny, and then later Marvin The Martian,” Bauza recalled. “Both commercials were directed by Joe Pytka, who later directed Space Jam. It’s those commercials and the movie itself that kept me loving the Looney Tunes as a kid — as well as the reruns of the original Looney Tunes Shorts.”
The nostalgia the franchise evokes for Bauza has made his current professional roles all the more special. “It was an honor to be invited to this event by the Warner Bros. Consumer Products Team and Get Animated,” Bauza shared. “It was a lot of fun being able to greet the fans in character as Bugs Bunny & Daffy Duck. These have always been my favorite cartoon characters growing up as a kid, and 23 years later — to be able to share that with an entire community speaks volumes of how the Looney Tunes will continue to influence and entertain generations to come!”
The Tune Squad Court grand opening was a celebration of animation, sports, and community. If you were in Brooklyn’s Rodney Park on August 1st, you may have felt like you were transported back to your childhood. The nostalgia evoked by the timeless Looney Tunes characters resonated with every generation in the crowd. After the game, Warner Bros. surprised the charities of both Team Bugs and Team Daffy with a donation, making the event a slam dunk for all.
The basketball court in Rodney Park North is now open to the public. Whether you’re a NYC local or a tourist heading to the hip neighborhood of Williamsburg, be sure to check out the Tune Squad court. It’s bound to make you feel like a kid again!