My daughter has come to really like the Veggie Tales. But all I had to show her were the older ones. I looked on Amazon.com at some newer ones and read in one of the reviews that Veggie Tales is under new ownership/management and to expect the quality of the content to begin to decline. So I went to Phil Vischer’s website (the creator and mastermind behind Big Idea (the producton company)) and read this:
Q: Whats going on at Big Idea?
A: If you havent heard, there have been big changes at Big Idea over the last year. Technically speaking, Big Idea Productions, Inc., the company I started in 1993, no longer exists. It was dissolved in bankruptcy court in November of 2003. Yes, you read that right. Due to a whole host of unfortunate events (which I will detail more thoroughly on this site in the future), Big Idea fell into bankruptcy in mid-2003. All the assets (characters, films, songs, file cabinets, Sharpies everything) had to be sold through a public auction process governed by the court to try to repay as many of Big Ideas creditors as possible. While a whole host of interested parties showed up to place bids, the winning bid came from Classic Media, a NYC-based media company that owns a trove of classic characters like Lassie, the Lone Ranger, Casper, Rocky & Bullwinkle, and Underdog. Classic formed a new corporation called Big Idea, Inc. to hold these assets, and hired about 30 former Big Idea Productions employees to continue producing more VeggieTales videos and manage the business on their behalf. Some key folk like Mike Nawrocki, Kurt Heinecke and Tim Hodge have joined Classic and will remain involved with VeggieTales.
That pains me a bit. Because as goofy as Veggie Tales are, I like them a good bit myself. Click the extended entry for a few more Q&A’s from Phil about Big Idea, Veggie Tales, Phil, and the futures of all things concerned.
Q: What about YOU, Phil? Did you sign up with Classic, too?
A: Well, that part was a bit tricky. The Classic guys are decent enough fellows, and I really didnt want to abandon the characters Id created or the fans whod grown to love them, but there was a catch. First, they had no interest in letting me run Big Idea (which, given the state of the company when they found it shouldnt really surprise anyone). Second, if I had taken a staff position with Classic, not only would they have owned VeggieTales, but they also would own by default any new ideas I would create while under their employ. So Lisa and I would have lost ownership and control of everything we created in the past, and everything we would create going forward. Since we consider our work a ministry first and a business second, we really feel called by God to maintain as much control as possible, so our ideas can always stay true to Gods call and any profits they make can be reinvested into more ministry work. A staff position with Classic Media, unfortunately, would have made that impossible.
Q: So are you gone from VeggieTales forever?
A: No. I worked out a deal with Classic Media where I will write one VeggieTales episode for them each year, and give notes on up to two more that are written by the in-house creative folk or other writers. In addition, Ive agreed to continue performing voices for my little troupe of veggies (rather vital, since I voice about half the characters). Im doing this work in exchange for creative fees, plus an ongoing participation in the profits from VeggieTales videos, which Lisa and I can reinvest in new ministry work.
So God has really done something interesting. He has taken a situation that started out as a complete disaster (literally the loss of everything I have done in my adult life), and brought out of it an opportunity for me to return my focus to new stories as he directs, while allowing VeggieTales to provide the funding. To be honest, trying to run a big company didnt fit my personality or gifting in any way. I was pretty darn miserable as Big Ideas Top Tomato. And the bigger the company grew, the less time I had to use the creative gifts God had given me. I was so convinced that God wanted me to be Walt Disney that I kept banging my head against that door, even as the company was unraveling around me. And amazingly, God used the disaster of Big Idea collapsing to gently whisper, I dont want you to be Walt Disney. I want you to be Phil. To which, of course, I replied, But Im not sure I know who Phil is! And then he responded, Just slow down, take a deep breath, and Ill show you. Pretty cool, huh?
Q: Whats Phil working on now?
A: Im working on my VeggieTales script for the year (which you can learn more about on this site), and waiting to see what else God has in store for me. (Which you will also learn about on this site!