Hard as it may be to believe, those cute little singing rodents known as The Chipmunks just keep coming back. Soon to celebrate their 50th anniversary, Alvin, Simon and Theodore are heading for their biggest project yet.
Alvin and his brothers debuted back in 1958 on novelty records and are the creation of singer/songwriter and sometime actor (the frustrated songwriter in Rear Window) Ross Bagdasarian. Bagdasarian played the chipmunks’ father figure Dave Seville, as well as voiced the three chipmunks via sped-up audio. (Incidentally, Alvin and brothers are actually named after the executives of the group’s original record label, Liberty Records.)
The Chipmunks won two Grammy Awards (for Engineering) and had several hit songs including the chart-topping The Chipmunk Song (Christmas Don’t Be Late). When Bagdasarian died of a heart attack in 1972, son Ross Jr. and daughter-in-law Janice Karman took over the furry singers.
Though not originally conceived as animated characters, Seville and the Chipmunks have starred in several series, specials and movies over the years. The Alvin Show was cancelled after one season on CBS primetime but found new popularity in syndication. After a Christmas special in 1981, the characters were revitalized for a popular Saturday morning series on NBC in 1983. That led to a number of albums, specials, TV movies and The Chipmunk Adventure feature film in 1987. Several direct-to-video projects have been released since then as well as a low budget CGI/puppetry blended film entitled Little Alvin and the Mini-Munks.
Now, it sounds like Alvin, Simon and Theodore are posed to kick off their 50th anniversary in a big way — with a full-scale CGI/live-action movie. Fox 2000 and Fox Animation are reportedly in negotiations with director Tim Hill to helm the picture. Hill is known for directing family-friendly films like Muppets From Space, Max Keeble’s Big Move and the $150 million grossing Garfield: A Tail of Two Kitties (I know, I was shocked by the $$ too). The chipmunk script is by Jon Vitti (King of the Hill and The Simpsons TV shows and the upcoming Simpsons movie) and will be produced by Bagdasarian Jr. and Karman.
The film was originally believed to be slated for a December 2007 release but that date seems unlikely now. Whenever it appears, one thing is for sure, Alvin and friends aren’t going away any time soon. That’s the funny thing about rodents, once you’ve got ’em…