Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — It was a simple assignment. With a couple of friends in class at LaSalle Middle School in Niagara Falls, Jason Olenick had to design a cereal box.
The cereal his group came up with was Jay & Bonehead’s Banana Puffs. The box, adorned with both monkeys on the front of it, was hung up in the school’s hallways. The two also appeared on many of Olenick’s notebooks.
“I’ve even used them for school projects,” he said.
All these years later, those monkeys are now on TV.
“Jay & Bonehead” airs at 7 a.m. Thursdays on Lockport Community Television, channel 20. The series centers around two eccentric lab monkeys protecting the world from their evil alien neighbor, Dr. Booger Brain. Jay and Bonehead have a friend who helps out, Herman, whose father oversees Jay and Bonehead for his job at Pandora’s Box, a cosmetics company.
The animated series is the first from Anees Kashmiri and Olenick’s Raging-Gorilla Productions.
Kashmiri and Olenick have been friends since their days at Niagara Falls High School, where they graduated from in 2003. Also graduating that year was their longtime friend Chris Smith, who provides the voices for both Jay and Bonehead, as well as a few other characters. Olenick’s wife Kristen lends her voice as well, as does her brother Daniel Matiasz.
Kashmiri and Smith have broadcast experience, starting all the way back in high school. Olenick has an extensive background in animation, making the partnership ideal.
Kashmiri primarily handles the writing, while the animation is Olenick’s domain. Once he has a script, Kashmiri passes it off to Olenick, who storyboards the segment. Actors’ voices are recorded first, before the animation work begins.
Recording the voices can be tricky. Often, revisions, ad-libbing and other last second changes can happen. Sometimes the actors need a little direction in order to have the voices fit the character. The recording takes place in the Olenicks’ apartment in the Falls.
For Smith, switching from one voice to another really isn’t all that difficult. Most of the voices Smith has done before — joking around or whatever. In fact, Smith found Bonehead’s voice just fooling around one night.
The new voice fit perfectly. So much so, Olenick went back and re-animated the already completed first episode. The episode had been finished with a different voice.
“We were just goofing off and he came up with a better voice,” Olenick said. “So we went back.”
But one of the things about voicing multiple characters is, that actor could end up talking to himself in an episode. Switching from character to character is something Smith has to do from time to time, especially in an upcoming episode. In that episode, Jay and Bonehead spoof Mystery Science Theater 3000, a popular show known for airing and ridiculing B-rated movies.
So the result was Smith talking to himself while recording the voices.
“It was probably a good hour,” Smith said. “I must’ve sounded crazy.”
The first episode aired in March, followed by the second episode last week. Each episode contains two or three segments, self-contained stories similar to popular cartoons seen on television. Five full episodes have been completed.
Kashmiri said the group is in constant contact with LCTV. As more Jay & Bonehead episodes air, a move to later in the programming schedule could be possible, he said.
But Jay & Bonehead isn’t just a show for people to watch, the creators say. Kashmiri and Olenick want Jay & Bonehead to be interactive, launching a website for the series that features activities, games, clips and video blogs. A few of the characters even have their own Twitter account, such as @DrBoogerZBrain. Viewers can even contact the characters themselves.
Part of the plan is to draw viewers to the website, as well as the show.
“You can be a part of the show at any time of the day,” Olenick said.
Olenick has been drawing Jay & Bonehead pictures and cartoons since the fourth grade, but what really motivated him to get the monkeys on TV was a recent trip to Walt Disney World in Florida. Seeing all of the well-known Disney characters and the memorabilia made Olenick think of coming up with some kind of animated character for a series.
He brought Jay & Bonehead to Kashmiri and Smith. From there, the show’s concept was created. But the group needed a way to get the show out there.
LCTV was a logical start, as opposed to going to a film festival or a similar event, Kashmiri said.
“We think we have an advantage,” he said. “A lot of guys who do this go to film festivals, but you don’t know which ones are the ones to go to.”
Producing a television show is the culmination of Kashmiri, Olenick and Smith’s experiences. It’s also doing something they’ve wanted to do for a long time. Having the opportunity to follow through on achieving a dream is something not everyone gets to do, Kashmiri said.
And, as more episodes are produced, the Jay & Bonehead website will have new things added. For example, the series will soon have a theme song, as one was written by Olenick’s younger brother Jonathan.
“We can say we took time out of our lives and produced something,” Kashmiri said.WATCH JAY & BONEHEAD ON TV • Airs at 7 a.m. Thursdays, LCTV channel 20 • Check out the show's website, www.jayandbonehead.com