Chuck E. Cheese image, voice bounced for hipper mascot
"Thanks for your 35 years of service, Chuck E. Cheese, but we are going with a guitar-playing, hipper mascot." That's the news this week for the New Jersey rat that was the face of the gaming pizza chain.
The new Chuck E. Cheese that launches this week will be voiced by Jaret Reddick, the lead singer for the pop-punk band Bowling for Soup. The Chuck E. Cheese Facebook page now shows a silhouette of a cartoon mouse playing a guitar, left.
According to the AP, the company that operates the chain of children's pizza restaurants is retiring the giant rodent's outdated image — and the man who voiced its character for nearly two decades. CEC Entertainment Inc. says it plans to launch a national ad campaign Thursday with a revamped image of Chuck E. Cheese as a hip, electric-guitar-playing rock star.
FUN FACT: The chain was founded by Nolan Bushnell, who also co-founded Atari and Pong. Hero or scourge of humanity? Discuss.
According to ShowbizPizza.com, a Chuck E. Cheese fan site, the man who voiced the mascot in commercials since 1993 learned of his replacement only after coming across "Chuck's Hot New Single" online and realizing it was sung by someone else. The fan site this week published a Facebook post by Duncan Brannan, the mascot's former voice.
Brannan could not be reached for comment by AP. But in the post, he writes that part of his assignment when he first took on the role was to transform Chuck E. Cheese from "a joke-telling, sometime off-color New Jersey rat" to a lovable, mainstream mouse. He notes that there were various signs in recent months that suggested he was being pushed out, but that he was assured by the company that he was still the voice of Chuck E.
CEC Entertainment says that Brannan wasn't fired but that it simply "chose to utilize new voice talent."
What do you think folks, overdue makeover or messing with a classic?
--Sharon Kennedy Wynne
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