The History of VeggieTales and the Story of Phil Vischer

Welcome, everybody to this episode of If It Interests You. It’s the 1990s and Phil Vischer is working on a project with his wife and his good friend Mike Nawrocki. Phil Vischer hopes to create a show to demonstrate to children the many morals and values of Christianity. Slowly learning how to use 3D animation programs, Vischer aims to create characters that children can resonate and relate to in some way. The software he is using, considering this is the 1990s, has trouble handling limbs and clothing and other accessories of modern-day characters and designs. Obviously, he wasn’t Pixar, so Vischer needed to find a way around this, instead creating characters lacking the previously thought essential arms and legs. The first character he created was said to be a candy bar; however, his wife would later suggest to base his characters around fruits and vegetables
with better eating habits suggested. And hence, VeggieTales was born. For about a decade Big Idea Productions Inc., the company created by Phil
Weiser and Mike Nawrocki, would soon produce VeggieTales episodes. Most episodes would, featuring the characters Bob the Tomato and Larry the Cucumber,
host two stories per episode. Usually the first would either be a parody or some
other story that would convey morals to children involving God. The second story
would then most commonly have been a Bible story following the trend of the
first story, further applying the lesson taught. In between each story, as very
few fans and kids who grew up watching the show would forget, a segment called
“Silly Songs with Larry” would play. It would usually feature the titular
character, Larry the Cucumber, singing a weird or wacky song, lacking any moral unlike the two siding stories. VeggieTales would go on to be a massive hit, resonating
with kids around the country, even going on to make a movie. That is, until Big
Idea Productions ran into legal problems. The year is 2002 and Big Idea Productions has grown to a massive size. Prior to this, Big Idea Productions had changed their publisher from Lyrick Studios to Warner Music. In reaction to this Lyrick
Studios claimed that Big Idea Productions had broken an agreement that publishers wouldn’t be switched on Lyrick. Despite there being no legal contract,
Big Idea Productions would lose, being sued for over $11 million. This
ruling would later be overturned two years later by another court after
Vischer requested an appeal, but it was too late Big Idea Productions had already hit bankruptcy, and its assets were being
sold. Vischer would lose everything: all
character rights, production rights, every single, thing. All of it was auctioned off
and bought by Classic Media, who created a new company, confusingly named
Big Idea Inc., to continue making the videos. Since Vischer lost control of Big Idea and VeggieTales, it took a stronger turn towards making more money. The new Big Idea Inc. was still Christian; however, the company now had
new goal to get the show on mainstream television, which they eventually would.
Phil Vischer’s dream of VeggieTales would slowly begin to perish as he realized,
still working partially with the Big Idea on VeggieTales that the show would
be losing its strong connections to Christianity and to God. The show had
gotten a spot on NBC which was exciting for Vischer as he would also get a
chance for his new team, Jellyfish Labs, and himself to work on the project. Sadly
this joy would end for Vischer when he found out that the show would need to
remove any and all mentions of God, including Bible verses and the show’s
signature sign-off, “God made you special, and he loves you very, very much!”
He considered having the new Big Idea pull out of the deal but refrained, saying
on an online blog post, “Over the next day I decided to continue Why? Partly as a favor to my friends at Big Idea and Classic Media, who really needed the income. Despite being disgusted by how much of the core show had been
removed, he realized that others need this
opportunity more than himself and that he need to make sacrifices to give
VeggieTales more exposure. VeggieTales would go on to make another movie with
Universal, being criticized for lacking the signature Bible stories, much like
the NBC show was. The series would also receive two Netflix series, more home
videos, and just recently, a newly announced series. Hey, everybody, thanks
for watching! If you enjoyed today’s video, throw it a like and subscribe so you get to see all my new videos when they’re
uploaded. See you later!

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