The following is an interview with Arlene Klasky & Gabor Csupo, interviewed by Michael Starr and published in the New York Post during June 1999; © 1999 New York Post. Source: alt.tv.nickelodeon newsgroup.
THE secrets to a happy divorce are apparently the same as the ones for a happy marriage - be friends and have a lot in common.
That's what Arlene Klasky and Gabor Csupo - the married couple who created the fantastically popular Rugrats series 10 years ago - say now that they are divorced.
Improbably, they continue to work together, running the $70 million production empire they created when they used to commute in the same car.
"We're partners," says Klasky when asked if it's strange to continue working with the Hungarian-born Csupo, who - along with Paul Germain - helped Klasky create Rugrats in 1989.
The series, revolving around talking toddlers, revolutionized children's TV - and helped put Nickelodeon on the map.
"We've always been partners in business, and I usually don't like to go too far with this [line of questioning]," Klasky says.
"We basically share the same vision, creatively, and I think we trust each other. We have good reason to stay together as partners. And I bet if you really looked in the world, it's not that unusual where people like us do manage to work together. It's not that hard."
Csupo, reached later, is more at ease discussing the situation. He has remarried since the couple filed for divorce in 1995 and has a new baby.
Klasky and Csupo have two sons (now 14 and 11) from their 16-year marriage.
"It's a lot easier for us now," says Csupo. "It was more difficult when we were married and brought our work problems home with us.
"We're very good friends, we share children and we respect each other," he says. "People are always trying to dig up dirt, but there's really nothing to hide - we have a very good, friendly relationship. That's what everyone should know."
That, and the fact that Rugrats, TV's top-rated animated kid's show, has spawned a lucrative merchandising line (toys, books, mugs - you name it) and The Rugrats Movie, with a sequel due in Thanksgiving 2000.
"It's the luckiest break that anybody ever could have had," Klasky says about that fateful day in 1989 when Csupo and Germain pitched the Rugrats idea to Vanessa Coffey, then the head of Nick's animation department.
"At the time, the [ABC series] thirtysomething was happening, and I thought, how about a 'onesomething,' where, if babies could speak, what would they say?," Klasky says.
"It would be told from their perspective visually and emotionally. We were sort of celebrating the world of toddlers and young parents."
"We didn't even have any drawings, just some rough ideas," Csupo says. "They asked us to draw some characters and work it out in detail."
Thus was born little, half-Jewish Tommy Pickles and friends Chuckie (the sniffly red-haired nervous one), twins Phil and Lil, and Anjelica (sic), Tommy's bossy older cousin.
The toddlers speak only when adults are out of earshot, living in their own world of adventure (the "meaning of Chanukah" turns into the evil "Meanie of Chanukah"), gently framed with a valuable life lesson.
"There's a character for everybody," says Cyma Zarghami, Nick's executive vice president/general manager.
"There's a magical bond between the audience and the babies because no one can hear them talk except the audience."
The Klasky-Csupo partnership (now minus Germain) is also focusing on their next animated Nickelodeon series, Rocket Power - a series about laid-back California dudes scheduled to debut this fall.
"Rocket Power was inspired by our kids, who of course are grown now and interested in extreme sports, skateboarding and Roller Blading," Klasky says. "I grew up close to Orange County [Calif.] beach towns where surfing was, and still is, very popular.
"Even though that culture has evolved, it's sort of the same kids who hang out and are the coolest and most relaxed," she says. "So there's this sort-of cool culture going on that most people aren't privvy to."
The duo is also focusing on an assortment of live-action projects still in the development stages.
"We're developing some live-action shows in-house, and one of our major goals is definitely to get there," Klasky says. "But we're very happy doing animation - and we'd like to go further with a new wave of animation in features."
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