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Weekend full of characters

June 03, 2005

Elia Powers

Craig Kausen still remembers the sound of film flipping through a

16-millimeter projector.

He recalls the excitement of sitting on his grandfather's couch

and watching his favorite cartoon characters come to life on a screen

before they came to television screens nationwide.

That's life when your grandfather is Chuck Jones, the well-known

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animator/director who was co-creator of Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck and

sole creator of Marvin the Martian and Pepe Le Pew.

Kausen said there was never a dull moment around the Jones

household.

"There was endless entertainment," Kausen, 42, said. "If I was

lucky, I could bring over a friend to watch a premiere. He (Jones)

would talk about the characters and explain details of the

animation."

Jones, a 40-year Newport Beach resident, died in February 2002 at

the age of 89.

Kausen has taken over as president of Linda Jones Enterprises, the

publisher and distributor of Jones' animated film art.

Kausen is continually searching for ways to pay homage to his

grandfather. This weekend, he is holding a two-day celebration of his

life and work at the Fashion Island gallery, which recently moved

spots inside the shopping center.

The city of Newport Beach has proclaimed Saturday as Chuck Jones

Day, and many family members will attend the exhibitions.

At least 100 of Jones' works, from original paintings of his most

famous characters to limited-edition backgrounds used during

animation, will be on display for purchase. Kausen said prices range

from $250 to more than $25,000.

A select few are pieces Jones kept from the 1930s and 1940s, Kausen said. In his later years, Jones produced a slew of oil

paintings that depicted some of his early characters.

"These are some of the core cartoon characters of our generation,"

Kausen said. "Anyone who watched television will recognize the

works."

There's even a photograph of Jones receiving his Lifetime

Achievement Award at the 1996 Academy Awards.

Kausen said he wanted to bring new life to Jones' work. So he

invited a few of his grandfather's friends, colleagues and proteges

to the event.

Headlining the group is Bill Melendez, an 88-year-old sole

producer and director of the classic "Peanuts" animated films.

Martha Goldman Sigall, who worked with Jones at MGM and Warner

Brothers; Stephen Fosatti, executive producer of many of Jones'

projects; and Rob Minkoff, who directed the animated version of "The

Lion King," also have been invited to speak about their craft.

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