Chuck E. Cheese as we know him, is dead. According to the AP, the Texas-based company that operates the restaurants, CEC Entertainment Inc., is launching a new ad campaign on Thursday with a new image. From the report: "CEC said revenue at its locations open at least a year fell 4.2 percent in the first quarter…citing factors such as higher prices for cheddar cheese and rent." Anyone who has seen Chuck E. Cheese's Behind the Music knows that the guy spent hours pounding Quickes Cheddar in an alabaster panic room.
CEC is replacing the old Chuck for a slimmer, skinny jeans-wearing Indie Chuck. "You've never seen Chuck E. ROCK like this," the ad notes, insulting generations of children who watched Chuck melt faces (and mozzarella) with Munch's Make Believe Band in renditions of "Free Ride" and "Splish Splash."
The voice of Chuck E. Cheese since 1993, Duncan Brannan, found out about his character's death only after he heard the new ad campaign on the internet. Here's a portion of Brannan's release [pdf], which was posted on an entire website devoted to the Chuck E. Cheese franchise and its progenitors.
This comes as a complete surprise to me. And, yes, it is hurtful that CEC, Inc. chose not to communicate with me about it…You would…hope that if they are thinking of going a new/different direction, they would approach you, see if you can help with that as you have so many, many times before.
When I first became Chuck E. Cheese for example, that was part of my assignment, morphing Chuck E. Cheese from a joke-telling, sometimes off-color New Jersey rat to a lovable, mainstream mouse who could sing. And there many more changes [sic] that we made to his voice, his singing, his style, his personality over the years, crafting Chuck E. into the image they had envisioned….Why CEC chose to do this, or do it in this manner, one can only speculate and that is not my place.
The new voice of Chuck E. Cheese is Jaret Reddick, the lead singer of the band Bowling For Soup. We're not sure who Bowling For Soup is, but we know that no one has made a goddamned documentary about them, as Brett Whitcomb did about The Rock-A-Fire Explosion, the animatronic band where Chuck got his start in the business. (You can watch that documentary streaming for free, here.)
"Oh," you might say, your face curved in an ignorant smile that has never known the joy of spending $26 dollars in quarters on a Whack-A-Mole machine to then purchase a snap bracelet with 50 tickets worth 23 cents. "These old animatronic bands just scared kids and can't keep up with the times." Yeah? Bullshit:
And a Wikipedia search indicates that Bowling For Soup has been around since 1994. 1994? We have dried boogers behind Skeeball machines at our local Chuck E. Cheese that are older than that.
No one tell the fürer about this.