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The Journal Gazette

  • Fox Maya Rudolph, Kristen Wiig, Ike Barniholtz and Jillian Bell lend their voices to “Bless the Harts,” which premieres tonight on Fox.

Sunday, September 29, 2019 1:00 am

All-star cast helps bring 'Harts' to life

Jay Bobbin | Zap2it

Not every cartoon makes its way into Fox's popular “Animation Domination” block of Sunday comedies.

Then again, not every show boasts the combined talents of “Saturday Night Live” alums Kristen Wiig, Maya Rudolph and Emmy-winning writer-producer Emily Spivey. Tonight's premiere of “Bless the Harts” introduces a Southern family constantly striving for a better financial life, though love and laughs do much to help them get by. Wiig voices waitress and single mother Jenny, with Rudolph as her mother, Betty, who's convinced that the “right” scratch-off ticket will make her a big lottery winner. Jillian Bell and Ike Barinholtz also are heard.

“I sort of went to the people that I love writing for,” Spivey said. “Maya Rudolph, I've been writing for for 50 years now – and then, I always was picturing Ike for (the role of Jenny's longtime boyfriend) Wayne. The interesting thing about it is how much the actors really bring to the characters. Once you start hearing their voice, it's sort of like a great loop of listening to each other and really, the characters come to life.”

Rudolph notes that she and Spivey “met in our 20s at (the comedy group) The Groundlings. It didn't dawn on me until we were sharing an office in New York at 'Saturday Night Live' that when I'd answer the phone, people would ask me if I was Southern. Because I spent so much time with her, I have absorbed her accent. I don't even know if that is a North Carolina accent. Like, I know how Emily's mother pronounces 'tacos.' She says, 'tacas.' So, I'm just doing Emily and her mother.”

Bell also has previous experience with Spivey, and she maintains she was “very excited to come on board” in the “Bless the Harts” voice cast.

“When I read (the part of Jenny's daughter) Violet, I was like, 'I love her. I want to make sure she's lovable to everyone, too.' She can come off very sarcastic and dry, but there's real heart behind her character.”

Partnered with Spivey as executive producers of “Bless the Harts” are Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, her fellow “The Last Man on Earth” veterans who also have had big-screen success with “The Lego Movie” and the Oscar-winning “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse.”

Miller says, “Our job has been mostly to sort of read scripts and give thoughts and watch cuts of animation, and just try and help out wherever we can creatively ... but it's really Emily's voice. It's Emily's experience. She's the one who grew up in North Carolina and knows these characters and breathes these characters. So, we're just trying to help out in any way we can.”