Barbera Revisits Tom and Jerry

It’s been 65 years since Joseph Barbera and William Hanna created the famous cat-and-mouse duo known as Tom and Jerry, but the property is still very much alive. Barbera recently jumped back into the director’s chair with The KarateGuard, a new, seven-minute theatrical short starring the Academy Award-winning mortal enemies. Produced by Warner Bros. Animation, the film has been submitted for 2006 Academy Award consideration and will premiere on Friday, Jan. 27, at 9 p.m. (ET/PT) on Cartoon Network.

In The KarateGuard, Jerry takes up martial arts to defend himself against Tom, but finds he still needs a little help. To supplement his training, Jerry’s martial arts instructor gives him a mystic gong that summons a canine Samurai bodyguard. Of course, wild chase scenes and comic clobbering ensue.

The classic Tom and Jerry theatrical shorts were produced at MGM by Barbera and partner Hanna, who passed away in 2001. The films where shown before the studio’s features from 1940-1957 and garnered seven Academy Awards before enjoying a long life on television.

‘When we created these characters, we had no idea how popular and beloved Tom and Jerry would become,’ Barbera comments. ‘It was such a thrill to direct this short. With all the creativity coming from animators in the field today, it is great to see that animation is more popular than ever.’

At the age of 94, Barbera is still an active member of the Warner Bros. Animation team. ‘It is truly an honor to have Joe here at our studio contributing his invaluable experience, wisdom and creativity,’ says studio president Sander Schwartz. ‘He was not only a trailblazer in the field of animation, but also a pioneer in setting standards that are still used throughout the industry today. To have him direct this historic film celebrating the 65th anniversary of Tom and Jerry is remarkable.’

Hanna and Barbera worked together for more than 60 years and produced more than 3,500 half-hours of animated programming. Other enduring characters to come out of this legendary partnership include The Flintstones, Scooby-Doo, Yogi Bear, The Jetsons, Top Cat, Quick Draw McGraw, Magilla Gorilla and Auggie Doggie and Doggie Daddy.