By Kathleen Vanesian
By Amy Silverman
By Robrt L. Pela
By Jim Louvau
By Kathleen Vanesian
By Benjamin Leatherman
By New Times
By Becky Bartkowski
You can tell that PALican is a star because he arrives with an entourage. I'd arranged to interview PALican himself, who I assumed was a guy in a bird suit, but the star of KAZ-TV's unbelievably schlocky PALican and Friends (who turned out to be a girl in a bird suit; PALican's voice is dubbed in later, after actress Gina Tleel has sweated her ass off inside the pelican costume) showed up with her publicist and producer in tow. I settled for interviewing Mike Aloisi, the creator of PALican, about why kids want a talking pelican for a friend -- especially one whose beak doesn't move when he talks.
New Times: What's a big bird like PALican doing in a small town like this?
Mike Aloisi: Should I answer as PALican?
NT: If you want.
Aloisi:That's okay. PALican watches after children. And when they get into trouble, he tries to help them out. The whole thing came to me in a dream. I woke up with the name PALican in my head. I got up in the middle of the night and put the name on the refrigerator: PALican. And for six months, all I could think of was the ways and means to get this [TV show] going. I started to prepare a plan of attack.
NT: What kind of research determined a need for a show about a talking pelican -- an animal that's probably the least-often associated with kids?
Aloisi:Well, we interviewed 400 children, and only one child didn't know what a pelican was. Everyone knew what a pelican is because of their beak and because they're so friendly.
NT: I didn't know that. Pelicans are friendly?
Aloisi:Well, children perceive them as being friendly. And they're smart, too. If a pelican can't find food, it will eat from its own body. Nobody knows that.
NT: I'm guessing that PALican won't be depicted eating from his own body on the show.
Aloisi: No! Of course not.
NT: Yea. Now, I know that PALican is meant to be a wholesome role model for kids. But how is a pelican a role model for anyone? I mean, they hang out on piers and eat dead fish.
Aloisi:Well, he's not just a pelican. He's a PALican.
Aloisi:Every kid needs a pal. Parents are divided -- 60 percent of our country is divorced, kids are in day-care centers, and PALican kind of takes care of those kids. And also the second part of his name is "I can" -- Pal I Can. Get it? He's a positive reinforcement for kids.
NT: And what's with the "pull my finger, kids" thing?
Aloisi:Right. You pull on his blue feather, and you can travel with PALican. He has warp speed; he gets them to where they're going like that (snaps fingers).
NT: As long as it's in Arizona.
Aloisi:No! He's going to go nationwide. And further! We're going to go to London! It's all about syndication. We're talking to [the company that owns] Barney and Bob the Builder. And we've decided to do something with PALican that those two shows aren't doing: We're going after the bathtub market.
NT: The bathtub market!
Aloisi:Children take a bath every day. So we're going after the bath toy market. PALican bath toys!
NT: You'll be an instant millionaire. But I want to talk about the feather thing some more. What happens when you pull on PALican's other fingers?
Aloisi:Well, I've tried to keep this relatively quiet, but I'm going to open it up a little bit. And this is an exclusive to your newspaper.
NT: I'm ready.
Aloisi:Okay. The red feather means "stop." The yellow feather means "go slow." And the green feather means "go ahead." And no one knows this yet, except you, but we're going to have that be part of our curriculum. So that a child understands stop, slow, and go.
NT: That's amazing. Thank you for letting me break that here. Now, I notice that, in kids' shows, there are usually no adults around. What's that about?
Aloisi:Well, PALican is like an adult. He has the wisdom and the silliness, and Gina, even without direction at times, brings that to the table. The walk, the feel, the things she does intuitively as an actor.
NT: An actor in a bird suit!
Aloisi:Right. Like in the fire station episode, the fireman is explaining fire safety to the kids, and Gina puts her arm on his shoulder and crosses her legs. That cannot be instructed to you as an actor. I told the director, "Don't rein her in too much. Don't constrain her natural ability!" You can't teach that to an actor. Brando had a presence, and this gal has a presence.
NT: I'll say. My niece, Caitlyn, loves the show, by the way.
Aloisi:Well, we're gonna give her a tee shirt. Because she said she likes it. If she said she didn't like it, she wouldn't get anything.
NT: Entire generations of kids were traumatized because they never got a Ladmo bag. Now you're doing a weekly drawing for a PALican tee shirt . . .