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Storyboard Artist Accuses ‘Chipmunks’ Maker Bagdasarian Productions Of Unethical Behavior (Updated)

Last night, Los Angeles-based animation industry artist Maddie Taylor posted a public Facebook message accusing Alvin and the Chipmunks owners Bagdasarian Productions of unethical industry practices.

According to Taylor, who is a veteran with two decades of experience in animation:

I will tell you that Ross Bagdasarian [Jr.] fired me AFTER I completed my board. In an incredibly offensive email, he told me the whole second half was unusable. He informed me, as per an agreement I didn’t read closely enough (that is on me), that he was only paying me half of what was agreed to. Upon seeing the finished animation later, HE USED MY ENTIRE BOARD SHOT FOR SHOT!

Taylor felt compelled to share her experience as a “warning” to other artists, after seeing a notice online that Bagdasarian is currently hiring storyboard artists. Bagdasarian Productions most recently produced the TV series ALVINNN!!! and The Chipmunks, which airs on Nickelodeon in the United States.

In the comments of Taylor’s post, other artists who have recently worked for Bagdasarian Productions claim similar experiences in which they were paid less than initially contracted for. One artist, Nora Johnson, wrote:

He did the same thing to me. Held off paying me the full amount till I ‘finished the fixes’ then once I was done, suddenly the board wasn’t good enough and he wouldn’t pay me the balance. It was a nasty insulting email, the first and only time he even bothered to contact me directly.

Johnson said that she’d brought the issue to the attention of the Animation Guild Local 839, but because Bagdasarian Productions is not a signatory facility, the union is powerless to pursue the issue.

Another artist, Christian Lignan, who reportedly had a run-in with Bagdasarian over related issues, wrote in the comments of Taylor’s Facebook post, “May God give him hemorrhoids and very short arms so he cannot scratch for the rest of his life.”

The Facebook post, which has now been deleted, became a gathering place for former Bagdasarian employees, who cited negative interactions with Ross Bagdasarian Jr. (the son of the Chipmunks’ original creator Ross Bagdasarian Sr. who died in 1972). Some of the comments, such as the ones below, dated back to employees who had worked on The Chipmunk Adventure, which was released in 1987:

bagdasarian_comments

Cartoon Brew has requested comment from Bagdasarian Productions about these allegations. The company has not responded as of this writing, but we will update with their comments if they do.

UPDATE: Maddie Taylor deleted her post from Facebook. In a Cartoon Brew comment, she wrote, “For what it’s worth, I have every board, every email, every revision from my short time there. Nothing I said is untrue.” In a subsequent comment on this site, she recanted her entire criticism of Bagdasarian, writing:

I am retracting my statement. I now have information that I didn’t have before. I apologize wholeheartedly to Bagdasarian Productions. My post was out of anger and I did not have full possession of all the facts surrounding my work for Ross Bagdasarian. I truly apologize to him and for any damage he may have suffered as a result of my ill thought out post.

None of the other artists who posted of similar experiences have recanted their statements at this time. Bagdasarian Productions has not responded to Cartoon Brew’s request for comment.

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