Tuesday, September 2, 2008

The Man With the Voice

“In a world where diamonds mean more than money…”

“In a world where Pirates still rule the sea and pillage our beauties…”

“In a world where he is the last man of his world…”

We have heard one voice in the trailers for so many movies. So many trailers that we have moved past the annoyance of the overuse of this phrase, and now let it bring us into the story quicker. In a movie trailer, there’s not much time to get a lot of info across, and the “In a world where…” line sets the scene in an extremely efficient way.

You may not know his name, and definitely don’t know his face, but all of those trailers were performed by a man named Don LaFontaine. Yesterday, Mr. LaFontaine passed away here in LA. He really was in every trailer, that’s the most efficient to account it. When I first joined the unions, I was told on no uncertain terms that I could forget about doing voiceovers for movie trailers, there was already a guy who did them. I knew that they all sounded so similar, but was astonished to find out that a very large percentage was performed by one man. Even the ones he didn’t perform tried to sound like him! Best of all, he fell into this accidentally. Mr. LaFontaine was a recording engineer producing radio spots in NYC when an narrator didn’t show up to record one day (in 1965) and LaFontaine performed the copy himself for the MGM picture “Gunfighters of Casa Grande.” The executives at MGM loved his performance, and the rest as we say, is history.

This man went on to record more that 5,000 voiceovers in his career and became the head of the trailer department at Paramount! After many years at Paramount, LaFontaine struck out on his own and started his own production company. This change allowed him to work for everyone and established him as The King Of Voiceovers. He was so successful that he even played himself in a series of Geico commercials (rare for him to appear onscreen!). Remember? “In a world where both of our cars were totally underwater…” That was him!!! He also was the voice for the Academy Awards and the Screen Actors Guild Awards. Mr. LaFontaine is thought to have signed more SAG contracts than any other actor.

Don LaFontaine will be missed.

In a world where they’ve lost the man who told what was going on, who the hell will set the scene now…?

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1 comment:

Gwen said...

My favorite thing he ever did (also on-screen) was the trailer for Comedian: