The voice of the robot on Craig Ferg’s talk show also does a pretty kick ass Morgan Freeman.
Which got me to thinking:
I guess there might be protection against a use of impersonation falsely claiming to be the actual person. But is there any protection against merely imitating a strongly recognizable voice?
Is there any value in hiring impersonators for voice over work rather than the actual actor? IOW, does Morgan get hired because people will think “hey, that’s Morgan Freeman!” or just because he has a soothing voice? And does that translate into a large or small pay difference?
Do many impersonators get hired for real jobs unrelated to comedy? I imagine there might be a niche for video game adaptions but I’m thinking more in terms of non-identified voice overs.
UK insurance company More Than, which uses a voiceover actor who does the Morgan Freeman thing, lampshades this well. The gag is that at the end of the ad the camera pans over to the actor who is standing in some improbable location (e.g. on top of a doghouse holding a tuba) and you see it’s a white guy in a bad suit who ends the monologue with “I’m More-Than Freeman.”
I think the same guy did Freeman’s voice on several episodes of Robot Chicken. Their Shawshank parody is a classic, and I don’t think I’ve ever heard a more accurate vocal impression.
“I remember thinking ‘That is the WHITEST son of a bitch I have ever seen’.”
Parody is protected. But I’m sure that Josh Robert Thompson would never accept a job that would deprive the real Morgan Freeman of work. Also, as Miller Beer found out, hire an Eric Clapton sound-alike, and you’re going to wind up paying money to the real Eric Clapton. (What gets me is why they didn’t just hire one of the old, broke-ass black bluesmen that Clapton spent his entire career imitating instead.)
Thompson is a voice-over professional who also has a smaller career as an impersonator.
I’d always assumed that was Morgan Freeman, overdubbing that guy. (To be fair though I’d heard the MoreThan ads on the radio hundreds of times and have only seen it on the TV a couple of times and the radio had convinced me it was indeed Mr. Freeman)
Nicholas Meyer made the claim, in his TV movie The Night that Panicked America, that Orson Welles wanted to have an announcement by President Roosevelt during the infamous “War of the Worlds” broadcast, but that CBS wouldn’t let him do it. So they said the announcement was from the Secretary of the Interior – who sounded exactly like Roosevelt.
Although I’d heard the broadcast before, I’d never picked up on the resemblance, which was clearly intentional (“We’ll say it’s the Secretary, but everyone will know it’s really FDR”), but the General Public , who heard hi all the time, would have picked up on it instantly.
Voiceover master Don LaFontaine died in 2008. But I still hear movie trailers that sound like him. Since some of the trailers/ads have lines specific to the plot, someone must be impersonating Don. But who? As far as I know, it’s not Pablo Francisco, who is known for his LaFontaine impression.