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What It's Really Like Working With Steven Spielberg - Exclusive

After more than 20 years away from the small screen, Animaniacs has returned. Those lovable Warner siblings Yakko, Wakko, and Dot are back (along with Pinky and the Brain), and so is executive producer Steven Spielberg.

Back in the 1990s, Spielberg brought Animaniacs to life, creating an animated series that aesthetically appealed to children with humor that made adults chuckle too. Now, he has brought that same approach into the modern era with 13 all-new episodes of the beloved show streaming on Hulu.

This time around, though, Spielberg is working with co-executive producers Wellesley Wild and Gabe Swarr to bring the Animaniacs' style of zany fun back to life. Both bring a contemporary flair to the table — with Wild being closely tied to off-color comedian Seth MacFarlane, having written and produced numerous episodes of Family Guy and both the Ted films, and Swarr having worked on such series as Dexter's Laboratory and El Tigre: The Adventures of Manny Rivera.

While the 2020 reboot of the Animaniacs will tickle both old fans and new, it took some effort for Spielberg's style to meld with Wild and Swarr's approach.

In an exclusive interview with Looper, Wild and Swarr revealed what it was really like working with a legend like Spielberg.

Steven Spielberg was very particular about the Animaniacs reboot

When it came to relaunching Animaniacs, Spielberg knew exactly what he was looking to do, and expected Wild and Swarr to do it right.

"He's very meticulous and very particular," Wild said of Spielberg, who has helmed such iconic films as Jaws, Jurassic Park, and the Indiana Jones franchise. "He's the godfather of the show. He knows the tone and sees it so well in his head, so it took about eight months for us to build the trust."

Wild added that Spielberg put him and Swarr to the test — both before hiring them and during the entire process — to make sure they did the show justice.

"He pre-screened us. In my case, as the showrunner, they requested sort of a thesis about how I was going to remake the show. So I wrote a letter explaining exactly what we would do and what we would change, and he picked me," explained Wild. "After that, there were a lot of long emails, because he's a busy guy. It's not like we can just call him up every single time there's something we want to discuss or explain. But he's really, really hands-on."

Meanwhile, Swarr was under intense scrutiny to raise the Animaniacs bar to Spielberg's level, which Wild noted was "really difficult." Added Swarr, "With modern cartoons, people are ambitious, but Steven is Steven and we really had to push the crew to get to that level. He's a filmmaker who knows what he's doing, so he would call us out on specific shots or the way we were doing something. He's a hard man to please."

Still, Wild regards the whole experience of working with the Hollywood legend as "amazing," and thinks that, in the end, the Animaniacs reboot hits the mark. "We've kept as much of the show's original DNA as possible and only changed things that changed with the cultural realities since [the original series ended in] 1998," he shared with Looper. "So what carries over is the comfort and nostalgia that the show provides, and we tried to build on that."

All 13 episodes of season 1 of the new Animaniacs are currently available on Hulu. The series has already been renewed for a second season, which is scheduled to premiere sometime in 2021.