Friday, August 26, 2011

Super ‘70s and ‘80s: Sea World superheroes water ski show—Dan Kibbie, co-writer

Introduction to series “Super ‘70s and ‘80s.”

Introduction to subseries “Sea World superheroes show” (including list of interviewees).

SWSH = Sea World superheroes

How did you get the job with the SWSH show?

John Campbell was the VP in San Diego and I had worked for him at ABC in Chicago, Detroit, and New York. He subsequently retired and went to Sea World and he introduced me to George Millay, the owner of the parks and the founder of the parks. Millay had a black notebook with how to build Sea World. He sold the idea to San Diego. He based it on the idea that 80% of the park would be gardens. Once [a show] was up and running we pretty much left it to Sea World staff to operate on sound principles. They’re very good at that kind of thing.

What was your background before taking the job?

I was in television. I did talk shows for 13 years. Then I did some episodic TV and some specials. I did some of these Sea World things on the side.

Before you wrote the show, how much familiarity did you have with the DC characters?

None, really. Sea World got the rights to whatever it was, DC Comics. There were some caveats—you couldn’t have Superman do things that damaged his reputation as a superhero.

Bugs Batty

How were the characters to be used chosen? Did you have anything to do with that?

I don’t think so. I’m sure they purchased the rights to certain characters that would be good for a water ski show.

Do you remember having to do research about the characters?

I don’t recall it being all that troublesome. We all kind of grew up with those characters so we had a general idea of what they could possibly do in terms of the athletics involved in water skiing.

But there were some in the cast who were fairly obscure, like Mera. I’m sure you got some debriefing.

Maybe so. Or maybe that character was added in Florida. I don’t recall that character. With the water ski show, it started in Ohio and went to the other parks after a couple years, I think.

Where did you write the SWSH show?

That’s a good question. I think we wrote it in Ohio but may have done some of the preliminary work in LA.

Did you see the show?

Of course we saw it. We were there for months. I think that was at the time of the Kent State shootings, and that was close. I remember that Ken and I traveled by the university, but not sure if it was before or after. It must’ve been before.

Kent State was in 1970 and this show began in 1976.

I’m sure it was on our minds when we passed the place.

Did you spend time socially with the SWSH performers?

All the time. We were the line producers.


I’m sure we did.

What was the age split?

They were all about college-aged kids.

Where do you live now?

I live full-time in Arizona. I’m retired.

What do you like to do these days?

Right now I’m writing a letter to the governor of Arizona because they passed a law here that they can stop you if you’re suspicious looking and make you produce documentation to show you’re legal. Obviously they’re not going to stop too many white Euro-Americans and mostly tan Mexican-Americans. It’s waiting the governor’s signature. I think a lot of people are upset with the idea that Arizona would be a state where this kind of harassment is legal.

What was your reaction when you first heard why I was contacting you?

I thought it could be very fun.

Curt Rector and Ken McCabe, announcers.

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