Danny DeVito gets into the Christmas ‘Spirit'
McClatchy Newspapers (MCT) - Apparently, celebrities are just like everyone else when it comes to holiday shopping. They have the same trouble coming up with the right gifts.
The star of television and film figured out a way to get around the holiday gift-buying problem this year. He agreed to be part of the NBC animated special "Little Spirit: Christmas in New York."
DeVito joins Lucy Liu, Freddy Rodriguez, Brian Williams and Brenda Song as the voice talents for the holiday show.
DeVito says during a telephone interview that his shopping habit has always been to get the gifts last for the person who means the most to him. So when co-director and story creator Leopoldo Gout contacted him about being part of a holiday television special, he knew he had found the right present.
"I immediately responded. My children are grown. They're in their 20s now. But I do have an extended family of young kids. This is a Christmas present to them," DeVito says.
DeVito provides the voice for a friendly New York cabbie who tells two young sisters the story of a boy named Leo.
While adjusting to living in the big city, Leo looses his dog Ramona in Central Park. The young boy is devastated until a magical creature named Little Spirit appears. They go on a quest to find Ramona.
It wasn't a big adjustment for DeVito to see himself as an animated character. The actor has been a longtime fan of animation, especially Disney movies and cartoons. Among the numerous animated projects he has done, DeVito provided the voice of Phil in the Disney animated movie "Hercules."
The setting for "Little Spirit" was another plus. New York City was a favorite stomping ground for the New Jersey native when he was young.
"I was very fortunate to be close to the Big Apple and the big thing was there were several attractions. One was always Radio City Music Hall at Christmas time. The other was Macy's window," DeVito says. The store's holiday window displays are known for their elaborate, arty and entertaining look.
DeVito has created memorable characters _ even if they haven't been the nicest guys. His Louie on "Taxi" and Frank on "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia" were and are grumps. Those are fun to play. But Devito explores his soft side in characters, too. That comes out the various Christmas stories he has done, such as "Deck the Halls," "Christmas in Love" and "Catching Kringle."
He likes the good feeling he gets from holiday projects.
"In this case, with the 'Little Spirit,' it's a great project for young people to see and people all to see. Families can watch it together," DeVito says. "I like doing them. I like Christmas. I like that time of year. It's just a great thing.
"And if you can have a film or a TV wonderful animation like 'Little Spirit' out there for people to see, it's part of the whole tradition of feeling, like a kind of camaraderie."
Not to mention it helps with holiday shopping.
LITTLE SPIRIT: CHRISTMAS IN NEW YORK
8 p.m. EST Wednesday
© 2008, The Fresno Bee (Fresno, Calif.).
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