The strange saga of Siegfried and Roy continues. Last year, Roy survived his vicious mauling by Montecore, one of the white tigers in their Las Vegas stage show. Now, the duo are co-producing NBC's Father of the Pride along with Dreamworks honcho Jeffrey Katzenberg, the exec behind Shrek. It's a CGI-animated sitcom (debuting Aug. 31) about white lions (not tigers) who perform in Siegfried and Roy's Vegas act. Pride's many celeb voices include John Goodman, Curb Your Enthusiasm's Cheryl Hines and Orlando Jones, who explains here how he got involved in this unusual comic undertaking.
TV Guide Online: How far along are you in the project?
Orlando Jones: We recorded 13 [episodes].
TVGO: Which character are you?
Jones: I play a gopher named Snack who is named that because his best friend is a lion. I think [the lions] like to remind him that, at any time, [he] could be lunch. And he pushes that the entire time. Snack is revolving in a world where he is very low on the food chain, and he probably should [tread] a little more lightly than he does.
TVGO: How do you get into the right frame of mind for a role like that?
Jones: I think of it like I am playing ball with the Los Angeles Lakers. They're all 7-foot-1 and I'm 6-foot-1. I shouldn't be talking nearly as much trash as I am, but I do it anyway. It's David and Goliath, [you're] fighting against the big, supreme monster. You read the Bible and walk amongst the giants for awhile, and all of a sudden, I know what it's like to play Snack.
TVGO: Is the cast all together in the recording studio?
Jones: No, we are completely separate. We usually do a table read but, due to schedule constraints, there is no way to get us all together, so we do it separately. It's not as crazy as one would imagine. If we all hated each other, it would be a real pain in the butt. I think the reason the show works is because we have really good chemistry and we understand where the other person may or may not go [with their line readings].
TVGO: When you were hired, had you ever seen Siegfried and Roy's act?
Jones: I had been in Vegas and seen their show, and I know they were the masters of magic and all that, but I had not been behind the scenes and seen the whole animal sanctuary.
TVGO: How did you react to Roy's tragedy? Other than wishing him well, of course.
Jones: Roy to me is like Lance Armstrong. I remember watching the Tour de France, which I am a huge fan of, and here's a guy who battled back from cancer and is Superman. What stuck out to me is how much Roy loved animals and how he said, "Don't hurt this cat because it didn't mean to hurt me. It's actually protecting me." It's horrible, but they wanted to move on.
TVGO: Have you met with them since making Father of the Pride?
Jones: No, it's the madness of scheduling. But I did see them on tape supporting the show. It is one of the most original sitcoms of all time. It's so much fun. This thing is going to change the face of television.