Voice Press

Voice Over Press Reviews
The Press loves Ellie Weingardt's Commercial Voice Talent and so will you!
By Ruth Ratny
VOs are the talk of Windy Awards 
Chicago voiceovers were seen instead of just heard as they took the spotlight in last week's annual Windy Awards, sponsored by Radio Broadcasters of Chicagoland and the Broadcast Advertising Club of Chicago. Ellie Weingardt was named "Best Chicagoland Female Voiceover Talent," for her work on the Coca-Cola "Shooting in Kenya" spot, produced by Cerny American. Cerny was also the production company behind Joe Guzaldo, who won in the Male Voiceover category for Ameritech's "Holidaze" spot. It was the first time the talent category was recognized in the round-up of radio excellence, a fact that VOs and audio producers applauded. "It's really' such a hip thing that they have this brand new category," said Cerny American president JoBe Cerny, whose company also produced the spots behind the second-place VOs, P.J. Byrnes, and Dave Razowsky. "Most awards shows always recognize the creatives and the directors, but it's a rare thing for a show to remember the outstanding talent. It's great that [the Windy's] realize what a deep talent market we have here. One of the largest Windy crowds (which included local broadcast celebs like Jack Brickhouse, Steve Dahl, Ron Santo and actor Mickey Rooney) feted winners and first and second place runners-up in a variety of categories, including the 1992 Golden Windy Award winner Wally Phillips. 

By George Lazarus
Toothbrush wars take a new turn
Ellie Weingardt and Joe Guzaldo were judged best voiceover talent for radio among females and males, respectively, in 1992. WGN Radios Wally Phillips was honored with the Golden Windy Award for his achievements in the industry at the Westin Chicago luncheon Tuesday recognizing the winners. A 60-second Bud Dry radio commercial, dubbed "Blind Date," won "Best of Show" at the annual Windy Awards competition co-sponsored by Radio Broadcasters Of Chicagoland and the Broadcast Advertising Club Of Chicago. This spot will air once gratis Wednesday on most Chicago area radio stations in recognition of being the top spot. For the winning agency, DDB Needham Chicago, there was a $2,500 cash prize from the rep form firm Interep Radio Store. The recipient is Dennis Ryan, who wrote the copy on this spot for client Anheuser-Busch and, by some coincidence, is being promoted to a group creative director at the agency.

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Michigan Avenue Magazine 
Rosie O'Donnell Cover Party Michigan Avenue and Horseshoe Casino 

Michigan Avenue and Horseshoe Casino rolled out the red carpet to welcome December cover star—and new Chicago resident— Rosie O’Donnell to our fair city. The actress and talk-show host graciously took photos with fans and answered a slew of questions about her recent engagement to longtime girlfriend, Michelle Rounds. There was even an A League of Their Own reunion, as Ellie Weingardt, who played the etiquette expert, popped up on the red carpet to surprise O’Donnell. Marveling at Horseshoe’s close proximity to the city, Rosie had one request of the crowd: “Meet me at the dollar slots. Mommy doesn’t do nickels.”
By Marilyn Soltis

Voiceover Vixen

Marilyn Monroe, Mae West and Zsa Zsa Gabor are only a few of Ellie Weingardt's impersonations-voice, that is. Recently, she placed fifth in the "Joan Rivers Look-Alike Contest on the Late Show" a slight aberration from the aforementioned stars. But impersonations are only a small part of Weingardt's repertoire. Her industrial film and commercial work covers characters ranging from housewives to anchor Her calling card reads, "When it comes to spots, Scotch gard and StainGard can't hold a candle to Weingardt!" Weingardt's career began 10 years ago when a friend asked her to accompany her to an acting class because she didn't want to go alone. "I was in my thirties and from the suburbs. The class was in a dingy basement where everybody was swearing. You had to stand up and say #!x@. It took me a while to understand the method but I stuck with it after my friend dropped out. Everyone made a voice tape to get into commercials and so I've been in the business ever since." When she first started out, Weingardt won a trip to the Academy Awards. Upon deciding that she didn't look any different than anybody else in the audience, she decided that acting would be her chosen profession. After 10 years she believes anything is possible. Says Weingardt, "Why set limits? Why not win an Academy Award?"

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By Mark Paul

Delivering her voice to the mind's eye

Ellie Weingardt picks up where she left off - Juggling voiceover sessions, two leading roles in locally produced independent features, theatrical roles, and on-camera performances in commercials and industrial productions, Ellie Weingardt is busy. One day began with a morning run-through of scenes from "C.I.N.E.," the science fiction thriller directed by Columbia College student Duane Hlavka. After a lunch break for an interview, she returned to the "C.IN.E." rehearsal, then broke at mid-afternoon for costume fittings for "Somewhere in Between," her second film lead. There had been voiceover auditions the day before, and a call on her cellular interrupted lunch with the news that she had been called for a repeat voiceover booking for a series of CPA Society PSAs, a 15-year relationship. Some of her recent voiceover credits include Ameritech, KFC and the Chicago Sun-Times. "Voiceover is the most demanding form of acting," she says. 'You have to use every resource to imagine your character's personality, including makeup, hair and costume, to deliver your voice to the mind's eye of the audience." Weingardt has four grown children "age is a wall and I won't disclose it," she says-so she is defying the odds that limit roles for most actresses her age. Vitamins and a thrice-weekly gym regimen help-she says her role in "C.I.N.E." was originally written for an actress in her late 20s-but there's clearly a sense of making up for lost time as she tools around town in an orange Porsche (license plates "I ACT"). As a stagestruck adolescent from Marquette Park, she skipped college to go to New York, where she landed a role in an Off-Broadway production of "Beauty and the Beast" Family pressures brought her back to Chicago, where she settled down as a wife and mother. Loaning her house for the opening tracking shot which leads to the girl in the shower in "Risky Business" was fun (and led to a on-camera appearance as an extra), but the acting bug stayed in remission until she attended an acting class about 15 years ago at St. Nicholas, accompanying a friend too timid to go alone. "Once we started playing the 'repetition game,' I was hooked," she recalls. Her first professional acting job was at Steppenwolf, when it was the resident company in a church basement in Highland Park, in a production of "Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead," with future stars Gary Sinise, Laurie Metcalf, Joan Allen and Jeff Perry.
The Talent Speaks 
By Milt Smith

The column for this Issue ought to be bannered "Sounds Good To You" because we're going to be talking about and to six of the premier voice talent artist in the Chicago area who, together, represent over 100 year of 'voice work experience~ I'm going to shut up (for once) and let a cross section of Chicago 's best voiceover Talent - Ellie Weingardt, Mercita DeMonk, Vicki Kaywood, Brad Bisk, Glen Kvacvich and Larry Moran talk about what they do for you - voiceover narration. I posed the same questions to all of our respondents and we'll use a modified "Q &A" approach to present their answers' Space does not permit us to fit every word of their interesting, insightful response and in instances where there was basic agreement we won't duplicate answers. Over my 25 years in the Chicago production community I have seen virtually every possible producer/talent professional relationship, from just this side of pure hate to just short of pure ecstasy. And on rare occasion sessions can come close to a producer-versus talent contest. It's a creative business and all of our personalities. foibles, likes, dislikes and egos are involved in what we produce -but that's the nature of a creative process, we're not stamping our widgets hut

Q. Do you feel most producers/directors know how to commicate their wishes to you during a session? How can they be better at it? Ellie: If there's a problem with the director trying to explain to me what he wants, I just pursue it until I decode what they're trying to relate to me. I have to figure it out, that's part of my job.

Q.If you could tell producers to do one thing that would make your life easier, and their productions better, what would it be? 
Ellie: I would (say to) them be confident that what we produce will be the very best possible product, knowing I'm going to do everything in my power to achieve that goal. The best input they could have in the session is that confidence.

Q. Can you list some of your recent credits? 
Ellie: Miles Laboratories, Motorola, Wickes Furnature.

Well, I don't know how I can possibly add anything to all this, except to say that after a long time of listening to and recording these wonderful people and their peers. Every time they get in front of a microphone and perform that beautiful magic that is interpretive voice narration, it still sounds good to me.
by Ellie Weingardt

The way things were - And how they've changed

On the occasion of SCREEN'S 18th anniversary, actress Ellie Weingardt reminisced on how the talent business has changed since she started as a voice actress. Technology is changing so rapidly who I knows what's around the corner. When I started as a voice actress, demo tapes were on reel-to-reels; then came cassettes, then digital audiotapes and now CDs. The last three voiceover spots I recorded were phone-patched to other states. Back then, so as not to miss a business call, you signed up for a 24-hour live answering service. Now, I have a pager, a cellular phone, an answering service and my agent, Gina, at C.E.D., who also fields calls for me. The way we advertised, too, has changed. I once subscribed to "Talent Phone," which played my demo tape over the phone for interested talent buyers. One enterprising voice talent in town has his own phone line exclusively playing his demo, which I think is a brilliant idea. There is talk of another such phone service in the near future. I, for one, will be a subscriber when that happens. Along with advertising, pictures and resumes, are now supplemented by post cards, greeting cards, faxes, and other promotional mailings. The all important J-card became an art form, entertaining and informative. We went from single head shots to picture-in-picture, three-quarters to full and back to head shots. Both glossy and matte are now acceptable. Composite pictures in color are a new innovation and graphic companies are providing New Media. Video demos went from 3/4-inch to half-inch and became more sophisticated in their presentation. Cable TV and infomercials opened up a whole new access to advertisers, while radio stayed as strong as ever. Suddenly, the movie industry grew up around us. Film classes became popular, hosted by' out-of-town casting directors since there were no movie casting directors in Chicago at that time, only talent agents. Though still small in numbers by New York and L.A. standards, some actors have made their mark. My first taste of a Hollywood film was working as an extra in "The Blues Brothers." Ill never forget working late as an extra and having an early morning voiceover booking for national Sears spots the next day. But the moxie bug was strong, and eventually it led me to a wonderful role in "A League of Their Own" working side by side with Geena Davis, Madonna, Rosie O'Donnell, the incredible Tom Hanks and director Penny' Marshall. When I started out, I primarily voiced retail; now medicine, law, gambling, and insurance have joined their ranks in prominence along with beer and fast-food chains. Character wise, comedic takes precedence 2-1 over dramatic presentation. There is more information available to those who wish to enter the field today. Due to the increased interest in the field by our young people, I have taught voiceover seminars at Evanston Township high school and Stevenson high school and was a guest lecture at Columbia College. However things have changed in the talent business-and I'm sure they will continue to further evolve-for me it's been fun, exciting and a great growth experience.

Content copyright 2015. Ellie Weingardt. All rights reserved.
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