Michael Rappaport, John Di Maggio, and Alanna Ubach star in this new animated series from The Hub, which returns Saturday morning with all-new episodes
"A pup for every person and a person for every pup." That's the motto of the Pound Puppies, a team of fearless dogs whose sworn mission is to find homes for lonely puppies. They only look like regular dogs. In fact, these pooches are dogs of action who match up pups with loving families while they keep the humans at Shelter 17 clueless. Sometimes dogs are dogs' best friend!

The Hub has pulled out all the stops for the return of the Pound Puppies franchise, hiring great writers and voice talent to push this animated series towards excellence. We recently had a chance to catch-up with some of the great actors who are contributing to the series, including Michael Rapaport, John Di Maggio, and Alanna Ubach, just as Pound Puppies gets ready to air two all-new back-to-back episodes this Saturday morning, August 13, at 9:00 am EST (6:00 am PST).

Up first is Michael Rapaport, best known for his acclaimed work in such classics as True Romance, The Basketball Diaries, Cop Land, and Bamboozled. He recently directed the acclaimed documentary Beats Rhymes & Life: The Travels of a Tribe Called Quest. In Pound Puppies, Michael plays the Chihuahua Squirt, a dog that can get you anything you want, for a price! This Chihuahua loves a good deal. Small and wiry, he's an expert at slipping through tight spots and along narrow beams. He knows the city like the back of his paw, so he can always get the team out of a jam.

This is what Michael Rapaport had to say about his role in the Pound Puppies.

They've pulled in some great voice talent for this cartoon. How did you come to be involved with the Pound Puppies?

Michael Rapaport: It was just through my agent. The normal way you go about doing things. I liked the project and knew the casting director. I decided to do it. I play a character named Squirt. He is a fast-talking, hustling mutt.

Back in the day, when the Pound Puppies originally hit the scene, the dogs didn't really have discernable breeds. Do the dogs here get more defined? Will we be able to tell which dog is what?

Michael Rapaport: There are all different breeds. My dog is an alley mutt. The writing is really good on the show, so I have fun with it. It's easy to work with. And it's something we do episode by episode. This show has a good sense of humor, and its well written. It's for kids, but adults can watch it to. And I always have fun doing it.

You're obviously doing something right, my dog, who is here in the office, just growled at you!

Michael Rapaport: Ahhh!

What sort of antics is Squirt getting into on the Pound Puppies?

Michael Rapaport: Stealing. Hustling. Taking things he shouldn't be taking. But he is also trying to help other dogs find homes. You know, its actually kid friendly. I think it has a good message. This is a fun show. Kids like it, and I like doing it. There is a good message there. And I enjoy myself.

Do you have kids?

Michael Rapaport: I have two sons, yeah.

Did they have a hand in getting you involved with this? Was it something they wanted to see you participate in?

Michael Rapaport: I always want to do things that will appeal to them. But I think they are older than the core audience of this show. They get a kick out of hearing my voice on the show. I have a couple of younger nieces and nephews that really like it. They get a kick out of it. My friend's kids, who are a little older, really like it too. Its so much fun. And the writing? I am telling you, its good!

Speaking of good writing, I watched Bamboozled recently. And I thought that was a very profound work. It was poorly received when it came out, but I think it may be one of Spike Lee's best movies to date. What is your opinion on that movie this far removed from it?

Alanna Ubach and her dog
Michael Rapaport: Critical, I think it got a good reception. It just didn't do great at the box office. I think it's a really good movie, and it is very provocative. It is very poignant. It speaks on a lot of things. I don't think it's an easy movie for people to watch. It's got a lot of political stuff in it, but I am very proud of it. I think it has stood the test of time. Its one of those films that people still talk to me about. It was a very controversial movie. It caught some (gruff) with the New York Times. Something happened with the ads. But I just really liked it.

Back to the Pound Puppies, was this your first job as a voice over artist?

Michael Rapaport: I have done a couple. I've done some video games. Like I said, I have some nieces and nephews that get a kick out of it. It's fun, quick, and easy. It's lighthearted. It doesn't take a lot of effort. Which is great for me. I come in and stay loose. The writing is so good, it makes it easier. I am impressed with that. I never feel like its corny. As an adult, I never feel that way. That is why I enjoy it.

These cartoons always seem as though they are trying to appeal to adults, too, especially now a days, with adults being so familiar with these properties from back in the 80s...

Michael Rapaport: It's important, because as the kids watch, the adults watch. And they want to keep the adults happy. They have adult themes, but they do it through the eyes of a kid.

Would you be interested in carrying on in voice work for children's animated programming? Has this been worthwhile for you as an artist?

Michael Rapaport: Yeah, I think its fun. I would definitely do more.

You just directed the Tribe Called Quest movie that came out. What are your aspirations in terms of continuing to direct? Was this a one-time deal, where you just specifically wanted to make that movie? Or will you continue to go down this road?

Michael Rapaport: I have been wanting to direct a movie for a while. I never thought it would come in the form of a documentary. But I was happy and excited. I was compelled to doBeats Rhymes & Life: The Travels of a Tribe Called Quest for three years. It kept coming back to me, and I was able to pull it off. The response, and the critical acclaim, and how it has done at the box office, has been beyond all of our wildest expectations. It's been great.

Are you planning on directing a narrative feature sometime in the future?

Michael Rapaport: I definitely want to do a narrative feature. But I would also like to continue doing documentaries.

Any chance you'd come on and direct one of these cartoons?

Michael Rapaport: No!

John DiMaggio's Dogs (photos courtesy of johnlennonphoto.com)
Next up is John Di Maggio, an extraordinarily popular voice artist who may be best known as the voice of Bender on Futurama. On Pound Puppies, he plays Niblet, a great big sheepdog who is a gentle giant with a heart of gold. He's huge! Sometimes he's even afraid to help out, because he thinks he might accidentally hurt someone. No problem, because Lucky can talk him into joining any operation. Here is what John Di Maggio had to say about Niblet and his participation on the show.

How did you get involved with Pound Puppies? Did this come from your time on Dan Vs. and your other previous work with The Hub?

John Di Maggio: I guess so. I have worked with this group before. There are a lot of people that work at The Hub that have worked at other places. I guess you could say that. I basically came in and read for it, and I got the part.

Is the voice acting community a pretty tight knit group? I mean, do they jump you in? Once you are down, you're down for life?

John Di Maggio: I think there is a group of people who do voices in cartoons. It is a hard nut to crack. To get in. But once you are in, it is mafia-like (laughs). There are certain people that you work with a lot. You find your chemistry with them. That makes it a lot easier when you show up on a new show or start doing a project. You know these people, and you know you'll be fine.

When you've done as many voices as you've done, what do you find inspires you as an artist? How do you come up with such great, different voices every time?

John Di Maggio: Well...I just start with the character. I want to see what the character layout is, and what this character looks like. What inspired this character. I start from there. I start from the ground up when trying to develop a voice for a character. That is how I get inspired. I like to see what the mouth looks like, and try to imagine what is coming out. It all depends. It depends on what the powers that be want. You mix that up in your salad, and you get whatever comes out. There is always room for compromise. You always have to remember that.

What kind of breed are you, and what is your character all about?

John Di Maggio: Nibblet is a big ol' dog. He is pretty much a mutt. And he is a big ol' slobberer. I went from there for the physical role of the voice. As far as the character is concerned, he is just a lovable dog. He is just a friendly loveable dog who likes to play. He likes to play more than all of the other dogs combined. And he loves to be around his pals, and doing stuff. He is filled with amazement and wonderment about the world. He is very naïve. But that's what makes him so adorable.

With a dog that is slobbering all over everything, what do you have to do to get that special sound going. Are you filling up your mouth with water the whole time?

John Di Maggio: No! Remember when you were a kid and you pretended? You would play a game called pretend? I have the wonderful and fortunate ability to still do that as a grown man. That is the whole thing. You pretend you have a mouth full of slobber. That's basically it. You play. You pretend. What would I sound like if I did this. It is childlike, but with a salary.

Do you have a dog that you are able to pull inspiration from?

John Di Maggio: Its funny. I do. I have had dogs in the past, and I just go two dogs from rescue. They are sister dogs, and they are awesome. My little Francesca and Monique. They are sisters from the same litter. They were found together. I didn't even go in to get them. I just saw their picture, from this rescue, and I said, "I want them! Send them over here." And I got them. I have had them since April, and they are just the sweetest dogs. When I did stand-up, I used to do impressions of dogs in the act. Because dogs are very funny, with dog sneezes and dogs throwing up, all that kind of stuff. You look at a dog, and you do find inspiration. Yeah.

You mention getting your dogs from a rescue. That seems to be one of the themes of this show. That its teaching kids to seek out a dog at the pound as opposed to going to a dog breeder or some mall pet store where you can get a dog that has been inbred to the ninth degree.

John Di Maggio: Yeah, there is definitely that lesson in there. But it's not all about that. It's about being yourself, and trying to find out who you are. Being the best you can be, and working towards that diligently. I think that's really what this show is about. It's about finding your own voice. Sometimes you have to have help with that. You have to accept that help. You learn from people. And dogs? They are accepting a responsibility, too. There are all sorts of life lessons within this show, and each episode will show that.

Do you come at a show like Pound Puppies with a different mindset than something like Futurama?

John Di Maggio: I don't know. I think Futurama is in a much different space than Pound Puppies. With Futurama, you have guys from MIT with PhDs doing science jokes and math jokes. This show is a little less brainy. But, I don't know...I think this show is adorable. I love coming in here and doing this show, because the cast is very funny. They are great, and it's a nice time. It's very funny. It's cute. It's like going to the pound for twenty-two minutes. Volunteering your time, and playing with puppies. That is really kind of it.

They really secured some great voice actors and some great writers for this. It's not just some cheap, throwaway cartoon.

John Di Maggio: The Hub has pulled out all of the stops trying to get this channel going. I think they've done a good job. More power to them. I want to be a part of The Hub for a while. (Laughs)

You've been in the business of voicing cartoons for awhile. And watching The Hub recently, I noticed that those old 80s cartoons really put an emphasis on who the writers were. Do you find that is true today?

John DiMaggio and his Dogs (photos courtesy of johnlennonphoto.com)
John Di Maggio: Within this day and age, everything has to hold up. In order for it to hold up, they have to have the right people coming up with ideas, in order to compete in this TV environment that we currently reside in. You can't lose respect for the writers. Without them, you got nothing. That has been the case since the beginning of television, and the beginning of radio. You can't do anything without the writer. This I know. I think it's very important that we have the writers that we have. I would like to see the writers get as much respect as they've always had, and more. It's funny. I'd like everyone to get a piece. The writers just happen to be a very important cog in this type of ensemble than most.

Even though you are primarily a voice actor, you have a legion of fans, and because of things like Comic Con, they all know what you look like. Is that cool for you?

John Di Maggio: I am not really interested in that. But it is fine for me. I don't mind people being like, "Oh, wow! You are on one of my favorite shows and I really enjoy it. Thank you!" I don't mind that, but I didn't get into this for people blowing smoke up my...You know what I mean! So, that's that. I am fine with it, as long as someone doesn't start to stalk me, or something like that. Then they will have problems. I don't play that. I am from New Jersey. There aren't any anti-stocking laws in New Jersey, because people from Jersey handle their business. Let me put that out there and remind people. I ain't no joke! When I go to Comic Con, I need security. I feel like the fifth Beatle. It's pretty crazy. But that's the way it is. And that is my core audience right there. So you deal with it. You handle your business, and you take it with a grain of salt. I like it. But then there are parts that I don't like. You know? It's frustrating sometimes. Its like, "Can't you just get out of the way? I thought I was done with this. I just want to go to my room!" Then you tell yourself, "You have to cool out! You have to handle these people. You have to take care of them." It's a simple attitude adjustment. And then you get back to people pleasing.

You have so many great projects coming up. Is there anything you are excited for?

John Di Maggio: Lets see. There has been so much stuff. There was a last minute audition I did for Fox. I'm not sure I should say anything about it, so I'm not going to. But there is a possibility that I will be involved with a show for Fox that is beyond what I have done in the past. Its cool. There are all sorts of things going on. You know what? All I want to do is work. As long as I can keep busy, I'm fine. That is all I am looking for. I love what I do passionately. I don't want to screw it up. I just want to keep doing what I am doing. Hopefully I can. There are new Futuramas coming up. I am really looking forward to those. And all the stuff I am doing for this. There are all kinds of shows. It is overwhelming, the amount of shows I am doing. I am flat out grateful. I feel very fortunate, and I hope that I am doing every job justice, because I really love it. It is the best job.

Finally, we talked to actress Alanna Ubach, known for her knock-out roles in Waiting and Legally Blonde, and she will be seen later this year as Danny DeVito's girlfriend in Season 7 of It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia. On the Pound Puppies, she plays Strudel, a tiny dachshund who is the genius of the group. This master of strategy and problem-solving can design whatever tools the team needs. Seems there's nothing she doesn't know. Strudel's also great at getting other animals, like squirrels, to help her out. Here is what Alanna Ubach had to say about voicing Strudel.

Tell me about Strudel?

Alanna Ubach: Strudel is a little wiener dog, and she is the smartest of the group. She is a tiny Albert Einstein in a doggie's body.

Do you have a wiener dog yourself?

Alanna Ubach: I do. I have a dachshund. Her name is Lucy.

Is this how you imagine she would sound if she could talk?

Alanna Ubach: Oh, my gosh. I am going to answer, "Why not?" I plan to use that method next week. I never really thought about it, but I think its ironic that I have a dog that is the same character I play on Pound Puppies. That is hilarious.

Do you ever feel that, when you are interacting with your dog, that she is almost human?

Alanna Ubach and her Dogs
Alanna Ubach: Oh, sure! I have three dogs. Stewart, who has three legs. He got into a car accident, and then we rescued him. We don't know what he is. He might be half Beagle, half retriever. Who knows? The second one is a Pomeranian, named Biggie Smalls. I have had him for about six years. And I just adopted Lucy. I do think they have personalities. They all three have very different personalities. Stewart is very young, and he gets very jealous when I hug the other dogs. Biggie Smalls on the other hand, he keeps his beer cold in the fridge. I will put it to you that way. He always looks like he is smiling. Which is funny to me. The third one, Lucy? She is tense. She is an old soul. She never gets lost. If she is in the neighborhood, she knows to come right back. She is almost like a cat.

Was it your love for dogs that pulled you into this series?

Alanna Ubach: Oh, sure. Absolutely. I have always owned a dog, since I was a baby. So, yes. I do have a very strong appreciation for all animals. When this came on, I thought, "A German accent! Her name is Struddle. This is going to be really fun." She is in the age range of the kids that watch these things. Its so much fun.

You must have been a baby when the Pound Puppies originally came out...

Alanna Ubach: Exactly. I had one. I remember. You would give it water, and about an hour later it would actually pee. Yes, I think that's what they did. They were a little like the Cabbage Patch dolls. But they were dogs.

What kind of stories are you exploring on Pound Puppies? What is Struddle getting up to?

Alanna Ubach: She basically runs the point of operation for the pound. She has all of these funny devices and instruments that can monitor when a human is about to enter the pound. She has a navigation system. She is a gadget guru, and the intellectual of the group. So she is always applying logic to every obstacle they are trying to jump over in each episode. She runs away to the circus one day, and she gets renamed Glitterpants. She thinks she is going to stay with the circus. Even though she is modest, I think she has a Napoleonic complex. Because she is clearly the lowest to the ground.

When and how did you get involved in voice work?

Alanna Ubach: I love this. You can wear your PJs to work and its no big deal. I have been doing it for years. The first gig I got was Teamo Supremo for Disney. Then I did Brandy & Mr. Whiskers for Nickelodeon. I have always had, what I call, a 'weekend voice' since the time I was a kid. It has always been a little grainy. As a joke, I would mimic my little cousins. They are all little boys. I did it quite well, and I did it in front of my manager one time, because I thought it would be funny. And she said, "You could play little boys in cartoons." So, she hooked me up with an agent, he started sending me out, and there you go.

It says here that you played four different characters in Rango.

Alanna Ubach: Yes, that was fun. Little boys, little old ladies. They are very similar sounding. They are the same pitch. Little girls are fun, too. It's also fun, too, to give a voice to something that doesn't have a voice. Like an inanimate object or an animal. That is always fun.

What is your process in finding a character's voice?

Alanna Ubach: I look at a picture. The picture says it all. When you look at a picture of something, you think, "What voice would make me laugh coming out of that?" If I make myself chuckle while I am preparing an audition, I will put that voice behind the character. That is really fun. You are drawing as well. You are creating, and you become part of the process. And a part of the animation. You are bringing these things to life.

Do you ever catch yourself doing these voices outside of work?

Alanna Ubach: No, I keep it inside the studio. I don't want to drive my family and friends crazy. I would drive them nuts. Maybe when I am by myself, or I am at the supermarket, in an empty isle, I will practice the voice. Sometimes I will plug in my Bluetooth and pretend like I am talking on the phone. I practice my voices while I am driving, so that no one thinks I am a lunatic.

{bold|I was recently on the set of Sunny in Philadelphia, and the cast was praising you. I hear you are playing Danny DeVito's wife this season.

Alanna Ubach: Yes. I play his girlfriend in one episode. He proposes to me. I am a crack whore in it. It is my favorite part that I have ever played. I can't give it away. In a nutshell, my character and Frank fall in love. And that's where the story begins!

Will this become a reoccurring character?

<strong><em>Pound Puppies</em></strong> returns this saturday with all new episodes
Alanna Ubach: No! It is a one shot deal. For obvious reasons. When you see it, you will figure it out. I am cracking up just thinking about it. I love their writing. And I absolutely love Danny DeVito. Its funny. This is how the world works. I played his daughter when I was 17, and now it has come around to this. Now I am his girlfriend.

Danny seemed pretty obsessed about getting to kiss you in the episode.

Alanna Ubach: We really did it. I went for it. Why not?

He said you were the best kisser he's ever kissed!

Alanna Ubach: Oh! (Laughs) Coming from Danny DeVito? I am blushing!

Maybe the fact that you played his daughter fueled the fantasy. Maybe that had something to do with it. I'm not sure. He was rambling on about it...

Alanna Ubach: I love the way he rambles. He is a little rambling rose. (Laughs)

Do you have any other voice work that you are excited about this year?

Alanna Ubach: You know what? I have been doing the scratch track for Walt Disney's The Snow Queen. That has been a lot of fun. I don't know who they have cast as The Snow Queen, but I did the original voice for them to animate off of. That has been a lot of fun. Trying to get into the whole Disney world. Literally, trying to see if I can do more work with them. They are an interesting group. It is very difficult. When you are in, you are in. Its cool.

I know, sometimes, they decide that they like the scratch track and keep it. But even if they didn't do that here, do you think you'll get to voice another character in the actual finished film?

Alanna Ubach: That is hopefully what the case will be. That is what you hope for. But you can't sit by the phone and wait for them to say, "Oh, we have a spot for you!" You do the scratch, and you move on. I actually just wrapped The Snow Queen. It is so lovely. You feel like you know a big secret. You know the storyline and animation of something that will not come out until 2014. There is something special about that to me.

I haven't heard to much about the Snow Queen. Is that hand-drawn, or will it be CGI?

Alanna Ubach: It is going to be computer graphics. It might be like Rango. Who knows? We'll see.

Do you get to keep a version of your scratch tracks, so that you have a copy with your voice?

Alanna Ubach: I never do. My work is done the moment I turn the light off on my little music stand. Then I go out the door. It is kind of boring to me. I do each line three times in a row. So that is kind of boring. The fun part is watching the cartoon, and seeing my voice come out of an animal, or a screwdriver, or a little boy, or a big boa constrictor. It is hilarious to me.

You actually played a screwdriver in something?

Alanna Ubach: Yeah. Handy Manny. Unless you are three months old, you probably haven't seen it.

Pound Puppies is set to debut two all-new episodes Saturday, August 12, only on The Hub. John Di Maggio's dog photos courtesy of johnlennonphoto.com.