Thursday, February 10, 2011
Michigan J. Frog, again voiced by McCarthy, was the official mascot of The WB Television Network from its inception in 1995 until 2005. The network's first night of programming on January 11, 1995 began with Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck wondering over who (which one of them) would pull the switch to launch The WB.The camera then panned over to Chuck Jones drawing Michigan on an easel. When Jones finished, Michigan leapt from the drawing to formally launch the WB.
Michigan also would usually appear before the opening of shows, informing the viewer of the TV rating. For example, before Buffy The Vampire Slayer or Angel, the frog would sing a short monologue suggesting that kids should go to bed, meaning that the show coming on would be for mature audiences only.
On July 22, 2005, Michigan's "death" was announced by WB Network Chairman Garth Ancier at a fall season preview with the terse statement "The frog is dead and buried." The head of programming for the WB Network, David Janollari, stated that "[Michigan] was a symbol that perpetuated the young teen feel of the network. That's not the image we [now] want to put out to our audience."
Various humorous obituaries for the mascot were published with details on Michigan's life and death. His dates were given as December 31, 1955 - July 22, 2005. Despite the announcement by Ancier, Michigan still appeared in some WB affiliate logos and in TV spots, such as KWBF in Little Rock, Arkansas (whose early slogan was "The Frog"; the "F" in KWBF is supposedly for "frog"), during 2006, andWBRL in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Also, WMJF, a small student-run television station at Towson University just outside Baltimore, Maryland, still uses the same call letters (WMJF -Michigan J. Frog) from when the station was a WB affiliate. To this day, a neon likeness of Michigan J. Frog also adorns the facade of former WB affiliate WBNX-TV's studio complex inCuyahoga Falls, Ohio.
When the WB signed off the air for the final time on September 17, 2006, a white silhouette of the mascot appeared at the end of a montage of stars that appeared on the network during its 11-year history. When the montage ended with "Thank You", Michigan's silhouette is shown removing his top hat and bowing to the viewer.