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Daniel Altiere

Daniel Altiere was one of the writers for Scooby-Doo! The Mystery Begins and Scooby-Doo! Curse of the Lake Monster, both of which he co-wrote with his brother, Steven. Daniel also wrote Woody Woodpecker, Norm of the North, Beethoven's Christmas Adventure, Gym Teacher: The Movie, and more.

I teamed up with Scooby-Doom of The Nerd Blitz to do the written interview below. I'm so happy to have been able to include him in this!

Daniel, we really appreciate you taking the time to answer these for us and thank you for responding to us on Twitter.

You can find Daniel's full list of credits on IMDB.

Daniel Altiere

ScoobyAddicts.com/Scooby-Doom: Did you grow up watching Scooby-Doo and have you kept up with the franchise in the last decade?

Daniel Altiere: I definitely watched the original cartoons when I was a kid (back in ‘70s and early ‘80s) but didn’t really care for the two live action movies (the Freddie Prinze Jr. ones). I haven’t kept up with the franchise much though there was a recent series that brought back the old character Red Herring and maybe Mister E that I thought was really clever. Can’t recall the name of the series though. Had a cool stylized animation look too.

ScoobyAddicts.com: What inspired you to become a writer?

Daniel Altiere: I always wanted to write novels but wound up going to a school with a very substantial film department (Ithaca College) and though i was an English major, found myself getting drawn into film writing. My brother was a film writing major at Syracuse and so when we both graduated it just felt like a natural progression to work together.

ScoobyAddicts.com: How exciting is it that you got to come up with the origin story for Scooby and the gang for Scooby-Doo! The Mystery Begins? That must have have been an amazing experience! How did you come up with the origin story?

Daniel Altiere: It was a total honor to contribute to a fifty year old canon—and a particular privilege to come up with the origin story. The first question we had to answer when considering story options was how do these four kids who were from totally different cliques get together in high school. We looked to one of our favorite ‘80s movies for inspiration, The Breakfast Club. Detention seemed like one of the only ways for these radically different kids to wind up in the same room for a long period of time. I believe it was the director’s idea to have them all pull out mystery novels, the first bit of common ground.

Scooby-Doom: What was your first reaction to seeing the final version The Mystery Begins? Can you describe how you felt when you heard The Mystery Begins set a ratings record?

Daniel Altiere: We were thrilled to see the final product and thought Brian Levant did a tremendous job directing. Very gratifying to hear about the ratings record. Very gratifying and very proud.

ScoobyAddicts.com: You said you had written a 3rd Scooby live-action movie about time travel. Can you tell me more about the movie? How far did you get with the script? What more would we have learned about the gang?

Daniel Altiere: We wrote the whole script, collaborating a bit with Brian Levant. It would have made a great film. There was a very cute romance between Velma and a young HG Wells (author of The Time Machine of course.) In fact I believe it was the HG Wells museum from where they took off on their time traveling adventure. I’m not sure what else we learned about the gang in the movie but I can tell you the monster was a steampunk robot and I believe it was set during Christmas (though I could be wrong, it was a long time ago.)

Follow-up: PS Just got confirmation from my brother that the third Scooby movie for which there is only a script was in fact a Christmas movie.

Also: for while warner was thinking of turning our live action movies into a live action series. Turned out to be too expensive with all the Scooby cgi work. I think the episodes came in at a million per. Big regret not getting that off the ground. As another follow-up, no scripts were created for the live-action series.

ScoobyAddicts.com: What was it like writing Scooby-Doo! The Mystery Begins and Curse of the Lake Monster with your brother, Steven? Did you run into any issues with figuring out what ideas to use if you didn't agree on something?

Daniel Altiere: Don’t remember any major disagreements at all. We worked very well together and it was a pretty smooth write.

ScoobyAddicts.com/Scooby-Doom: Can you describe the process of writing Scooby-Doo! The Mystery Begins from start to finish? Did WB give you access to background material and archives?

Daniel Altiere: We didn’t really need archives, the characters and situations being so classic. One decision we made early though: the monster(s) had to be real. There had to be real ghosts in Mystery Begins and in Curse of the Lake Monster, the frog monster had to be real. You still needed someone to be unmasked as per the classical formula at the end but a human villain using tricks and stage craft couldn’t be the extent of it. It would have just felt like a gyp in a feature film.

Scooby-Doom: For either movie, were there any deleted scenes that you wish had made it in?

Daniel Altiere: There was a GREAT deleted sequence in Curse of the Lake Monster. We had an opening scene with Old Man Withers who was originally voiced by Jonathan Winters in the cartoon series and — we got Jonathan Winters to play him! It was so awesome getting to meet him too. But alas the scene was deemed gratuitous and had to be cut.

Scooby-Doom: Was the opening flashforward in Curse of the Lake Monster something you and your brother had written initially or was it added later?

Daniel Altiere: Everything there was in the original script.

Scooby-Doom: Do you have a moment that you are particularly proud of or that stands out as your favorite from the 2 films you worked on?

Daniel Altiere: It’s minor and might seem like a silly thing to be proud of but in the first movie when scooby jumps into shaggy’s house after being chased by ghosts shaggy asks him why he’s scared and he says “roasts! Roasts!” because that’s how scooby would say “ghosts” and shaggy says “what’s so scary about a delicious roast?” Love that.

In general I’m very proud of being able to include the classic scooby tropes in both films. Everyone knows you have to include a handful of things in every scooby episode/movie. Fred has to say: “let’s split up and search for clues,” Velma has to lose her glasses at one point (which are some of my favorite moments in the films) and at the end the evil doer has to say “and I would have gotten away with it too if it weren’t for you meddling kids!” I was proud of how we managed to work in all three into both movies.

ScoobyAddicts.com: What memorable responses or feedback have you received about your work on the Scooby-Doo movies?

Daniel Altiere: It’s hard to get feedback as a screenwriter but when I talk to kids who have seen the movies I’m delighted to hear how much they loved them, just like I was when you told me how fond you are of the films.

Scooby-Doom: What does it mean to you to have been a part of such an iconic and enduring franchise?

Daniel Altiere: Like I said earlier it’s a total honor and a privilege and I don’t take it lightly at all. We took our responsibility very seriously. We knew Scooby fans would scrutinize the movies for authenticity and we think we did a pretty good job delivering for them (though I know some fans were disappointed that our Fred didn’t have blonde hair.)

ScoobyAddicts.com: In addition to the 2 Scooby movies, you have written Woody Woodpecker, Beethoven's Christmas Adventure, etc. Do you have a favorite show or movie you have worked on? What makes it your favorite?

Daniel Altiere: We wrote Gym Teacher: The Movie as a spec script that was meant for someone like Will Ferrel but it wound up as a TV movie on Nick. I have to say that was the best experience I had writing with my brother. The Scoobys are a close second though. Working with Warner Bros. and Brian Levant was a pleasure as well.

ScoobyAddicts.com: Do you have any plans for any Scooby projects in the future?

Daniel Altiere: I’m not really in the business any more. Working on getting a career going in childrens books now.