Published On: Sun, Mar 2nd, 2014

Hank Azaria Gets His Voice Back- But Has To Go To Court First

Azaria, best known as the voice of cartoon character Homer Simpson, wins a complicated court case relating to ownership of the fictional  character Jim Brockmire.

Hank Azaria / Getty

Hank Azaria, one of the entertainment industry’s best known voice artists had a point to prove in his long running lawsuit, raised  over disputed ownership of a  fictional baseball announcer (complete with voice) known as Jim Brockmire which he used during the making of a Funny or Die viral video in 2010.

In the video, the fictional Jim Brockmire breaks down during a live broadcast of a baseball match, after finding out his wife is cheating on him.

Once the video went viral Azaria was threatened with legal action by another actor and voice artist Craig Bierko, who claimed that he was the originator of the voice and character of Jim Brockmire.

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According to Bierko, he and  Azaria, the long running voice character  of Homer Simpson in the legendary cartoon series “The Simpsons” became friends  in  the early nineties at the start of their careers. They were both aspiring film and TV actors who were finding work as voice artists in television.  Bierko claimed that  he had also developed a baseball announcer character which Azaria had later used during the famous announcer sketch in Funny or Die, without Bierko’s approval.

When the Funny or Die clip went viral in 2010, Bierko sent Azaria a cease and desist letter and in response, Azaria took the bull by the horns and  filed a suit against his former friend, which  finally hit the courts last week.

During the court hearing, Azaria claimed that he first began developing the Jim Brockmire character during the early eighties.

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Eventually the U.S. district court judge ruled in Azaria’s favor, stating that he is the rightful owner of the Jim Brockmire copyright, simply  because Hank’s  character was deemed to have been  more developed than that of Bierko’s, which, according to the judge who made the ruling “is extremely vague with  the defendant having offered no description of the character.

After the court’s decision was announced Craig Bierko was reported to be speechless.

 

“Hank” Azaria is not only well known  for being the voice of Homer Simpson since the cartoon series was first released in 1989– but also for performing the voices of Moe Szyslak, Apu Nahasapeemapetilon, Chief Wiggum, Comic Book Guy, Carl Carlson and a number of other characters who pop up on the show.

As well as his thriving career as a voice actor, Azaria has also appeared  in a number of movies, starting from The Birdcage in 1996, Godzilla two years later followed by , Mystery Men, America’s Sweethearts, Along Came Polly, Run Fatboy Run Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian  to name but a few .

Hank Azaria has also been the recipient of four Emmy awards as well as a Screen Actors Guild Award.

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