For nearly 20 years, voice actor Duncan Brannan was the voice of the pizza-peddling, talking mouse known as Chuck E. Cheese.
However, Brannan says he was unceremoniously dumped by the pizza chain, only discovering he had been replaced when he saw a commercial for "Chuck's Hot New Single" featuring a different voice actor. The company is also reportedly relaunching the character as part of the new song.
The Dallas Observer reports that in Brannan's words, he transformed Chuck E. Cheese "from a joke-telling, sometimes off-color New Jersey rat to a lovable, mainstream mouse who could sing."
However, it looks like Chuck E. Cheese is in for yet another public makeover and Brennan has been replaced as the official voice of the character. For starters, Jaret Reddick, lead singer of the band Bowling for Soup, will voice the mascot.
The Chuck E. Cheese Facebook page features a redesigned version of the character holding a guitar and standing in the shadows. The page contains the tagline, "You've never seen Chuck E. rock like this. And on Monday, the Facebook page was updated with a message from the company reading, "Hope everyone had an awesome weekend! Chuck E. was busy working on his new style and a special surprise to go with it! It's sure to be a chart-topping 'hit.'"
Brannan says his work with parent company Showbiz Pizza has "slowed to a trickle" in recent months and the split was made official when he saw the TV spot featuring a different voice.
"That is when he finally confirmed with me that I have been replaced--completely--on all fronts," Brannon wrote of the experience.
Nonetheless, Brannan says his real work with the pizza chain was not done to collect paychecks but rather to spread the word of Jesus Christ. Writing on his Facebook page and the Showbiz Pizza site (PDF), Brannan said:
"What it was about, what my sincere hope is that you--you Fans, you parents, and all you kids who have loved Chuck E. Cheese over the years--have seen, heard, or experienced Jesus Christ in and through my life in some way. For He is all that matters, now and for all eternity. I hope that you have seen Christ in me. I hope that He touched your life through mine in some special way and, if that happened, then I was doing my one true real job, which is sharing Him with all of you."
For its part, parent company Showbiz Pizza released a statement denying that Brannan has been fired. Instead, they said they were simply replacing him for one new advertising campaign.
"Brannan was not fired from Chuck E. Cheese's, rather we simply chose to utilize new voice talent for the original music we have written as part of a TV advertising campaign in partnership with The Richards Group," the statement reads. "On several occasions prior to the release of Chuck E.'s new single last week, we communicated to Brannan that his primary responsibilities with our in-store entertainment group would not change."
"There is still plenty of opportunity for Duncan to provide more of his voice talent and services for Chuck E. Cheese's in the future if he chooses to do so."
You can watch some of Brannan's other work with Chuck E. Cheese in this video from a company conference in 2000: