HOLLYWOOD -- If your town doesn't have a Gadgets restaurant, chances are it will within the next year or two, offering an entirely new entertainment program along with steaks, hamburgers and pizzas.
Gadgets is a newly designed national franchise outfit involving Warner Bros. and other corporations with plans for a string of 150 eateries around the country.
So far only Springfield, Ohio, and Baltimore have Gadgets in full operation.
What distinguishes Gadgets from other chain restaurants,Howard Johnsons for instance, is the entertainment factor.
Diners at Gadgets will see a completely automated 20-minute show every half hour or so featuring 8-foot robots with pre-recorded dialogue and songs.
But the robots are very special and familiar characters indeed: Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Yosemite Sam, Porky Pig, Speedy Gonzales, Tweety Bird and Sylvester, Henry Hawk, Foghorn Leghorn, the Tasmanian Devil and other wackos from the Warner Bros. cartoon factory.
Those who have visited Disneyland are familiar with the audioanimatronics shows featured in the 'America Sings' attractions at both theme parks. Gadgets' figures and shows might be compared to them.
The dialogue and music, including close harmony, were recorded by Mel Blanc, who has given voice to movie and TV animated cartoons for more than 45 years.
'Every restaurant will have 50 different entertainment programs, so there won't be a lot of repetition,' Blanc said the other day.
'Bugs and Porky and Sylvester and the rest are involved in little story lines, sketches and songfests.
'We're doing special programs for all the holidays, Christmas, the Fourth of July, Mother's Day and all the rest as special attractions at the restaurants.
'People will go in for dinner and be able to see several different shows while they eat. The restaurants are designed so diners can see from any angle in the room. It's a lot of fun and a lot of laughs.'
Blanc, 75, has been making people laugh since his radio debut 56 years ago on station KGW in his native Portland, Ore.
He became a fixture on the Jack Benny radio and TV shows. His best character on the Benny shows was Cy, a forelorn monosylabic Mexican in a serape and sombrero, a perfect foil for the comedian.
These days, with fewer cartoon shows being made for theaters and TV, Blanc keeps busy with the Gadgets project and touring the college circuit, appearing before packed houses on 144 campuses in the past three years.
Blanc, a diminutive man with melancholy eyes and an obvious love of his work, also does TV commercials using Sylvester for a cat food product, Daffy for storage bags, and Bugs, Daffy and Porky for a soft drink blurb.
He continues to provide the voices for such feature cartoon films as 'Daffy Duck's Movie: Fantastic Island' and 'Bugs Bunny's Third Movie: A Thousand and One Rabbit Tales.'
Mel likes to say that when he adds up all the movies, TV shows, commercials and records in circulation around the world today featuring his voice, some 200 million people hear him every day.
Most popular of all his voices, however, is one of the earliest, Bugs Bunny, the smart alec, wise-cracking rabbit. Bugs' voice hasn't changed a scintilla in the 45 years Mel has been doing him.
'Bugs is my favorite, too. He's been good luck for me. And, certainly, his voice is the most familiar to people all around the world.
'I had to go in and do some bridge work -- updating voice material on some of the old, old cartoons and the voice today is the same as it was then,' Mel said proudly. He then demonstrated with a resounding, 'What's up, Doc?'
The oldest voice he does is Porky and his famous, stuttering closing line of the old Looney Tunes cartoon series, 'Th th th that's all folks.'
Next March the Smithsonian Institution will honor 'the man of a thousand voices' with a special commemorative program, an hour and a half film of his work, open to the public.