On Saturday, April 14, Royal/T in Culver City, California became the site of a royal wedding for invited guests. Princess Cadence and Shining Armor, two stars from the animated series "My Little Pony," are tying the bridle knot in a special two-part episode airing on the Hub beginning April 21.
Cantering back from the 1980s
When talking about made-for-television animation, the 1980s are often looked upon as a golden age, especially for shows tied into popular toy lines. "My Little Pony" was no exception. In addition to 1986's "My Little Pony: The Movie," the toys became part of a syndicated cartoon series. The ponies have returned with different characters and storylines in subsequent decades, including the current show on the Hub TV Network.
Arianne Zucker from "Days of Our Lives" was on hand at Royal/T to celebrate the royal wedding with daughter Isabella and husband Kyle Lowder. Speaking on the red carpet, Zucker said that she has introduced Izzy to "My Little Pony."
"I think it is a wonderful, wonderful thing to have. It is very sweet and very innocent," Zucker enthused. "It is very positive. I know that growing up with 'My Little Pony,' I had a full collection [of toys]. As a mommy, I am sad now that they've made a revival. I should have kept (all my ponies). I kept some. That's the one thing I am sad I didn't keep for her," she said.
Twilight Sparkle and Tara Strong
"My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic," the current version of the series, features voice actress Tara Strong in the role of Twilight Sparkle. Encouraged by Princess Celestia to "get her muzzle out of those books," this smart little unicorn pony makes new friends throughout Equestria.
Strong also was on hand for the Royal/T event. When asked if she is like a "rock star" with the preschool crowd, she recounted an event that happened the previous day at her son's school.
"This little girl said 'Um…' and her friend hit her, and I said 'No, it's okay,'" Strong said, describing an encounter with a nervous fan. "Then she asked if I was Twilight Sparkle, and I said 'Yes.' Then a hoard of little girls came over, and we were singing 'Twilight Wishes.' They were all very excited to meet me. It's an all-encompassing, all-love friendship show."
The actress credits the animation, writing, and the story content for the show's popularity: "[Developer] Lauren Faust did such a beautiful design initially, drawing the characters and [her use of] colors. I think it just draws you in, and that's why there is such a broad fan base," she said.
Although the show appears targeted for the pre-teen girl demographic, "My Little Pony" has male and female fans of all ages.
"I'm just glad there is a social media outlet where grown men don't have to feel judged for liking 'My Little Pony.' Everybody just comes together. I love that there is not room for hatred there. Whatever you want to love, you can love it," she said.
And when asked about her own kids, Strong admitted that her 7 and 10-year-old boys are "way too cool" to come hang out with mom and the ponies.
"They are like 'Mom, we are not coming to the 'My Little Pony' party with you.' They came to the Halloween one, and they actually had fun, but I couldn't convince them to come to this one," Strong said with a smile.
Brooke Burke: Dancing with the animated stars
When Tori Spelling could not attend the royal wedding due to illness, "Dancing With the Stars" co-host Brooke Burke stepped in and hosted the event. Talking in Applejack's pastry kitchen, which was a hotbed of wedding cake activity, Burke said that "My Little Pony" has definitely been part of her household.
"My older girls used to watch the show, and this new series is really exciting. There are a lot of pop culture references, some great values and messages, and some cool things for adults, too. It's just beautifully written, and the music is great," Burke said.
Burke also agreed that attitudes about the show are changing. "I think the animation is so beautiful even my son can relate to it from being a horse lover. And it is true: as 'girlie' as it is, there are boy ponies, too. And today is a royal bridle celebration -- all ages and all kinds. I love it. It's fantasy, and it is learning through entertainment, so I am happy with that," she said.
The television host also is a co-CEO of ModernMom.com, which is doing a twitter party for the "My Little Pony: Royal Wedding." Burke said that she spends a lot of time on the site, which is devoted to all things family, all things motherhood.
"We just launched our YouTube channel. We are doing a whole parenthood channel. It's great because it is what I live and breathe. I blog and I enjoy that, the power of community that I didn't have when I was a mother 10 years ago. To be able to learn from each other, to be able to watch other people through video, to be able to have that exchange, I think that is really valuable," she said.
"My Little Pony Royal Wedding" airs Saturday, April 21 at 1 p.m. ET on the Hub.