The Peter Cullen Mutual Admiration Society

"There go my car payments."  Peter Cullen won't have to say that – his reaction upon discovering the death of Optimus Prime in Transformers: The Movie – for a long time.  Prime, in original voice, is coming back to life, apparently for three pictures.

A standing-room crowd of hundreds of Botcon attendees erupted in applause upon hearing the phrase "three-picture deal" this afternoon.  And it's those fans and others around the world, Cullen says, who get the credit for bringing him back to the role he originated in 1984.  Mutual admiration was the theme of the afternoon: fans thanking Cullen for all he has done for the fandom and the franchise; Cullen honored, humbled and at times emotional when speaking of the support he has received in return.  Perhaps most moving was a brief presentation after this afternoon's panel, when a fan presented Cullen with a piece of art including every Transformers character he's voiced as well as the man himself.

And the partnership with the fans will continue in a more formal way through the "Make Prime Speak" contest, beginning next week at the official Transformers movie site.  You can submit a line of dialogue for Optimus Prime starting October 2nd, voting to narrow down the list begins on October 16th, and the winning line will actually be spoken by Peter Cullen in the film.

Before the movie arrives in theaters, Cullen hopes to arrive in bookstores.  He's writing a book chronicling the start of his career on Sonny and Cher's variety show and continuing through his becoming Prime.

Despite his apparent job security in the Transformers movie franchise, Cullen still goes on frequent auditions and takes on all manner of voices.  But one voice he'll never do?  Nemesis Prime, apparently: in the voice of Optimus, "Evil Optimus Prime?  Not in my lifetime."