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Jon Heder throws a few pitches on behalf of his cartoon Napoleon

Jon Heder in the moment at KHYI radio offices in Dallas. Photo: Ed Bark

It's Jon Heder's first-time in Dallas. And how better to experience the city than via a 5:30 a.m. wakeup call for a whirlwind of indoor media appearances before catching an early afternoon flight to Portland, OR?

"It's certainly a blur," Heder says near the end of his last stop at KHYI "The Range" radio (95.3 FM), where he also entertains questions from unclebarky.com and a reporter from Highland Park Middle School's Tribal Tribune. "You have fun in the moment. You're answering the same question a million times. It's more like I have to entertain myself and make it interesting for me each time I do it."

It's all in the service of Fox's animated version of Napoleon Dynamite. The last of six scheduled episodes airs Sunday, March 4th on Fox in its usual 7:30 p.m. (central) slot between The Simpsons and Family Guy.

The Simpsons recently aired its 500th episode, meaning that Dynamite is 100th of the way there. But Fox hasn't made any further commitments beyond ordering seven more scripts "just in case they decide to pick up the show," Heder says. "Of course I'm hopeful. I want it to go on. I think it could have a good run."

It's a pleasantly amusing show, with the entire principal cast from the 2004 movie returning to voice their cartoon characters. But Napoleon has averaged just 5.9 million viewers an episode so far, with 3.6 million of them in the advertiser-coveted 18-to-49 age range. In comparison, The Simpsons and Family Guy both are drawing 7.6 million viewers per episode, with respective 18-to-49 numbers of 4.6 million and 5.1 million, according to Nielsen Media Research.

Fox already has canceled another of this season's new animated series, Allen Gregory. But Napoleon's Nielsen numbers at least are better in comparison.

"We loved the movie so much and wanted to work together again," says Heder. A live big-screen sequel never materialized, and it's likely too late for that now.

"We're probably still young enough to play the characters, but it might be pushin' it. Who knows?" he says. "This just feels more like you can immortalize them forever."

The animated versions of Napoleon, his best friend, Pedro, and the shy Deb are all still high schoolers in nondescript Preston, Idaho. Napoleon's pathetic older brother, Kip, their caretaker grandma and delusional Uncle Rico are also in the cartoon mix. Unlike the movie, though, the actors generally do their voice-overs during solitary recording sessions.

"It's not too hard," Heder says. "You have to kind of get into character a bit without the costumes or interaction. It helps me to stand the way he (Napoleon) stands. Anything you can do to get into character."

Heder, still a very boyish looking 34, has been married for a decade and is the father of two children. He also has an identical twin brother named Dan; they play villains in an Internet martial arts comedy called Sockbaby, whose four episodes to date are in the vicinity of Fox's initial order for Napoleon.

Heder hopes to keep his cartoon likeness in play, but doesn't seem like a guy who'd be crushed if it doesn't work out that way. There's no air of desperation about him. He comes off as just another guy -- a guy who happily ate a chocolate donut before, during and after this last interview in Dallas. Not that he'd tweet about it. His Twitter page is mostly dormant, with sparse plugs for Napoleon and most recently, a mention of his appearance on E!'s The Soup.

"Other than that, I don't need to tell people, 'Dude, I'm eatin' this killer donut right now," Heder says, shifting into his Napoleon voice. "And it's like rockin' my socks off.' Who really cares?"

Dudes, I think we're done, other than a closing advisory to give Napoleon a shot Sunday night -- for what could be its last shot.