Thursday, June 22, 2006

Late Week Animation (News) Round-up

Nickelodeon is doing a third season of "Avatar," one of the major hits with boy 9-14. I'm glad for the "Avatar" crew; they work their tails off up on the second floor of Nick's Burbank studio, and I know they're happy the show has been picked up (another season of work!) I've mentioned this before, but some months back, I was wandering the third floor of Disney's Frank Wells Building and stopped to admire some of the artwork for the DVD feature for "Tinkerbell." I told a couple of execs there how nice the designs looked. They replied, "Yeah, but we hope Lasseter doesn't look too hard at the story," or words to that effect. Happily, looks like "Tinker Bell", weak story or not, will be unveiled to the public later this year: Few grown men get as fired up about princesses and fairies as Andy Mooney, chief of Walt Disney consumer products...[At the Licensing International Trade show in Gotham] Mooney talked up Disney Fairies, a new line to extend the juggernaut Disney Princess biz. Fairies, targeted at 4 to 8-year-old girls, skews older than Princesses." ...Mooney says Fairies could be a $1 billion business in three to five years....The Fairies line will start with CG pic "Tinker Bell" in 2007. Walt Disney Studios topper Dick Cook unveiled Brittany Murphy as the voice of Peter Pan's diminutive pal. -- Daily Variety June 21, 2006 One of the gripes from some of the "Tink" crew was about Tinker Bell talking. Ah well. There's art. And then there is commerce.


Anonymous said...

"Yeah, but we hope Lasseter doesn't look too hard at the story," or words to that effect.

Where do I begin with how WRONG this attitude is?

Steve Hulett said...

I was told by many that the story for "Tinker Bell" was...ah...not as strong as it could be. I haven't seen it, so I can't vouch for the truth of the testimony.

But I had the privilege of watching one of the sequels from Disney Toons a few years back with my (then) 11-year-old. After it was over, he looked at me and said: "That was reallybad."

The kid was right.

Anonymous said...

Look out, here come the thought police again! Did the comment reveal a "bad attitude," or was it an ironic, sometimes called, "left handed" compliment about the influence John Lassiter has and will have on the quality of the feature film product coming out of Disney?

Who in their right minds would complain about "having" to do better films that have consistantly high quality, get great reviews and do unfailingly excellent business? "PLEASE don't throw me in the briar patch!"

Oh. and by the way, that is also a description of a feature department that isn't likely to be closed down in our lifetime.

The author of that statement is obviously relieved that that will probably be the last time he will have anything to do with a property that will give him any cause for embarrassment. Does he owe loyalty to mediocrity? Are we all just mindless drones who have no right to have an opinion about what we are working on?

Maybe you are one of the producers of "Tinker Bell" and you are afraid to be "outed" for incompetance, even anonymously.

C.Edwards said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
C.Edwards said...

I'm not really surprised that a movie about Tinkerbell has weak story.

What a waste of everything

Anonymous said...

I wrote the first comment. I am at a loss to understand the other, lengthy response--I'm not sure what it it trying to say, exactly.

I took the comment from the unnamed exec as meaning that, yes, believe it or not, they'd rather be entirely left alone by Lassiter.
Do they want to make a "better" product? You bet! And they absolutely believe that what they've been doing is already terrific. The execs in the disneytoons divison have much more power over the comissioned scripts than anyone else in the process--any other artists/members of 839, that is(and the script is more important on the videos that anyone else involved except the line producer).

So, yeah, I take that comment as presented as meaning that " JL will meddle in their own division, and probably find it lacking, as he demands MORE from story and production processes than we think is necessary for these projects". Perhaps I'm wrong, but I don't think so. I'd like to be.
Either you've never worked there, or you are one of those "execs" yourself; only you know that. But I took it on face value that some execs wrongly dread John Lassiter's increased supervision.

...and I still can't figure out where you're coming from. Darn internet! ; )

Anonymous said...

Suprisingly enough, there are plenty of people at Disney that are not welcome to the Pixar invasion. And before anyone says that only execs would have these thoughts. Think again. Many creatives have the same feelings. Unfortunately Pixar may be turning Disney into another of their boys-clubs and that will push some top notch people to the outside cause they aren't part of their crowd.

And because Pixar is paranoid about disney people spilling secrets, they are adopting this closed-mouth demeaning attitude.

Steve Hulett said...

Going through feature animation, talking to people, lunching with people, I don't find people trembling with fear and resentment to the "Pixar people." I find most optimistic and upbeat (with a small smattering of trepidation, which comes mainly from the usual fear of the unknown future.

Creative staff at Disney Toons, on the other hand, have -- as far as I can see -- a much more negative attitude toward 'Toons executive management. Nobody that I've talked to (and I have talked to many) have had a sunny, upbeat view of 'Toons execs' creative chops.

I think it will be some time before we know how Catmull-Lasseter impact Disney 'Toons. But I doubt that the company is going to drop franchises (Princesses, Fairies) that reaps the Disney Company billions.

Anonymous said...

I wrote that anonymous post that Steve replied to.

I should of elaborated. But, I didn't mean people were trembling with fear or resentment. I basically meant that there are a handful of directors and story people that are kind high (or were) on the food chain that aren't real comfortable with what has transpired. Probably mostly wondering what the hell is going to happen to them since Pixar seems to be installing their own people that may replace them. And/or their projects have been canned by the new regime. Damn, I'd like nothing better than to blab about a friend's lunch conversation he had with a couple of Pixar muckety mucks who came down to LA... disturbing... but.. .... gotta shut up...

anyway. About the Tinker Bell thing. Yeah.. these money makers are going to be difficult to dump.

Steve Hulett said...

Well, let's see. Clements and Musker were reinstated by the "Pixar group" after being dismissed by the "David Stainton Group." (The Real Disney Group?) Clements and Musker had been at Disney for, oh, thirty years before they were given the heave-ho. Is that one of the installations you're talking about?

And let's get real. Ed Gombert, one of the best DISNEY storymen I know, is cheering Lasseter on from Sony Pictures Animation. Brenda Chapman, I'm told, is part of this horrid Pixar brain trust. Well, Brenda was the story supervisor on "Beauty and the Beast," one of Pixar's greatest achievements, as we all know.

Anonymous, whoever you're talking to is probably disgruntled, but they're disgruntled over the fact that people who were at Disney for effing YEARS are now coming back. They're just not -- in every case -- RECENT Disney employees.

Personally, I think the whole issue is silly. Pixar was at least partially built on the (older) Disney model where the creators -- and not MBAs -- were in charge of the creative process. An animator/director was in charge of animation when I started at the Mouse House, and an animator/director is charge now.

In my book, that's a massive improvement over the Eisnerian place-holders that ran the place over the last decade. But yes, I'm sure that some more recent power players are less than thrilled that the top structure has changed. It doesn't help THEM.

-- Steve Hulett

Steve Hulett said...

Now that I've had a full night's sleep, I realize there's a mistake above.

Brenda Chapman was a board artist on "Beauty and the Beast," and the story supervisor on "Lion King."

Anonymous said...

Steve. I'm not going to reveal too much information because I do not want to out anyone. This person is not disgruntled. It isn't in his nature. Believe what you want. You aren't talking to everyone.

Steve Hulett said...

Anonymous --

I don't want to come off like an apologist for the new regime, far from it. I'm sure there are people who are nervous about some of the things now going on, and they have every right. (I know that I was uptight when Katzenberg and Eisney came in, which turned out to be justified, since I was soon gone.)

I think I was focussed more on Disney old-timers coming back, and you were talking about some of Pixar's Young Turks who will now -- maybe -- hold sway at Disney Feature Animation. I can understand key personnel being unhappy when their project is taken away. I can also understand the uncertainty triggered by a new management team coming in. I apologize if I came off as a little brusque and dismissive about these things.

If you see me in the DFA halls, feel free to bring the above issues up on a confidential basis. (I'm still a bit vague on what all the specific issues are.)

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