'Mermaid' men back in Dis net


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By Sheigh Crabtree

The future of Walt Disney Feature Animation under Disney CEO Robert Iger, Walt Disney Studios chairman ________ Cook and Pixar Animation Studios' John Lasseter and Ed Catmull might lie in the future of CG, but the studio said Tuesday that as it moves forward, it also is returning to its past.

Disney has signed composer Alan Menken, an eight-time Oscar winner and one of the driving forces behind "The Little Mermaid" -- which helped resuscitate Disney animation in the '80s -- to a nonexclusive, multipicture deal.

Highly regarded feature animation directors John Musker and Ron Clements, the team behind such animated hits as "Mermaid" and "Aladdin," also are returning to the Disney fold.

Menken, whose deal also involves live-action films, is developing the feature animated musical "The Frog Princess," based on the classic Grimm fairy tale.

Musker and Clements, who together directed "The Great Mouse Detective" and "Hercules," among other Disney animated films, were engaged by interim WDFA president Don Hahn to develop original new projects.

The directing team already has begun work on the lot in Burbank, discussing story ideas with Lasseter and Catmull on a daily basis while they also oversee the digital remastering of "The Little Mermaid," which Disney is preparing to release on DVD.

Musker and Clements had been developing a project titled "Fraidy Cat" since late 2004 but departed Disney when it failed to win a green light. It is not among the projects the directing team is actively developing, according to executives close to the situation.

For his first assignment under the new deal, Menken will score as well as write five original songs for Walt Disney Pictures' upcoming romantic musical fantasy, "Enchanted," a combination of live action and 2-D animation from animator James Baxter (HR 1/13). "Enchanted" is directed by Kevin Lima ("Tarzan"), and the project will see Menken reunite with Tony- and Oscar-winning lyricist Stephen Schwartz, his collaborator on "Pocahontas" and "The Hunchback of Notre Dame."

"Alan is a true Disney legend, and his music has enriched so many of our films," Cook said.

Added Walt Disney Music president Chris Montan: "He was an important part of our animation renaissance here at Disney and continues to be one of the most exciting, original and prolific composer-songwriters of our times. We're thrilled to be working with him on such a wide variety of projects and look forward to seeing him stretch his talents in new and innovative ways."

Under the terms of this new arrangement, Menken is expanding his role from within other divisions of Disney. For Disney Theatrical Prods., he is in preproduction on the stage version of "The Little Mermaid."

For Disney Creative Entertainment, Menken is creating a stage musical of "The Snow Queen," set to debut at Tokyo DisneySea with Amon Miyamoto directing and John Weidman as the bookwriter and Glen Slater the lyricist. He also is writing music for a Sinbad attraction in Japan for Walt Disney Imagineering.

Menken recently completed scoring Disney's upcoming live-action comedy "The Shaggy Dog," due in theaters March 10.

Menken's deal with Disney was brokered by Richard Kraft of Kraft-Engel Management.
Trent, since Mr. Cook is going to probably be mentioned quite a bit, can we remove his first name from the censor filter?


This sounds great! I just hope, that Disney actually does not believe that Alan Menken can save a production on his but makes sure that gifted STORYMEN are assigned as well. Even so his song "Will the Sun ever shine again" was great the so far last 2-d animated release for the big screen had major flaws...

About Shaggy Dog: I didn't know that Alan Menken would score the movie - it seems we might be lucky and even get a sizeable portion of the score on the CD release. While Amazon does not yet list a tracklisting for the CD "Music from and inspired by The Shaggy Dog" (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000EMF9DW/sr=8-4/qid=1141719693/ref=pd_bbs_4/104-0330951-0367976?%5Fencoding=UTF8) and the title lets one fear that the usual movie unrelated pop songs will be included, the cover clearly reads "Original Score by Alan Menken" which lets me hope.

The bit about "The Snow Queen" as a musical for Tokyo Disney is very interesting as well. Are there any rumors yet, where it might be staged? I do know that the current show broadway style revue "Encore" in the American Waterfront theater is far less popular than most other stage shows. So this might be an option, especially since the theater is fully equipped for a great production.

The bit about the Sinbad attraction for WDI in Japan is a bit strange though. There is already a Sinbad ride in Tokyo Disney Sea which I actually loved - but someone posted last year, I think on this board, that fans should enjoy it while it lasts since the non-existent lines for the high capacity ride (It's a Small World style boats) would result in some changes. Maybe they are upgrading the ride and will feature a new score from Alan Menken as well?? Anyone having more rumors about this??