Return of Mr. Limpet. In the Hollywood Reporter October 28, 1996, it was announced that writers Leo Benvenuti and Steve Rudnick, who wrote Space Jam (1996) and The Santa Clause (1994), were currently writing a contemporary update of The Incredible Mr. Limpet (1964).
Producer Norman Jewison said, “We are so excited to be partnered with Warner Brothers on remaking an American classic. This 90s version will benefit from the exciting new technologies in the animation field.”
Jim Carrey came on board in 1998 and brought in a new writer and millions were spent on doing a CGI Carrey fish which looked terrible. Carrey left the project in July 1999 and since then a variety of different writers, directors and actors have been connected with the proposed remake.
Building a Beast. From the L.A. Daily News November 30, 1991, animator Glen Keane was the primary animator on the Beast in Disney’s Beauty and the Beast (1991). Traditionally, the Beast had been depicted as a variation of a lion or a bear but Keane felt that “anything could go”. His earliest experiments with horns and ears were unsuccessful and made the character look like an alien.
During the pre-production work in England, Keane had to walk through the London Zoo every day on his way to the studio. He began sketching the animals there for inspiration.
“After seeing the way the wolves in the zoo walked and moved, I immediately wanted Beat to be comfortable on all fours which was a big statement,” said Keane. “This guy is not just a man with a beast’s head on. He is actually, physically, bone structure wise, an animal. I wanted him to be so believable and realistic that I could explain his physical anatomy to each of the animators.”
Keane’s initial deigns were based on Boris, a large mandrill in the London Zoo. But when he went back to work on the film in California, he discarded that design as too literal and began drawing at the Los Angeles Zoo. A large male gorilla gave Keane a sense of the intimidating presence Beast should command. He found further inspiration at a display of stuffed animals.
“I saw a buffalo head in a taxidermist’s shop near the studio and realized there’s a sadness and a weight to the way a buffalo hangs his head that I thought Beast should have. (Producer) Don Hahn bought that buffalo head and I kept it on my wall as a constant reminder to me that we weren’t just drawing a cartoon character; that this was a real beast.
“I took the beard of the buffalo as well as the massive head, the mane of a lion, a bear-like body, the brow of a gorilla – the massive strength of that brow with the eyes beneath it – the tusks of a boar and the tail and hind legs of a wolf.”
Death of George Jetson. Actor George O’Hanlon passed away of a stroke at the age of 76 on February 11, 1989. On February 10, he was in a recording session doing retakes for Jetsons: The Movie (1990) where he had otherwise completed voicing the role of George Jetson for the film when he complained of a headache and was rushed to the St. Joseph’s Medical Center in Burbank.
O’Hanlon has suffered a previous stroke a decade earlier that affected his vision so the recording session director would read the lines to the actor and he repeated them into the microphone.
O’Hanlon had auditioned for the voice of Fred Flintstone but was passed over. The original voice for George Jetson was Morey Amsterdam for the pilot but Morey was rejected and the role went to O’Hanlon who had performed as Calvin Dudley in the television show The Life of Riley and Joe McDoakes in a long running series of theatrical shorts.
“George Jetson is a very average man,” O’Hanlon had told the Los Angeles Times. “He has trouble with his boss; he has problems with his kids and so on. The only difference is that he lives in the next century.”
Walter Lantz Helping the Blind. In the June 9th, 1984 episode of the television series Too Close For Comfort entitled “Is There A Doctor in the House”, producer Walter Lantz played himself trying to convince Ted Knight’s cartoonist character to donate his early artwork to a college in the hopes of getting an honorary doctorate and a guaranteed tax credit. Lantz was 83 years old at the time. His father was blind so Lantz turned over his paycheck from the show to the Braille Institute just as he turned over many other paychecks to many other charities for the sightless.
Cera from The Land Before Time. Lucasfilm Fan Club Magazine #6 (Winter 1989) featured an interview with animator and producer John Pomeroy about The Land Before Time (1988): “George (Lucas) is the one who suggested making the Triceratops, Cera, a tough little girl rather than a tough little boy. She is soft inside, but hides it in a cast iron shell. We finally reveal her vulnerability at the end in soft colors. When she walks up to her father at the end of the film, she is pink rather than orange or yellow. It is one of the many ways we use color to convey emotion.”
Animation That Never Was. The writers of Batman: The Animated Series pitched a storyline where the super heroine Black Canary and anti-hero Catwoman were forced to team up. FOX interrupted the process demanding to know why Robin was left out of the plot since they had decreed that Robin be in every episode so the series would appeal more to children. When the writers asked the network if they could exclude Robin for just this one episode, FOX refused to budge, and the entire idea was scrapped as a result.
Frank Thomas. During an interview to the Quebec Arts The Globe and Mail newspaper for the 1995 release of Frank and Ollie documentary, animator Frank Thomas said, “We’re not used to being interviewed. Walt didn’t approve of it. Some of the animators used to beef about it but back then we were supposed to hide our techniques for how things were done. For instance, the stag who gives that long speech at the end of Bambi (1942). I couldn’t do anything with his mouth. A mature deer’s muzzle is so long that it’s hard to animate. I ended up having snow fall in front of it so you couldn’t see it.”
Gross Ren and Stimpy. In The Wall Street Journal for January 27, 1992, animator and producer John Kricfalusi defended the fact that his cartoon series Ren and Stimpy could get crude. “Yes, it’s gross,” said Kricfalusi. “But cartoons don’t have to be good for you. Give kids a break. There’s nothing in there that’s going to get you in jail or anything.”