Disney Interferes. Ferngully: The Last Rainforest (1992) co-producer Wayne Young claimed in an interview in the Sunday Telegraph June 28, 1992, that Disney tried to stall and undercut the making of the animated feature film. When they tried to house their key production staff in a Los Angeles building, Disney rented it from under them. That happened no fewer than three times.
Disney also stated that any animator who left Disney to join the Ferngully production would not ever be welcomed back.
“I don’t think Disney is easily intimidated by a few of us from Australia coming in and making a film,” said co-producer Peter Faiman. “but it was one they took seriously and correctly so, because Ferngully does show that an animated movie of high quality and box-office appeal can be made outside the Disney kingdom.
“The people at Disney are extremely impressed by what was achieved. (Director) Bill Kroyer was contacted by a number of senior Disney executives and congratulated. They were very impressed.”
Faiman flew many of the animators who drew the over one million drawings for the film to Lamington National Park on the NSW-Queensland border so they could get a better look at what they were drawing.
Pebbles Gets Married. I Yabba Dabba Do! (1993) was a TV movie special where The Flintstones characters Pebbles and Bam-Bam get married. Animated caricatures of Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera appear at the bar at the wedding at the end. The film was inspired by the success of the Steve Martin remake of the film Father of the Bride (1991). Actress Megan Mullally was the voice of the grown up Pebbles and Jerry Houser spoke for Bamm-Bamm.
As part of the promotion, famous designer Oscar de la Renta was brought in to design the wedding gown. De la Renta said a “nice check” went off to an orphanage he sponsored in the Dominician Republic. “It was a great treat,” laughed the designer to USA Today. “I thought ‘I’ve finally made it’.”
Early Tales of Wilhite. Tom Wilhite (who was then the twenty-nine year old vice president of motion pictures at Disney) in the June 11, 1982 issue of the Cedar Rapids Gazette newspaper pointed out he got his start when “I once met Groucho Marx through a Marx Brothers film festival. I arranged to have him come to Iowa State (University) as part of the film festival. Groucho helped me get my first job in a public relations agency (Rogers & Cowan).”In 1977, Wilhite moved to Disney where he was director of creative affairs. Six months later he was made vice-president of creative development and then promoted a year later.
At the time, he was excited about Tron (1982) that was to come out that summer. “Tron is the first feature film to use computer generated graphics. It’s going to eventually revolutionize all the special effects movies. We are also conscious of the traditional image of the company, one of fantasy, escapism and optimism. We’re beginning to go back to the basics, to taking chances, to doing innovative new projects.
“Of course, not all our films are going to be first-of-a-kind pictures — it’s impossible to do a series of films and have all of them be different. But within that framework, we want to build up the Disney reputation as not just children’s films that parents are dragged along to see. We want to have a wide variety — appeal on a number of levels to a wide audience. Traditionally, that’s what the company has meant.”
Wilhite revealed that for CBS television, Disney was developing a series of specials that would adapt the other Mary Poppins stories and “Fast Forward” about a family thirty years in the future. He also mentioned that the upcoming Disney Channel was specifically designed to be a “comprehensive channel with children programming during the day and adult programs at night. The whole package is aimed at a wide viewing audience.”
Hahn Talks Katzenberg. In the Wall Street Journal for May 16,1994, animation producer Don Hahn said, “If someone from another part of the company comes in and tries to make us do something that doesn’t put the movie first, (Jeffrey Katzenberg) turns venomous. Even we are not safe. He keeps hammering away on the theme. It’s always ‘What’s this about?’ I’ve never seen someone so seduced by animation.”
Freleng Tribute to Mel Blanc. In Daily Variety for August 10, 1989, animator and director Friz Freleng remembered voice artist Mel Blanc who had passed away in July: “Mel had the ability to give each character a distinct and separate personality. Mel was not just a voice actor; he was a fine actor. I often wonder if we had used any other actor than Mel would those characters have been as successful? He will never die. He will live on through his voices of these characters for eternity. He will be missed by his widow Estelle and his son Noel, but the world will still have him.”
Chuck Jones Speaks. Chuck Jones, interviewed in Business Screen magazine (Aug/Sept 1982) said, “When we finished a picture at Warner Brothers, we would always run it as a pencil test to see if it worked without sound, music, color or anything else. Then you could see the beauty of the movement. All of our stuff was ‘block-booked’. This was an advantage because the pictures were sold before they went out. We had the chance to experiment with different characters. It was an enormous advantage – and it developed stars.”
Just One Frame. In the August 12, 1989 issue of TV Guide an article was devoted to an episode of the Saturday morning animated series ALF where a viewer had discovered a one frame image of the Statue of Liberty in front of an America flag during a battle sequence of two spaceships. With the help of a TV Guide reporter, viewer Ken Sobel followed up the mystery and discovered that Studio Korumi in Tokyo that was doing the work for DIC had added it as way to liven up a boring workday and as a tribute to a famous Japanese animator who was widely known for “throwing joke frames into his cartoons”.