Stuttering Piglet. In December 1992, Ira Simmerman of The National Stuttering Project, a non-profit group in San Juan Capistrano, complained about a print ad for Johnson & Johnson’s Piglet’s Liquid Bath which features Winnie the Pooh and Piglet and the following text: “Squeaky Clean and Gentle Too, P-P-P-Piglet Makes Bathtime Fun For You.” Pam Bishop, brand manager at Disney Licensing asked the group to accept “our apologies for any unintended offense use of stuttering, which is an integral part of Piglet’s character. We did not mean to mock one of our most beloved characters.” The ad did not run the next month.
Faiman Fortune. In the Sunday Telegraph June 28, 1992, Australian Pete Faiman who produced Ferngully: The Last Rainforest (1992), which had its world premiere before the General Assembly of the United Nations in April 1992 said, “It is not a direct pitch for the environment but it is environmentally flavored. It is a fairy tale that happens to have a story that involves the environment. It is a movie with its heart in the right place. It has integrity. The central spirit of the movie was to say something to the kids about the world they live in and the world they are going to inherit. It speaks to their values.
“We wanted to create a modern myth, a story that is based on life today, rather than fairy tales of old. Ferngully will live or die, succeed or fail, on how it is judged as an entertainment, not whether it’s good medicine. I want people to come out of the cinema entertained but also charged with a purpose, and that purpose is to improve their lives by helping the environment by recycling or by making others aware of the problem by activisim. If people come out feeling a little more empowered or convince that there is something out there to save, then the film is doing some good.
“I don’t march and I haven’t chained myself to a tree, but I am very respectful of what, as adults, we need to do for our next generation.”
A “considerable” percentage of the movie’s box office receipts were donated to organizations like Greenpeace, the Sierra Club and the World Wildlife Fund.
Caricatured Cameos. From the Los Angeles Times November 1992, some secret animated caricatures in Disney’s animated feature Aladdin (1992) were revealed. Most Disney fans know that co-producers/directors of Aladdin popped up as extras in the crowd scenes replacing the original intent to use film critics Siskel & Ebert who would have given a “thumbs up/thumbs down” rating to any new suitor for the princess. However, other Disney animators made caricatured cameo appearances as well.
All the in-house caricatures were designed by animator T. Daniel Hofstedt. In the “One Jump” musical number, a clean-up artist Marshall Toomey appears as a jewelry vendor and the fire walker is one of Hofstedt’s former CalArts teachers, T. Hee. At the end of the song, the fertilizer dealer, Crazy Hakim, is actually Tom Sito who animated the character.
Effects animator Dorse Lampher is one of the Forty Thieves summoned in the musical number “Friend Like Me” who Lampher described as “the tall pear-shaped one with bare feet and a small sword”. The crowd watching Prince Achmed also includes caricatures of Eric Goldberg (animator on the Genie), Glen Keane (animator on Aladdin) and even a caricature of Hofstedt himself with his three year old son, Daniel.
“They go by so quickly that you will have to wait to look at the video frame-by-frame to see them,” Hofsteadt told animation historian Charles Solomon.
Father Figure. According to an article by Michael Fleming in a 1994 issue of Variety, Interscope and Storyline Productions joined forces to produce a live-action/animation feature film entitled Father Figure by writers Jeff Hause and David Hines.
Father Figure was about a lawyer on the fast track whose world is turned upside down when his mother finally reveals the identity of his father: Wacky Wolf, a cartoon character who swept her off her feet after she briefly broke through the barrier separating animation from reality. The lawyer vows to find his father, regaining a sense of fun in his life in the process.
The film was to be distributed through Buena Vista and would be produced by Craig Zadan, Neil Meron and Kevin Morton.
Face Off. “Mammy Two Shoes” was so named because the only thing Tom the cat and Jerry the mouse seemed to see was her lower half and especially her large pair of shoes.
However, in Part Time Pal (1947), animator Michael Lah accidentally brought her head down into the frame so you can see her chin for a couple of feet during the chase sequence.
For the record: The character had her whole face on screen – for two or three frames – in Saturday Evening Puss (1950), and in several MGM comics and Tom & Jerry Story books.
Blinky Bill Controversy. In the Daily Telegraph Mirror for September 25th, 1992, Sandra and Yoram Gross addressed the controversy over their physical interpretation of a storybook koala bear character named Blinky Bill when transferred to animation.
Critics charged that New Zealander Dorothy Wall’s character wore orange and white checkered trousers but that Gross and his artists put him into red pants. One critic claimed that the animation studio was “destroying a national treasure like re-marketing Brigitte Bardot as a rugby league front row forward”.
Sandra had to point out that Wall wanted Blinky Bill to be made into an animated film and in letters to the Disney Studio said she would consider making changes for the film.
“(Wall) recognized the fact that animation sometimes calls for changes,” stated Sandra. “But when we make slight changes people come to the conclusion that we have changed the holy design. But it is not holy. Every art has certain needs of its own and the trousers, for example, had to be shown in a different color for technical reasons.” Sandra also pulled out some of Wall’s storybooks showing that Bill was portrayed in a range of different fur colors and a whole wardrobe of different colored clothes.
“It’s a free country,” echoed Yoram Gross. “Critics have a right to say what they feel. But I am going to sleep quiet because I know I am honest. Whatever I have done, I have done with all my honesty.”
Blinky Bill: The Mischievous Koala (1992) had animation superimposed over live action footage of the Australian bush and grossed $1,903,659 in its initial release. Gross later went on to produce a TV series entitled The Adventures of Blinky Bill (1993-1995) focusing on conservation and nature.