June 15, 2018 posted by Jim Korkis

Animation Anecdotes #367

Not a Toy Story Commercial. From the Hollywood Reporter September 4th, 1996, in Fall 1996, Disney decided to air a series of Toy Story (1995) interstitials during ABC’s Saturday morning lineup. The ten and thirty second interstitials started airing on September 7th (the video release of the movie was October 29th). An ABC spokeswoman said the network did not consider these interstitials to be ads for the Toy Story video.

“We consider them short program vignettes featuring extremly popular children’s characters. There is no reference to any ancillary product connected with Toy Story. We intend to fully comply with children’s television rules regarding advertising in that during a half hour show in which one of these vignettes is featured, no commercial will run during that program featuring Toy Story products,” said the spokeswoman.

John Lasseter, who directed the feature also directed all the interstitials. Several of the original actors came back including John Ratzenberger and Wallace Shawn. However, Tom Hanks and Tim Allen did not participate. Hanks’ brother, Jim, did the voice work for the character of Woody. Jim, the youngest of Tom Hanks’ brothers, also did the voice of Woody for several videogames and the theme park ride Toy Story Midway Mania.

Tom Hanks told talk show host Graham Norton on air in 2011 who questioned whether Hanks had supplied the voice on a talking Woody doll, “No, it’s my brother Jim. There are so many computer games and video things and Jim just works on those all year long.”

Robin Williams Returns to the Genie. Aladdin and the King of Thieves (1996) was the second straight-to-video sequel of Disney’s popular animated feature Aladdin (1992). Unlike The Return of Jafar (1994) which was meant to be a bridge between the original film and the syndicated television series, this sequel was designed for video from the start. In fact, in July 1996, Disney threw a lavish party costing about one and a half million dollars promoting the video release in Griffith Park for video retailers at the VSDA convention in Los Angeles.

In The Hollywood Reporter July 15th,1996, Tad Stones, the director and producer of the sequel said, “We were much more interested in elevating the quality of this one. The budget was bigger and animators were given more time on the projects. About a third of the movie with Dan Castellanetta as the voice of the Genie as in the first sequel was thrown out and we added a whole new climax when Robin (Williams) decided to return to the part.”

Williams had publicly vowed never to work with Disney again but then Jeffrey Katzenberg left the company and “They just apologized and that’s all I wanted,” said Williams who was at the party to promote the video as well as his new theatrical film for Disney called Jack (1996).

The article stated, “The beef stemmed from the studio’s use of the voice recordings he made for the role of the Genie in the original theatrical feature. He said the studio used his voice in the promotion of merchandise of Disney products that he said studio executives had expressedly agreed not to do.”

Williams told the crowd, “They violated the one thing I said I didn’t want to do. I want to make movies, not sell stuff, even though I know that’s part of their business.” Williams did point out that in the video the Genie character encourages Aladdin to “consider the marketing possibilities”.

Space Jam. From the Los Angeles Times August 20, 1996, Ivan Reitman who produced Space Jam (1996) said, “We estimate that we had about 500 animators who worked on the movie. We had a year less than normal for a first-class animated film like this. We had to create an entire digital arena filled with animated characters and unlike other animated films, when (Michael) Jordan moves, all the characters and the background move.”

You Tell ‘Em Chuck. From the AFI Report Summer 1974, animator and producer Chuck Jones said, “If we ignore our heritage, if we forget or allow to lapse one of the most important factors, the art of pure animation – a drop of water, a dinosaur, a McLaren dancing line, a blob, a silver flute, a beautifully animated, delightfully floating mass of our own introspection – if we forget that these wonders cannot be accomplished by simple means, if we use limited animation only because we can get away with it, then we are overlooking the very essence of our craft and callously destroying history itself.”

James the Stop Motion Puppet. From Newsday April 16, 1996, animator and producer Henry Selick talking about his film James and The Giant Peach (1996) said, “After a handful of shots of the puppet James, we decided the puppet didn’t look right and that it was a little too realistic like animating a corpse. We fell into a trap where we filmed the live action boy and fell in love with him and his charm. I think we were pushing the puppet more and more to look like the live action boy rather than as a caricature.

“It wasn’t working because he was too real. It had to be pushed back into the cartoon world. We simplified him so he became more like the other puppets. We gave him button eyes, like early Mickey Mouse. The audience will find more motion in him without all the details.”

Tezuka Land. In 1970, animator Osamu Tezuka wanted Mushi Productions to create an amusement park for children to be called Mushipro-Land. He was not inspired by Disneyland but by Pleasure Island shown in the Disney animated feature Pinocchio (1940). The project got as far as a Japanese-English bilingual brochure to attract investors including this description: “The first plan is to construct Anti-Recreation Ground. This is a place where children can enjoy mischief, one of the natural characteristics of children.”

Live Action The Jetsons. In Variety, June 10th, 1996, it was announced that director Joe Dante had dropped out of directing a live action version of The Jetsons over “creative differences”. That same day, director Alan Cohn dropped out of his chores on Disney’s live action George of the Jungle for “creative differences”.

In the Hollywood Reporter July 23, 1996, it was announced that Peter Segal had signed on to direct The Jetsons for Turner Pictures. The script was by Scott Alexander and Larry Karazewski and was was scheduled to start filming in the arly spring of 1997 with a release date of summer 1998. Segal had directed Tommy Boy (1995) and Naked Gun 33 1/3: The Final Insult (1994) and was also attached to direct the live action version of Jonny Quest.

None of these projects ever became reality… but this did. Not live action, but still funny:


  • Space Jam (I fondly grew up with it both as a cartoon and sports fan) has gotten a lot of hate from the animators but love from athletes.

    • The animation’s good overall, and it has a few inspired moments (like the Rod Scribner-like scene of Daffy kissing the WB logo on his butt), but the general assessment is that the characters are just not themselves.

    • Speaking of “Space Jam”…The 1996 website promoting it is still active! spacejam dot com will take you to it.
      BTW, it IS WIN95 compatible.

    • Oh, yes! That Space Jam site is LEGENDARY! 😀

      It’s hard to believe Warner actually took it down for half a day around three years ago, after it suddenly went viral and the world erupted with joy that it had been online continuously all these years. Hopefully, they have now realized that it simply needs to live forever.

    • Pretty funny how the Space Jam website is not only active, there was a controversy when it was taken down so they put it back up.

    • Here’s a funny anecdote of mine – I discovered the still-functioning Space Jam website in 2006, and never told anyone because I didn’t think anyone would care. So the old website for a kids’ movie from 1996 that no one likes still works, whoop-de-doo!

      It became such a huge deal, and now I feel like Bill Murray at the end, watching Michael’s comeback game: “Larry, that should have been me”. =P

  • We took our then 6 year old nephew to see Aladdin. So when Return Of Jafar came out on video, he asked if I saw it. I must have rolled my eyes and sighed. He then said, “Had a lot of accidents in it, huh?”.
    From the mouth of babes…..

  • Yeah, I remember the whining from purists probably more about the hip-hop dominated soundtrack than anything else.

  • When I worked on TV spots for the original Toy Story Parade, we had Jim Hanks for Woody’s lines and our announcer was Larry Kenney, voice of Lion-O on ThunderCats.

  • I wonder if it’s true Glen Kennedy worked on Space Jam, in the Super Joe music video he worked on it is mentioned in his filmography, and I don’t see any Kennedy esque scenes anywhere in the film.

  • The Toy Story Treats are among the Blu ray special features.
    Bit of stretch for ABC not to consider them advertising. 😉

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