Bugs in New York City
Warner Bros. opened a production studio in New York in 1989 in the historic Film Center Building on Eighth Avenue in the Hell's Kitchen district. Nancy's first directing assignment was to be a compilation program of 30 minutes' length titled Lunar Tunes.
About it, she says, "I tell people, saying you've done a compilation picture is like saying you've had an illegitimate child! We had to take the Martian cartoons of Chuck Jones and incorporate them into this new stuff." Chuck Jones has always been one of Nancy's heroes. "I do feel like I'm doing him a terrible disservice, so we did not have direct hookups from old animation to the new. They are kept strictly separate. The old footage is presented as evidence in a trial. And I've literally put it on a motion picture screen, which is modeled on the old Art Deco fixings that were in our studio. Plus, no one said the `old footage' had to be animation! There's a montage sequence of which I'm still rather proud, called `Know Your Neighbor,' where you have Marvin say, `Here's how Earth creatures portray us!' And it's all these clips from Grade Z live-action horror movies."
A feature of the recent (June 1997) Cartoon Network weekend of Bugs Bunny cartoons was one which had never been seen before, called Blooper Bunny. This was the second film made at the New York studio. Nancy recalls, "Blooper Bunny was directed by Greg [Ford] and Terry [Lennon]. It had a very elaborate computer animated background at the beginning of the film that was done by the Kroyers [Bill and Sue]. [In New York] I animated Bugs and Daffy matching to these computer backgrounds. Elmer [Fudd] was done by Dean Yeagle; Yosemite Sam was done by Nelson Rhodes in New Mexico. So, we actually had the scene worked on in three different cities. The film was extremely amusing, it just aired this week. I would love to hear what people thought of it. I would love to hear the reviews, because, of course, we were very proud of it, and we were very happy that it aired."
Nancy knew that her time at Warners was limited. "Warner Bros. closed the New York Studio in 1992. I was supposed to go back to Germany, but Gerhard [Hahn] did not get financing for another feature. I wound up working for the Phillips Sidewalk Company in L.A. with Gary Drucker and Rebecca Newman on a now-dead system called CDI. CDI went at 10 frames per second, but looked like full animation."
Bugs in New York City
The Mouse in Burbank
However, the CD-ROM system was to win out in the marketplace and the divine hand of Disney plucked her from the shady Underworld of soon-to-be-obsolescent CDI technology, to act Goofy and eventually shoulder the labors of Hercules. The Goofy Movie was produced by Disney Television, and was first released theatrically to critical acclaim. "In 1993 I got a phone call from Disney Television [in Burbank]. They said, `Would you like to work for us on The Goofy Movie in France?' I said, `When do I leave?' They needed a Supervisor [Supervising Animator] with experience who was very mobile and could live in Paris for a year.
"I was Supervisor on Roxanne, the girl, and also did a lot of work on Goofy and Pete. They gave me the opening scenes in Goofy's house, since they wanted a `Jack Kinney-style' Goofy. They said, `He's a very sensitive character later in the film, so we want to lead in with something where the character's behaving like the Goofy the audience always knew.' So they wanted me to do something goofy with Goofy. I remember director Kevin Lima wanted him to dance the Mambo." When Nancy finished the animation, she showed it to him. "I wanted this to be the stupidest Mambo ever filmed! He said, `You won! That's right!'" Nancy continues, "The choreography was like John Waters did it."
In 1994, Beiman continued working for Disney Television, this time in Burbank. She was getting closer to features, and at last the word came down. "In the beginning of `95, I was informed that John Musker and Ron Clements had asked that I contact them at [Disney] Features. They said, `We would like to know if you'd do The Fates for us (on Hercules).' They showed me the Gerald Scarfe drawings, and some of designer Sue Nichols' work, and I thought, `This is really exciting, very different.'
The Mouse in Burbank