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Disney Greenlights 2D The Frog Princess

The Walt Disney Co. officially announced at the 2007 Annual Meeting of shareholders in New Orleans that it is producing THE FROG PRINCESS, a return to the studios fairy tale legacy in animation and the first 2D feature since HOME ON THE RANGE (2004).

THE FROG PRINCESS, set for a 2009 release, is based on an original story written by Disneys acclaimed filmmaking duo John Musker & Ron Clements (THE LITTLE MERMAID, ALADDIN, HERCULES), who will also direct. Oscar-winning songwriter/composer and New Orleans native Randy Newman (TOY STORY, A BUGS LIFE, TOY STORY 2, MONSTERS, INC. and CARS) will write songs and the score for this project. Peter Del Vecho, a 12-year Disney animation veteran, will produce.

A musical set in the legendary birthplace of jazz New Orleans -- THE FROG PRINCESS will introduce the newest Disney princess, Maddy, a young African-American girl living amid the charming elegance and grandeur of the fabled French Quarter. From the heart of Louisianas mystical bayous and the banks of the mighty Mississippi comes an unforgettable tale of love, enchantment and discovery with a soulful singing crocodile, voodoo spells and Cajun charm at every turn. Maddy will also join The Walt Disney Co.s venerable court of beloved Disney princesses as they continue to enjoy the royal treatment at Disneys theme parks, consumer products, publishing, Internet and other businesses worldwide.

Were pleased to be here in the heart of New Orleans to announce THE FROG PRINCESS, a great story with all the ingredients that go into making an extraordinary motion picture experience, commented Dick Cook, chairman of The Walt Disney Studios. Like many of Disneys most popular fairy tales, it has elements of magic, fantasy, adventure, heart, humor and music. The films New Orleans setting and strong princess character give the film lots of excitement and texture. Were also thrilled to have John Musker, Ron Clements and Randy Newman lending their talents and creative energies to this project. John and Ron helped to usher in Disneys second golden age of animation nearly two decades ago with THE LITTLE MERMAID, and are on track to create the studios next great fairy tale adventure.

Added John Lasseter, chief creative officer for Disney and Pixar Animation Studios, Aside from being longtime friends and colleagues, John and Ron are two of the most influential and imaginative filmmakers in the animation medium, and I am so excited to be working with them in bringing their creative vision for THE FROG PRINCESS to the big screen. Theyve come up with an original story that is deeply rooted in the fairy tale tradition, and its filled with great humor, emotion and musical moments. Randy Newman brings fun and excitement to every project, and I couldnt think of a better choice to deliver some wonderful New Orleans style music.

Musker recently discussed THE FROG PRINCESS with AWN. Music and animation are innately appealing, Musker suggested. Theres a stylization to musicals that moves it away from live action. John [Lasseter] loves 2D. He wants to aim high, be timeless, raise the bar [with every animated feature]. John embraces Disney. Hes not negative, like the last regime. He believes that quality will win out and that problems can be fixed.

Musker, who attended CalArts with Lasseter, Brad Bird and Tim Burton, enjoys the new collegial atmosphere at Disney Feature Animation, carried over from Pixar, in which directors from both studios share notes on projects. It harkens back to the atmosphere at CalArts.

Musker & Clements have directed and produced five feature films for Disney. Additionally, they received story and/or screenplay credits as well. Musker began his career at Disney in 1977, after studying character animation at CalArts. He started as an assistant animator and went on to animate on THE FOX AND THE HOUND. Clements started at Disney in the Talent Development Program, and went on to serve a two-year apprenticeship under Disney animation legend, Frank Thomas. He moved from in-betweener to assistant to animator/storyman with credits on such films as WINNIE THE POOH AND TIGGER TOO, THE RESCUERS, PETES DRAGON, THE FOX AND THE HOUND and THE BLACK CAULDRON.

Del Vecho began his association with Walt Disney Feature Animation in 1995, following a 15-year stint working as a stage manager, production manager and associate producer in the world of live theater. From 1986-95, he worked for the renowned Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis, leaving there as associate producer. At Disney, Del Vecho was the production manager on HERCULES and associate producer on CHICKEN LITTLE, among other projects. A native of Boston, he received a degree in Theatre Arts from Boston University.