The Walt Disney Studios will continue its fairy tale legacy in animation by taking moviegoers on an all-new “once upon a time” musical adventure with its 2009 release of The Frog Princess, it was announced today by Dick Cook, chairman of The Walt Disney Studios, and John Lasseter, chief creative officer for Disney and Pixar Animation Studios. 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 Louisiana’s 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.
The Frog Princess is based on an original story written by Disney’s 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 Bug’s 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.
Commenting on the announcement from The Walt Disney Company’s 2007 Annual Meeting of shareholders, Cook said, “We’re 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. Like many of Disney’s most popular fairy tales, it has elements of magic, fantasy, adventure, heart, humor, and music. The film’s New Orleans setting and strong princess character give the film lots of excitement and texture. We’re 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 Disney’s second golden age of animation nearly two decades ago with ‘The Little Mermaid,’ and are on track to create the Studio’s next great fairy tale adventure.”
John Lasseter added, “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. They’ve come up with an original story that is deeply rooted in the fairy tale tradition, and it’s filled with great humor, emotion, and musical moments. Randy Newman brings fun and excitement to every project, and I couldn’t think of a better choice to deliver some wonderful New Orleans style music.”
John Musker & Ron Clements have directed and produced five feature films for Disney including The Little Mermaid and Aladdin. Additionally they received story and/or screenplay credits as well. Musker began his career at Disney in 1977, after studying character animation at California Institute of the Arts (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, Pete’s Dragon, The Fox and the Hound, and The Black Cauldron.
Randy Newman is a 17-time Oscar® nominee and winner (in 2002) for his song, “If I Didn’t Have You,” from the Disney/Pixar film, Monsters, Inc. Among his many achievements, he has contributed songs and musical scores for such other Pixar animated features as Toy Story, A Bug’s Life, Toy Story 2, Monsters, Inc. and Cars. Newman’s impressive list of film credits also includes scores for Ragtime, The Natural, Parenthood, Awakenings, and Pleasantville. He was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2002, and his other career milestones include three Grammy Awards, an Emmy, the first Henry Mancini Award for Lifetime Achievement, and an Annie Award.
Peter 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.
Maddy, the animated heroine in The Frog Princess, will also join The Walt Disney Company’s venerable court of beloved Disney princesses as they continue to enjoy the royal treatment at Disney’s theme parks, consumer products, publishing, Internet and other businesses worldwide.