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Alan Menken Music in
New TDS Show "The Snow Queen"

March 1st, 2006

'Mermaid' Men Back in Dis Net
By Sheigh Crabtree, The Hollywood Reporter

The future of Walt Disney Feature Animation under Disney CEO Robert Iger, Walt Disney Studios chairman Dick Cook and Pixar Animation Studios' John Lasseter and Ed Catmull might lie in the future of CG, but the studio said Tuesday that as it moves forward, it also is returning to its past.

Disney has signed composer Alan Menken, an eight-time Oscar winner and one of the driving forces behind "The Little Mermaid" -- which helped resuscitate Disney animation in the '80s -- to a nonexclusive, multipicture deal.

Highly regarded feature animation directors John Musker and Ron Clements, the team behind such animated hits as "Mermaid" and "Aladdin," also are returning to the Disney fold.

Menken, whose deal also involves live-action films, is developing the feature animated musical "The Frog Princess," based on the classic Grimm fairy tale.

Musker and Clements, who together directed "The Great Mouse Detective" and "Hercules," among other Disney animated films, were engaged by interim WDFA president Don Hahn to develop original new projects.

The directing team already has begun work on the lot in Burbank, discussing story ideas with Lasseter and Catmull on a daily basis while they also oversee the digital remastering of "The Little Mermaid," which Disney is preparing to release on DVD.

Musker and Clements had been developing a project titled "Fraidy Cat" since late 2004 but departed Disney when it failed to win a green light. It is not among the projects the directing team is actively developing, according to executives close to the situation.

For his first assignment under the new deal, Menken will score as well as write five original songs for Walt Disney Pictures' upcoming romantic musical fantasy, "Enchanted," a combination of live action and 2-D animation from animator James Baxter (HR 1/13). "Enchanted" is directed by Kevin Lima ("Tarzan"), and the project will see Menken reunite with Tony- and Oscar-winning lyricist Stephen Schwartz, his collaborator on "Pocahontas" and "The Hunchback of Notre Dame."

"Alan is a true Disney legend, and his music has enriched so many of our films," Cook said.

Added Walt Disney Music president Chris Montan: "He was an important part of our animation renaissance here at Disney and continues to be one of the most exciting, original and prolific composer-songwriters of our times. We're thrilled to be working with him on such a wide variety of projects and look forward to seeing him stretch his talents in new and innovative ways."

Under the terms of this new arrangement, Menken is expanding his role from within other divisions of Disney. For Disney Theatrical Prods., he is in preproduction on the stage version of "The Little Mermaid."

For Disney Creative Entertainment, Menken is creating a stage musical of "The Snow Queen," set to debut at Tokyo DisneySea with Amon Miyamoto directing and John Weidman as the bookwriter and Glen Slater the lyricist. He also is writing music for a Sinbad attraction in Japan for Walt Disney Imagineering.

Menken recently completed scoring Disney's upcoming live-action comedy "The Shaggy Dog," due in theaters March 10.

Menken's deal with Disney was brokered by Richard Kraft of Kraft-Engel Management.

-- Source: The Hollywood Reporer

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