BREAKING: Disney Just Gutted Their Hand-Drawn Animation Division [UPDATED]

According to former Disney animator Tom Bancroft on Twitter, Disney gutted their hand-drawn animation division this afternoon, and laid off nine veteran animators, including some of the studio’s biggest names: Nik Ranieri, Ruben Aquino, Frans Vischer, Russ Edmonds, Brian Ferguson, Jamie Lopez and Dan Tanaka. Two of the animators who still have jobs are Eric Goldberg and Mark Henn. The news of cuts in their animation division was leaked last week, but I, for one, did not anticipate that all these top animators would be let go. We’ve reached out to the studio for comment.

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Pessimistic Optimism: Goro Miyazaki on His Post-Nuclear Romance, From Up On Poppy Hill

Goro Miyazaki, son of the famous Japanese animator Hayao Miyazaki, has taken over his father's Studio Ghibli and released a new feature film, From Up On Poppy Hill (out in the States tomorrow). In this exclusive profile by Scott Thill, Miyazaki talks about the new movie and his father's legacy.

If Goro Miyazaki is feeling the pressure of tradition, he doesn't seem to be showing it. He's the son of legendary animator Hayao Miyazaki, whose stunning films large (Spirited Away, Princess Mononoke) and small (Kiki's Delivery Service, My Neighbor Totoro) have become anime influentials on either side of the Pacific. But with the arrival of From Up On Poppy Hill, opening stateside March 15 in New York and wider next week, Goro Miyazaki now has two directorial bows to his hallowed name.

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Sofita the "1st Latina Princess" Announcement backfires, Disney recounts statement immediately

When an executive producer for Sofia the First: Once Upon a Princess said that Sofia is Disney’s first Latina princess, he was, unbeknownst to him, setting in motion a multi-layered discussion on Latina identity, what constitutes “Latina looks” and a crush of celebration and criticism.

As the story took on a life of its own, Disney felt they had to come out with a statement clarifying what their make-believe princess is — and isn’t. The end result is that Sofia is not actually Latina.

“What’s important to know is that Sofia is a fairytale girl who lives in a fairytale world,” Nancy Kanter, senior vice president of original programming and general manager of Disney Junior Worldwide said in a post on the Princess Sofia Facebook page. “All our characters come from fantasy lands that may reflect elements of various cultures and ethnicities but none are meant to specifically represent those real world cultures.”

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Leah Chase: Real Life Princess Tiana

When the creators of Disney's 'Princess and the Frog' came to New Orleans in search of inspiration for their character Princess Tiana, locals pointed them into the direction of 87-year-old Leah Chase. The Creole chef known as the Queen of Creole Cuisine got to talking about her Louisiana upbringing, love for cooking and aspirations as a child to own her own restaurant. Never did she imagine that her life story would go on to inspire Disney to base their first black princess character on her; yet it did just that.

As hundreds of thousands of little girls poured out of movie theaters across the country, they walked away uplifted by a belief lived by her whole life, 'You can accomplish anything you put your mind to.' Chase may not be a household name outside of New Orleans, but her real life dreams, passions and accomplishments are in the hearts of any person who watches the film or buys 'Princess and the Frog: Tiana's Cookbook,' which Chase contributed to.

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The CW's "Beauty and Beast (2012-Present)"

Beauty and the Beast 1.03 ‘All In’ Stills. (Patch 1 of 2)

The first of a set of promo pictures from the new CW television series, Beauty and the Beast, a reboot of the 1980s television series. In this series, police detective Catherine Chandler is played by Kristen Kreuk and her fellow detective, Tess Vargas, is played by Nina Lisandrello.

The role of Catherine Chandler was originated by a white actress in the 1980s (Linda Hamilton) and the role of Tess Vargas is written on IMDB as “Tess O’Malley,” suggesting that the character was originally supposed to be Irish. So here we have two “racebent” roles, and the result is a show that features two women of color working in the police force as partners!

At the ComicCon panel for Beauty and the Beast, the showrunners explained that this pairing exists in the real world in police forces, but is something that is rarely, if ever, depicted. (The trope that women doing police work or really, any kind of work, are partnered up with a man.) The showrunners are also women and they plan on addressing some of the sexism that women who are police officers experience through Catherine’s story. [X]


Sinqua Walls Speaks on Sir Lancelot, "Dangerous" Addition to Once Upon a Time

With As Once Upon a Time Season 2 around the corner, and with fans wondering what the new magic in Storybrooke will bring on September 30, TV Fanatic has uncovered some scoop: Prince Charming may have some competition riding into town.

In an exclusive interview, Sinqua Walls spoke to us about his dangerous new role as Sir Lancelot, his sword play with Charming and also revealed the identity of his biggest television crush...

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'Beauty And The Beat': Todrick Hall Brings Disney To The Ghetto (VIDEO)

Do you ever watch the opening of the Disney animated classic "Beauty and the Beast" and wish that instead of yelling "bonjour!" in the streets of Paris, the townspeople shouted "what's good?" to Belle as she strolled through the ghetto?

In this astoundingly well-executed parody from onetime "American Idol" contestant Todrick Hall and an assemblage of YouTube celebrities -- and even a glimpse of Antoine Dodson (or at least a lookalike) -- "Belle" goes through her morning walk through the 'hood, gets her hair did, and gets holla'd at by Jerome (not Gaston).

Best of all, everyone looks like they're having fun. Try not to watch this one over and over. [SOURCE]

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Old News: ‘This is Arjun’s coming of age story’

THE BIGGEST Indian animated feature, Arjun: The Warrior Prince, is set to be a summer blockbuster. Director Arnab Chaudhuri, 40, talks to Aradhna Wal about scaling animation for adults with a story every child knows.

Tell us about the project.
It is a huge film. It took us three years to make it. Ronnie (Screwvala) approached me with the idea of a film on Arjun and I jumped at it. Common depictions of the Mahabharata are so formal. We’ve used the story to make a big martial arts spectacle. In that sense it’s quite a contemporary take. It’s not just a comedy for kids.

Why tag it ‘The Untold Story’?
It’s about the approach. People think of Arjun as a hero without flaws. But he was a man involved in a power struggle. Before that he was a boy who was a very talented marksman. There is a big difference between being able to hit the target and being a warrior leading an army into battle. We deal with his insecurity, doubt, his transformation and his coming of age. The same with the other Pandavas. What you read and what you see, they’re fine upstanding characters. That is boring. How do you create differences between them? Bhim and Yudhishthir bicker, like brothers would.


Once Upon a Time 1st look: Jamie Chung's Mulan ready for battle

Don't expect to see Mulan in a pretty getup when we first meet Disney's warrior princess in Once Upon a Time's September 30 premiere. She'll be armored up and battle-ready.

"I go on a journey with Prince Phillip to find his princess, Aurora," teases Mulan's portrayer, Jamie Chung (Sucker Punch). "There's this evil spirit that's moving and my character ends up bonding with Sleeping Beauty. And as you've heard, Captain Hook is joining us."

So might sword overpower hook? "Definitely," says Chung, who mastered her sword-wielding skills on ABC Family's Samurai Girl. "If you compare the size and length of my sword to his hook, who do you think has the longer reach?" [SOURCE]

Girl, you look ready to fall over...

Toon Thursday: Dissecting Disney’s newest villain

You know what they say in Hollywood. That your movie is only as good as your villain. Well, one of the main reasons that Disney’s “The Princess and the Frog” was so highly praised (Richard Corliss of “Time” Magazine flat-out called Disney’s return to hand-drawn animation “… the best film of the year”) and is such an entertaining motion picture is Bruce W. Smith’s ground-breaking work with that animated feature’s villain, Dr. Facilier.

Of course, it’s easy to understand why Ron Clements & John Musker were anxious to have Bruce come work on this production. Given that he’d been a supervising animator on “Tarzan,” “The Emperor's New Groove” and “Home on the Range,” Smith was already familiar with the ways things worked at the Mouse House. He’d also proven in the past that he could handle the pressures of working on a full-length animated feature.

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Pixar's Día de los Muertos movie a nod to Latin American audiences

Pixar's "Toy Story 3" is the highest-grossing movie of all time in Mexico, where the animated adventure tale of children's toys Woody and Buzz Lightyear collected $59 million at the box office in 2010, more than megahits like "Avatar" and the "Harry Potter" finale.

The follow-up from "Toy Story 3" director Lee Unkrich and producer Darla K. Anderson is also likely to have strong appeal with Mexican audiences -- and to boast more authentically Latino characters than a Spanish-speaking Buzz Lightyear doll.

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Context: "Atlantis" character Joshua Sweet Disney milestone sweet for actor, animator

Dr. Joshua Sweet, one of the heroes of Disney's Atlantis: The Lost Empire, is a heroic member of the team searching for the undersea world of Atlantis. And he's the first black character in the history of Disney animated feature films. That may surprise you. After all, you may remember Eddie Murphy's routines in Mulan, Samuel E. Wright's rendition of Under the Sea in the Little Mermaid, Brer Rabbit and Brer Fox in Song of the South or the crows in Dumbo. But none of those characters were human. "It has taken a ridiculously long time," says Atlantis director Kirk Wise.

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By Andy Seiler, USA TODAY
Contributing: Susan Wloszczyna
06/13/2001 - Updated 09:20 AM ET