Disney | Texas Public Radio

Disney

There are all the other storybook villains who have prowled their way into the Disney canon, and then there's Shere Khan the tiger. In Rudyard Kipling's The Jungle Book, the savage cat will stop at nothing to hunt down Mowgli, the young "man-cub" who was orphaned in the wilderness of India's impossibly lush Madhya Pradesh region and raised by wolves.

Zootopia is both an animated charmer and a theme-park ready world that's precisely what it sounds like: an anthropomorphic utopia where animals have overcome the predator/prey divide to live in near-perfect harmony, in ecologically distinct districts. Disney animators have conjured up in gratifyingly intricate detail a Tundra Town, Sahara Square, even a hamster-sized village for mice and moles.

Screenwriter Meg LeFauve is having a very good year. She's nominated for an Oscar as one of the writers of Pixar's deeply original, animated movie Inside Out; she wrote the screenplay for The Good Dinosaur; and now she's co-writing the female superhero movie Captain Marvel. According to actress Jodie Foster, LeFauve's mentor and one-time collaborator, her gifts as a writer mirror her gifts as a person: sensitivity combined with a "keen, precise mind."

Disney

For better or worse, the current state of cinema's animated output can be traced back to 1992's blockbuster film Aladdin. Not only was it a groundbreaking film with its breakneck pace, marvelous songs, and increased use of computer-aided animation, but it also established the "star turn" in animated films, with its zany genie voiced by the late Robin Williams. There was so much talk of an Academy Award nomination for Williams that year that I continually have to remind myself that he didn't actually get the nod.

It's a heart-stopping scene: The protagonist of The Good Dinosaur, an 11-year-old Apatosaurus named Arlo is chasing a little thief who's been stealing his family's food. Arlo's not looking where he's going, and he slips and falls into a river. Panic-stricken, he gasps for air as his body goes hurtling down the raging rapids. The splashes, the currents, the rocks, the sound, the details are so vivid — you feel real fear for this animated dinosaur.

The journey a film score takes, from the composer's brain to what comes out of the speakers at your local theater, is a long and complicated process. In the case of the new Pixar film The Good Dinosaur, the work began seven months ago. Audiences will hear it for the first time on Thanksgiving Day.

Growing up in New York City, film director and animator Peter Sohn remembers visiting the American Museum of Natural History as a kid and being awed by the dinosaurs on display there.

"There was a barosaurus in the atrium," Sohn tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross. "It was kind of standing on two legs, and it blew me away, that thing. ... It ignites the imagination to think that something that large could've roamed around New York."

©DISNEY

In April 1964, the New York World’s Fair opened in Flushing Meadow, Queens, and promised “Peace Through Understanding.” Despite that noble slogan, it was a time of social upheaval, the dawning of what would be known as “The Sixties.” 

The airspace around Disneyland is restricted. That's the lesson learned by a company that was set to spray for mosquitoes in Orange County, Calif., Wednesday night — but had to call off the mission because it didn't have a waiver to fly near the theme park.

"A complication arose in the operation regarding permissions to fly over restricted airspace around Disneyland," the Orange County Mosquito and Vector Control District says. "The contractor was unable to secure the permission in time to conduct a full operation."

Actor Dean Jones, who starred in The Love Bug, That Darn Cat! and other classic Walt Disney movies, has died at age 84. In addition to his film work, Jones played the role of Bobby in the original Broadway cast of Stephen Sondheim's Company in 1970.

Jones died in Los Angeles on Tuesday, according to his publicist, Richard Hoffman. The cause of death is reportedly related to Parkinson's disease.

Pages