Hercules: About The Filmmakers

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JOHN MUSKER (Producer/Director/Co-writer) continues to be one of the guiding forces in the art of animation and one of Disney's greatest treasures. His irreverent wit, strong visual style and unconventional approach to storytelling helped to make "The Little Mermaid" and "Aladdin" two of the Studio's greatest successes of all-time. "Hercules" is his fourth feature film directing credit for the Studio.

Like many of the artists who eventually came to work at Disney, Musker knew at an early age that he wanted to become an animator. By the time he was 8, he had already set his sights on this profession.

Born in Chicago, Illinois, Musker first began drawing while in grammar school. Inspired by such Disney classics as "Sleeping Beauty" and "Pinocchio" as well as Bob Thomas' primer on animation entitled The Art of Animation, he developed a thorough understanding of the animation process. His fascination with comics, cartoons and Mad Magazine further stimulated his desire to draw.

At Loyola Academy, a Jesuit high school in Willmette, Illinois, Musker became a cartoonist for the school paper. His special brand of caricature, which included outrageous sketches of teachers and school celebrities, quickly caught on. This preoccupation with caricature and cartooning continued throughout his college years at Northwestern University, where he majored in English and drew cartoons for The Daily Northwestern.

Following graduation from college in 1974, Musker put together a portfolio and set out for California to pursue a career as an animator. After an initial rejection by Disney, he enrolled at the California Institute of the Arts (CalArts) the following year (with a partial scholarship) to master his craft.

After completing his first year, which included a summer internship at the Disney Studio, he was offered a full-time job as an animator. This time Musker turned it down, opting instead to complete the second year of his training.

In 1977, Musker started work at Disney where his two training tests were enthusiastically received and he began as an assistant animator on "The Small One." He also animated on "The Fox and the Hound" and did story work on "The Black Cauldron."

Musker and Clements joined creative forces in 1983 to write "The Great Mouse Detective" and went on to co-direct the film (along with Burny Mattinson and Dave Michener). This successful collaboration led to a re-teaming on "The Little Mermaid," an award-winning film which helped to revitalize feature animation at Disney and generate an excitement for the genre as a whole. Following that, Musker & Clements joined creative forces once again to produce, write and direct the international blockbuster, "Aladdin" (1992).

Musker and his wife, Gale, whom he met at Disney, have three children (including twins). They live in La Cañada.

RON CLEMENTS (Producer/Director/Co-writer) is one of the top creative talents in the field of animation today and his gentle humor, visual integrity and strong story sensibilities have helped to attract a wider audience than ever before for animated features. Clements has successfully added to the Disney legacy and taken the art of animation in exciting new directions. "Hercules" marks his fourth directorial effort for the Studio.

Born and raised in Sioux City, Iowa, Clements traces his interest in animation to his first viewing of "Pinocchio" at the age of 10. As a teenager, he began making super-8 animated films, which led to a part-time job as an artist at a television station, where he animated commercials for the local market. While there, he made a 15-minute featurette (which he animated single-handedly) entitled "Shades of Sherlock Holmes." Several years later, his animated Sherlock Holmes project helped him get a job at Disney and also served as the inspiration for "The Great Mouse Detective," which Clements wrote and directed (with John Musker).

After graduating from high school, Clements came to California to try his luck at animation. Since there weren't any openings at Disney, he went to work for several months at Hanna-Barbera while studying life drawing in the evening at Art Center.

With a little persistence and determination, Clements was finally accepted into Disney's Talent Development Program, a training ground for young animators. His self-taught experience and ambition made up for his lack of formal training.

After successfully completing the training program, Clements served a two-year apprenticeship under Disney animation great Frank Thomas. He quickly progressed through the ranks from in-betweener to assistant to animator/storyman. His credits include "Winnie the Pooh and Tigger Too," "The Rescuers," "Pete's Dragon," "The Fox and the Hound" and "The Black Cauldron."

Clements made his writing/directing debut (with Musker) on the 1986 Disney animated feature, "The Great Mouse Detective." Following that, he successfully pitched an animated version of Hans Christian Andersen's classic fairy tale, "The Little Mermaid" and went on to write and direct the film (again with Musker), which became an instant classic upon its release in 1989. The film won Academy Awards® for best song and original score and helped to inspire a new generation of moviegoers and animators.

Clements & Musker continued to make animation history with their next collaboration, "Aladdin," in 1992. Both served as writers, producers and directors on the film, which went on to earn $486 million at theaters all over the world and become one of the most popular animated films of all-time.

Clements and his wife, Tami, live in the San Fernando Valley.

ALICE DEWEY (Producer) has been a key player on Disney's Feature Animation production team since 1990. Her other distinguished Disney animation credits include a role as associate producer of "The Lion King" (the Studio's most successful animated release of all-time) and as production manager on the 1992 comedy blockbuster, "Aladdin." She began her association with Disney as assistant production manager on the animated featurette, "The Prince and the Pauper," which teamed her with the Studio's legendary star, Mickey Mouse.

In 1980, Dewey began a seven season association as stage manager with Dallas Summer Musicals, where she supervised dozens of classic musicals. Between 1981-90, she also served as stage manager for numerous productions at such prestigious New York venues as the Manhattan Theater Club, the Ensemble Studio Theater and the WPA. During that time, she also spent two seasons at the Hartford Stage Company, where she was involved in managing productions of "Hamlet," "Hedda Gabler" and "A Doll's House," among others. Starting in 1982, she began stage managing touring productions of several Broadway productions including "Amadeus," "42nd Street," "Big River" and "Les Miserables."

A native of Milwaukee, Dewey studied theater and education at the University of Wisconsin and went on to receive an MFA in theatrical directing at the University of Texas. Her teaching credentials include undergraduate courses in drama at both alma maters, a two-year term teaching junior high school English and theater and a term at the Milwaukee Repertory Theater.

ALAN MENKEN (Composer) is an eight-time Academy Award®-winner who continues to be one of the most celebrated and prolific composers of the day. His diverse and impressive body of work for the stage and screen has earned him just about every accolade as well as an enormous legion of fans all over the world. "Hercules" is his sixth animated feature for Disney and it follows his previous composing credits (songs and score) on "The Little Mermaid" (1989), "Beauty and the Beast" (1991), "Aladdin" (1992), "Pocahontas" (1995) and "The Hunchback of Notre Dame" (1996).

The composer's most recent accomplishments include the world premiere concert event, "King David," which he wrote with lyricist Tim Rice and which had a limited engagement run at The New Amsterdam Theatre in New York in May. Menken's upcoming schedule includes a variety of musical projects for stage and screen as well as his own album of new and existing compositions, which will be released by Sony Records.

Earlier this year, Menken received his latest Oscar® and Golden Globe nominations for his work on Disney's 1996 animated release, "The Hunchback of Notre Dame." For that film, he also wrote six songs with lyricist Stephen Schwartz. He had previously worked with Schwartz on Disney's "Pocahontas," which earned both songwriters a Best Song Oscar® for "Colors of the Wind." Menken's score for that film also earned him his eighth Academy Award®. His contributions to "Pocahontas" were further acknowledged with a Golden Globe Award and an additional Grammy.

Among his many musical milestones, Menken composed the score for the Broadway production of "Disney's Beauty and the Beast" for which he received Tony and Drama Desk Award nominations. He also composed the score and songs for the enormously successful Disney animated film "Aladdin" (with lyricists Howard Ashman and Tim Rice) for which he received two Academy Awards® and two Golden Globes for Best Original Score and Best Song (with Tim Rice) for "A Whole New World" as well as four Grammy Awards including Song of the Year for "A Whole New World." He was also responsible for composing the songs (with lyrics by Howard Ashman) and score for the Disney animated film "Beauty and the Beast" for which he received two Academy Awards® as well as two Golden Globe Awards for Best Original Score and Best Song for the title song "Beauty and the Beast" as well as three Grammy Awards. For "The Little Mermaid," Menken received two Academy Awards® and two Golden Globe Awards for Best Score and Best Song ("Under the Sea") and two Grammy Awards. With lyricist Jack Feldman he has written "My Christmas Tree" for "Home Alone 2: Lost in New York" and the songs for the live-action musical feature "Newsies." The composer's score for "Life with Mikey" featured two songs, "Cold Enough To Snow" with lyrics by Stephen Schwartz and a title song with lyrics by Jack Feldman. Additional credits include the score for the ABC miniseries "Lincoln" which was broadcast in December, 1992, and the music and lyrics for the "Rocky V" theme song "The Measure of a Man" recorded by Elton John.

With Howard Ashman, Menken received the New York Drama Critic's Award, the Drama Desk Award, the Outer Critic's Circle Award and the London Evening Standard Award for Best Musical for "Little Shop of Horrors" and an Oscar® nomination for Best Song ("Mean Green Mother From Outer Space") from the film version of "Little Shop of Horrors." In 1983, the composer received the BMI Career Achievement Award for his body of work in musical theater including "Little Shop of Horrors," "God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater," "Real Life Funnies," "Atina: Evil Queen of the Galaxy" (produced in workshop as "Battle of the Giants"), "Patch, Patch, Patch" and contributions to numerous reviews including "Personals" and "Diamonds." In 1987 a musical adaptation of "The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz" with lyrics by David Spencer was produced in Philadelphia. In 1992 the WPA Theatre in New York produced Menken's "Weird Romance" with lyrics also by David Spencer.

In December, 1994, Menken debuted a brand new stage musical based on the Dickens classic, "A Christmas Carol," with lyrics by Lynn Ahrens and book by Mike Ockrent and Lynn Ahrens, at the Theater at Madison Square Garden. The show proved to be a great success and has become a perennial New York holiday event.

Menken grew up in New Rochelle, New York and developed an interest in music at an early age. He studied piano and violin through his high school years, but it wasn't until after his graduation from New York University with a liberal arts degree (and a brief dalliance with pre-med) that he decided to focus on a career in music. While attending the Lehman Engel Musical Theater Workshop at BMI, he developed a passion for musical theater. This experience led to an intense personal learning and growth period for him as a musician and eventually resulted in his meeting Howard Ashman.

At this time, Menken was working primarily as a songwriter who performed frequently in local clubs and had an active career writing and singing commercial jingles. Several shows that he had written for had been successfully showcased, but not yet produced. His first collaboration with Ashman was in 1979 on the WPA production of "God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater," which was subsequently well received in its off-Broadway debut.

Menken and his wife Janis, a former professional ballet dancer, reside in upstate New York with their two daughters.

DAVID ZIPPEL (Lyricist) makes an impressive Disney debut with his lyrical contribution to "Hercules," providing witty words for a half-dozen memorable new tunes composed by Alan Menken. The Tony Award-winning lyricist is already hard at work on the Studio's 1998 animated release, "Mulan", which is due in theaters next summer.

Zippel made his Broadway debut with "City of Angels" for which he received the 1990 Tony Award, New York Drama Critics Circle Award and Drama Desk Award, London's 1994 Olivier Award and Evening Standard Award. His next Broadway show was "The Goodbye Girl" (with music by Marvin Hamlisch, and a book by Neil Simon) for which he was nominated for the 1993 Outer Critics Circle Award for Best Lyrics. In 1994, he and Joe Leonardo co-directed the hit Chicago production of "The Goodbye Girl" which was nominated for three Jefferson Awards.

With Hamlisch, Zippel has written several songs for motion pictures as well as the text to that composer's symphonic suite "Anatomy of Peace." His lyrics for "The Swan Princess," an animated musical were nominated for a 1995 Golden Globe Award. With composer Wally Harper he has written numerous songs for singer Barbara Cook including "It's Better With A Band," from Cook's live at Carnegie Hall album of the same name and the original songs for her Broadway and West End concert: "Barbara Cook: A Concert for the Theatre." Off-Broadway, Zippel has contributed lyrics to the revues "A...My Name Is Alice" and Hal Prince's "Diamonds" and, with composer Doug Katsaros, wrote the musical comedy "Just So." A revue of his songs also entitled "It's Better With A Band," played off-Broadway and on London's West End. He wrote the original songs for "5,6,7,8...Dance!" which starred Sandy Duncan at Radio City Music Hall and his songs have been performed by numerous theater, cabaret and recording artists including Michael Bolton, Cleo Laine, Mel Torme, Nancy LaMott, Elaine Paige, Jason Alexander and Jeffery Osborne. With Jonathan Sheffer and Joe Leonard, Zippel wrote "Going Hollywood," a musical adaptation of Kaufman and Hart's "Once In A Lifetime."

Among his upcoming projects, he will be writing new lyrics for Andrew Lloyd Webber's production of "A Star Is Born" featuring music by Harold Arlen and a book by Larry Gelbart. A graduate of Harvard Law School, he is delighted not to practice law.

BOB SHAW & DONALD McENERY (Screenwriters) bring their vast experience as stand-up comics and talents as comedy writers to their assignment on "Hercules." Among their accomplishments as writing partners, they shared an Emmy nomination for a 1993 episode of "Seinfeld" entitled "The Tape." From their first meeting in New York six years ago, they hit it off immediately and knew that they wanted to write together. That desire was renewed in 1992 when they were both on the same bill at a comedy club in Nashville (Zanies Comedy Showplace). That same year, their collaboration began and they wrote scripts together as well as a television project for Gene Wilder. When Shaw took a one-year stint as a staff writer on the hit TV show, "Seinfeld," he brought McEnery aboard to write an episode with him. Since completing their work on "Hercules," McEnery & Shaw have written a draft of the next animated film from Pixar and Disney ("A Bug's Life") to be directed by John Lasseter ("Toy Story"). They have also begun writing a direct-to-video sequel to "Hercules" for Buena Vista Home Video.

Bob Shaw grew up on the East Coast and launched his stand-up comedy career in New York City, appearing at such popular comedy spots as The Improv, Catch a Rising Star and The Bottom Line. Moving to California in the late 1970s, he continued doing stand-up and found additional success through guest appearances with Johnny Carson and David Letterman. His big break came when he began writing television specials for such top comedians as Alan King, Steve Allen and others.

Donald McEnery was born and raised on Long Island and started his career as a stand-up comic one week before he turned 25. For the next 16 years, he worked the comedy circuit full-time, appearing at The Improv, Catch a Rising Star and other top clubs in New York and around the country. McEnery also appeared on such popular TV variety shows as "Star Search," "Evening at the Improv" and "Caroline's Comedy Hour." He moved to California in 1994 and has been writing exclusively with Shaw for the past five years. He and his wife currently live in Los Angeles.

Shaw & McEnery both enjoyed their first experience collaborating on an animated film. "One of the things that made this such a terrific assignment for us," says Shaw, "was that we got to work with people who had a great appreciation of comedy. We also learned a lot from John and Ron about making a great film. With our background as stand-up comedians, we were able to bring a very strong idea of jokes to the script and we could look at a scene and instinctively know how to make it funny. After you've been doing comedy on the road for about 18 years, you get a sense of rhythm and have a pretty good idea when something is funny."

IRENE MECCHI (Screenwriter) continues her winning streak at Disney Feature Animation with her valuable contribution to the screenplay for "Hercules." The talented writer previously collaborated on the screenplay for Disney's mega-hit, "The Lion King," and also added dialogue and key story elements as a screenwriter for the 1996 animated release, "The Hunchback of Notre Dame." Among her most recent accomplishments, she co-wrote the upcoming stage adaptation of "The Lion King," due for a Broadway bow this fall at the magnificent New Amsterdam Theatre.

A third generation San Franciscan, Mecchi studied theater and literature at UC Berkeley. Her aspirations to direct theater led her to the renowned American Conservatory Theater (ACT), where her instructor, Second City alumnus Joy Carlin, was impressed with her writing and encouraged her to pursue it on a full-time basis. Mecchi's first network writing assignment was on the Emmy Award-winning Lily Tomlin special, "Lily: Sold Out." Prior to that she wrote a series of children's programs for Nickelodeon.

Mecchi's television sitcom credits also include "Valerie," "The Popcorn Kid" and a season as staff writer on "My Sister Sam."

Several years ago, Mecchi researched and wrote a play drawn from 50 years of legendary newspaper columns by the late Herb Caen, renowned for his witty observations of San Francisco. The play was "work-shopped" at ACT and led Mecchi to edit two books of Caen writings, which were published in 1992 and 1993: The Best of Herb Caen: 1960-1975 and Herb Caen's San Francisco: 1976-1991.

The writer began her association with Disney in March, 1992, when she wrote a 10-minute animated short called "Recycle Rex." That film encouraged younger viewers to "recycle, reduce and reuse" waste materials.

In June, 1992, she was brought into the feature animation department on "The Lion King" and was teamed with Jonathan Roberts ("The Sure Thing," The Official Preppy Handbook) for the project.

Mecchi's next screenwriting assignment for Disney is on the upcoming animated feature, "Kingdom of the Sun," a South American-based adventure tale which reteams her with Roger Allers, who directed "The Lion King" and also co-wrote the book for the stage adaptation of that film.

KENDRA HAALAND (Associate Producer) makes her Disney debut with "Hercules" and brings to the project a diverse background in advertising, marketing and animation production management.

Born in Newport Beach, California and raised in Minneapolis, Minnesota, Haaland attended the University of Minnesota and went on to receive a masters degree in international management from Thunderbird University (the American Graduate School of International Management in Phoenix). In 1984, she moved to New York to launch her professional career with McCann-Erickson Advertising, where she started as an assistant account executive and eventually handled such major clients as Lufthansa Airlines and Mennen. Among the highlights of her four years with McCann, she spent a year in Sweden, where she participated in the agency's first junior executive program. In 1989, Haaland returned home to Minneapolis to take a job with Saatchi & Saatchi as an account executive on the Northwest Airlines account.

While visiting her brother, an animator, in California in 1990, Haaland met director Bill Kroyer, who was involved at that time in making the animated feature, "FernGully...The Last Rainforest." Shortly after that encounter, she was offered a job as the film's operation manager and she accepted. Relocating to Los Angeles, she spent the next 1-1/2 years coordinating the complicated logistics of making the film in several different countries. Following her assignment with Kroyer Films, she went to work for Iwerks Entertainment as a marketing director and spent the next 18 months working on "Virtual Adventures" and "Cinetropolis," a location-based entertainment complex which debuted in Connecticut.

In 1995, she joined the Disney Feature Animation team and was immediately assigned to the "Hercules" unit.

GERALD SCARFE (Production Designer) lends his unique and original sense of artistry and design to "Hercules" and helped to make it into one of Disney's most stylish and graphically distinct feature efforts.

Born in London in 1936, Scarfe was a chronic asthmatic as a child and spent much of his time drawing and reading. After a brief period at the Royal College of Art in London, he established himself as a scathing satirical cartoonist, working for Punch magazine and Private Eye during the early sixties.

He joined the Daily Mail in 1966 and the Sunday Times in 1967 as a political cartoonist, also making on-the-spot war cartoons in Vietnam, Northern Ireland and the Middle East.

In 1968, Scarfe worked for Time Magazine in New York creating covers and contributing reportage drawings. He also traveled with President Lyndon B. Johnson, Senator Barry Goldwater, Senator Robert Kennedy and President Richard Nixon.

The acclaimed artist has had many exhibitions in New York, Montreal, Chicago and London, including 45 one-man exhibitions.

Among his other accomplishments, he has designed the sets and costumes for many plays, operas and musicals in London, Houston, Los Angeles and Detroit, including "The Magic Flute" for Los Angeles Opera in 1993 (which returns to Los Angeles next year). His set and costume designs for the Feydeau Farce "Le Dindon (An Absolute Turkey)" in 1993-94 earned him an Olivier Award.

He designed sets, films and inflatables for Pink Floyd, as well as designing and directing the animation sequences for MGM's film "Pink Floyd--The Wall."

The talented artist has had his own TV series and has written and directed many films for BBC television, including his autobiographical "Scarfe by Scarfe" which won the BAFTA in 1987.

Many books of his work have also been published including Scarface and his latest effort, inspired by "Hercules," entitled Hades: The Truth at Last (told from the villain's point of view).

Currently, he is a political cartoonist for the London Sunday Times and his work appears regularly in other periodicals including The New Yorker and Vogue Italia.

Based in London, he is married to actress Jane Asher and they have three children.

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