D23 Expo Day Two: Dick Cook and the Walt Disney Studios Present Everyone

It was news when it was announced that Dick Cook would be a keynote speaker at the D23 Expo on behalf of the Walt Disney Studios. It was big news when it was announced that he would be joined on stage by actor Nicolas Cage. It was headlines when D23 announced at the eleventh hour that directors Robert Zemeckis and Tim Burton would also take the stage. But what literally thousands of rabid Disney fans bore witness to this morning defies any category of news. Filled with exclusives and celebrities upon celebrities, even those who had an inkling there was more than Disney was letting on couldn’t have imagined what the Walt Disney Studio managed to pull off in front of the capacity crowd.

Getting settled in your seat, it  was impossible not to notice the orchestra setup at stage right – you knew then you were in for something a little extra. The lights dim and the orchestra fills the Arena with epic theme music as clips from Disney films begin to play. Then you start to hear singing voices as a 10 person choir chimes in when there are lyrics to be sung. Theme song after theme song, movie after movie, from Snow White to the Proposal and everything in-between. It has to be at least, oh, I don’t know… 23 minutes long. An absolute masterpiece crafted by Barnette Richie with music and songs sync’d perfectly every frame of the way, remarkably demonstrated by an extended clip of a musical number from Enchanted mid-way.

Walt Disney Studios Chairman Dick CookThen Walt Disney Studios Chairman Dick Cook took the stage. He talked of his love for the company ever since he started as a steam train and monoral operator at the Disneyland Resort some 40 years ago. He spoke of quality being the underlying factor in movies produced by the studio. He talked about the animation studios and upcoming projects such as Cars 2 and Rapunzel which will be covered in depth when John Lasseter takes the same stage on Sunday. He talked about how for the first time in history the Walt Disney Studios will open its gate to the public and invite them to see a limited pre-release engagement of The Princess and the Frog in the studio’s newly renovated state-of-the-art theater as well as the special engagement in New York City’s famous Ziegfeld Theatre.

He acknowledged the work of Miramax before turning to the Touchstone Pictures label and its newest upcoming release The Last Song, written by Nicholas Sparks for and starring Miley Cyrus. And he mentioned the upcoming sequel Wild Hogs 2: Bachelor Ride.

Director Robert Zemeckis takes the stage (more…)

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Video: D23 Expo Walt Disney Studios Presentation Featuring Dick Cook et al

Enjoy footage from the exciting events and announcements from the Walt Disney Studios presentation featuring WDS Chairman Dick Cook. Dick welcomes numerous celebrities to the stage for the event including directors Robert Zemeckis, Jerry Bruckheimer and Tim Burton, actors John Travolta, Kelly Preston, Ella Bleu Travolta, Nicolas Cage, Johnny Depp, the Muppets, a performance by Miley Cyrus and more. Plus see what the fans have to say! Footage courtesy of Disney

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All New Disney/Pixar ‘Cars Toons’ Rev Up on Disney Channel, Disney XD and ABC Family

All-new episodes of Disney•Pixar’s “Cars Toons,” an animated short series directed by Academy Award©-winner John Lasseter with Rob Gibbs co-directing and starring Lightning McQueen’s rusty friend Mater, will debut beginning FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 20 on Disney Channel, Disney XD and ABC Family. They are titled “Unidentified Flying Mater,” “Monster Truck Mater,” “Heavy Metal Mater” and “Tokyo Mater.”

Mark Mothersbaugh (“Devo”) composed the music for three episodes and BT (“The Fast and the Furious”), a prominent composer of dance and electronic music, scored “Tokyo Mater.”

The four new stories follow the popular shorts that began debuting in October 2008 and which have reached 22.9 million Kids 2-11, or 56% of all kids in that age group in the U.S., and 67.5 million total unique viewers.

“Cars Toons” are directed by John Lasseter, (“Cars,” “Toy Story 2,” “A Bug’s Life” and “Toy Story”) and co-directed by Rob Gibbs (“Cars,” “Finding Nemo,” “Monsters, Inc” and “Toy Story 2″). Kori Rae (“The Incredibles” and “Monsters Inc.”) is the producer. Victor Navone (“Cars,” “The Incredibles,” “Finding Nemo” and “Monsters, Inc.”) co-directed the episode “Tokyo Mater.”

In “Unidentified Flying Mater,” premiering Friday, November 20 on Disney Channel, Mater meets a cute little bucktoothed UFO named Mator, takes him out for a night of fun and they quickly become best friends. But when Mator is captured by the military, Mater and Lightning McQueen come to the rescue.

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D23 Expo Day One: Bob Iger Address / The Princess and the Frog

Scheduled to begin at 10 am, the address by Disney President and CEO Bob Iger actually began at 10:30 am. Although it was clear by the fact that the 4,000 seat Arena was still having guests being ushered in after checking all cameras and cell phones and being wanded by security, it wasn’t until Iger took the stage that he declared the popularity of the address the ultimate cause for the delay. Popularity is a major understatement as well as although the address was set to begin at 10, D23 Expo guests came to the Anaheim Convention Center as early as 4 AM to wait for the doors to open at approximately 6:45 AM, only to immediately go wait in another line to enter the Arena.

Walt Disney Company President and CEO Robert Iger launched the first-ever D23 Expo with an hour-long presentation in the Anaheim Convention Center Arena, exploring the incredible future of Disney and exciting projects that are taking shape around the globe. (DISNEY-ABC TELEVISION GROUP/ADAM LARKEY)The presentation began with a powerful video that really underlined the expanse and reach of The Walt Disney Company. Not just the conglomeration of individual divisions, but how the company is experienced by people the world over (indeed I learned that there was a reporter from Russia covering the event). The titles quickly formed the sentence ‘Every Minute of Every Hour, Someone is Experience the Disney Difference’ (or somthing to that effect) and flashed through snippets of productions past and productions yet to come in all mediums. The film ended with flashing The Walt Disney Company over and over in different languages.

Then Iger took the stage and talked about the birth of D23, how he would constantly have guests ask him why there was no way for Disney to reach out to its customer base and how a visit to the Walt Disney Archives became the catalyst for D23. He talked about how only a company like Disney could have the type of fan base that would enable them to pull off a convention like the D23 Expo.

Crediting it all to the fans, Iger talked about being a fan of Disney himself as a child. A brief mention of the Mickey Mouse Club quickly transitioned to a lengthy ode to Davy Crockett. Anette, he said, was cute, but she had nothing on Davy.

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Mandy Moore lets down her hair for “Rapunzel”

LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) – After combing the acting landscape, Walt Disney Pictures has chosen Mandy Moore to voice the lead role in its Digital 3D-animated musical action-adventure “Rapunzel,” inspired by the Brothers Grimm fairy tale.

Zachary Levi, star of NBC’s “Chuck,” has been cast as the voice of the dashing bandit who finds himself on the road with the rebellious teen “hair apparent.”

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Walt Disney Studios Hosts Special Engagement of the Princess and the Frog; Ziegfeld in New York

UPDATE: SEE OUR FULL REVIEW ALONG WITH DOZENS OF PHOTOS OF THE ULTIMATE DISNEY EXPERIENCE HERE!

BURBANK, Calif. & NEW YORK — In celebration of Disney’s newest animated musical “The Princess and The Frog,” Walt Disney Studios is opening its Burbank gates to the public for a once-in-a-lifetime advance special engagement, welcoming Disney fans to experience its newest animated musical comedy Nov. 25-Dec. 13, 2009. The advance special engagement will also be featured in Clearview’s historic Ziegfeld Theatre in New York City. Following the film, fans on both coasts will also be treated to The Ultimate Disney Experience, an exciting extravaganza that will feature—for the first time ever—all nine of the Disney princesses (including the film’s Princess Tiana, Disney’s newest princess), as well as exciting Bayou games, movie archives, how-to presentations from Disney animators, Studio tours (for L.A. guests) and more. Tickets went on sale at midnight last night.

“We’re welcoming families to our Studio to see where Walt Disney made real movie magic,” said Dick Cook, chairman of The Walt Disney Studios. “Our Studio is not open to the public, so it’s an unprecedented opportunity for Disney fans to experience a movie right here on the Disney lot where we’ve filmed Disney classics like ‘Mary Poppins,’ ‘Princess Diaries,’ ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ and many more. In fact, Walt built the original theater on the Studio lot back in 1940; it opened just in time for special audiences to view his ‘Fantasia.’ With a newly renovated, state-of-the-art theater, the Studio will open its gates once again, inviting audiences to not only see our newest animated musical, but to take part in a one-of-a-kind experience after the movie. We’re bringing the same exciting experience to New York City at the historic Ziegfeld Theatre and Roseland Ballroom.”

Themed to the film’s setting, New Orleans, The Ultimate Disney Experience will feature something for the whole family.

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Directors Tim Burton and Robert Zemeckis to Join Dick Cook and Nicolas Cage at D23 Expo

D23 has just announced that directors Tim Burton (Alice in Wonderland) and Robert Zemeckis (A Christmas Carol) will join Dick Cook on stage during his address at the D23 Expo on Friday.

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Disney Consumer Products and LEGO Group Unveil New Six Foot Woody Statue at Venice Film Festival

LEGO Sculpture of WoodyVENICE, Italy — LEGO models of Woody and Buzz Lightyear were unveiled by Disney Consumer Products as part of a dedicated Toy Story-themed family area at the 66th Venice Film Festival. Constructed from 13,600 LEGO bricks in 150 hours, this was the global unveiling of the Woody model which stands at over 6 1/2 feet tall. The Buzz Lightyear model, seen for the first time in Europe, was constructed from 40,000 LEGO bricks in 250 hours by 3 Master Builders and stands just over five feet tall.

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Photo Call: John Lasseter and Pixar Receive Golden Lion Lifetime Achievement Award in Venice

Disney world of color 1269 The Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement of the 66th Venice International Film Festival (2nd-12th September 2009) was awarded to the American director and producer, John Lasseter – one of the protagonists of the innovation in contemporary animated cinema – and to the directors of Disney*Pixar. Exceptionally in the history of the Venice Film Festival, the award celebrates not only a single filmmaker, but also the contribution of all the directors of this visionary studio.

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