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Monday Mouse Watch: Ariel meets her maker? Has Tinker Bell lost her voice?

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Monday Mouse Watch: Ariel meets her maker? Has Tinker Bell lost her voice?

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Have you ever heard the old saying that "Life imitates art" ?

Well, this past Wednesday night, master animator Glen Keane actually got to live that axiom. When -- after attending a performance of Disney Theatrical's new musical, "The Little Mermaid" -- Glen got to go backstage at the Lunt-Fontanne and meet Sierra Boggess. That 25-year-old actress who's playing the character that Keane helped create nearly 20 years ago at Walt Disney Animation Studios.

Sierra Boggess, Ariel in Disney's "The Little Mermaid" on Broadway at the Lunt-Fontanne
Theater and Glen Keane, the original animator for the character of "Ariel."
Photo by Joseph Marzullo

Keane was in Manhattan this past week because he was originally supposed to be taking part in the pre-opening press for this new Broadway musical. But then -- because this still-in-previews show had to miss nearly three weeks of performances due to  the recent stagehand strike -- Disney Theatrical officials decided to push back "Mermaid" 's opening date until after the holidays. So now this new musical will open on Thursday, January 10th.

Speaking of postponed projects, some interesting info about "The Tinker Bell Movie" could be found on that new ">"Pixie-Powered Edition" of "Disney's Return to Neverland." Which was released to stores back on November 27th.

Copyright 2007 Walt Disney Home Entertainment.
All Rights Reserved

First of all, this film (Which has gone by a number of titles over the past two years. Including "Tinker Bell and the Ring of Belief") has undergone yet another name change. Now it's simply known as "Tinker Bell."

Copyright 2007 Walt Disney Home Entertainment. All Rights Reserved

And among the extra features found on the new "Return to Neverland" DVD were a trio of "Fairy Moments." Translation: Three quick clips from this forthcoming home premiere. Which will hopefully whet the appetite of all those Disney Fairies fans out there.

Anyway ... Among the bits of "Tinker Bell" that were tacked onto that "Return to Neverland" DVD was a sequence where Rosetta finally gets a stubborn flower to bloom ...

 Copyright 2007 Walt Disney Home Entertainment. All Rights Reserved

... a brief vignette where Iridessa feeds moon beams to some very hungry lightning bugs ...

Copyright 2007 Walt Disney Home Entertainment. All Rights Reserved

And then there was a scene starring Tink herself. Where everyone's favorite fairy first finds a bell hidden in a bird's nest ....

Copyright 2007 Walt Disney Home Entertainment. All Rights Reserved

Then this impertinent pixie amuses herself by making funny faces in the bell's reflective surface.

Copyright 2007 Walt Disney Home Entertainment. All Rights Reserved

This CG sequence then borrows a gag from the man who originally animated Tinker Bell, Disney Legend Marc Davis. In that Tink now turns around and tries to check out her silhouette in the reflection ...

Copyright 2007 Walt Disney Home Entertainment. All Rights Reserved

... only to get hopping mad because the bell's curved surface makes her butt look a whole lot bigger than it actually is.

 Copyright 2007 Walt Disney Home Entertainment. All Rights Reserved

So this furious fairy now tries to take out her frustrations on that bell. Only to then have that bell eventually get the better of Ms. Bell.

Copyright 2007 Walt Disney Home Entertainment. All Rights Reserved

All in all, this was a really wonderful little bit of character animation. Suggesting that -- now that Walt Disney Home Entertainment is following John Lasseter's story suggestions for "Tinker Bell" and making sure that this home premiere hues a whole lot closer to the style & tone established in Disney's 1953 version of "Peter Pan" -- this Fall 2008 release may actually be worth watching.

But where this gets interesting is that -- while Rosetta (Who will be voiced by Tony Award-winner and "Pushing Daisies" co-star Kristen Chenoweth) spoke & Iridessa laughed in the "Pixie-Powered" previews that were shown on the "Return to Neverland" DVD -- Tink stayed conspicuously silent in the clip that was shown from "Tinker Bell."

Now given that Disney Consumer Products made a very big deal (back at the 2006 Licensing Show at NYC's Javits Center) of announcing that actress Britney Murphy had been chosen to provide Tinker Bell's voice for a quartet of home premieres that Disney Toon Studios would soon be producing ...

 Photo by Jeff Lange

... it just seems kind of odd that -- out of all the clips that they could have chosen from "Tinker Bell" to help promote this project -- the folks at Walt Disney Home Entertainment opted to go with a scene where Tinker Bell doesn't talk at all. Could it be that Lasseter has convinced Disney Toon Studios to really stay true to the 1953 version of "Peter Pan" and thus create a Disney Fairies movie where Tink doesn't talk at all?

Wouldn't you know it? When I called Walt Disney Studios and asked it was true that Britney Murphy was no longer working on "Tinker Bell" (More importantly, if Tinker Bell was now a non-speaking role in this new series of home premieres), no one wanted to talk.

Getting back to Mr. Keane now and his forthcoming WDAS project, "Rapunzel" ... How many of you caught that quick acknowledgment of this 2010 Walt Disney Pictures' release that Kevin Lima managed to shoehorn into "Enchanted" ?

You can spot this brief tip-of-the-hat in that film's "That's How You Know" production number. Where Giselle is first shown onstage, sharing a castle tower with this pretty young girl who's dressed as a princess.

 Copyright 2007 Walt Disney Pictures. All Rights Reserved

As the camera then switches to a long shot, we now see the full stage. Where -- once we take in the set as well as all the kids in costume -- we realize that Giselle has invaded a children's theater production of Rapunzel.

 Copyright 2007 Walt Disney Pictures. All Rights Reserved

Mind you, the end credits for "Enchanted" also include a brief reference to the other fairy tale-based animated feature that Walt Disney Animation Studios currently has in production, "The Princess and the Frog" ... But that's a story that I should probably save 'til the "Enchanted" DVD officially hits store shelves on March 11, 2008.

And speaking of shopping ... Tis the season, folks. And if you'd like to show your appreciation for all the great stories that you regularly read here on this website, then why not start out your next Amazon shopping spree by clicking on the banner above? That way, JHM gets a teeny tiny chunk of whatever you spend.

Happy Holidays!

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  • According to IMDb, Mae Whitman will be doing to voice of Tinker Bell.

  • "it just seems kind of odd that -- out of all the clips that they could have chosen from "Tinker Bell" to help promote this project -- the folks at Walt Disney Home Entertainment opted to go with a scene where Tinker Bell doesn't talk at all."

    This bit didn't really need any words, since we all know about Tink and her temper...But, I can't imagine, out of all of the fairies, that Tink is the only one who doesn't speak...I mean, maybe other fairies won't speak, I don't know.  But if all of Tink's friends can speak to each other and Tink can't, then that's weird.  Granted, it might not be as engaging of a movie if none of the main characters speak (especially for a film heavily marketed towards children).  I could understand Brittany Murphy leaving the project, since actors do leave projects from time to time.  Also, in the Disney Fairies books (which really started the Disney Fairies line), Tinker Bell does talk.  So, for followers of the books, that wouldn't make sense...maybe she lost her voice during the filming of the films?!?

    I think that, ultimately, Tinker Bell will speak (this is just my opinion), since the other fairies will and Tink speaks in the books.  As for the shorts airing on Disney Channel, it's not like the other fairies really talked in them...I haven't seen the Rosetta short, but I've seen the Fern & Iridessa ones, and I don't remember Fern vocalizing at all...But Tink's worked well without words, and also Disney wants us all to wait until the film comes out to hear Tinker Bell speak- some huge Disney fans who aren't in the target market for the film may just buy it just to hear what Tinker Bell sounds like.

  • Sorry for the double post...

    I've seen these shorts on the Disney Channel and not on the new "Return to Never Land" DVD (I didn't double-dip).  On the DVD, does it mention that these shorts are from "Tinker Bell"?  I figured that they are just shorts featuring the characters that will be in "Tinker Bell".  I can't imagine the story allowing for 2- to 3- minute vignettes of each fairy...that would take up a lot of movie time!

  • Just had to give you kudos, Jim, on your title for this article..."Ariel Meets Her Maker."  It's still making me laugh!

    Sue in Texas

  • I'm guessing they went with Mae because she's cheaper. Heck, they have Anjelica Huston playing Queen Clarion. But, Mae also played Yuffie in KH2, and they also got Jesse McCartney (Roxas) to play Terrance the Sparrowman.

  • Has Disney considered offering a part to Margaret Kerry? Wouldn't it be fun if Margaret Kerry does the opening narration?

  • The short subjects are promotional pieces, they do not appear in the movie.

  • BlackCauldron85:

    Unfortunately, fans of the books are already going to be seriously confused.  That's because the fairies in the movie are completely different from the fairies in the books.  I am still upset about this, because the Fairies are a huge hit (at the library where I work), and yet, when the movie comes out, I bet the books will drop off because they don't star the same girls that are in the movie.

    Personally, I wouldn't mind if Tink talked or if she didn't.  In Barrie's original book, she did speak (re: she had lines of dialogue), but only Peter could understand her.  I don't think a talking TinkerBell is blasphemous.  I'd prefer if she didn't speak, only because she is one of the few characters who is visual enough to get away with it, and that would be a lot of fun for me to watch.  But either way is good for me.  

  • You can see these same Fairy clips at the Disney site Jim linked to. I have to say, I found them very charming and in the spirit of classic Disney animation. I was horrified when I had heard rumors that Think would be part of an all Fairy girl band. I'm glad to see that the rumors where either untrue or derailed by Mister Lassiter.

  • Having Tink talk is a terrible creative decision. It's be like the Marx Brothers doing a movie where Harpo speaks.

    Bad, bad idea! No biscuit!

  • Haha. That title gave me the impression that TLM3 was cancelled.

    I've heard that Mae Whitman will be doing the voice of Tinkerbell. She's done many other Disney roles, such as Shanti in The Jungle Book 2 and Rose in the TV series American Dragon: Jake Long. I think she has a sweet voice that is perfect for Tinkerbell. :)

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