With apologies to Mel Brooks, while it may be good to be the
king, it's great to be the princess. Particularly if you're "Sofia
the First," Disney's little girl princess.
Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved
Take -- for example -- "Princesses to the Rescue,"
the episode of this acclaimed animated series which ran this past Friday on
Disney Junior. Partially because this particular "Sofia the First"
featured a special appearance by Disney Princess Mulan, it wound up being last
week's No. 1 TV telecast in Girls 2-5 and was the No. 1 preschool TV telecast
for the week in Total Viewers (2.5 million) and Women 18-49.
And this past weekend, hundreds of kids & their parents
turned out in Los Angeles' Pasadena
neighborhood to get some face time with Sofia.
The walk-around version of Disney's little girl princess was making appearances
at the final stops for Disney Junior's "Pirate and Princess: Power of
Doing Good" tour. Which was this multi-city, pro-social touring event that
the Mouse put together with the help of ASPCA, Youth Service America (YSA),
National Wildlife Federation and First Book which used the "Sofia the
First" & "Jake & the Never Land Pirates" character to
help teach children ages 2-7 the value of caring for nature and animals.
Sofia also stars
in the wildly popular "Disney Junior Live on Stage!" attraction at Disney
Park at the Disneyland Resort and
Disney's Hollywood Studios at the Walt Disney World Resort in Florida.
Not to mention the "Disney Junior Live On Tour! Pirate & Princess
Adventure" arena show which is in the middle of a 103-city North American
tour. Then when you factor in the New York Times best-selling "Sofia the
First" storybook, the "Sofia the First: Story Theater" app
(which has been ranked as the No. 1 kids iPad app on the App Store in 46
countries worldwide), the wide variety of "Sofia the First" products
that are now available for purchase in stores ... It's pretty clear that
Disney's little girl princess is now master of all she surveys.
Ali Landry & family pose with Jake and Sofia at this past weekend's "Pirate & Princess:Power of Doing Good" event in Pasadena. Photo by Todd Wawrychuk. CopyrightDisney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved
Which kind of blows Craig Gerber's mind. Given that he's the
guy who -- five years ago -- was tasked by Nancy Kanter (i.e., the executive
vice president of Original Programming and general manager at Disney Junior
Worldwide) to come up with a concept for a new animated TV series that would be
at aimed at 2 to 7-year-olds which would then be centered around a princess.
"It's all been incredibly surreal. Going back to the
genesis of all this, back when it was just an idea, a show that would be fun to
watch with my own son Miles to now going out this past Halloween and seeing
girls trick-or-treating in Sofia costumes," Craig recalled during a recent
phone call. "It's nothing that I could have imagined. It'll sound corny,
but it's sort of been like living in a Disney movie. It really is."
"I mean, you work hard in the entertainment business
and you struggle for years. And then you have that one show and -- as you start
-- you think 'Well, I don't know if this is even going to work.' And the next
thing you know, you go to the park and there are Sofia
birthday parties. It's really a dream come true," Gerber continued.
"And I know that that might sound trite. But -- hey -- I work at Disney.
So I think that I might be able to get away with it."
(L to R) John Kavanaugh & Craig Gerber with the Emmy that they won forwriting "Sofia the First" ' theme song. Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved
Now you'd think -- given that "Sofia the First"
has become this huge success for The Walt Disney Company -- that an edict would
then immediately come down from on high to "Don't Fix What Ain't
Broke." But according to what Craig told me, that really hasn't been the
case with this Disney Junior series.
"Everyone involved with the production of 'Sofia
the First' has tried to make this show better as we've gone along. Which is why
they went in and tweaked the animation process that they were using. And -- as
a result -- the end result has gotten better. The character animation has
steadily improved. They started doing a new process that I think has greatly
improved the look & feel of the show from a lighting & production
design point-of-view," Gerber explained. "We did make those
adjustments as we moved from Season One to Season Two. And all the credit for
that goes to Jamie Mitchell, the executive producer & director of 'Sofia
the First' and his animation team."
And given that Craig & Co. are wrapping up production of
Season 2 of 'Sofia the First' and well into writing & drawing Season 3 of
this Disney Junior show, would Gerber be willing to talk about what the future
may hold for the residents of Enchancia?
HUFFINGTON POST EXCLUSIVE ! This is a first look at Rapunzel as she willappear in "The Curse of Princess Ivy," a "Sofia the First" episode which will air on Disney Junior this November. Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved
"One of the things we decided to do with this Disney
Junior show is very subtly grow our characters. As we get through Season 2,
you'll see that Sofia is in a
slightly different place than she was at the start of Season 2," Craig
stated. "And Amber, Sofia's
step-sister, is constantly learning things. Our big episode for this November
with Rapunzel will show Sofia &
Amber's relationship growing & deepening because of mistakes that Amber
makes. And after that episode, these two will be closer as a direct result of
that adventure. The stories that we tell after the Rapunzel episode will be
different than the ones before. Not necessarily in a major way. In a subtle,
"That said, what's exciting about this Disney Junior
show as we go into a Season 3 is that we're going to push Sofia's
character into new territory. Not in terms of changing anything about her. But
we're going to tell some stories that -- I think -- will be very exciting and a
little different from the stories that have come before," Gerber
And speaking of recent Disney princesses making special
appearances in Enchancia, will the characters from "Frozen" be
showing up on "Sofia"
anytime soon? Sadly no.
"There are no current plans to incorporate Anna or Elsa
into our show," Craig admitted. "I mean, kids love 'Frozen.' My own
boys have watched that movie so many times already that I could sing the songs
on-key for you. So there's been a lot of interest in this idea. But as we like
to say around the office, one princess at a time."
"I mean, you have to understand that -- when we bring
one of the Disney Princesses in to appear on 'Sofia
the First,' like we're going to do with Tiana later on this year -- we don't do
this sort of thing casually. We spend a lot of time making sure that we get the
character design just right," Gerber continued. "We want to make sure
that these Disney Princesses all look & sound the way they're supposed to.
Which is why we brought Ming-Na Wen in to voice Mulan for 'Princesses to the
But as much as Craig has enjoyed working with Disney Legends
Anika Noni Rose & Jodi Benson to bring classic Disney princesses to life
... To hear Gerber talk, one of the great joys of working on "Sofia the
First" is bringing in people like Eric Stonestreet & Megan Mullally to
come voice characters that were created specifically for this Disney Junior
Eric Stonestreet in the recording booth voicing the role of Minimus the flying horse for"Sofia the First." Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved
"That's honestly one of the fun perks of
executive-producing & writing a show like this. Working with people like
Eric & Megan who are excited to be on the show and give it their all
whenever they come in. It's been a blast," Craig said. " Eric
Stonestreet has done such a terrific job with Minimus that we wound up writing
his timid flying horse character into more & more shows. And Eric keeps
coming back. He really enjoys the process. Eric is a very, very talented improv
actor and he brings a lot to the role & the show."
But as fun as those sorts of recording sessions for "Sofia"
can be, Gerber does admit that keeping this super-popular Disney Junior show
going can sometimes be something of a challenge.
has been so successful, it's been nonstop. And it is hard work. It's hard work
that we can see has paid off, but ... You know, we set a very high standard for
ourselves and this show, and maintaining that standard has taken a lot of
effort & time. Especially when you find yourselves 60 episodes in and
you're like 'Wow, I can't believe that we've done this many stories.' But what
really helps here is that I work with a lot of very talented people who can
continually come up with ideas for 'Sofia'
that still seem new & fresh. And with Season 3, we now have an opportunity
to bring back some characters that have proven popular before. Not to mention
bringing in additional Disney Princesses for special appearances," Craig
Which brings us back to Anna & Elsa. Will the princesses
from "Frozen" eventually make an appearance in Enchancia? Given that Sofia
the First's reign won't be ending anytime soon ... Well, I guess that we'll
just have to wait and see what comes with Season 4 of this Emmy Award-winning
Disney Junior Series.
This article originally appeared on the Huffington Post's Entertainment page on Wednesday, August 20, 2014
Why do they keep on showing Rapunzel with blonde hair? She was a brunette at the end of the movie.
I have to say, it is very cool that Rapunzel will be appearing on the show. Pretty major considering that it will be the first time that a very recent princess will appear on Sofia the First.
It's a very sweet show with good lessons for kids, and as I mentioned once before on JHM, it was very cool to see Tim Gunn and Wayne Brady at the 2013 D23 Expo. They were both clearly genuinely happy to be there and read stories to the kids.
Jessica--I'm guessing that it's because it would be a spoiler for those people who have not seen Tangled (few as they may be) . Plus, it would not fit with the image that most people associate with the character of Rapunzel.(her long, blonde hair).
Mulan is really not a princess according to legend, but it's amazing that she is now a Disney princess. Her prideful deed is wearing pants and joining the army, but she can now wear the finery of a princess. Amazing thing this Disney magic.
I think it's wrong to show Rapunzel's long blond hair escapes the chronology of the original movie...
My sense is it's because the long blonde hair is her signature look. I know the Disney Store has dolls of her with both looks but I don't think I've seen any brunette versions from Mattel.