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Bradley Raymond dishes dirt on the Disney Channel's "Pixie Hollow Games" TV special

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Bradley Raymond dishes dirt on the Disney Channel's "Pixie Hollow Games" TV special

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How do you take something small - like, say, an athletic competition between pixies - and then make that seem big?

Conversely, how do you take something of size - like those feature-length "Disney Fairies" home premieres that Disney ToonStudios has been producing since 2008 - and then cut it back to just 22 minutes-in-length without sacrificing quality?

That was the challenge facing Bradley Raymond, the writer & director of "Pixie Hollow Games." Striking just the right balance with this first-ever "Disney Fairies" TV special.

Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved

"I have to admit that I was kind of concerned about that. I didn't initially know how we were going to cram all of the story beats that we needed to get across in 'Pixie Hollow Games' into such a short running time," Raymond admitted."But then John Lasseter had this great suggestion. Which was to go watch 'Dumbo.' "

"Why 'Dumbo'?," you ask. Because - as Bradley points out - that 1941 Walt Disney Animation Studios release is a model of storytelling economy.

"Believe it or not, 'Dumbo' is only 64 minutes long. But while you're watching that Disney animated feature, you're not thinking 'Wow, this movie is short.' All you can think about is how entertaining & effecting 'Dumbo' 's story is, how great all of these characters are," Raymond explained. "As John likes to say, 'Dumbo' tells its story precisely, efficiently. There's zero flab on that storyline. Every scene moves the story forward. The audience only sees what it needs to see."

Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved

So with the "Dumbo" model in mind, Bradley took the story concept that Bobs Gannaway had cooked up and - working with screenwriter Jeff Howard - set out to create the first sports-based "Disney Fairies" tale.

"There were specific parts of the participating-in-sports experience that I wanted to replicate as part of the 'Pixie Hollow Games,' " Raymond continued. "I wanted viewers to experience what it sounded like to come out of that tunnel, onto that field and then suddenly find yourself in an arena, surrounded by thousands of cheering people. That was a huge technical challenge for our team, especially the audio component. But our producer Helen Kalafatic figured out a way to make that happen."

Helen was also very supportive of Bradley's central idea for "Pixie Hollow Games." Which is that this would be the first "Disney Fairies" project NOT to star Tinker Bell.

Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved

"What I wanted to do was build this TV special around Rosetta, who's the most girly-girl of the Disney Fairies," Raymond stated. "She's obviously the one who's had the least experience when it comes to sports. Which is why I thought that Rosetta would be the perfect character to introduce the Disney Channel audience to the world of athletic competition. That they could then join Rosetta on her journey as she went from being someone who was really outside of her comfort zone to becoming a real competitor."

Of course, one of the other reasons that Bradley zeroed in on Rosetta is that this garden-talent fairy has shown in previous "Disney Fairies" productions that she doesn't like getting her hands (or anything else on her body, for that matter) dirty.

"We got a great reaction from 'Disney Fairies' fans to that moment in 'Tinker Bell and the Great Fairy Rescue' where Rosetta revealed that she didn't like mud. Which is why I knew that we eventually had to circle back on that character quirk of hers," Raymond said. "So as we were mapping out athletic events for 'Pixie Hollow Games,' I insisted that we include some competitions which involved dirt & slime. So that we could first get some laughs out of Rosetta being upset because she's going to get dirty & sweaty by playing sports. And then - later on in this same story - we could then mine Rosetta's mud phobia for some real drama. Have this character realize that --- in order to become a real competitor - she's finally going to have to face her fears and then find a way to get past them."

ROSETTA: "Yeah. No. I don't really do mud." VIDIA: "But you're a garden fairy."
ROSETTA: "Ironic, ininit?" Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc.
All rights reserved

The end result is a 22 minute-long TV special which is loaded with action, humor and heart. One that clearly connected with audiences when it debuted on the Disney Channel back on Saturday, November 20th. Given that the premiere of "Pixie Hollow Games" ranked as that week's No. 1 animated cable telecast. More to the point, this DisneyToon Studios production was No. 1 in its time period against all other kid programming with Kids 2-11 (6.57 rtg), Kids 6-11 (6.52 rtg), Tweens 9-14 (4.61 rtg), Women 18-49 (1.31 rtg) with 4.3 million total viewers.

Given all that hard work that went into "Pixie Hollow Games," you just know that Bradley Raymond has to be pleased with the reaction that this first-ever "Disney Fairies" TV special received last month. But not for the reasons that you might think.

"You have to understand that - in a weird sort of way - 'Pixie Hollow Games' is a very personal project for me. You see, it was my Mom who taught me to love sports. She was the one who used to pull me out of Hebrew school so that we could then go to Denver Broncos games," Raymond explained. "So to have a hand in creating a new TV special that will hopefully help get kids excited about the world of sports, of maybe doing something that's outside of their comfort zone like competing in athletics ... Well, I kind of feel like I'm just continuing what my mother did for me."

"Pixie Hollow Games" director Bradley Raymond
Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc.
All rights reserved

By the way, if you missed the initial airing of this "Disney Fairies" TV special just before Thanksgiving, "Pixie Hollow Games" will be popping up on the Disney Channel a number of times in the coming weeks. Sunday, December 4th at 3:30 p.m. for starters. With another airing on Wednesday, December 7th at 1 p.m. and an additional repeat that same week on Saturday, December 10th at 6:30 p.m.

In fact, between now and New Year's Eve, "Pixie Hollow Games" will air on the Disney Channel a total of 10 times. So if you'd like to spend some time with Tinker Bell & friends over the coming holiday season (which will hopefully tide you over 'til the next feature-length "Disney Fairies" home premiere, "Secret of the Wings," debuts in 2012), be sure and consult your local listings to find out when this new Disney Channel special airs next in your area.

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  • Great interview Jim. Do you know if the TV special's high ratings will result in more 'Tinker Bell' films or specials? Next year's "Secret of the Wings" is supposed to be the last in the series. Has this changed?

  • Sotiris --

    It's hard to say. When I spoke with Bradley & Helen back in August at the D23 EXPO, they seemed to be of the opinion that "Pixie Hollow Games" was a one shot. And when I did a follow-up phone interview with Mr. Raymond last month, I made a point of asking Raymond at that time if he knew if DisneyToon Studios had any other half-hour-long "Disney Fairies" projects in the works. And at that time, Bradley said "To my knowledge, no."

    Of course, given the great ratings that "Pixie Hollow Games" just got, things could have perhaps changed between when I talked with Mr. Raymond on the phone and now. But given that -- whenever you talk with anyone at DisneyToon Studios about the "Disney Fairies" home premieres -- they'll tell you that the Tinker Bell movies were always planned as a quartet (i.e. with one film for each of the four seasons that the pixies have to work their magic in). Which suggests (to me, anyway) that "Secret of the Wings" will indeed be the last of the series. For now, anyway.

    Then when you factor in that DisneyToon Studios is really gearing up for the launch of that "Cars" spin-off, the "Planes" series of home premieres (which I've heard is supposed to be a trilogy) ... Well, it's quite likely that the "Disney Fairies" film franchise will take a backseat (for a while, anyway) while DisneyToon Studios concentrates on getting "Planes" off the ground.

    But like I said, Sotiris, given the great ratings that "Pixie Hollow Games" just got for the Disney Channel ... It's not too hard to imagine (especially if those 10 re-airings of this new TV special also deliver solid ratings for this cable   channel over the month of December) that DisneyToon Studios then gets tapped to do another half-hour-long "Disney Fairies" special or two.

    So let's circle back on this question sometime in January. I'll then make a few calls to friends who work at DisneyToon Studios and see what they have to say, okay?

  • What, no article about the Harry Potter expansion at Universal Hollywood?

  • Yeah, that makes sense. Thanks for replying. Do you know why they turned this from what was initially a full-length feature called "Tinker Bell and the Race Through the Seasons" to the TV special "Pixie Hollow Games"? Was it because of declining home video sales of previous installments or were there other reasons? Also, how come they removed Tinker Bell's name from the title of the special and from the next feature film? Is it a branding issue?

  • Hello, We saved the Pixie Hollow Games on our DVR and it was deleted by accedent. My three year old asks to watch it everyday, will it be on TV again?

  • tha sam ething happned to us as it did jill.  Pixie Hollow Games was deleted off of our DVR too and our duaghter keeps wasking to watch it.  does anyone know if it will be shown again or will it be released on DVD

    EDITOR'S NOTE: On you & Jill's behalf, I reached out to the Disney Channel and asked when "Pixie Hollow Games" was next going to be rerun. And just now (January 19, 2012) they finally got back to me with some good news.

    The first-ever Disney Fairies TV special will be rebroadcast on Tuesday, February 14th (That's right. On Valentine's Day) at 7:30 a.m. as part of the Disney Junior programming block. So set your DVRs accordingly, ladies.

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