24 Frames

Movies: Past, present and future

Category: Pixar

Pixar's 'The Good Dinosaur' will warm up a prehistoric reputation

May 31, 2012 |  5:00 am


So often typecast as witless and cold-blooded, dinosaurs are about to get an image rehab in Hollywood, courtesy of Pixar.

"It's time to do a movie where you get to know the dinosaur, what it's really like to be a dinosaur and to be with a dinosaur," said Bob Peterson, director of the animation studio's upcoming movie "The Good Dinosaur." 

Peterson, who served as codirector and writer on "Up," said the inspiration for the movie came from a childhood visit to the World's Fair where he was awed by some dinosaur animatronics.

In "The Good Dinosaur," which will be codirected by Peter Sohn and produced by John Walker, an asteroid never hit the Earth and dinosaurs still roam.

In an interview at the studio's Emeryville offices recently, Peterson, Sohn and Walker -- who are in the midst of Pixar's secretive story-crafting phase -- kept key plot details such as geologic era and starring dino species under wraps, but hinted at some themes they'll be exploring.

Sohn said they are toying with the idea of what dinosaurs represent today -- something anachronistic or resistant to change. If there's a "good" dinosaur, after all, there have to be bad ones. "The title is deceptively simple," Sohn said. "It has more meaning than it seems."

A piece of concept art shared at Disney's D23 conference last August showed what appeared to be a silhouette of a small child with a dinosaur, suggesting that dinosaurs and people will be sharing the planet in the movie, but the filmmakers didn't confirm that.

Peterson said the crew had steeped itself in research for the film, visiting various natural history and science museums and examining fossils and bones to help them create their own dinosaur society and characters.

The director said he has been writing "The Good Dinosaur" vagabond-style, toting his laptop in his car and stopping at various spots in Northern California as inspiration strikes.

"So if there's a bunch of dinosaurs in a Whole Foods parking lot in this movie, you'll understand why," said Walker.

"The Good Dinosaur" is a few cinematic eras from release -- the movie will hit theaters May 30, 2014.


Pixar's 'Brave' to play at Dolby Theater for L.A. Film Fest

Pixar's Día de los Muertos movie a nod to Mexican audiences

Henry Selick on his 'medium dark' stop-motion movie for Disney

-- Rebecca Keegan


Photo: An interactive display at Field Station: Dinosaurs Park in Secaucus, N.J. Credit: Associated Press


Pixar's Día de los Muertos movie a nod to Mexican audiences

May 22, 2012 |  9:00 am

Lee Unkrich plans a Dia de los Muertos movie

Pixar's "Toy Story 3" is the highest-grossing movie of all time in Mexico, where the animated adventure tale of children's toys Woody and Buzz Lightyear collected $59 million at the box office in 2010, more than megahits like "Avatar" and the "Harry Potter" finale.

The follow-up from "Toy Story 3" director Lee Unkrich and producer Darla K. Anderson is also likely to have strong appeal with Mexican audiences -- and to boast more authentically Latino characters than a Spanish-speaking Buzz Lightyear doll.

The duo's next movie is a still-untitled project about Día de los Muertos, the Mexican holiday of the dead, which Disney and Pixar first announced at CinemaCon last month.

Pixar hasn't said how the idea of a Día de los Muertos movie came about, nor have they released any details about its plot or characters.

"Pixar movies do extremely well in Mexico," Unkrich said in mid-May, as he was waiting to offer notes to the filmmakers of the studio's next movie, "Brave," at a screening at the Skywalker Ranch in Marin County. "This will allow us to explore a really fascinating aspect of the culture there."

Unkrich said he had begun taking trips to Mexico to research the Nov. 1 holiday, best known by many in the U.S. for its proximity to Halloween and use of skull and marigold iconography.

On the Day of the Dead, which has its roots in indigenous Aztec culture, families in Mexico and many Latin American countries pay tribute to deceased loved ones by creating graveside altars with treats like candy and bottles of Coca-Cola, and donning elaborate skull masks and costumes for processionals.

"This is a very different view of death than the American one," said Unkrich. "It's not spooky. It's celebratory."

Unkrich's project wouldn't be the first time Pixar has delved into the subject of mortality -- the killing of Nemo's mom sets the story of "Finding Nemo" into motion, and "Up" is essentially a cartoon about grieving. But the Día de los Muertos movie is likely to tackle death head-on in a way that's unusual for a big-budget animated film.

At the "Brave" screening, Unkrich said he was a week away from making his story pitch to Pixar's "brain trust" -- the group that includes the animation studio's chief creative officer, John Lasseter, and fellow directors such as Pete Docter and Andrew Stanton.

Having also co-directed "Toy Story 2," "Monsters, Inc." and "Finding Nemo," Unkrich has developed a strategy for surviving the sometimes ruthlessly honest brain trust sessions, which Pixar filmmakers undertake several times in the life of a movie. 

"The trick is, you have to be willing to contribute your own bad idea, so we can all get to the good ones," he said.

There's plenty of time for bad ideas and good ones: Disney and Pixar have not yet set a release date for the Día de los Muertos movie, and their slate is set through 2015.



Pixar's 'Brave' to play at Dolby Theater for L.A. Film Fest

Animated and driven: John Lasseter, Pixar's boyish visionary

Henry Selick on his 'medium dark' stop-motion movie for Disney


— Rebecca Keegan


Photo: Lee Unkrich. Credit: Deborah Coleman/Pixar.



Pixar's 'Brave' to play at Dolby Theatre for L.A. Film Fest

May 18, 2012 |  9:01 am

Brave pixar

Pixar's "Brave" will have its world premiere June 18 at the newly renamed Dolby Theatre in Hollywood as part of the L.A. Film Festival.

The screening of the animated film about a rebellious princess will be the first premiere at the 3,400-seat venue that hosts the Academy Awards since Dolby signed a 20-year deal taking over the naming rights from Kodak this spring.

"Brave," which will hit theaters nationwide June 22, tells the story of Merida (voiced by Kelly Macdonald), a teenage girl who is handy with a bow and arrow and crowned with a mane of red curls. In the Scotland-set adventure directed by Mark Andrews and Brenda Chapman, Merida defies her parents, King Fergus (Billy Connolly) and Queen Elinor (Emma Thompson) and disregards an ancient custom, inadvertently setting off a disaster in the kingdom.

“With a spirited heroine and enchanting setting in the ancient Scottish Highlands, 'Brave' represents
some exciting firsts for Pixar,” said Walt Disney Studios marketing president Ricky Strauss in a statement. “We are proud that the world premiere of ‘Brave’ will serve as the inaugural premiere at the new Dolby Theatre as part of the L.A. Film Festival, a fitting way to launch Merida’s extraordinary adventure.”

An additional gala screening of "Brave" will be held June 19 at Regal Cinemas at L.A. Live downtown for L.A. Film Festival pass and ticket holders.

On June 17, the festival will hold a panel called “Women of Wonder -– A Celebration of Women in Animation” on the challenges and accomplishments of women in the animation industry. Panelists will include Kristine Belson (executive producer of DreamWorks Animation’s "How to Train Your Dragon"), Karen Rupert Toliver (20th Century Fox Animation’s vice president of production), Katharine Sarafian (producer of "Brave") and Michelle Murdocca (producer of Sony Pictures Animation’s "Hotel Transylvania").

“We are thrilled to present the world premiere of ‘Brave,’ a beautiful adventure story, to our L.A. Film Fest audience,” festival director Stephanie Allain said in a statement. “As Disney/Pixar’s first film with a female protagonist, it fits perfectly with our celebration of women in animation programming we’ll be holding during the festival.”

The L.A. Film Festival runs June 14-24 in downtown Los Angeles.


Film Independent announces lineup for L.A. Film Festival

Steve Carell's 'Seeking a Friend' to premiere at L.A. Film Fest

Woody Allen's 'To Rome with Love' to open at L.A. Film Festival

-- Rebecca Keegan


Photo: A scene from "Brave." Credit: Disney / Pixar


Henry Selick on his 'medium dark' stop-motion movie for Disney

April 27, 2012 | 12:24 pm


Henry Selick, a giant in the pocket-sized world of stop-motion animation, is almost finished with production on his next film, an as-yet-untitled project for Walt Disney Co.

The director of "Coraline" and "The Nightmare Before Christmas" has been supervising a crew of about 150 craftspersons and animators from his new studio, Cinderbiter, based in an old chocolate factory in San Francisco's Mission District. The film will be Selick's first since signing an exclusive deal with Disney in 2010.

"It’s an original story of mine," Selick said of the film, which has so far remained shrouded in secrecy.

The project will hew to the spooky-sweet tone of Selick's previous work, he said.

"It won’t come from totally left field," he said. "What I personally gravitate toward tends to be fantasy, medium dark -- not too dark -- fairy tales and sci fi. Stop-motion takes something on the page that’s really dark and adds a little sweetness to it, a living toys realm."

Selick, who attended the California Institute of the Arts with Disney/Pixar chief creative officer John Lasseter and Pixar director Brad Bird in the 1970s, said he consulted with the animation studio's creative leaders several times while developing his script. Taking story notes from Pixar's candid "brain trust" was a new and sometimes arresting experience for Selick, who historically has been more of a lone tinkerer as a director.

"The first time, I thought, ‘Oh my God, I don’t know if I can handle this, Why did John [Lasseter] agree to help me make my films?' " he said. "But then I found out it’s that way with everybody, even their best filmmakers. When you see what they produce, it’s like, 'OK, [I] don’t take any of it personally.' ''

The gist of the notes, Selick said, was, "Don’t get caught up in eye candy. They said, 'Let’s try to make your story as clear as possible and give it as much heart as it deserves.' "

Selick described the 2013 release date listed by IMDB.com for his film as "tentative."


Pixar announces Día de los Muertos film

'Pirates: Band of Misfits' helps stop-motion endure

Photo gallery: A brief history of stop-motion animation

--Rebecca Keegan


Photo: Henry Selick with a puppet from "Coraline." Credit: Spencer Weiner / Los Angeles Times

Pixar announces Día de los Muertos film

April 25, 2012 |  3:11 pm

Day of the Dead

This post has been corrected. See note at the bottom for details.

An upcoming Pixar film will center on Día de los Muertos -- the Mexican holiday honoring the dead -- the animation studio announced at the CinemaCon convention of theater owners in Las Vegas this week. Director Lee Unkrich and producer Darla K. Anderson, the team behind "Toy Story 3," will collaborate on the as-yet-untitled movie.

As is often the case with its long-gestating projects, Pixar revealed little else about the Día de los Muertos movie, which will presumably take many visual cues from the spooky holiday's focus on skulls, masks and Mexican marigolds.

MarkAndrewsandJohn LasseterPixar chief creative officer John Lasseter also shared a little more about the studio's upcoming slate,  including two projects first announced at Disney's D23 fan convention last August. Lasseter supplied the title and a May 30, 2014, release date for "The Good Dinosaur," Bob Peterson's film about what the world would be like if dinosaurs had never been extinct, and a June 19, 2015, release date for Pete Docter's next project, which Walt Disney Studios is currently calling "The untitled Pixar film that takes you inside the mind." 

The brain movie is still shrouded in mystery: At D23, producer Jonas Rivera said, “We can’t wait to come back and tell you more as soon as we get out of psychotherapy."

At CinemaCon, the studio also screened 30 minutes of its next feature, the Scotland-set "Brave," due out June 22. Scottish bagpipers supplied a little mood music for the occasion, and Lasseter donned a kilt.

[For the record, 4:40 p.m., April 25: A previous version of this post said the untitled Día de los Muertos film will be released in 2015. Disney has not announced a release date for the film.]


CinemaCon: Footage of 'The Hobbit' draws mixed reaction

CinemaCon: 'The Dictator' rips Jeffrey Katzenberg, Rich Ross

CinemaCon: Chris Pine, talking 'Guardians,' nods to J.J. Abrams

-- Rebecca Keegan


Photos: A mask hangs over one of the altars during the 11th annual Dia de Los Muertos, Day of the Dead, celebration on Oct. 30, 2010, at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery. Credit: Mariah Tauger. "Brave" director Mark Andrews and Pixar chief creative officer John Lasseter. Credit: Disney.


Pixar’s awards hopes may lie with its short film, not ‘Cars 2’

January 16, 2012 |  1:50 pm

'Cars 2' and 'La Luna'

When Pixar's "Cars 2" lost the Golden Globe award for animated feature to Steven Spielberg's 3-D performance-capture film "The Adventures of Tintin" at Sunday's 69th ceremony, it marked the first time in the history of the Globes' category that a movie from the beloved animation house failed to capture the top prize.

That doesn't bode well for the John Lasseter-directed sequel to the 2006 film about race car Lightning McQueen (Owen Wilson) and the friends he makes in the little burg of Radiator Springs, given that the Golden Globe winner for animated feature has been repeated at the Academy Awards for the past four years (with all Pixar films).

If the trend holds, that means “Tintin” will take home Oscar gold.

“Sequels, I think, have a harder time [winning awards]," Lasseter told 24 Frames on the red carpet at the Golden Globes on Sunday. "But every sequel at Pixar is something totally different, and it’s as good or better than the original.”

That certainly was true with “Toy Story 3,” which last year earned an Oscar and a Golden Globe for  animated feature, in addition to a best picture Oscar nomination. But “Cars 2” — which has a Rotten Tomatoes rating of just 39% fresh — hasn’t won over audiences and critics as easily as the 2010 threequel.

This time around, Pixar's best Oscar hopes might lie in the animated shorts category, where its seven-minute film “La Luna” has made the shortlist. (Nominations will be announced Jan. 24.) Lasseter said when the short’s director, Enrico Casarosa, pitched him the idea for the mystical coming-of-age story, “It had this magic to it. I knew it would be so special.”

“We love making short films at Pixar,” he added. “They're these labors of love, these artists’ little visions, and they’re these beautiful little things. It’s not corporate filmmaking. It’s an artist really bringing something to life at Pixar.”

Casarosa felt similarly about Pixar shorts, as he told 24 Frames last month that the “La Luna” production “felt like a small studio inside a bigger one.”

“La Luna” qualified for Oscar consideration during its festival run and will screen in front of Pixar’s 2012 feature film “Brave,” which hits theaters June 22.

The animation studio chose “La Luna” over its two 2011 shorts featuring “Toy Story” characters to submit for academy consideration. But that doesn’t mean Pixar has outgrown Buzz and Woody — Lasseter told 24 Frames that more shorts with the beloved characters are on the horizon.

“We got some more in the works. We love those characters. We just want to keep bringing them to life,” he said.


Oscar shorts: Pixar takes on new poetic tone with ‘La Luna’

The Oscar race for animated short is down to 10, puddy tat

Golden Globes: Steven Spielberg says 'Tintin' is an animated 'buddy movie'

— Emily Rome


Photo: Pixar films "Cars 2," left, and "La Luna." Credit: Disney / Pixar

Oscar shorts: Pixar takes on new poetic tone with ‘La Luna’

January 3, 2012 |  2:25 pm

Pixar's 'La Luna'

This post has been updated. Please see note at the bottom for details.

The beloved characters of “Toy Story” starred in two short films that preceded features last year – “Cars 2” and “The Muppets” – but neither short was the one Pixar decided to submit to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for the animated shorts category. Instead, the studio made its way onto the category’s shortlist with “La Luna,” a film full of the same heart found in any Pixar film but with a more elegant and gentle tone that’s new for the studio.

"La Luna's" Italian director, Enrico Casarosa, pitched the story to Pixar heads John Lasseter and Ed Catmull.

“They really loved ‘La Luna,’ and John embraced the film’s Italian flavor,” said Casarosa, 40, who has worked as a story artist at Pixar since 2002. “From the beginning I wanted a slightly more poetic tone, which we haven’t done in shorts a whole lot [at Pixar]. It was cool that they were behind doing something a little different.”

“La Luna” tells the mystical coming-of-age story of a young Italian boy who accompanies his father and grandfather to work for the first time. (Watch a clip of the short below.) With a running time of almost seven minutes, the film is Pixar’s longest theatrical short; it will screen in front of “Brave,” the studio’s 2012 feature. “Let it breathe” was Casarosa’s approach to the film’s pacing.

The boy in the film is torn between the expectations of his Papa and Grandpa, largely inspired by Casarosa’s own childhood growing up with his father and grandfather. So the question always asked during pitches at Pixar, “Why you? Why do you want to direct this story?” was a no-brainer for the director.

“It was so easy to direct because the experience of having my dad and my grandfather not getting along is something I went through,” Casarosa said. “And then it was interesting to set it in a completely fantastic world.”

The film has no dialogue in English, nor in Italian. Words exchanged between the characters are in gibberish, which wasn’t easy to make work. Lasseter thought the gibberish was annoying when Casarosa and his editor contributed their own voices for a temp track. After trying a few voice actors with experience recording gibberish, the filmmakers found that the key was using actors who looked like the characters — a big guy for the brawny father and an older man, Phil Sheridan, a storyteller from Marin County, for the grandfather.

“He came in and said, ‘Should I do this with my teeth or without my teeth?’ And we [recorded] everything without his teeth,” Casarosa said.

When writing the film, Casarosa also drew on a favorite short story, “The Distance of the Moon,” by Italian writer Italo Calvino. In the 1965 story, the characters row out to sea and climb up to the moon to gather milk.

“The moon fascinates all of us. I wanted to invent my own myth about it,” Casarosa said.

In the continuing tradition of Pixar, “La Luna” is a story made to be enjoyed by both young and adult audiences. With that in mind, Casarosa created a film with a dual message.

“I felt the responsibility to give kids a positive message. Hopefully it’s a message of trust your guts. Go for it. Trust your intuition,” Casarosa said. “But for us adults — if I can make an adult feel a little like a kid, that would be the best that I could hope for.”

[For the Record, 5:38 p.m., Jan. 4: A previous version of this post stated that neither Pixar short featuring “Toy Story” characters made the cut for the animated shorts shortlist; the films were not screened for academy review because they were not submitted for consideration.]


Oscar nod a tall order for short films

‘Brave’ trailer: Pixar’s first female hero takes aim in 2012

The Oscar race for animated short is down to 10, puddy tat

— Emily Rome

Photo: Pixar's film on the Oscar short list for animated shorts, "La Luna." Credit: Disney / Pixar

Golden Globes: Can Pixar continue its winning streak with 'Cars 2'?

December 15, 2011 |  9:59 am

"Arthur Christmas," "Cars 2," "Puss in Boots," "Rango" and "The Adventures of Tintin" are the Golden Globe nominees for best animated feature
Every year since the Golden Globes added an animated feature film category in 2007, the Hollywood Foreign Press Assn. has picked a Pixar movie for the prize. Will the streak continue in 2012 with "Cars 2?"

The sequel is going up against "Arthur Christmas," "Puss in Boots," "Rango" and "The Adventures of Tintin." The original "Cars" won the Golden Globe back in 2007.

This time, the race is more wide open, and reflects the emergence of live-action filmmakers in the genre, including Steven Spielberg ("Tintin"), Gore Verbinski ("Rango") and Guillermo del Toro (executive producer, "Puss in Boots"), as well as a diversity of studios.

If "Cars 2" director John Lasseter is sweating it, he wasn't showing it Thursday morning. "I'm really excited that the animation industry is so healthy," said Lasseter, chief creative officer of Pixar and Disney Animation Studios, in a phone call from his home in Glen Ellen, Calif. "People ask me about competition. I'm so glad that so many great films are being made by lots of different studios."

Notable animated films excluded from the list include the critical and commercial successes "Kung Fu Panda 2" and "Rio."

Sarah Smith, director of "Arthur Christmas," reacted to news of her film's nomination while pushing a baby carriage down a London street.

"I'm absolutely delighted on behalf of all the people who made it," said Smith, whose movie was a joint production of the Britain-based Aardman Animations and Culver City-based Sony Pictures Animation. "We had Europeans and Russians, as well as the team from Sony in the States. When they came to Bristol, we made everybody drink tea and warm beer. ... When we came to the States, they introduced us to more civilized forms of entertainment."


Golden Globes: The complete list of nominees

Golden Globes: Cable shows dominate TV nominations

More coverage of the Golden Globes and SAG nominations

 -- Rebecca Keegan

John Lasseter poses for a photo in front of characters from his movie "Cars" at his Hollywood Walk of Fame star presentation ceremony in Hollywood on Nov. 1. Credit: Robyn Beck / AFP/Getty Images

Around Town: Don Hertzfeldt kicks off Cinefamily's 'Animation Breakdown'

December 2, 2011 |  1:01 pm


Beautifulday-02 (2)

Who shows up to watch a program of independently made, unconventional animated short films well past midnight? Quite a few people, as it turns out. Thursday night marked the opening of the Cinefamily's Animation Breakdown festival, and a healthy audience turned out for the 12:35 a.m. show, with filmmaker Don Hertzfeldt following his two sold-out shows earlier in the evening.

The program of shorts by Hertzfeldt included the local premiere of his "It's Such a Beautiful Day," the third and final film in his popular series on the adventures of a character named BIll. Hertzfeldt's unique animating style, which combines traditional animation with optical effects and, more recently, digital work, is singular for both its visual style and its emotional mix of innocent whimsy and cynically downbeat humor.

Hertzfeldt was nominated for an Academy Award in 2001 for his short film "Rejected" and received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the San Francisco International Film Festival in 2010 at only the age of 33. Onstage Thursday in Los Angeles during one of his three Q&As, Hertzfeldt noted that though he studied live-action filmmaking at college in Santa Barbara, he had never taken an animation class and took only one art class in high school.

"I still feel like a live-action filmmaker who happens to draw, rather than an animator," Hertzfeldt explained.

The Animation Breakdown series continues through Tuesday with a varied mix of programs. Friday night will feature the first in a series of programs of classic Polish animation along with a screen of the Brothers Quay's "Maska." There also will be a series of films curated by the East Coast-based Animation Block Party (co-presenters of the fest with Cinefamily and Cartoon Brew) that includes new work by Spike Jonze.

Saturday will feature a screening of "La Luna," the new short film from Pixar that was just shortlisted for the Oscars, with director Enrico Casarosa in attendance. Also on Saturday will be a reunion of talent behind the cult television show "Space Ghost: Coast to Coast" which will be livestreamed for those who can't make it to the theater.

Sunday will see a tribute to Bruce Bickford, whom Cinefamily programmer Alex McDonald called "America's greatest underground animator," that includes the world premiere of the 20-plus years in the making "Cas'l" with live musical accompaniment. There is also an exhibition of Bickford's artwork at Synchronicity Space along with work from other animators featured in the festival.

For anyone who believes in animated filmmaking as more than just a platform to promote products for kids, the Cinefamily's Animation Breakdown, planned to become an annual event, should provide a wild and wonderful haven.


Indie Focus: Bill Plympton and Animation for Grown-Ups

Around Town: Strange Delights at Cinefamily's Everything Is Festival

-- Mark Olsen


Photo: "It's Such a Beautiful Day." Credit: Don Hertzfeldt


John Lasseter receives star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame

November 1, 2011 |  5:03 pm

It was 1964 when a young John Lasseter and his family made the 40-minute trek to Hollywood's Grauman's Chinese Theatre from their Whittier home to see "Mary Poppins" on the big screen. He and his siblings skipped around the stars embedded in the sidewalk along Hollywood Boulevard before taking in the spectacle on the screen. It was an unforgettable moment for the then 7-year-old cartoon lover and one he recounted with family and friends Tuesday when he received his very own star.

The Hollywood Walk of Fame has taken its hits over the years as a for-profit publicity vehicle for celebrities but none of that cynicism was in the air for the Pixar creative guru's tribute, which saw the goofy 54-year-old lay his Hawaiian-shirted self over the shiny star -- fittingly located in front of the El Capitan Theatre, where every Pixar movie has played in the company's 25-year history -- after admitting that "this is the greatest honor you could give me."

In addition to Lasseter's family, and his family of filmmakers at Pixar, Lasseter's loyal voice actors from many of his animated films were on hand for the celebration, including Owen Wilson (Lightning McQueen in "Cars"), Bonnie Hunt (Sally from "Cars"), Patton Oswalt (Remy in "Ratatouille"), Cheech Marin (Ramon in "Cars"), Emily Mortimer (Holly Shiftwell from "Cars 2") and Don Rickles, who played Mr. Potato Head in the "Toy Story" movies and as the self-proclaimed "biggest name here" was expectedly inappropriate in his remarks.

Rickles teased both Lasseter and his wife for their wardrobe choices, specifically John's casual attire and Nancy's broad-brimmed hat. "Put a propeller on your tush and you can fly around with that," he remarked. He insulted Walt Disney; took jabs at Tom Hanks and Tim Allen, the stars of the "Toy Story" movies; and closed with, "Good luck in your career, John, though I believe it is slipping."

John Ratzenberg provided the most illuminating speech of the noon-day celebration, explaining why he's cast in every one of Pixar's movies. As his fable goes, Ratzenberg was a street fair tap-dancer who "made a good living" dancing on his plywood square. He says Lasseter's kindergarten class was attending the fair when a series of events caused a bunch of fair booths to collapse. "I grabbed John out of the way before a funnel-cake machine crushed him." On that day Lasseter promised to repay him for saving his life. "I'm sorry about the rest of your kindergarten class," quipped the man who has played everything from a piggie bank in "Toy Story" to the Abominable Snowman in "Monsters, Inc.," "that I couldn't help them."

Lasseter closed out the event with a tearful speech that thanked his family, his colleagues and Pixar  President Ed Catmull. He also evoked the memory of Steve Jobs, his partner at Pixar. He repeated Jobs' only request of Lasseter, which was to "make it great." "Without Steve, Pixar wouldn't exist. These films wouldn't exist. I honor him," he said.


'Cars 2': A wreck with critics

Pixar: John Lasseter keeping Pixar on top

--Nicole Sperling

Photo: John Lasseter receives his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on Tuesday. Credit: Fred Prouser/Reuters 


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