24 Frames

Movies: Past, present and future

Category: Walt Disney, The Lion King, Michael Eisner

New Disney documentary shows creativity, cartoonishness

January 8, 2010 | 12:23 pm

Hahn When I was a young reporter covering Hollywood several decades ago, one of the better stories was all of the off-screen drama inside the Walt Disney Co. The studio went through any number of ups and downs, but no matter how engaging its movies might have been, the inner workings of the company were almost always more entertaining.

This was particularly true of Walt Disney Animation, which in the early 1980s started turning out a string of commercial and critical smashes, including “The Little Mermaid,” “Beauty and the Beast” and “The Lion King.” As the division zoomed skyward, so too did the egos of the people running the studio and its animated unit.

Now Don Hahn and Peter Schneider, two of the prominent players in that filmmaking and boardroom drama, have put together an insider’s account of the era, a documentary titled "Waking Sleeping Beauty."

I sat down with them to talk about the movie, which is as interesting to see today as it was to live through several decades ago. (You can read my full interview here.) There’s pretty much nothing like seeing Roy Disney and Michael Eisner publicly feuding at Frank Wells’ memorial service. Well, that, and some of the road-kill hairpieces.

-- John Horn

Photo: Film director Don Hahn (left) and producer Peter Schneider in "Waking Sleeping Beauty."


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