The Walt Disney Co., whose executives and staff have always appeared to be Anglophiles of the first order, offered journalists a preview of its forthcoming slate Thursday -- much of it featuring British performers. A five-second clip from Toy Story 3 in which Timothy Dalton, a former James Bond, provides the voice for a hedgehog named Mr. Pricklepants, was greeted with uproarious laughter. Addressing the audience, Disney/Pixar's chief creative officer, John Lasseter, disclosed that the voices of Brits Billy Connolly, Emma Thompson and Julie Walters will be heard in Pixar's The Bear and the Bow , which Lasseter describes as Pixar's "first fairy tale." It's also Pixar's first film directed by a woman, Brenda Chapman. Lasseter also displayed initial drawings for an upcoming full-length feature version of Winnie the Pooh, noting that the lead story artist is Burny Mattinson, who worked on the first screen adaptations of the A.A. Milne character 35 years ago. A similar gathering in Anaheim, CA heard from Disney CEO Robert Iger, who unspooled excerpts from the handdrawn The Princess and the Frog to the enthusiastic crowd. "Nowhere do we shine more brightly than in classic Disney animation," Iger said.

11/09/2009