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- iHaveNet.com: Oscars 2009
For super-dog BOLT (voice of JOHN TRAVOLTA), every day is filled with adventure, danger and intrigue —- at least until the cameras stop rolling.
When the star of a hit TV show is accidentally shipped from his Hollywood soundstage to New York City, he begins his biggest adventure yet —- a cross-country journey through the real world to get back to his owner and co-star, Penny (voice of MILEY CYRUS).
Armed only with the delusions that all his amazing feats and powers are real, and the help of two unlikely traveling companions —- a jaded, abandoned housecat named Mittens (voice of SUSIE ESSMAN) and a TV-obsessed hamster named Rhino (voice of MARK WALTON) — Bolt discovers he doesn't need superpowers to be a hero.
At the heart of "Bolt" is a dog who comes nose to nose with a reality he never anticipated. It's that dog who caught the eye of executive producer John Lasseter.
"The thing that appealed to me most about 'Bolt' from the very beginning was the potential for growth in the main character," says Lasseter. "To me, that's where the heart of the film comes from. A purely funny movie without any heart is entertaining, but you quickly forget it. 'Bolt' is so enjoyable and memorable because our hero is a dog who is raised on a movie set and made to believe that world is real. That's all he knows. When he gets out in the real world and realizes his entire life has been pretend, he embarks on a journey and discovers what it means to be a real dog."
Adds director Byron Howard, "The audience can't help but relate to Bolt in a very real way. We made him a fairly normal dog in the real world who feels pain, hunger and loneliness for the first time. He misses and needs his owner Penny and we can all relate to that."
"I think that for people to love a movie they have to love the characters and care about the relationships," says director Chris Williams. "So we definitely wanted to make sure that people really loved Penny and Bolt and wanted them to be together. And we had to make sure that as Bolt embarked on his journey and met Mittens and Rhino, that those three characters played off each other well and made people care about their evolving friendships."
"I'm very proud of 'Bolt' and the fact that it fits the mold of the classic Disney films," Lasseter says. "The humor doesn't come just from funny lines. It comes from personalities. That's the number one thing for me in all of our films. You get these great unique personalities that are funny and appealing, and you put them in funny situations. But along with the humor, you have to have heart. Walt Disney always said, 'For every laugh, there should be a tear.' I believe in that. The heart in 'Bolt' comes from the emotional journey and the change that happens along the way. On top of that, you have to make a film very appealing with the highest quality animation and backgrounds."
BOLT is a modern-day four-legged action hero and star of his own hit television show, and has been raised on the set to believe that everything that happens in his fictional TV show is real and that he's been genetically engineered to have amazing powers, including incredible strength, laser vision and a powerful superbark.
But when he's accidentally shipped to New York City, his daredevil stunts no longer go according to plan. As reality begins to challenge his delusions, Bolt learns that his whole life has been a lie. Or has it? Amidst adversity and hard knocks, he discovers that a dog's true superpower lies in his loyalty to the owner he loves.
Two-time Oscar-nominated actor John Travolta brings just the right blend of toughness, humor and appeal to this fetching performance. The character of Bolt's design cue is loosely based on American White Shepherds, with changes to the ears, nose and overall body size.
PENNY co-stars alongside Bolt in the film's fictional TV series. She's smart and strongwilled, but her relationship to her canine co-star is not merely scripted.
When the hectic demands of her acting life get to be too much, she finds solace in the adorable white dog she herself rescued from a shelter years ago. When Bolt disappears, she is devastated and dreams of his return.
The multi-talented Miley Cyrus (star of stage, screen and television as the incredibly popular Hannah Montana) brings heart and humor to this winning vocal performance.
MITTENS is an untrusting, streetwise and scrappy New York City alley cat who finds herself at the core of Bolt's efforts to return home to his Hollywood life and his beloved Penny.
Forced to accompany Bolt on his cross-country journey, Mittens' sarcastic sense of humor and pessimistic outlook provide a sharp contrast to Bolt's trusting and positive attitude. Mittens proves to be a resourceful traveling companion, and shows Bolt how to survive on the road. Along the way, however, Bolt's undying loyalty reawakens something in Mittens and renews her trust in others.
Susie Essman (from HBO's Emmy®-winning series "Curb Your Enthusiasm") lends her vocal talents to this comical and complex kitty.
Sealed within his trusty plastic hamster ball, RHINO is rolling thunder, a pint-sized tour de force action hero in the making.
A diehard super fan of Bolt's television adventures, this hilarious hamster has memorized every nerdy detail of the dog's missions and is awestruck when his hero arrives at the doorstep to his RV. Without a moment's hesitation, he heeds the call of duty, living out his ultimate fantasy by teaming up with Bolt.
When destiny calls, this determined fellow gladly answers, and will stop at nothing to help Bolt succeed.
DR. CALICO is a cat-loving criminal mastermind, the villainous star of the fictional TV series.
He stirs up new troubles for Penny and her superhero dog in each episode. In the series' season finale cliffhanger, Dr. Calico kidnaps Penny, and Bolt is—for the first time—unable to come to her rescue. Bolt gets accidentally shipped across the coast believing Penny is still in danger—and that all cats are in cahoots with his nasty nemesis Calico.
Malcolm McDowell provides the evil voice of Dr. Calico.
As the auteur and chief creative force behind the popular TV series, THE DIRECTOR jumps through hoops to make sure the show's top dog believes all the action is real, convinced this makes Bolt's performances so much more authentic.
Prone to taking his job a bit too seriously, he runs afoul of the network executive who is more interested in ratings than making "Citizen Canine."
James Lipton, the charismatic host of the long-running Bravo TV series "Inside the Actor's Studio," provides the voice of this dramatic character.
THE AGENT, Penny's shallow, self-absorbed Hollywood representative, is eager to keep everyone happy so that he can continue to collect his commission.
When Penny's true feelings for her canine co-star get in the way of her performance and threaten to derail the hit series, he encourages his client to "put a pin in it," and just get on with the show.
Greg Germann ("Ally McBeal," "Quarantine") provides the voice of this clueless and careless representative.
Bolt: About The Voice Cast
JOHN TRAVOLTA (Bolt) has been honored twice with Academy Award® nominations, the latest for his riveting portrayal of a philosophical hit-man in Quentin Tarantino's "Pulp Fiction." He received BAFTA and Golden Globe® nominations for this highly acclaimed role and was named Best Actor by the Los Angeles Film Critics Association, among other distinguished awards.
Travolta garnered further praise as a Mafioso-turned-movie producer in the comedy sensation "Get Shorty," winning the Golden Globe® for Best Actor in a Motion Picture, Musical or Comedy. In 1998 Travolta was honored by the British Academy of Film and Television Arts with the Britannia Award; he received the Lifetime Achievement Award at the Chicago Film Festival. Travolta also won the prestigious Alan J. Pakula Award from the US Broadcast Critics Association for his performance in "A Civil Action." He was nominated again for a Golden Globe for his performance in "Primary Colors," directed by Mike Nichols and co-starring Emma Thompson and Billy Bob Thornton. Most recently, Travolta was nominated for a Golden Globe for his memorable performance as Edna Turnblad in the box office hit musical "Hairspray."
He earned his first Oscar and Golden Globe® nominations for his role in the blockbuster "Saturday Night Fever," which launched the disco phenomenon in the 1970s. Travolta went on to star in the big-screen version of the long-running musical "Grease" and the wildly successful "Urban Cowboy." Additional film credits include the Brian DePalma thrillers "Carrie" and "Blowout," as well as Amy Heckerling's comedy "Look Who's Talking" and Nora Ephron's hit "Michael." Travolta starred in "Phenomenon" and took an equally diverse turn as an action star in John Woo's top-grossing "Broken Arrow." He also starred in the classic "Face/Off " opposite Nicolas Cage, and "The General's Daughter," co-starring Madeline Stowe. Recently, Travolta reprised the role in the "Get Shorty" sequel "Be Cool." He starred opposite Scarlett Johansson in the critically acclaimed independent feature film "A Love Song for Bobby Long," which was screened at the Venice Film Festival.
Other recent feature film credits include the hit action-thriller "Ladder 49" with Joaquin Phoenix, the movie version of the comic book "The Punisher," the drama "Basic" directed by John McTiernan, the psychological thriller "Domestic Disturbance" directed by Harold Becker, the hit action picture "Swordfish" with Halle Berry and Hugh Jackman, the sci-fi movie "Battlefield Earth," and "Lonely Hearts," co-starring James Gandolfini and Salma Hayek.
Travolta most recently starred in the box-office comedy hit "Wild Hogs" and recently completed shooting the film "The Taking of Pelham 123."
MILEY CYRUS (Penny) stars in the Disney Channel Original Series "Hannah Montana," which burst onto the scene in early 2006. Cyrus' real life would imitate art as she shot to superstardom not only as an actress, but also as a multi-platinum–selling pop star. Cyrus grew up watching her father—country music superstar and actor Billy Ray Cyrus perform and soon caught the acting bug herself. After gaining experience as an extra in her father's television projects, Cyrus first acted opposite him in a recurring role on his television series "Doc." With that role under her belt, the young actress went on to appear in the Tim Burton film "Big Fish."
When Cyrus first auditioned for the role of Hannah Montana, she was considered too young for the part, but her thousand-watt smile and bigger-than-life singing voice caught Disney Channel's attention. A couple of years later, she won the part she had worked so hard for, and her ascent to stardom started with a bang as the first season on "Hannah Montana" garnered some of the highest ratings ever for a Disney Channel Original Series.
In November 2006, the first "Hannah Montana" soundtrack was released on Walt Disney Records, featuring eight songs performed by Cyrus as Hannah Montana, and her first duet with her father. The album rocketed to the top of the charts and became the first-ever TV soundtrack to debut at #1 on the Billboard Top 200. The "Hannah Montana" soundtrack finished the year as the #8 best-selling album of 2006 across all genres (Nielsen SoundScan) and certified double platinum less than two month after its release.
Even with the unquestionable success of her Disney Channel series and album, the newly minted pop superstar was hungry for a fresh challenge. In the fall of 2006, Cyrus (performing as Hannah Montana) rocked sold-out venues across the country in her first 22-city tour. Again performing as Hannah, she also set a new attendance record at Houston's Reliant Stadium where she headlined the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo. The March 2007 event garnered an audience of more than 73,200 people.
On the "Hannah Montana 2" album, the first disc on the "Hannah Montana/Meet Miley Cyrus" two-disc set released last spring, the teen pop sensation performs ten original songs as her onscreen alter ego. The album continues the original soundtrack's positive messages with get-up-and-dance tracks like "Life's What You Make It," "Make Some Noise" and "Nobody's Perfect." Hannah Montana's continuing adventures in maintaining her secret identity are also captured in such playful, sassy songs "Rock Star" and "Old Blue Jeans," which she also performed on her recent tour.
Cyrus co-wrote eight of the ten tracks on the "Meet Miley Cyrus" album, collaborating with the songwriting team of Antonina Armato and Tim James (Mariah Carey) on four songs and such hit-makers as Matthew Wilder (No Doubt, Kelly Clarkson), Shelly Peiken (Christina Aguilera, Keith Urban), and the team of Scott Cutler and Anne Preven ("Dreamgirls" soundtrack, Natalie Imbruglia).
The HANNAH MONTANA AND MILEY CYRUS BEST OF BOTH WORLDS tour hit the big screen in Disney Digital 3-D in early 2008.
SUSIE ESSMAN (Mittens) has played the venomous Susie Greene for all six seasons of the critically acclaimed HBO comedy series "Curb Your Enthusiasm." Susie is the nononsense wife of Larry David's rotund, cheerful agent Jeff Greene. Mrs. Greene will not suffer a fool or overlook the slightest slight, she invariably sees through every one of Larry and Jeff's lies and mischievous ploys and rips into them. These hilarious bouts of withering sarcasm and uninhibited insults have become her character's trademark and helped her to become one of the most popular players on the show.
The New York Times called Susie "one of the most vivid characters in the show, whose off color tantrums have become an audience favorite the way Kramer's clumsy entrances once were." The Manhattan-based Essman is a veteran of the world of standup comedy, logging thousands of performances on the Gotham comedy circuit. She has appeared in her own half hour HBO comedy special, hosted the American Comedy Awards, and performed on Comedy Central's "The Friar's Roast of Jerry Stiller," "Politically Incorrect," "Late Night with Conan O'Brien," "Law and Order" and many more.
Essman has appeared in the films "The Man," "Keeping The Faith," "The Siege," "Volcano" and "Punchline." Her talent and audacity made her a natural choice for the off-Broadway play "The Vagina Monologues." Currently, you can see Essman as host of the new Bravo reality series "Better Half " and you can hear her as the voice of Helen Higgins in the puppet animation/crank-call series "Crank Yankers" on Comedy Central.
MARK WALTON (Rhino) started working at Walt Disney Animation Studios in the Florida division in September of 1995. Following an internship and a mall tour, he became a story apprentice on "Tarzan." In addition to providing the voice of Rhino—a hamster and super-fan of the television character of Bolt—Walton is currently serving as the visual development artist on the upcoming feature "King of the Elves."
As a visual development artist, Walton explores the look and the personalities of the different characters of the film, as well as their relationships with each other, their backgrounds and their potential actions and dialogue in the film. He also investigates the environments that the story takes place in (their look and feel, particular qualities, important elements and potential additional inhabitants).
Walton was born and raised in Salt Lake City, Utah. He attended East High School and Utah State University in Logan, Utah. He had always wanted to be an artist of some kind cartoonist, animator, muppet designer, feature film special effects, children's book illustrator. Instead of starting work at a video-gaming company (his intended career trajectory), Walton was accepted into the Disney family on the first day of his intended employment.
MALCOLM MCDOWELL (Dr. Calico) has created a gallery of iconographic characters since catapulting to the screen as Mick Travis, the rebellious upperclassman in Lindsay Anderson's prize-winning sensation "IF…" His place in movie history was subsequently secured when Stanley Kubrick found the actor he was searching for to play the gleefully amoral Alex in "A Clockwork Orange."
McDowell conceived the idea for the further adventures of Mick Travis in Anderson's comedic epic "O Lucky Man!" He wooed Mary Steenburgen and defeated Jack the Ripper as the romantically inquisitive H.G. Welles in Nicholas Meyer's "Time After Time." He destroyed Capt. Kirk in "Star Trek: Generations," and pranced and parried as narcissistic ballet impresario Alberto Antonelli in Robert Altman's "The Company." Those legendary roles have endured with legions of filmgoers while other adherents have been won over by his sinister Caligula, his compulsive Gangster No. 1, in which he created a character both on screen and through nuanced voice-over, his complex villain who taunts Clive Owen and traumatizes Jonathan Rhys Meyers in Mike Hodges' neo-noir "I'll Sleep When I'm Dead," and his conflicted Yurovsky in Karen Chakhnazarov's "Assassin of the Tsar."
McDowell's 100 feature film credits also include "My Life So Far," "Royal Flash," "Cat People" "Tank Girl," "Hugo Pool," "Figures in a Landscape" and "Long Ago Tomorrow." He played the brilliant literary editor Maxwell Perkins in Martin Ritt's "Cross Creek," the Chaplin-esque studio boss in Blake Edwards' "Sunset," and the final incarnation of Mick Travis in "Britannia Hospital," the third film in Anderson's trilogy.
On television, McDowell made his starring debut opposite Laurence Olivier, Alan Bates and Helen Mirren in Harold Pinter's "The Collection," directed by Michael Apted. He starred in the British mini-series "Our Friends from the North" with Daniel Craig and Gina McKee, and most recently, as the agency head in the hit HBO series "Entourage." For PBS, he appears in the Roundabout Theater production of John Osborne's "Look Back in Anger." On the New York stage, he received raves for the American premiere of David Storey's "In Celebration" at the Manhattan Theater Club, and for Oscar-winner Ronald Harwood's "Another Time" at The American Jewish Theater. In Los Angeles, he and Swoozie Kurtz headlined "Hunting Cockroaches" at the Mark Taper Forum. In London, he brought new life to the title character in Joe Orton's "Entertaining Mr. Sloan" at the Royal Court, later transferring to the West End. He undertook the Cary Grant role in Philip Barrie's "Holiday," opposite Mary Steenburgen at the Old Vic, again under Anderson's direction.
McDowell can be seen on the hit NBC series "Heroes." Additionally, his recent work includes Chris D'Arienzo's "Barry Munday," opposite Patrick Wilson, Judy Greer and Chloe Sevigny, and "In Good Company."
McDowell acted in several British repertory companies before joining the Royal Shakespeare Company. The Film Society of Lincoln Center, The American Cinematheque, The Deauville Festival, England's National Museum of Film, Television and Photography and the Australian Cinematheque have all accorded him major retrospectives.
JAMES LIPTON (The Director) is widely known as the creator, executive producer, writer and host of "Inside the Actors Studio," which is seen in 89 million American homes on Bravo, and around the world in 125 countries. From 1994 to the present, 250 actors, directors and writers have joined him in creating what many consider the definitive craft archive of our time.
The series, which has been recognized with the longest primetime Emmy® nomination streak in television history—14 Emmy nominations in 14 years—and is entering its 15th season, during which it will become the longest-running series in the history of cable television, is in fact a course in a master's degree program, the renowned Actors Studio Drama School of Pace University.
Just as each of his distinguished guests brings to "Inside the Actors Studio" a lifetime of experience to be shared with the school's students, Lipton brings to the series and the school his experience as actor, director and producer in theater, film and television, choreographer, playwright, lyricist, screenwriter, author and academician.
Lipton is a student of three of the acknowledged masters of the theatrical arts: Stella Adler, Harold Clurman and Robert Lewis. He was trained in modern dance and ballet by Hanya Holm and Alwin Nikolais, and in ballet by Ella Daganova and Benjamin Harkarvy. His voice teachers were Eva Gauthier and Arthur Lessac.
His acting career began on Broadway in "The Autumn Garden" by Lillian Hellman, and extended to a wide variety of roles in film and television.
Lipton serves as writer and executive producer for some of television's most celebrated specials, including "Jimmy Carter's Inaugural Gala," 12 Bob Hope Birthday Specials, and "The Road to China." He was the writer and producer of "Mirrors," adapted by him from his novel, and he created the story and teleplay for "Copacabana."
On Broadway, Lipton wrote the book and lyrics of two musicals "Nowhere to Go but Up" and "Sherry!" In 2005, he produced a "Sherry!" cast album for Angel Records, starring Nathan Lane, Bernadette Peters, Carol Burnett, Tommy Tune and Mike Myers. Also on Broadway, Lipton produced "The Mighty Gents," and "Monteith and Rand."
He is the author of the acclaimed non-fiction book "An Exaltation of Larks." In 2007, Dutton published Lipton's book, "Inside Inside."
Lipton's approach to "Inside the Actors Studio" has inspired parody, notably by Will Ferrell on "Saturday Night Live," which led to Lipton's role in the film "Bewitched," starring Ferrell and Nicole Kidman, and to repeated appearances on "Late Night with Conan O'Brien." Lipton has a recurring role on "Arrested Development," a guest-star appearance as the devil in ABC's "According to Jim," and roles in the animated features "Igor" and "Bolt."
Lipton is the Dean Emeritus of the Actors Studio Drama School, has received three honorary Ph.D.s, and is a recipient of the French Republic's Chevalier de l'ordre des Arts et des Lettres. In 2007, the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences awarded him the Lifetime Achievement Emmy®.
GREG GERMANN (The Agent) is not only an extraordinary actor he is also an accomplished writer and director.
On the big screen, Germann starred in Sony Pictures Classics' "Friends With Money" and in the blockbuster comedy "Talladega Nights" opposite Will Ferrell. He co-starred opposite Chris Rock in the Farrelly brothers' "Down to Earth," in "Sweet November" with Keanu Reeves and Charlize Theron, and opposite Burt Reynolds in the independent feature "The Last Producer." He had a very memorable cameo role in the award-winning "Jesus' Son" starring Billy Crudup. Additionally, he has starred in the recent features "Committed," "Caught in the Act" and "Down & Derby." He appeared in "Once Around" as Laura San Giacomo's lovesick neighbor, "Clear and Present Danger" with Harrison Ford, and "Culture," which earned a 1999 Academy Award® nomination.
On television, Germann endeared viewers worldwide with his portrayal of the shark-like Richard Fish on the hit series "Ally McBeal." Germann most recently starred in the ABC comedy "In Case of Emergency." He also starred with Thomas Hayden Church and Debra Messing for two seasons on "Ned & Stacy." He appeared with Kevin Spacey in the American Playhouse presentation of "Darrow," and opposite Samuel L. Jackson in Showtime's "Conduct Unbecoming." TV credits also include "Bernie Mac," "Listen Up" and "Twilight Zone."
Germann was a theatre major at the University of Northern Colorado. A constant stream of plays led him to the gradual realization that acting would be his professional future. He became a member of Circle Repertory Company and Ensemble Studio Theatre, accumulating credits in such off-Broadway and Broadway plays as Steven Sondheim musical "Assassins," "The Person I Once Was" opposite Holly Hunter, and David Mamet's "War Games," among many others. Currently he stars in the Broadway hit "Boeing Boeing" opposite Christine Baranski and Mark Rylance.
Germann directed on "Ally McBeal" and his short film, "Pete's Garden," for which he also served as writer and star. "Pete's Garden" premiered in competition at the 1998 Sundance Film Festival and subsequently went on to air on The Sundance Channel. Germann also recently penned "The Observatory," a play performed at New York's Ensemble Studio Theatre.
Bolt: About The Filmmakers
CHRIS WILLIAMS (Director) has been an important part of the Walt Disney Studios for 14 years, joining the Florida Animation Studio as an intern in 1994. Williams was a key member of the "Mulan" story team, the first feature film done entirely at the Florida Studio. After completing his work on "Mulan," he relocated to the California Studio, where he worked on story for "The Emperor's New Groove." Williams was nominated for an Annie Award for Outstanding Individual Achievement for Writing in an Animated Feature Presentation for his work on "The Emperor's New Groove."
During Williams' time in the story department, he has led the development of several feature and short film ideas. Most recently he wrote and directed Disney's first CG short "Glago's Guest," which premiered this spring at the Annecy International Film Festival. John Lasseter was so impressed with Williams' storytelling and directing that he hand-picked Williams to helm the studio's Thanksgiving 2008 feature "Bolt." Williams makes his debut as a feature animated film director alongside Byron Howard on the project which will be released domestically November 21, 2008.
Williams earned a fine arts degree from the University of Waterloo before studying animation at Sheridan College.
BYRON HOWARD (Director) chose his career path while vacationing at Walt Disney World in 1988, when he first heard of Disney's plan to open an animation studio there. He joined Disney in November 1991 as a host on the animation tour at Disney-MGM Studios in Orlando.
Howard officially joined the Walt Disney Animation Studios in 1994 as an in-betweener (an entry-level animator who develops transition drawings). He in-betweened on "Pocahontas," and went on to become an animator on "Mulan," and a supervising animator on the short "John Henry." He repeated the latter role on "Lilo & Stitch" as supervising animator for Cobra Bubbles and served on the animation team for Lilo's sister, Nani. He also did character design work for several miscellaneous characters for the film. Howard went on to supervise animation for the bear, Kenai, in the third and final animated feature to come from the Florida Studio, "Brother Bear." He earned an Annie Award nomination for Outstanding Character Animation on "Brother Bear" (Kenai).
Since relocating to the California studios, he has worked as story artist, character designer and, finally, director. A member of the "Story Trust" at Walt Disney Animation Studios, Howard has been developing several ideas for short and feature-length films. "Bolt" marks Howard's debut as a feature film director, along with fellow director Chris Williams.
Howard went to college to study live-action film, but rediscovered his childhood love of animation after seeing "Who Framed Roger Rabbit?" and "The Little Mermaid." He quickly switched to animation. The college had no animation studies program, so he structured his own education by writing for curriculum advice from animators Frank Thomas and David Block. He earned his Bachelor of Arts degree from Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington.
CLARK SPENCER (Producer) joined The Walt Disney Studios in July 1990 as a senior business planner in the finance and planning department, earning subsequent promotions to manager of studio planning in August 1991 and director of studio planning and finance in September 1992. During this time, he was involved in the launch of the Disney Channel in Asia, the acquisition of Miramax Films and numerous other business ventures.
In 1993, Spencer joined Walt Disney Animation Studios as the division's director of planning and was quickly promoted to the role of vice president of planning and finance. The Hollywood Reporter ranked him in its class of 1995 among the Next Generation of emerging young executives under the age of 35. In 1996, he was elevated to the role of senior vice president of finance and operations for Walt Disney Animation Studios and Theatrical Productions, a post he held until his move to Disney's Florida-based animation studio in 1998.
Spencer served as senior vice president and general manager of the Florida Studio, where he oversaw all aspects of operations and production. Six months later, the Company approached him to produce the second animated feature to be made at the Florida Studio, "Lilo & Stitch." The hit movie is a franchise for the Walt Disney Company, spawning three DVD sequels, an animated TV series and characters which still sell today. In 2002, Spencer returned to the animation studio in Burbank as executive producer of "Meet the Robinsons," overseeing the story development of the project.
A native of Seattle, Washington, Spencer is a 1985 graduate of Harvard University, where he earned his Bachelor's degree in history. He spent three years on Wall Street as a financial associate with Bankers Trust Company before returning to Harvard Business School, where he earned his MBA in 1990.
JOHN LASSETER (Executive Producer) is chief creative officer of Walt Disney and Pixar Animation Studios and principal creative advisor at Walt Disney Imagineering. He is a two-time Academy Award®-winning director and oversees all Pixar and Disney films and associated projects. Lasseter directed the groundbreaking and critically acclaimed films "Toy Story," "A Bug's Life" and "Toy Story 2." Additionally, he executive-produced "Monsters, Inc.," "Finding Nemo," "The Incredibles" and "WALL-E." Lasseter returned to the director's chair in 2006 with the release of the DisneyÓPixar film "Cars."
In 2004, Lasseter was honored by the Art Directors Guild with its prestigious Outstanding Contribution to Cinematic Imagery Award, and received an honorary degree from the American Film Institute.
Under his supervision, Pixar's animated feature and short films have received a multitude of critical accolades and film industry honors. He received a Special Achievement Oscar in 1995 for his inspired leadership of the "Toy Story" team. His work on "Toy Story" also resulted in an Academy Award®-nomination for Best Original Screenplay, the first time an animated feature had been recognized in that category. "Finding Nemo," released spring 2003, became the highest-grossing animated feature of all time, and won the Oscar for Best Animated Feature Film.
As creative director of Pixar, Lasseter enjoyed the critical acclaim and box-office success of "The Incredibles" in 2004. The film was recognized with a record-breaking 16 Annie Award nominations and several "Best of " awards by The Wall Street Journal, American Film Institute, National Board of Review and many others.
He also has written, directed and animated a number of highly renowned short films and television commercials for Pixar, including "Luxo Jr." (1986 Academy Award® nominee), "Red's Dream" (1987), "Tin Toy" (1988 Academy Award winner), and "Knickknack" (1989), which was produced as a 3-D stereoscopic film. Pixar's "Tin Toy" became the first computer animated film to win an Oscar when it received the 1988 Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film.
Prior to the formation of Pixar in 1986, Lasseter was a member of the Computer Division of Lucasfilm Ltd., where he designed and animated the computer-generated Stained Glass Knight character in the 1985 Steven Spielberg-produced film "Young Sherlock Holmes."
Lasseter attended the inaugural year of the character animation program at California Institute of the Arts and received his BFA in film there in 1979. While attending California Institute of the Arts, the budding animation filmmaker produced two animated films, both winners of the Student Academy Award® for Animation: "Lady and the Lamp" in 1979 and "Nitemare" in 1980.
Lasseter's very first award came at the age of five, when he won $15.00 from the Model Grocery Market in Whittier, Calif., for a crayon drawing of the headless horseman.
DOUG BENNETT (Animation Supervisor) began his career at The Walt Disney Company in 1995. He came aboard as an animator on "Fantasia 2000," where he worked specifically on the "Tin Soldier" sequence. Since then he has worked as an animator on several Feature Animation productions including "Tarzan," "Dinosaur" and "Treasure Planet," and most recently served as the supervising animator for the character Runt in "Chicken Little." Before coming to Disney, Bennett worked on numerous traditionally animated features. His television work includes commercials, shows and specials. He has worked in Toronto, Canada and Dublin, Ireland.
Bennett attended Sheridan College.
LINO DiSALVO (Supervising Animator, Mittens/Voice of Vinnie), a native New Yorker, first worked for Walt Disney Animation Studios nearly a decade ago, serving as an animator on the live-action family comedy "Inspector Gadget." Since then, his animating talents have been on display in a variety of motion pictures, a mix of both live-action, traditional and CG animation. Some of these titles include "102 Dalmatians," the colorful action-adventure "Reign of Fire" (his efforts contributing to the onscreen creation of one of the most impressive dragons on film), the comedy "Kangaroo Jack" (aiding in the construction of the mischievous title character), the worldwide hit comedy fable "Chicken Little," and the award-winning CG tale "Meet the Robinsons."
Already a Walt Disney Studios veteran, PAUL FELIX (Art Director) began his career at DIC Entertainment working on "Alf " (the cartoon series) as well as "Super Mario Bros." and "Captain N."
His Studio debut came as a key layout designer on the Disney Channel series "TaleSpin." Felix continued in the same role on the long-running Disney Channel series "Darkwing Duck." From detective story to the desert, he next worked on the Disney Channel series "Aladdin" and the films "The Return of Jafar" and "Aladdin and the King of Thieves." Felix joined Walt Disney Animation Studios in 1995 as a visual development artist on "Mulan." He next served as the layout designer on "Tarzan." He stepped into the role of production designer on "The Emperor's New Groove," following that up as the production designer on the blockbuster "Lilo & Stitch."
NATHAN GRENO (Head of Story) came to Walt Disney Animation Studios in 1996 as a clean-up artist on the traditional animation worldwide hit "Mulan." Since then, he has worked in a variety of capacities on such films as "Brother Bear" (story artist) and "Meet the Robinsons" (screenplay, story artist, the voice of Lefty). In that capacity, Greno oversees the story of the film, the storyboarding of specific sequences, manages the story crew and assists them with their work, all in order to aid the directors in bringing their vision to the screen.
Greno attended Columbus College of Art and Design in Columbus, Ohio, prior to coming to work for Disney.
CLAY KAYTIS (Supervising Animator, Rhino) started working for Walt Disney Animation Studios as an intern in the Summer of 1994; he was hired full time that September with a job as a clean-up in-betweener on "The Hunchback of Notre Dame." Since then, Kaytis has amassed an impressive list of Disney animated feature film credits, including "Pocahontas," "Hercules," "Mulan," "Tarzan," "The Emperor's New Groove," "Home on the Range," "Chicken Little" and "Meet the Robinsons."
Kaytis was responsible for getting the character of Rhino to the screen, from inception (overseeing modeling and rigging in the creation and set-up of the character) through animation (working with the directors and all artists who animated Rhino to ensure consistency in performance and appearance—everything from acting to mouth shapes).
Kaytis created and maintains the website "The Animation Podcast," which is a forum for animators, and routinely features audio interviews with some of the art's luminaries, as well as feedback and blogging.
Kaytis' first job for the company was selling popcorn and churros at Disneyland in Anaheim at the age of 16, segueing to a job in the Entertainment Art Department, where he helped create signs and props for various events throughout the park. While studying at the University of Southern California, Kaytis enrolled in a nine-month animation course at a local high school and became hooked. His work in that class led directly to his internship at Disney.
Best Animated Feature Oscar Nominations 2009
Bolt - Best Animated Feature Oscar Nomination - 81st Academy Awards 2009
- Slumdog Millionaire Leads the Way
- The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
- Frost / Nixon
- The Reader
- Slumdog Millionaire
Best Animated Feature
- Anne Hathaway in "Rachel Getting Married"
- Angelina Jolie in "Changeling"
- Melissa Leo in "Frozen River"
- Meryl Streep in "Doubt"
- Kate Winslet in "The Reader"
2009 Best Actor
- Richard Jenkins in "The Visitor"
- Frank Langella in "Frost/Nixon"
- Sean Penn in "Milk"
- Brad Pitt in "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button"
- Mickey Rourke in "The Wrestler"
Best Supporting Actress
- Amy Adams in "Doubt"
- Penelope Cruz in "Vicky Cristina Barcelona"
- Viola Davis in "Doubt"
- Taraji P. Henson in "Benjamin Button"
- Marisa Tomei in "The Wrestler"
Best Supporting Actor
- Josh Brolin in "Milk"
- Robert Downey Jr. in "Tropic Thunder"
- Philip Seymour Hoffman in "Doubt"
- Heath Ledger in "The Dark Knight"
- Michael Shannon in "Revolutionary Road"
2009 Oscar Nominated Movie Reviews
- The Class
- The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
- The Dark Knight
- The Duchess
- Frost / Nixon
- Happy Go Lucky
- Iron Man
- Kung Fu Panda
- Rachel Getting Married<
- The Reader
- Revolutionary Road
- Slumdog Millionaire
- Tropic Thunder
- Waltz With Bashir
- The Wrestler