For those who missed Disney's press release in March (hey, we didn't have a blog then), be aware that the Empire of the Mouse has set its all-powerful sights on New Orleans as the setting for its next feature animated film, slated for release in 2009. The Frog Princess, set in 1920's-era New Orleans, tells the story of a teenaged Creole girl (whose official name is still in development) in a Jazz Age Crescent City populated by both good and evil voodoo practitioners, a jazz-singing alligator named Louis, spoiled Uptown debutantes and a very Tennessee Williams-sounding character by the name of Big Daddy LaBouff.
Notably, The Frog Princess is not only the first Disney film to use traditional hand-drawn cel animation since 2004; it's also the first Disney film to focus on African-American characters since the now-slightly-embarrassing Song Of The South. The title princess is also Disney's first black animated lead female character, and joins an increasingly multicultural roster of Disney princesses that includes magical young ladies of Middle Eastern, Asian, Native American and mermaid heritage. Sadly, even though they've managed to touch on multiple major signifiers of our city, we're bummed to report that as of now, the cast includes no wacky talking nutria - the singing alligator's foil is, instead, a "lovesick Cajun firefly." (A firefly?)
Randy Newman, who is composing the score for the flick, performed a few early songs from the soundtrack in New Orleans in March, accompanied by the Dirty Dozen Brass Band, although it's not clear whether they'll be recording for the actual movie. And hey - we in New Orleans sure know that Disney is aces at reproducing the look of the French Quarter. Just ask Kimberly Williamson Butler.