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Disney left in dust in 'Cars' spiel

January 16, 2007|Sheigh Crabtree | Times Staff Writer

PIXAR'S John Lasseter was effusive in his thank-yous after "Cars" won the Hollywood Foreign Press Assn.'s inaugural animated feature award on Monday night, but did he inadvertently sideswipe the company's Southland sibling?

Lasseter, the new chief creative director of both Pixar and Burbank-based Walt Disney Feature Animation Studios, doled out thanks to the voters, his Pixar pals, his wife and five kids, voice actors Tony Shalhoub and Paul Newman, producer Darla K. Anderson, recently deceased creative partner Joe Ranft, songwriter Sheryl Crow and composer Randy Newman.

But not a mention of Disney, the embattled Burbank division he now oversees and where he has worked two to three days a week since the studio acquired Pixar in April. (Disney's historic 'toon division, where Lasseter got his start as a young animator in the early '80s, has recently seen a production slowdown and a spate of pink slips.)

"I want to share this with everyone at Pixar Animation Studios, the greatest filmmaking environment in the entire world," Lasseter said, noting that "Cars" had been a passion project for six years.

Lasseter's boss, Walt Disney Studios President and Chief Executive Bob Iger, who was in the audience, was also left off Lasseter's lengthy list.

"This is for everybody at Pixar," Lasseter crowed. "Hooray!"

Earlier, Lasseter's fiercest competition, George Miller's "Happy Feet," danced home with original song for Prince's "The Song of the Heart." (The performer was reportedly stuck in traffic. Justin Timberlake accepted on Prince's behalf.)

In the heat of the kudo season, Lasseter has energetically made the awards rounds while Australia-based Miller has spent his time off the awards grid, vacationing in India.

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