Sony Pictures Animation Announces Projects for Directors Jill Culton, Anthony Stacchi, Roger Allers, Brenda Chapman and the Brizzi Brothers

May 09, 2003, 01:00 ET from Sony Pictures Digital

    CULVER CITY, Calif., May 9 /PRNewswire/ -- As Sony Pictures Animation
 celebrates its first anniversary this week, Executive Vice Presidents Sandra
 Rabins and Penney Finkelman Cox announced the recent addition of directors
 Jill Culton, Anthony Stacchi, Roger Allers, Brenda Chapman and twin brothers
 Paul Brizzi and Gaetan Brizzi.  In doing so, they bring together a team of
 fresh voices and dynamic visions to Sony Pictures Animation.
     Since their arrival, Finkelman Cox and Rabins have built the division from
 the ground up, settling into a thriving new animation complex adjacent to Sony
 Pictures Imageworks and staffing the division with a core development team
 that wasted no time in identifying a diverse line-up of projects.  "We wanted
 to build a company where talent could explore and realize their visions in a
 creative and collaborative environment," said Rabins and Finkelman Cox.  "Over
 the past few months, we have been very fortunate to assemble a high-caliber
 team of directors with a passion for the medium of animation."
     "CG animation is a phenomenal way to tell a story," said Yair Landau, Vice
 Chairman of Sony Pictures Entertainment and President of Sony Pictures
 Digital.  "In less than a year, Penney and Sandy have developed an amazing
 roster of artists and projects and have made Sony Pictures Animation the
 studio of choice for visionary filmmakers."
     The newly hired directors will focus their attention on the following
     Jill Culton will direct and Anthony Stacchi will co-direct the comedy
 adventure "Open Season."  Based on the humor of cartoonist Steve Moore, "Open
 Season" tells the story of what happens in the wild when the animals scheme to
 turn the tables on the hunters.  The film will be produced by Disney veteran
 Chris Jenkins ("The Lion King," "Beauty and the Beast," "Who Framed Roger
 Rabbit?").  John Carls ("Where the Wild Things Are") and Steve Moore brought
 the project to Sony Pictures Animation, and are serving as executive
     Culton comes to Sony from ILM, where she was a key creative person on the
 development of "Curious George" for Universal.  Culton was credited with the
 original story for  "Monsters, Inc," where she served as both Head of Story
 Development and as Conceptual Artist; she was on the story team for
 "Toy Story 2," where she is credited with designing the character of "Jessie."
 Culton's other credits include "A Bug's Life" (Storyboard Artist), "Cats Don't
 Dance" (Directing Animator), and "Toy Story" (Story).
     Joining Culton from ILM as co-director is Anthony Stacchi.  Stacchi was
 brought to ILM to write and develop digital feature content, most recently,
 "Curious George."  Other credits include "Antz" (story artist) and "James and
 the Giant Peach" (visual effects).
     "Jill brings such heart and soul to her work," says Finkelman Cox.
 "Combined with Tony's sense of story, we have a team that will develop rich
 characters that audiences will fall in love with."
     The script for "Open Season" is being written by Nat Mauldin ("Doctor
 Doolittle," "The In-Laws, "The Preacher's Wife," "Downtown," "Night Court,"
 "Newhart").  Mauldin is represented by agent Jack Dytman and manager Todd
     Sony Pictures Animation is reuniting Directors Roger Allers ("The Lion
 King") and Brenda Chapman ("The Prince of Egypt"), whose collaborations
 included "The Lion King," "Little Mermaid" and "Beauty and the Beast."  Allers
 and Chapman will work with internationally acclaimed and best-selling artists
 Brian and Wendy Froud on "Tam Lin."
     Set against the fantastical worlds of the Froud's imaginations, the film
 is loosely based on the Celtic folk ballad of the same name.  Acclaimed
 fantasy author Neil Gaiman ("Coraline," "Stardust," "Good Omen," "Princess
 Mononoke") will write the screenplay for "Tam Lin"; Robert Gould will produce;
 Lois Sarkisian will serve as executive producer.  Roger Allers is represented
 by Peter Nichols and Brenda Chapman is represented by Nancy Newhouse Porter.
     "Penney and I are thrilled with the team assembled for this project," said
 Rabins.  "Roger and Brenda will bring a breadth of experience and clarity of
 vision along with their wonderful storytelling sensibilities to the magical,
 inspirational worlds created by the Frouds."
     Twin brothers Paul Brizzi and Gaetan Brizzi have joined Sony Pictures
 Animation.  The duo won critical praise as the directors of the Firebird
 sequence in Disney's "Fantasia 2000" and as sequence directors on "The
 Hunchback of Notre Dame."
     The Brizzi brothers are in the forecast for "Cloudy with a Chance of
 Meatballs," based on the children's book of the same name by Judi Barrett and
 Ron Barrett.  "Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs" tells the story of a land
 where food falls from the sky.  Wayne Rice ("Dude, Where's My Car," "Lost and
 Found," "Little Green Men," "Only You") will adapt the screenplay.  Rice is
 represented by Adam Kanter at CAA.
     Paul Brizzi and Gaetan Brizzi will also direct and supervise the
 development of "Surf's Up!"  "'Surf's Up!' is a boy-meets-girl-Romeo-and-
 Juliet story set against the high-energy world of surfing," described Rabins.
 "But with a little twist," added Finkelman Cox.  Christian Darren ("Count
 Three and Pray," "Six Bullets From Now") is writing the screenplay.  Darren is
 repped by Jeff Okin and Ilan Breil.
     "Paul and Gaetan have a lyrical and romantic approach to storytelling,"
 said Finkelman Cox.  "They see animation as a pure art form that allows them
 to create the dreams and push the boundaries of our imagination to tell
 stories in remarkable, imaginative ways."
     The Brizzi's are represented by Nancy Newhouse Porter.
     Sony Pictures Animation is also in active development on a feature length
 version of the Academy Award(R)-winning short film "The ChubbChubbs" from Sony
 Pictures Imageworks.
     "We are thrilled with the response and interest that 'The ChubbChubbs' has
 received," said Rabins.  "The characters and property are perfect for a full-
 length film version and we are looking forward to further develop the
     As Finkelman Cox said last May when Sony Pictures Animation was announced,
 "Animation is such a great way to create movies that the whole family can
 enjoy together.  These movies are ambitious because they can and should appeal
 at all levels and ages -- a real cross spectrum of our hearts and
 imaginations."  And as Rabins added, "There are so many wonderful stories
 ideally suited for this medium and only a handful of companies with the
 capability to make them."
     Negotiations for the projects were handled by Barbara Zipperman, senior
 vice president, business affairs, Sony Pictures Animation.  VP of Development
 Nate Hopper will collaborate with Rabins and Finkelman Cox on the projects.
     About Sony Pictures Animation
     Sony Pictures Animation is a division of Sony Pictures Digital.  Under the
 leadership of executives Sandra Rabins and Penney Finkelman Cox, the division
 identifies and nurtures fresh voices and dynamic visions for the world of CG
 animated features for Sony Pictures Entertainment.
     About Sony Pictures Digital
     Sony Pictures Digital oversees the digital production and online assets of
 Sony Pictures Entertainment (SPE) and consists of four key operating business
 units: Sony Pictures Animation, Sony Pictures Imageworks, Sony Online
 Entertainment and Sony Pictures Digital Networks which includes SoapCity,
 Screenblast, Sony Pictures mobile and wireless services, the studio's online
 promotional arm SPiN, and the UK interactive television service GoPlayTV.  By
 making information and entertainment available anywhere, anytime on any
 connected device, Sony Pictures Digital is exploring new technology that links
 hardware with software in ways that advance the current boundaries of the
 entertainment landscape.  For more information please visit

SOURCE Sony Pictures Digital