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My guru speaks...

When I started at Disney in 1989, my boss Bruce Cranston was immediately sent to Europe for SIX MONTHS to help open two studios there. That left the entire development department in my hands. And I had been there all of four days. It was a tremendous time for me. I learned a ton. And one of the guys I learned the most from was Tad Stones. We developed DARKWING DUCK together. (Or rather he developed it and I tried to help.) Tad was instrumental in convincing us to switch our comedy development to dramatic action. The idea of a proto-Goliath was really his. I gave him a copy of our latest pitch breakdown (already posted here, check the Archive). Here's his feedback, sent by e-mail.

[2] From: Tad Stones 1/10/92 7:17AM (5251 bytes: 85 ln)
To: Greg Weisman, Kathy Fair, Mike Ryan, Fred Schaefer
Subject: Gargoyle

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The latest presentation list looked pretty good. Just a few thoughts:

Don't shy away from romance. It's more than friendship between the girl and gargoyle.

I'd dump the Princess in the backstory. You don't need the parallel to- present day, and it weakens the present day relationship. He loves her for who she is ... not because of a guilt trip in the past or emotional transference.

Backstory: You don't need it except for the tragic betrayal, and that should be simple. Should the wizard literally create the gargoyle? Or is that too godlike? Two thoughts on gargoyle creation: 1) Start the pitch with a drawing of a stone gargoyle... or a photo from Notre Dame. "People think of gargoyles as grotesque decorations left from another age..." Then a medieval woodcut showing a gargoyle tossing knights over castle ramparts. "But there was a time when they were real." Then go to your Manhattan/Gargoyle beauty shot, "That time is today!" Actually, that last line is catchier than it is clear. The point is - don't waste time and art explaining gargoyles any more than you'd explain dinosaurs. They were demonic creatures. Period. I got it. Unless you tell me different, I'll assume there were all sorts, good and bad. You can go into all sorts of backstory in the two hour movie but it's not necessary for the pitch. There was the "king" of the gargoyles who protected the castle of Arthur (or whoever) but he was set up (framed) by the evil wizard. The walls of Camelot were breached and the Gargoyle is seen as a betrayer. Merlin has him sleep a petrified slumber as punishment. "You failed to guard it this night. Then you shall guard it for all eternity!!" As simple as possible, probably avoid using names because that complicates it.

2) He was human and framed. His punishment was a spell of petrification. But this spell has no cure, no princess's kiss or beauty's love will change him back.

The sunlight/sleep aspect of the gargoyle could be saved for a explanation of powers/weaknesses in the present day.

Art: Lose cards #2, 3 (redundant), 5 (seems like the gargoyle is taking action while the castle is still being lowered), 9 (one action card, not three. The guy has wings so I assume he can fly. Have him about to toss a truck while bullets bounce off him - show scared crooks and the cop amazed in the BG), 10 (for now - you can add it later if you need it), 12-18 (Simplify as discussed. WWII stuff fun but I'm not sure what it adds to the pitch. Isn't it more special that he hasn't helped until now - because of the love of the girl?) 19 and 20 (What kind of visual could Bob possibly draw. Pitch gets preachy and deadly) 21 (The "beauty shot" aspect fights what she's saying - Modify. Make it a poster, city as castle. It's the hook of the show, design this card as a showpiece.) 22 (We've already seen this when he saved her), 27 (redundant - if they don't have it by now, give up.) 28 through 30 (If you have great ideas on this stuff, add them. Is there a way to make them as fun as the crockery in Beauty and the Beast without making them gargoyles? Put your time in the villains. That's what Hasbro and the boy audience will be interested in. Supporting characters should be developed by the story editor anyway, not needed for the pitch.)

One last thought: He is the only gargoyle. No goofy gargoyles. No evil gargoyles (except MAYBE late in the series). Keep him special and unique one against the world - that's the gothic/heroic/tragic/romantic element. Don't diffuse it.

Put the pitch together without the art cards I've noted and write a pitch. Only then should you put the shackles on Bob to do the "Would be nice if you have the time" stuff. You might find you want completely different shadings. But run it by GK/JK [Gary Krisel and Jeffrey Katzenberg] before you go farther. Consider painting/airbrushing card 21 - the poster.

Neat stuff. Wish you had more time.