Dishney: The Princess and the Frog (And the Controversy)

Dishney: The Princess and the Frog (And the Controversy)
Matt Stroshane/Disney Parks

So when Disney announced some months ago their plans to release a full-length feature done the "old-fashioned way"--meaning 2D--who wasn't excited? While Pixar's miraculously long lasting hit parade have been major crowd pleasers, a return to the Broadway-style musicals that made Disney... well, Disney, seems promising.

With a release date of December 11, 2009, The Princess and the Frog will be directed by Ron Clements and John Musker, the duo responsible for Little Mermaid, Aladdin and Hercules. It promises to not only return to the tradition of hand-drawn animation but also incorporate with modern techniques as well, by scanning all pencil and paper drawings into computers. The film also boasts Disney's first African-American heroine (finally).

While that's nice and all, controversy has already been plaguing the The Princess and the Frog, mostly centering around its premise. An updated press release describes the plot:

"When the free-spirited, jazz-loving Prince Naveen of Maldonia (Bruno Campos) comes to town a deal with a shady voodoo doctor goes bad and the once suave royal is turned into a frog. In a desperate attempt to be human again, a favor in exchange for a fateful kiss on the lips from the beautiful girl, Tiana (Anika Noni Rose), takes an unexpected turn and leads them both on a hilarious adventure through the mystical bayous of Louisiana to the banks of the almighty Mississippi and back in time for Mardi Gras in New Orleans. An unforgettable tale filled with music, humor and heart where two frogs--along with the help of a 200-year-old voodoo priestess, a love-sick Cajun firefly, and a trumpet-playing alligator--discover that what they want isn't as important as what they need."

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Originally though, Tiana was named Maddy. And was a chambermaid. Objections were raised, claiming Maddy was a "slave name" (think Gone With the Wind) and Disney went on immediate damage control. On May 4, Disney released another statement with news of Maddy's name change. Four days later, they released another statement, changing the name of the film from The Frog Princess to The Princess and the Frog, taking care of any accusations Disney was referring to their African-American heroine as a uh, frog. Oprah Winfrey has even put her own stamp of approval on the production, voicing the mother of Tiana in the movie. 

After the jump: More on the controversy, and the film's official trailer.

And so, with the controversy (somewhat) forgotten by the media, Disney trudges on: On August 6, Princess Tiana (or her "character") made her public debut at the 2009 National Association of Black Journalists Convention in Tampa, Florida, as Tony Award winner Anika Noni Rose (left, Aida and Dreamgirls), who provides the voice of Disney's newest princess Tiana poses with the new Princess Tiana character (right) as she will soon appear at the Disneyland Resort in California and Walt Disney World Resort in Florida. Starting this fall, Disneyland guests will see Tiana in a "colorful, jazz-filled live show, 'Tiana's Showboat Jubilee.'"

The jury's still out on whether or not this'll be as big of a hit as, say, Pixar-anything, but even we've got to admit the film's newest trailer looks a whole lot more promising than the teaser trailer released earlier this year.


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