edited February 2015 in Disney
I have heard that after LITTLE MERMAID was completed, Howard was desperate to do ALADDIN, but he started working on it JUST as BEAUTY AND THE BEAST was falling to pieces after a false start. Jeffery Katzenburg (the old prick) "buttonholed Howard, as only [Katzenburg] could", into writing for BEAUTY, even though Howard had no interest in it whatsoever. Thus, ALADDIN was momentarily shelved.

To me, this seems terribly unfair; Howard knew that he didn't have much time left to live, and he was so deeply committed to creating ALADDIN, so he really ought to have told "the boss" that he was much more interested in his prior project, and at least get far enough to see it to the first stages of animation, rather than devote his remaining energy to a film that he didn't want to write for. Why would Katzenburg pull such a cruel move like that?

Thinking about this (as well as Katzenburg's order to completely redo ALADDIN, throwing out nearly all of Howard's work, except for those three songs) really makes my nails and canine teeth feel sharp!


  • @Jordan Though I agree with you that what Jeffrey Katzenburg did was kind of wrong for convincing Howard to do something he didn't want to do, in the end, Howard warmed up to the idea, and, let's face it, can you really imagine Beauty and the Beast without Howard? It wouldn't have been very good! Also we don't know if Howard let Jeffrey know about his illness at that time. It might've been a little bit later.
  • Where are you reading this?
  • edited February 2015
    @Sarah_Ashman I have learned of Katzenburg's roping Howard into BEAUTY AND THE BEAST partly from WAKING SLEEPING BEAUTY, and partly from "Beyond Beauty: The Stories Behind the Making of BEAUTY AND THE BEAST", the latter of which was released as a bonus feature on the 2010 DVD re-release of BEAUTY.
  • I assume Howard wasn't forced to do anything he didn't want to do, and I don't think Howard had "no interest in it whatsoever."

    Remember, by the time Beauty came along, Howard's Aladdin was already pretty much dead. (Keep in mind, Howard didn't write the treatment / score after Mermaid. He and Alan worked on the two together, as the treatment is dated Jan 12, 1988.) Howard was probably well aware, or it was starting to become clear, that the Aladdin he had written wouldn't get made, so much so that, as Sarah has said before, he was talking to his agent about the possibility of buying the treatment and score back from Disney so he could write a version for children's theater. It wasn't until a little while later that Aladdin would get revived, with Howard on board, that it started to come together.

    And don't forget that, by the time Howard came to Disney, he had no problem speaking his mind and telling people what he thought. When Jeffery wanted to cut "Part of That World," Howard was one of the people to fight for it. When Gary Trousdale and Kirk Wise came in to direct Beast, and the introduction showing Prince Adam as a little kid was still in the story, at their first story meeting together, Kirk smugly said "we think the little beast boy isn't going to work" and Howard eviscerated him. When he and Alan wrote the "Beauty and the Beast," and Jeffery wanted him to write an extra verse or two, Howard told him "No. The only other word I can think of that rhymes with 'beast' is 'yeast,' and I don't think that'll work." Sarah, I think you even said in an interview that there were people at Disney trying to get rid of him because he was so outspoken.

    Also, I don't think Howard knew when he would be gone, or, if he did, he didn't want to softly go into night. He knew he had a limited amount of time left, but he wanted to keep working as if he didn't. If I'm correct (and I found this "fact" on IMDB so I could be completely wrong), when production on Aladdin was revived, and Pocahontas was in its very early stages, Howard agreed to write the score to Pocahontas with Alan once Aladdin's new score was completed. To say that "Howard knew that he didn't have much time left to live" and that "he was much more interested in his prior project [..] than [devoting] his remaining energy to a film that he didn't want to write for" feels, to be, to be a disservice to him. From everything I've read and heard about him, he didn't think like that at all. (This was a man who, when he was sick in bed and had to struggle just to speak, was still listening to Paige O'Hara record "Something There" over speakerphone and mustering up the energy to tell her "Streisand.")

    I think Peter Schneider's "buttonholed" comment shouldn't be taken as "Howard had no interest in this project whatsoever and he was forced to do it." I think, rather, it was a case of Howard was unsure of it. He saw some potential in, and had some interest in it, but maybe nothing about the story jumped out at him like it might have done with Mermaid and Aladdin. (After all, Beauty is more of a classic, vanilla, European story while Mermaid takes place in an undersea land and Aladdin takes place in the Middle East, a vastly different, far off land.) He maybe was just uncertain of what he would be able to do with it or how he could handle it, and he just needed a little bit to think about it. That's all.
  • Howard's Aladdin was just too far ahead of its time. You don't really see the kind of self-aware lampooning of the fairytale genre in "Call Me a Princess" and "Arabian Nights" in a mainstream children's film until 2001's Shrek.
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