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DISNEY SIGNS UP MORE TOON TALENT

Continuing moves to solidify its hold on animation talent, the Walt Disney Co. has locked up animation directors Gary Trousdale and Kirk Wise in exclusive longterm contracts.

In a statement, Disney said Wise and Trousdale will develop and direct animated motion pictures for the studio.

Trousdale and Wise made their feature directing debuts with 1991’s “Beauty and the Beast” and currently are working on animated pic “The Hunchback of Notre Dame,” skedded for release next year.

The deal is the second of several contracts Disney is expected to wrap up as Dream Works and other studios vie for talent to animate their own toon divisions.

The company had recently signed “The Lion King” production designer Chris Sanders to a long-term contract.

Trousdale has been associated with Disney animation since 1984, when he came to work as an effects assistant on “The Black Cauldron.”

He went on to join the story development team, contributing to “Oliver & Company,” “The Little Mermaid” and “The Rescuers Down Under.” He also served an important role in storyboarding “The Lion King.”

Trousdale and Wise first teamed in 1989 as co-directors on “Cranium Command, ” the four-minute animated pre-show for Epcot Center’s “Wonders of Life.” The pair had previously developed the scenario for a Roger Rabbit short.

Wise’s Disney credits include ‘ The Great Mouse Detective” and “Oliver & Company.”

Wise also contributed to the animation and storyboarding on “The Brave Little Toaster” and the “Amazing Stories” television anthology.

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