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THE COUNTRY BEARS

About The Production
"Originally, the idea for the movie came from a Disney Studios creative executive named Brigham Taylor," states Andrew Gunn, producer of Disney's "The Country Bears." "He has three daughters and said, ‘What if we made a movie about the Country Bear Jamboree?'"

"The Bears are such great characters that I started to think about what we could do with them in a movie," remembers Taylor. "They are musicians, so naturally I started thinking about successful films with musicians in them. I thought we could make it similar to ‘The Blues Brothers' and base the storyline around getting the band back together."

"When Brigham gave screenwriter Mark Perez the idea for the movie, Mark converted it into a very clever script and the next thing we knew, we were out looking for a director," says Gunn.

The producers needed to find a director for this incredibly unique motion picture who could combine music, humor, fantasy, parody, and reality as well as deal with elements like a large ensemble cast, voice-over work, specialized technology, and production numbers.

"The movie is essentially a family comedy, a road picture, and a musical… with bears," sums up Gunn.

Brigham Taylor knew director Peter Hastings from his animation work at the studio and felt that with his animation and music backgrounds, Hastings would be the perfect match for this kid-at-heart family fare.

Over 75 million people have seen The Country Bear Jamboree, one of the best-loved attractions at Disney theme parks around the world. "So, the film ‘The Country Bears' is basically taking the characters from the park, putting them in a fast vehicle and going hard left," laughs Hastings.

Concept drawings for the characters in The Country Bear Jamboree were originally done in the 1960s by long-time studio animator Marc Davis for the lobby of a ski resort that Walt Disney planned to build in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. The ski resort was never built, but the ideas from Davis' sketches eventually became "The Country Bear Jamboree" at Walt Disney World in 1971. The characters were so popular with visitors that similar attractions were built in Disney's other parks.

"When I got involved with the project," says Hastings, "the big challenge was how to take a novelty Audio-Animatronics® show and turn that into an entertaining film."

"I wanted to make something that plays to a lot of different ages," continues Hastings. "Music is really a wonderful thing, because it is a little less age-specific than alot of other types of entertainment.

"I've played music for a long time and studied music in college. Since I have a music background, it was really important to me that the music have integrity, that the songs be good, that the performances be good, and the on-screen ‘playing' by these bears looks real. I wanted this musical movie to have an authenticity. The songs are hidden a little bit in that performing music is part of the story; the songs happen very naturally. It's sneaky musical."

Wanting a mix of country, rock, and blues, filmmakers turned to singer/songwriter John Hiatt to be the musical voice of

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