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MADAGASCAR

Animal Instincts
Anyone who has seen "Wild Kingdom” or tuned into Animal Planet knows that lions and zebras don't run in the same circles…unless one of them is running for his life. But in "Madagascar,” predator and prey have become an unlikely band of friends and neighbors.

"Everybody knows that lions eat zebras; it's just that classic yin and yang,” Darnell states. "But in the Central Park Zoo, these two animals can become best friends in conflict with their natural behavior.” McGrath offers, "The heart of the story is the relationship between Alex and Marty, who have no idea what their true natures are because they grew up in a civilized environment. Once they are taken from that environment and put back in the wild, their natural instincts start to emerge. That's when their friendship is put to the test.”

The king of the urban jungle, Alex the Lion may not know that he is on top of the food chain, but he takes great pride in being the zoo's "mane” attraction. "Alex loves being the star of the show,” Darnell affirms. "He loves getting out on his ‘stage' and hearing the cheers of the crowds. He can't imagine wanting to be anywhere else. As far as Alex is concerned, New York is the top of the heap.”

Ben Stiller, who is the voice of Alex, can relate to his fellow native New Yorker. "Growing up in New York, I know there is a certain sense of pride that New Yorkers have. Alex is very happy in his world at the Central Park Zoo. He lives a very pampered life and he loves the adulation of the crowd. As Alex would say, ‘There's fans, there's food, there's pampering...what more could you want?' He gets his steaks served up to him, but he thinks steak is just steak; it just exists—cut, prepared and seasoned just right. He never in a million years would think that his friends could be the food he eats. But once he gets out in the real world, his instincts start to take over, which is scary because it happens to be his best friend that he's suddenly dreaming about eating.”

"Ben Stiller is a great Alex,” Darnell says. "Alex is this guy who feels confident as long as he's got all his ducks in a row, but when things start to fall apart, Alex does, too. Ben has this ability to sound all up in arms about things, but if you look at him, you know he's more upset at himself than the other guy. His brow gets all knitted up, and the way he performs it is very endearing because he makes you aware of Alex's vulnerabilities. It was great for Ben to be able to bring that to the character, and it gave a lot of inspiration to the animators.”

Stiller relates, "Alex is set in his ways. He's afraid to take a chance and go outside his comfort zone. His best friend Marty is more adventurous and wants to go out and see the world, which drives Alex crazy because Marty is upsetting the status quo—he ‘bit the hand.' Even though Alex and Marty are friends, they can still get upset with each other as all friends do. They go through a little bit of adversity, but you find out who your true friends are when you face tough situations in life.”

Co-producer Teresa Cheng remarks, "Marty and Alex are the closest of friends, although they are almost exact opposites. Alex is comfortable with his life at the zoo and doesn't like change, while Marty is always looking for something fresh and exciting in his life.”

"Alex and Marty have lived next door to each other their entire lives, and they are very supportive of each other,” McGrath states. "But Marty just turned 10 years old. He realizes his life is half over, and he starts to wonder what else is out there in the world. I suppose it's kind of a midlife crisis for Marty.”

Chris Rock gives voice to Marty the Zebra, whose adventurous streak is about to give his friends and himself a real walk on the wild side. "Marty is bored with the routine of zoo life, so he wants to get out and experience the wild, even though h

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