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MADAGASCAR: ESCAPE 2 AFRICA

Some New Faces In The Pride
An arrival in a new country is pretty much a guarantee of new faces. You never know whom you might meet or what opportunities may arise as you are introduced to more of your species, like friends who share your style, a possible new vocation, a potential new love interest or…your long-lost parents.

Producer Swift: "The first ‘Madagascar' basically dealt with who these characters were and what they meant to each other. On the savanna, our four are faced with their own kind—a lot of them. So there's now comparison to other lions, zebras, giraffes and hippos—so they get to see how they're alike and how they're different from others like them. And on top of that, their friendships are tested, too.”

Character designer Andrew Bialk supplies, "The basic look of the characters in ‘Madagascar' was inspired by a style of illustration in children's books from the 1950s. They have a lot of very sharp lines, contrasted with curved lines, so you get a very nice graphic illustration. Bringing that to the screen originally was a challenge. Now, it becomes our challenge to continue that language for all the existing characters, as well as the majority of the new characters.”

So about Alex's parents…

McGrath says, "We wanted Alex‘s dad to be the tough, macho, alpha lion. But we didn't want him to be some drill sergeant, so we were really sensitive as to who would make a great voice—who could be tough, but also convey that there was paternal emotion underneath all of it. We wanted to make sure that there was some fatherly warmth, even while the script called for some lines that sound a little tough.”

Enter Bernie Mac, whom filmmakers felt had the perfect balance of toughness and fatherly warmth in his tone and would make an ideal voice for Zuba, the alpha lion of the pride. As to the family resemblance…well, it is there, but the years of holding the pride together have left Zuba with a grayish mane, slightly receding, and a few scars. Eric Darnell tells, "When we were writing Zuba and thinking about this character, it was really difficult to find the right tone, exactly what this father-son relationship was going to be. But when we brought Bernie Mac on, he has got such a warmth, such a paternal quality to the way that he performs this role of Zuba, that you forgive him. You forgive him his faults, you forgive him his mistakes, as a parent. And you want nothing more than for Alex and Zuba to reconcile.”

While filmmakers were heavy into post-production in August of 2008, they learned of Bernie Mac's passing at age 50. The loss of one of the newest members of the "Madagascar” family was keenly felt by everyone connected with the film. Head of DreamWorks Animation Jeffrey Katzenberg speaks for all when he says, "It is unthinkable that we could suddenly wake up one day and find that such an extraordinary talent, wonderful man and bigger-than-life personality had just unexpectedly passed from our lives. It's impossible to overstate how great his gifts and contributions to our movie have been.”

For Alex's Mom, writer/directors and producers were searching for that TV mom—a cushy lap, bedtime stories and homemade cookies on weekends (if lionesses baked cookies). But they also didn't want a doormat to Zuba. So the goal was soft but strong, a mate to Zuba with some toughness and compassion in her heart.

After listening to voices brought to them by casting—the directors rarely ‘see' actors, it's all about the voice—filmmakers chose Sherri Shepherd for the quality of her voice and her sincere and warm laughter.

Per McGrath: "Sherri Shepherd brought this great quality to Alex's Mom. It's pivotal, because she has to stand up between the fighting father and son and be strong, without being brash. Sherri manages to mix a little bit of attitude and str

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