Animator/director Bruce W. Smith (above, right), best known as the creator of Disney Channel’s The Proud Family, and tv veteran Ralph Farquhar, an executive producer on The Proud Family and co-creator of the sitcom Moesha, are expanding their relationship with the Walt Disney Company. The pair have signed a “wide-ranging, multi-year overall deal” with Disney Branded Television.
Here are the details:
- Under the pact, Smith and Farquhar will produce animated and live-action series and films for Disney Branded Television. They will have a separate budget “to find and develop emerging talent as well as leverage their combined experience to bring unique projects and voices to Disney.”
- The arrangement will see them work closely with Meredith Roberts, senior vice president/general manager, television animation, Disney Channels, and Ayo Davis, executive vice president, creative development and strategy, Disney Branded Television.
- Smith and Farquhar are currently producing The Proud Family: Louder and Prouder, a revival of the classic series bound for Disney+. The original series aired on Disney Channel from 2001 to 2005, drawing a large following with its sharp writing. Its focus on a middle-class African-American family was a rarity in kids’ tv at the time.
- Smith’s relationship with Disney runs deep. A veteran of Walt Disney Animation Studios, he was a supervising animator on features including Tarzan, The Emperor’s New Groove, and The Princess and the Frog, and a character designer on Frozen and Wreck-It Ralph. He was also an animation director on Warner Bros.’s Space Jam and a director on last year’s Oscar-winning short Hair Love.
- Farquhar is the creator of a string of live-action sitcoms set in Los Angeles: Moesha, South Central, and The Parkers. He wrote the 1985 feature Krush Groove, about the early days of Def Jam Records. Other credits include writer on ABC’s Happy Days and supervising producer on Fox’s Married… with Children.
- Disney Branded Television was shaped in the recent reorganization of Disney’s tv and streaming units. Under its president and chief creative officer Gary Marsh, the division oversees content for Disney Channel, Disney XD, Disney Junior, and Disney+ original programming. The deal with Smith and Farquhar is the first it has announced.
- Marsh said in a statement: “With virtually every studio and platform reaching out to them, it speaks volumes that talented storytellers Ralph and Bruce have chosen Disney as the home for their boundless creativity and inspired social commentary, not to mention their commitment to identifying emerging talent. We are proud to have them as members of our family.”
- In a joint statement, Smith and Farquhar added: “We are very happy to be continuing our relationship with Disney and look forward to creating even more truly authentic and diverse stories and characters for audiences worldwide. We are also excited to have the opportunity to bring along a new wave of talented voices that will deepen the connection to Disney storytelling for years to come.”
- Smith is represented by Nancy Newhouse of Newhouse Porter Hubbard. Farquhar is represented by James Kellem of JKA Talent Agency and Gordon M. Bobb of Del Shaw Moonves Tanaka Finkelstein & Lezcano.
Image at top © 2020 Disney Enterprises, Inc.