RALPH ZONDAG (Director) makes his Disney directing debut on "Dinosaur" following a distinguished career as an animator, storyman and director. His previous credits for Walt Disney Feature Animation include a stint as a story artist on "Pocahontas" starting in 1993. Zondag began his industry career working on a variety of animated projects for television and made his feature debut as an animator with "An American Tail" (1986). Following that, he moved to Dublin for four years to animate on several feature and commercial projects for director Don Bluth, including "All Dogs Go to Heaven" and "Rock a Doodle." Zondag and his brother, Dick, relocated to London to co-direct the 1993 animated feature, "We’re Back: A Dinosaur’s Story" for executive producer Steven Spielberg.
ERIC LEIGHTON (Director), a 1994 Academy Award nominee for his contribution to the visual effects on "The Nightmare Before Christmas," also makes his feature film directing debut on "Dinosaur." Prior to this assignment, he had earned a reputation for being one of the industry’s top stop-motion animation talents. Born in San Diego, California, Leighton began making his own animated films at the age of 10 with a single-frame home movie camera. He went on to study film and animation at San Francisco State before getting his first professional assignment as a stop-motion animator on the "Gumby" television series. This was followed by a stint at Colossal Films in San Francisco, where he supervised as many as 30 Pillsbury Doughboy commercials, among others. Director Henry Selick tapped him to be the animation supervisor on Touchstone Pictures’ landmark stop-motion feature, Tim Burton’s "The Nightmare Before Christmas." His other credits include work on "Robocop II" as well as assignments for ILM and Phil Tippett Studios.
PAM MARSDEN (Producer) joined Walt Disney Feature Animation in 1994 to oversee the production of "Dinosaur." A native of Michigan, she studied theater arts at Kalamazoo College and the University of Massachusetts before launching her career in theatrical production. From 1984-94, she was the managing director of the International Theater Festival of Chicago, which, every two years, brought together up to 20 different theater companies from all over the world. In 1984, Marsden served a stint with the Olympic Arts Festival in Los Angeles. Her professional resume also includes stage managing productions in New York and Chicago.
BAKER BLOODWORTH (Co-Producer) has previously served as associate producer of Disney’s 1995 animated hit, "Pocahontas" as well as production manager on both "Beauty and the Beast" and "Aladdin." Born in Seattle, Washington and raised in Orinda, California, Bloodworth majored in theater at UCLA before launching his career as an intern at The Los Angeles Theater Center. This was followed by a two-year stint with the Orange County Performing Arts Center, which he helped to open. Relocating to New York, he served as producer’s assistant on the Broadway productions of "Cabaret" (with Joel Grey) and "Macbeth" (starring Christopher Plummer and Glenda Jackson). His other credits include a role as company manager for the national touring company of "Cats" and the first Andrew Lloyd Webber Concert Tour.
JOHN HARRISON (Screenwriter) began his career directing rock videos and working as first assistant director for famed horror filmmaker George Romero. He wrote and directed multiple episodes of Romero’s classic television series, "Tales From the Darkside" before helming "Tales From the Darkside, The Movie" for Paramount Pictures (which earned Grand Prix du Festival at Avoriaz, France for his direction). He has also written and directed episodes of "Tales From the Crypt" for HBO, "Earth 2" and "Profiler" for NBC. He wrote and directed USA Network’s "Donor Unknown" and "The Assassination File" which premiered on Starz!/Encore Network. Past writing credits include screenplays for Robert Zemeckis and Richard Donner among others. He has also received honors from the Writers Guild of America and Houston International Film Festival.
Harrison recently adapted Frank Herbert’s monumental bestseller, Dune, into a six-hour miniseries for USA Networks, which he also directed. "Dune" will air later this year.
ROBERT NELSON JACOBS (Screenwriter) is an established writer whose feature film credits include the upcoming Miramax films "Solomon Grundy" and "Chocolat." He penned the original screenplay for the animated feature "The Tempest" for Fox Family Films. Other film credits include "Out to Sea"; "15 Phases"; "Worlds Apart" and "The Human Fly," which he also produced. He is also credited with writing "Fade the Heat"; "The Lost Cove"; "Home Free" and "Gypsy Wings" (all co-written with Frederick Ayeroff). For television, he has written "Rikki Tikki Tavi" and "Home Free" and "X-Jet" on which he also served as producer.
JAMES NEWTON HOWARD (Composer) has scored more than 65 feature films and earned five Academy Award® nominations. Among his most celebrated contributions to film music are the Oscar® nominated scores for "The Fugitive," "The Prince of Tides" and "My Best Friend's Wedding," and the recent box office smash "The Sixth Sense" and "Snow Falling on Cedars." He has also written the songs "Look What Love has Done" (from "Junior") and "For the First Time" (from "One Fine Day"). In addition, his evocative music has enhanced "The Devil's Advocate," "Liar, Liar," "Space Jam," "Primal Fear," "Restoration," "Falling Down," "Wyatt Earp," "Dave," "Alive," "Glengarry Glen Ross," "The Man in the Moon," "Dying Young," "Grand Canyon," "My Girl," "Pretty Woman," "Flatliners" and "Everybody's All-American," among many others.
Howard began his music studies at age four. He continued training at Santa Barbara Music Academy of the West and at USC School of Music as a piano performance major. He completed his formal education with orchestration study under legendary arranger Marty Paich. He subsequently began his industry career performing as a keyboard artist for Melissa Manchester and Elton John. He toured with the latter superstar during the 1970s and early 1980s. In addition, he worked with such legendary artists as Barbra Streisand, Diana Ross, Rod Stewart and Bob Seger.
For television, Howard has composed and/or written memorable themes for which he has garnered two Emmy Award nominations: the series "ER" and "Men." His other works for the small screen include the CBS drama series "2000 Malibu Road," and the HBO films "A Private Matter," "Descending Angel" and "Somebody Has to Shoot the Pictures."
THE VOICE TALENTS
D. B. SWEENEY (Aladar) provides the voice for this colorful Cretaceous character and gives him the combination of confidence, charisma and compassion that allows him to be a leader when fate calls.
Sweeney sees his character as "wildly optimistic with a great purity. He tends to be the anchor who gives the story its emotional grounding. I imagined Aladar as being like the senior in high school who organized everything and was a really great guy. He managed to stay cool and enthusiastic while being on every committee and organizing everything. He is very responsible. I loved coming to the Studio and getting to be him for four hours at a time. He was just this great person that you could really count on.
"I also looked forward to each session because I wanted to see what they had done with the animation of my character," adds Sweeney. "It was very exciting to be a part of something so special and to be creating a character that will hopefully live forever. At first, I had to make some adjustments when I found out I was going to be playing an Iguanodon. I wanted to be a Triceratops or a dinosaur with good weaponry. In the end, I was glad to play this appealing and empathetic character. The Disney animation team builds these characters from the heart out. What makes them so memorable is that you know what they're thinking and can relate to them on some level."
According to the actor, "The worst thing about the recording sessions is that you’re out there by yourself and you’re looking at the booth where all the technicians are with the directors and producers. You do the line a few times in a row and then there’s this silence, which might last 20 seconds to a minute. As an actor, you have a tendency to get a bit paranoid and think ‘who are they calling to replace me?’ In reality they’re just trying to pick which one of the takes they prefer and how they can tell you to do it better in the next wave.
"When you’re playing a dinosaur, you get some strange direction from the booth," he adds. "I remember Ralph Zondag saying one time, ‘Remember D.B., you weigh three tons and you need to put that through your actor training. You have to come up with solutions to all kinds of strange things like that and figure out how to give the directors what they want.
"Doing a voice for a Disney animated film has been a great experience," says Sweeney. "As an actor, it allows you to be bigger than you’re allowed to be in a live-action film. And with a Disney film, you don’t just see it once. You see them throughout different times in your life and they affect you differently depending on where you are in life. I think this film has a great chance of being one of those animated classics."
Born in New York, Sweeney has appeared on Broadway and in theater productions around the country. Most recently, he had role of Biff in the ACT Seattle production of "Death of a Salesman." His film credits include "Gardens of Stone," "Memphis Belle," "Fire in the Sky," "The Cutting Edge," "Roommates" and "Eight Men Out" (as Shoeless Joe Jackson). On television he played Dish Boggett in the landmark miniseries "Lonesome Dove" and starred as Chance Harper in "Strange Luck." His other series credits are "C-16 FBI" and "Harsh Realm."
ALFRE WOODARD (Plio) gives heart and soul to the matriarch of the Lemur clan who teaches Aladar the values of kindness and working together.
"Watching this film come together has been magical," says Woodard. "When they first brought me in and gave me a tour of the animation studio, I was completely amazed. The people start with nothing but a blank slate and their imaginations. The technology is remarkable and allows the animator to create something wonderful. It’s like the animation people and the filmmakers took the advice of the guidance counselor, ‘Do what you enjoy.’ There’s a spirit of youth around there that makes you glad to come to work no matter how old you are. When I visit, its sort of like I’ve gone into a Never Never Land."
"Plio is very nurturing character," she explains. "I would like to think that she has the best of those motherly qualities. She takes care of business. She can take care of a lot of people’s needs at once and she thinks of those needs at the same time as her own. It is the Lemur way to live as a community and she teaches that to Aladar."
"My children are heavily into dinosaurs and they love them. With my role in ‘Dinosaur,’ I think they are impressed with me for the first time in my career and I’m looking forward to them seeing the movie. I was never really a dinosaur fan myself. But with this film you feel as if you’ve stepped back in time and watching the animation I have become a dinosaur person."
The three-time Emmy Award-winning actress most recently starred in Lawrence Kasdan’s "Mumford." Before that she starred opposite Wesley Snipes in "Down in the Delta," directed by Dr. Maya Angelou. She received four acting awards for her performance in the HBO production of "Miss Evers’ Boys" which aired February 1997; she received a Golden Globe Award, a Cable ACE Award, a Screen Actors Guild Award and an Emmy Award – for Best Actress in a television mini-series or movie. She also starred in the USA cable telefilm "The Member of the Wedding" and was previously seen onscreen in "Star Trek: First Contact" and in the thriller "Primal Fear."
She also starred in the ensemble feature "How to Make an American Quilt" and Spike Lee’s "Crooklyn." She co-starred in the television adaptation of "Gulliver’s Travels" for NBC. Woodard’s starring performance in the Hallmark Hall of Fame production of August Wilson’s play "The Piano Lesson" earned her a Best Actress Award from the Screen Actors Guild and an Emmy Award nomination. In 1984, she received an Academy Award® nomination for her performance in "Cross Creek."
Her other film credits include John Sayles’ "Passion Fish," Morgan Freeman’s drama "Bopha!," Bruce Beresford’s "Rich in Love," "Blue Chips," "Hearts and Soul," "Grand Canyon," "Scrooged," and "Miss Firecracker."
Woodard was first honored in 1984 for her performance in the hit television series "Hill Street Blues." Her second and third Emmy nominations followed in consecutive years for the PBS production "Words by Heart" and for her continuing role on "St. Elsewhere."
She earned an Emmy Award for her role in the pilot for "L.A. Law," and that same year was also nominated for her performance in "Unnatural Causes." In 1988, she again received an Emmy nomination for her work on "St. Elsewhere" and a nomination for "A Mother’s Courage: The Mary Thomas Story." In addition, she was honored with an ACE Award for her portrayal of Winnie Mandela in HBO’s "Mandela."
On stage, she has appeared in the New York Shakespeare Festival production of "Map of the World," "A Winter’s Tale," "A Christmas Carol," "Leander Stillwell," "Horatio," "Saved," "Me and Bessie," "Split Second," the longest-running Los Angeles production of "Love Letters" and "East Texan Hot Links," on which she served as executive producer.
OSSIE DAVIS (Yar) is the stubborn elder statesman of the Lemur clan whose compassionate spirit is close to the surface of his tough exterior. He befriends Aladar and follows him on the dangerous journey to seek a new nesting ground.
"Yar is an old, irascible and self-opinionated Lemur who is used to being obeyed," says Davis. "He’s a charming character who tries to hide behind his authoritarian approach to things. The real character revealing moment for Yar comes when Plio calls his bluff and tells him to get rid of the baby dinosaur if he wants to. Though he is big of mouth and senses that she is intruding on his authority, he is too warm-blooded and sympathetic to destroy it. Aladar becomes a member of the tribe and Yar is a grandfatherly figure to him. As a grandfather myself, this part gave me no difficulty whatsoever.
"The thing that intrigues me about this film is that it gives the actor a chance to go back to the roots of both dramatic and literary presentation," observes Davis. "We are encouraged to use our imaginations to the fullest. The normal film medium tends to repress the actor because the camera and sound equipment are so sensitive. They don’t want you to stretch out. ‘Dinosaur’ releases that imagination and has given me a chance to go back to that aspect of performance. Yar is an attitude, a way of looking at things, an extraordinary presentation of one aspect of what a human personality would be. Doing an animated voice gives you the freedom and the pleasure that you used to get when you were a child and played games. It’s been a tremendous experience dealing with Yar and giving my childhood pleasures a chance to express themselves."
"The heart of Disney films is always deeply human and its always embracing and reaffirming. It makes the continued lesson that we are, in spite of our differences, weaknesses and separations, part of the same team and the same situation. And if we can set aside the differences and find a way to communicate and relate, we’ll find that the world and the people in it are not nearly as threatening as we think they are. Disney films tend to reaffirm that and that’s why its such a joy to do one."
As a playwright, screenwriter, director, producer and actor, distinguished actor Davis has often been associated with works that celebrate black history in America. He remains an inspirational presence in contemporary African-American culture.
A native of Georgia, Davis attended Howard University in Washington D.C. and moved to New York to join the Harlem theatre group, Rose McClendon Players, where he made his acting debut in "Joy Exceeding Glory." He made his Broadway debut in "Jeb." In 1961 he replaced Sidney Poitier in the Broadway production of "A Raisin in the Sun." He is credited with writing and starring in "Purlie Victorious" which was later adapted into the musical "Purlie." Other stage credits include the Tony Award-winning Broadway production of "I’m Not Rappaport," "Anna Lucasta," and "Wisteria Trees."
Currently, Davis has recurring roles on the popular television dramas "City of Angels" and "Third Watch." His other television credits include "Touched By An Angel," "Cosby," "Evening Shade," "Promised Land," "B.L. Stryker"; and movies-of-the-week such as "The Soul Collector," "A Vow to Cherish," "Miss Evers’ Boys" for HBO; as well as the miniseries "The Stand," "King" and "Roots: The Next Generations." He has also appeared in the PBS special celebration "Martin Luther King: The Dream and The Drum."
He made his film directing debut in "Cotton Comes to Harlem" (1970) and went on to helm "Kongi’s Harvest," "Black Girl," "Gordon’s War" and "Countdown at Kusini." As an actor, he’s appeared in "No Way Out" directed by Joseph L. Mankiewicz, "The Cardinal" and "The Hill." He is a fixture in Spike Lee films including "School Daze," "Get on the Bus," "Jungle Fever," "Mo’ Better Blues" and "Do the Right Thing." Other film credits include "The Client," "Grumpy Old Men," "Twelve Angry Men," "Her Alibi" and "Joe Vs. The Volcano."
Davis is the recipient of the Neil Award for "For Us, the Living," a biopic he wrote about assassinated civil rights leader Medgar Evers for PBS. He was awarded the NAACP Image Award in 1989, the National Medal of Arts Award in 1995 and in 1998 the NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series for "Promised Land," as well as the Frederick Douglass Award of the New York Urban League. In 1963, he served as master of ceremonies for the March on Washington and for the Solidarity Poor People’s Campaign. In 1965 he delivered the eulogy at the funeral of slain civil right leader Malcolm X.
He has been married to actress Ruby Dee, his constant collaborator and partner, since 1948.
MAX CASELLA (Zini) is the eager and energetic young Lemur who is also Aladar’s best pal and constant companion. Trouble seems to follow Zini wherever he goes but nothing seems to dampen his enthusiasm
"Zini sees himself as a ladies man and a lover," notes Casella. "He has a lot of confidence and bluster. He’s fearless really and he loves having Aladar as his big gigantic friend. They relate to each other because they’re both bachelors who are having trouble finding a mate. When Aladar meets Neera, Zini tries to give him some advice but he obviously is hopeless in this department."
"Doing a voice for this film has been the best job," he adds. "You get to work on this great movie and it’s a very relaxed atmosphere. Disney is the King of animation and I just love coming in to the sessions. It’s hard to separate your voice from your body so even though they just record my voice, I tend to jump around like Zini. This film is totally groundbreaking and its jaw-dropping to see what they’ve done. ‘Dinosaur’ is a great story, first and foremost."
Casella is probably best known to television viewers as Doogie Howser’s buddy Vinnie on "Doogie Howser, M.D." The stage trained actor grew up in the Boston area and made his professional acting debut in "Cyrano de Bergerac" in 1981. His film credits include roles in "Analyze This," "Ed Wood," "Sgt. Bilko" and " Trial and Error." Last year, he won a Theatre World Award for his Broadway debut in the smash hit, "The Lion King." He returns to Broadway this spring co-starring in the revival of "The Music Man."
HAYDEN PANETTIERE (Suri) shines as the furry and feisty little Lemur who loves having Aladar, a 30-foot dinosaur, for an older brother.
The young star recently dazzled audiences with her portrayal of the spunky Princess Dot in Disney/Pixar’s box office smash, "A Bug’s Life." Panettiere began her acting career when she was just 11 months old in a Playskool commercial and went on to appear in over 40 national and regional spots. Her most memorable spot, the Wendy’s "nugget" campaign, caught the eye of Jay Leno who invited her to appear on the "Tonight Show."
At four and a half years old she won the role of Sarah Roberts in the daytime drama, "One Life to Live," and after three years went on to play the role of Lizzie Spaulding on the longest-running daytime drama, "Guiding Light." Today the young actress balances her role on "Guiding Light" with numerous primetime television roles and her budding film career. She recently appeared with Kevin Costner and Paul Newman in the heartbreaking love story, "Message in a Bottle" and the Fox feature film, "Object of My Affection," starring Jennifer Aniston, Paul Rudd and Alan Alda. Panettiere plays the riveting female lead in the true-life story, "Remember the Titans" starring Denzel Washington and Wil Patten, and produced by Jerry Bruckheimer, to be released this fall.
On television, she recently touched the hearts of all in her starring role as Suzi in the Lifetime original movie, "If You Believe" opposite Ally Walker. She has co-starred in "Touched By An Angel" with Sheri Stringfield, "Unhappily Ever After" for the WB network, "How Do You Spell God?" for ABC and numerous television pilots. She stunned audiences with her disquieting portrayal of the young Doris Duke, opposite Lauren Bacall, in the CBS miniseries "Too Rich: The Secret Life of Doris Duke."
In addition to being an accomplished young actress, Panettiere also enjoys her singing and is pursuing her interest in recording, as well as doing jingles for commercials. She studies gymnastics, dance, piano and is an avid equestrienne as well. However, her greatest passion is animals and her dream is to live in Hawaii and sport the animal kingdom in her backyard!
SAMUEL E. WRIGHT (Kron) lends his vocal talents to this ruthless and intimidating Iguanodon leader who is unwilling to adapt to a changing world around him.
"When we first started on the film," recalls Wright, "Kron was a big nasty dinosaur but he’s morphed into a misunderstood character and kind of a tragic hero. He’s not open to new suggestions and therefore he is destined to fail miserably. He’s not bad, he’s just unchangeable. He recognizes that Aladar is intelligent and can take his place. As a result, he worries about losing his position of authority."
"What I really loved about this film is that it’s the first time I’ve ever felt close to a dinosaur," says the actor. "In other movies, dinosaurs eat people and were things you ran away from. These dinosaurs are just trying to survive. They were easy to relate to and I could sense my ancestry with these magnificent animals."
"To do the voice of Kron, you’ve got to think like a dinosaur. I tried to think about what kind of sounds these animals would make. I discovered that a lot of animal sounds are made with the epiglottis, the soft tissue in the back of the throat. So instead of having Kron’s grunts and groans coming from the throat, I would push air through my throat and rumble my epiglottis. It started out as a little squeaky thing and I’ve gotten quite good at it."
He adds, "I’ve worked with Disney for many years and I know what makes everything work in this company is the people who are working on these things. The animated filmmakers dedicate themselves for up to four and five years to create their masterpieces. And I love working with them because they are so dedicated to every detail. I enjoyed every minute of working on ‘Dinosaur’ and when I saw it for the first time it brought tears to my eyes. It gave me the same feeling I had when I was a boy and decided that I wanted to work for Disney."
Wright began his association with Disney in 1989 when he gave voice to the charming Caribbean crab Sebastian in "The Little Mermaid." He continues to delight Broadway audiences as Mufasa in the smash hit "The Lion King," which garnered him a Tony Award nomination.
This talented Broadway actor’s credits include "Promises, Promises"; "The Tap Dance Kid" (for which he received a Tony nomination); the musical "Welcome to the Club" (with co-star Jodi Benson); "Jesus Christ, Superstar"; "Two Gentlemen From Verona"; "Pippin" and "Over Here." Wright traveled extensively across the country in a touring production of "I'm Not Rappaport" (in which he played Midge) and also starred in the Ken Hall musical production of "Phantom of the Opera."
On screen, Wright appeared in "Strapped" directed by Forrest Whitaker and as legendary musician Dizzy Gillespie in Clint Eastwood's "Bird." His television credits include recurring roles on such daytime favorites as "All My Children" and "Search for Tomorrow" and guest stints on primetime series like "Law & Order," "N.Y. Undercover," "The Cosby Show" and "Spencer: For Hire." He also reprised his role as Sebastian in "The Little Mermaid" animated series. Additionally, he has starred in two series of his own: "Enos" and "Ball Four." His album Sebastian on Walt Disney Records received a gold record. The actor also had one of his "juiciest" roles as "the grape" in the long-running Fruit-of-the-Loom commercials.
Wright was born in Camden, South Carolina and studied drama at South Carolina State College and C.W. Post College. The actor and his family live in upstate New York.
JULIANNA MARGULIES (Neera) brings a wide range of emotions and a strong personality to this intelligent Iguanodon who must choose between loyalty to her cold-hearted brother, Kron, or the greater good for the dinosaur herd.
"This is the first character I’ve ever played where I had to gain three tons," says Margulies. "I had to eat a lot of pizza and starches to get in shape for the part. Actually, I was so excited to do a Disney film because as a little girl I used to live inside them. You never thought people were doing voices; you just accepted that it came from the character. The first animated film I ever saw was ‘Snow White’ and I was just mesmerized. It’s really fun to be a part of it.
"When you first get started you think this is really going to be easy," she adds. "But then the hard part comes when the director says ‘You’re 25-feet long, you weigh three tons and you’re running in the middle of the herd. And then you have to grunt and growl like a dinosaur. All of a sudden, you’re like, ‘huh, well how do I do that?’ I don’t know what a dinosaur sounds like! Even though you’re speaking like a human being, these dinosaurs become so lifelike. Their skin ripples and the animation is unbelievable. It makes you want to do justice to the animation. It’s the kind of movie you have to see twice just to take it all in."
"Neera is an interesting character because she’s a romantic and a feminist," observes the actress. "Although she loves her brother, she has the courage to stand up to him when she realizes he is endangering the rest of the herd. The film has a beautiful message, especially for younger viewers, that it’s so much cooler to help the weak ones than to go along with the bully who hates everyone and can be mean just because he’s more powerful."
As an Emmy and Screen Actors Guild award winner and Golden Globe nominee, Margulies has gained recognition for her portrayal of Nurse Carole Hathaway in the hit television series "ER." She received her fourth Emmy nomination for the 1999 season and has won the Screen Actors Guild Award for Best Actress in a Drama Series the past two consecutive years.
Her feature film credits include "What’s Cookin’" which appeared at the Sundance Film Festival, "The Newton Boys," "A Price Above Rubies," "Paradise Road" and "Traveller."
Her theater credits include "The Substance of Fire," "Balm in Gilead," "In The Boom Boom Room," "Fefu and Her Friends," "At Home" and "Living Expenses."
Her other television credits include "Homicide: Life on the Streets" and "Law and Order."
She is currently at work on TNT’s "Mists of Avalon" with Angelica Huston. Her next theater appearanc will be in "Ten Unknowns" at Lincoln Center.
PETER SIRAGUSA (Bruton) adds definition to Kron’s battle-hardened Lieutenant who, initially distrustful of Aladar and his rag-tag group of Lemurs, is ultimately affected by their kindness and generosity.
This talented actor whose diverse credits include 5,000 performances of the stage hit, "Shear Madness," also has numerous credits in film and television. On the silver screen, he has appeared in "The Big Lebowski," "Dunston Checks In," "While You Were Sleeping," "A Miracle on 34th Street," "The Hudsucker Proxy" and "Home Alone."
Most recently on television, Siragusa appeared in the hit CBS drama "Family Law." His other television credits include "Time of Your Life," "Becker," "Michael Hayes," "Frasier," "Seinfeld," "Party of Five," "Caroline in the City," "Home Improvement" and "Jack and Mike."
He has established himself in the Chicago theater circle appearing in "The Iceman Cometh" at the Goodman Theatre, as well as the touring production of "The Second City." More stage credits include "A Midsummer Night’s Dream," "Zorba," "Wildmen!" and "Arthur: The Musical."
JOAN PLOWRIGHT (Baylene) lends a vocal quality of disarming dignity to this stately dinosaur whose bold spirit surfaces when Aladar needs her help the most.
Acknowledged as one of the finest stage actresses of her generation, Plowright was the daughter of a newspaper editor who was encouraged by her mother to pursue her acting career. She first garnered attention as a member of the Royal Court Theatre in such productions as "The Crucible" and "The Constant Wife." In 1957, she landed a role in the acclaimed "The Entertainer" and went on to repeat that role on Broadway (1958) and on film (1960). For her performance in "A Taste of Honey," she received a 1961 Tony Award. From there she went on to star in "St. Joan," "The Merchant of Venice" and "Filumena." By the end of the ‘80s, as her film work increased, she made fewer stage appearances.
Her first significant film role was in the thriller "Time Without Pity." Other films credits include "Equus," "Brimstone and Treacle" and "Drowning By Numbers." In 1990, she appeared in "I Love You to Death" and in Barry Levinson’s "Avalon." She went on to appear in "Enchanted April," "Dennis the Menace," "Widow’s Peak," a remake of "Jane Eyre" and "Tea With Mussolini" (both directed by Franco Zeffirelli) and Disney’s live-action version of "101 Dalmatians."
DELLA REESE (Eema) is heard as this gruff but good-natured member of the dinosaur herd who is willing to teach the ropes to newcomer Aladar. A slow-moving Styrachosaur, Eema has seen it all and has a definite attitude towards those who challenge her experience.
Reese describes Eema as "opinionated and a lot of fun. She doesn’t hold anything in; it comes up and it comes out. Things don’t smolder in her. She has no fear of any particular dinosaur."
"She has kind of an odd couple relationship with Baylene," adds Reese. "They really do like each other even though they bicker. Baylene is a bit of a dingbat and Eema puts up with her because she cares about her. I have friends like that in real life. We bicker but I would lay my life down for them and I’m sure they would do the same for me. You don’t want to go to war; you just want them to shut up once in a while."
"The character of Eema is a dinosaur, but I don’t think of her as a dinosaur when I’m working. I don’t think I’m speaking like a dinosaur because I don’t know how a dinosaur would say something. So I can’t go there, if you know what I mean. I have to go from what I know. I see her as an entity who has gone through some of the things that I go through every day in the process of living. How she feels about things and her attitude towards them is what I was after. The film itself has a lot of love and laughter, compassion and tenderness and friendship and warmth. There’s mother-love and son-love and there’s the belligerence of evil that is conquered. It’s a very large palette and doing this role blessed my life with something new and different. I enjoyed it very much."
Born Deloreese Patricia Early in Detroit, Michigan, Reese began singing in church when she was six years old. At age 13, she was hired by Mahalia Jackson to sing with her group. After touring with Jackson, she enrolled at Wayne State University where she formed the female gospel group, The Meditation Singers. Her college career was cut short by family problems which forced her to help with finances. During that time she held various jobs, but her big break came when a contest she won awarded her a singing stint at Detroit's famed "Flame Showbar."
In 1953, she moved to New York City to sing with the Erskine Hawkins Orchestra. Shortly thereafter, in 1957, she signed a recording contract with Jubilee Records where she recorded "In The Still of The Night," "I've Got My Love To Keep Me Warm" and "Time After Time."
Her single "And That Reminds Me" earned her a spot on "The Ed Sullivan Show" and awards as Most Promising Singer from Billboard, Cashbox and Variety, as well as The Disc Jockeys of America and the Jukebox Operators Association. In 1959, she signed with RCA and released "Don’t You Know," which became her biggest-selling single.
She parlayed her fame as a singer into her own syndicated talk-variety series, "The Della Reese Show," from 1969-70. From there she went on to appear in television productions of "The Voyage of the Yes," "Roots: The Next Generations," and the sitcoms "Chico and the Man," "It Takes Two," "Charlie & Co." and "The Royal Family." Her feature film credits include Eddie Murphy’s "The Kid Who Loved Christmas" and Martin Lawrence’s "The Thin Line Between Love and Hate."
Currently, she is known to television viewers for her role as Tess in CBS’ hit drama, "Touched by an Angel," for which she has been honored with four consecutive NAACP Image Awards for Outstanding Actress in a Drama Series (1996-99). In 1994, she received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
In addition to her acting and musical talents, Reese is an ordained minister who heads her own church in Los Angeles.