The 1999 San Diego ComicCon was wrapping up when I received an unexpected telephone call. Could I be on a plane to Pixar Animation Studios Monday afternoon? Producer, Darla Anderson wanted to speak with me. I hadn’t worked with Ms Anderson before but I was well aware she was a major player at the Northern California animation studio. I had recently returned from a nearly three year stint on Pixar’s “Toy Story2” and I was taking a break. However, when Darla Anderson calls that means break time is over.
It was an easy trip north that Monday afternoon. Walt Disney Animation Northside was practically across the street from Bob Hope Airport in Burbank. You could practically walk to the airport from the studio. Actually, I did walk to the airport from Disney Animation. I left my car in the Disney parking lot and headed over to catch my afternoon flight. In 45 minutes I was in Oakland and driving north on highway 80 to Point Richmond and Pixar Animation Studios. Once I arrived at the studio I was ushered into Darla Anderson’s office where we had a lovely chat lasting about 45 minutes. It seemed we talked about everything except movie making or upcoming projects at Pixar Animation Studios. In spite of being known for her toughness as a studio manager, I found Ms Anderson delightful. We concluded our conversation and I was soon driving south on highway 80 on my way back to the Oakland Airport. On my flight back to Burbank I couldn’t help but wonder what our conversation was all about.
Of course, I should have known. While working on a development project at the Walt Disney Studios I again received a late afternoon telephone call from Pixar. Would I like to join the story team on a new Pixar animated movie, they asked? My answer should have been an immediate, yes, but I had some reservations. You see, I had departed my home in Pasadena in spring of 1997 and that was nearly three years ago. Would my wife, Adrienne appreciate her husband once again defecting to the Bay Area? I was about to do the unthinkable and turn down the Pixar job. Suddenly, Adrienne said to accept the job because, in her words, “I know you really want to work on the movie.” So, with my wife’s blessing I was able to return to the Bay Area and Pixar Animation Studios and work on their fourth animated feature film called, “Monsters, Inc.” However, it gets even better. You see, back in the fifties I attended Santa Barbara High School with a talented guy named, Dave. We were both in the music department because I played in both band and orchestra. Dave’s brother, Steve Doctor was captain of our football team, but that’s another story. After graduation, Dave moved back to the Midwest to attend university, marry and raise a family. His talented daughters became professional musicians but his son decided to go into the cartoon business. Yes, Dave’s son wanted to be an animator. And, that’s how I ended up working for Dave Doctor’s son on Pixar’s “Monsters, Inc.” I’m sure you’ve already guessed the name of Dave’s son, haven’t you? He’s a talented animator, writer, director… and his first name is, Pete.