The Bancroft brothers are excited about three-disk combo release of Mulan and Mulan II

mulan

*“I’m an artist and did a majority of Mulan,” said Tom Bancroft (Aladdin) supervisor of animation on Mulan. “(The challenge) Eddie Murphy’s dialect… just getting his mouth to open and close very fast.”

Eddie Murphy (Tower Heist) is the voice of Mushu in Mulan.  Mulan is the tale of honor and courage, when a princess, Mulan, disguises herself as her father to save him from serving in the Imperial Army. She is accompanied by her pet dragon Mushu.

Mulan is set in China and based on a Chinese legend. The digitally mastered film is celebrating its 15th anniversary with the release of Mulan and Mulan II in a three-disk Blu-ray combo pack.

In Mulan II, Mulan and Shang (Donny Osmond) journey to a distant city to save their empire.

“We have control over everything,” said Tony Brancroft (Beauty and the Beast) about his job on Mulan’s director. “I was very blessed to have Barry Cook (Mulan)…you need two directors (in animation). My co-director was a believer (in Christianity) and I found that to be a benefit. Buddhism was and is the main belief system in China, so it had to have some element of that for her journey.”

Brothers Tom and Tony Bancroft wear their Christianity on their sleeves and includes it also in their projects and choices of projects. Darrell Rooney and Lynn Southerland directed Mulan II. The Rated G animation by Disney was the company’s 36th animation and grossed – at release in 1998 – over $300 million.

‘Big Time Rush’ Challen Cates ready for another season as Mrs. Knight

Challen Cates is Mrs. Knight in Nickelodeon's "Big Time Rush."

Challen Cates is Mrs. Knight in Nickelodeon’s “Big Time Rush.”

*In April, 2013 Nickelodeon’s #1 live-action musical-comedy “Big Time Rush” returns for a fourth season. Challen Cates, who plays Mrs. Knight the mother to hockey-playing boy band member Kendall (and younger sister Katie), spoke with me briefly about her role and the show.

“We do a table read on Wednesday or Thursday before we shoot,” said Challen about her day on the set of Nickelodeon’s “Big Time Rush.” “It’s the first time we see the script… its fun to see what we’re going to do.”

When asked if they get to adlib Cates said, “It’s funny…if it makes the director laugh he keeps it in.”

The series focuses on the misadventures of the four hockey players from Minnesota who discover themselves in Hollywood as a hot boy band. Challen’s character Mrs. Knight is affectionately referred to as Momma Knight; she is fun but always there to instill moral values to their crazy shenanigans.

“I lived in Atlanta…it wasn’t that hard to get work…in Los Angeles the pool was enormous,” she pointed out about her acting journey. “I went from booking every other week to it being really hard. That was before the internet. I still hope it gets bigger and better for me.”

Challen Cates has had a recurring role on NBC’s daytime drama “Passion,” has acted in “Desperate Housewives,” “Criminal Minds,” “CSI: New York,” “Monk” and “Missing.”

Smooth Jazz sax man Mekiel Reuben gives good vibes on new project, ‘If You Were Here Tonight’

Saxophonist Mekiek Reuben.

Saxophonist Mekiek Reuben.

*“When I first started this project I had a lot of songs in the can,” said saxophonist Mekiel Reuben about his latest album release “If You Were Here Tonight.” “David (Vasquez) created the vibe,” Reuben said of the title track. “I give David a lot of credit for creating the songs. This is my third time working with David.”

Mekiel said in preparation for his songs he learn from people and he listens to them.

“If it’s something I can use (I listen) and if it’s not I throw it away,” he said about his “process.”

This is his seventh recording project and it features the lovely vocals of Nigerian singer Mary Akpa. It also featured David on keyboards and Reuben plays the alto, tenor and soprano sax.

My favorite cuts from the “If You Were Here Tonight” include “Moondance,” because of the lead vocals of featured singer Mary Akpa; “At Seventeen,” which brought back my memories at that age; “Another Sunday,” a Smooth Jazz selection that’s great for a lazy Sunday morning; the cover of “Lovely Day,” because I love the bass which made it a funky cut; “Summer Breezin,’” another smooth selection that had the sax crying, and “I Just Wanna Be With You.”

“The project delivered what I wanted it to,” Mekiel said in closing.

Find out more about Reuben and his new project at www.MekielReuben.com.

(Columnist: Eunice Moseley is a PR/media & promotions consultant, and as well as a syndicated entertainment columnist for over 20 years – www.ThePulseofEntertainment.com.)