Today at the Austin Film Festival during a panel on Pixar (and writing), Mary Coleman, a senior development executive at the company, announced that Marti Noxon, a former writer for “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” and “Mad Men,” had joined the company on an unspecified project. This is a major development for the notoriously close-knit company, and should at least calm the jangled nerves of animation fans who were surprised and upset by a recent high-profile dismissal.
Last year, the company made waves by dismissing Brenda Chapman, a hugely admired animation vet who had previously directed “The Prince of Egypt” for DreamWorks Animation, from her very personal project “Brave.” They replaced her with story artist (and “John Carter” co-writer) Mark Andrews, first claiming that she had remained at the company in an advisory role (she was at one point part of the vaulted Pixar Brain Trust, the company’s governing creative body), but later revealing that she had left for a position at LucasFilm Animation.
The hiring of Noxon, a true creative visionary who is able to oscillate between fantastical material like ‘Buffy’ and more grounded hour-longs like “Grey’s Anatomy,” should, at least temporarily, shutter the outcry against Pixar’s detractors about the studio’s supposed glass ceiling (and put some ointment on that Brenda Chapman burn).
We had heard that Disney was really happy with Noxon’s script for last year’s grossly underrated “Fright Night” remake (developed with DreamWorks), and that she provided some much-needed 11th hour script work on “I Am Number Four,” which at the time was supposed to be the start to a “Twilight”-style YA franchise. While she’s never worked in animation before, her sensibilities fit the form quite nicely.
The project that Noxon was hired for, however, has yet to be revealed. We haven’t heard what the feature is, but we can easily see Noxon becoming a part of the Pixar fold, much like Michael Arndt, initially hired to be at the studio six months out of the year (and able to work elsewhere for the other six months), who became a full-time member of the team and the only writer on the Brain Trust.
This is very exciting news, indeed, and we’ll update you whenever we learn more.