Michael Jackson‘s love for the story of Quasimodo is well-documented, and he wanted to be apart of the Disney movie, Hunchback of Notre Dame.
Slash Film’s Josh Spiegel released an oral history of the Disney film.
Composer Alan Menken, who handled the music for Hunchback, shared that he met the late singer when he was looking for a singer for “A Whole New World” for the 1992 film, Aladdin.
Menken then recalled the moment MJ’s assistant randomly called him while he was staying in New York City.
“He had to [deal with] allegations about inappropriate behavior with underage kids, and the breakup with Lisa Marie Presley,” Menken recalled. “He’s looking to change the subject. And he obviously loves Disney so much. So I mentioned Hunchback. He said he’d love to come to my studio, watch the movie and talk about it. So we got in touch with Disney Animation. They said, ‘Meet with him! If he likes it…well, see what he says.’”
Michael expressed interest in producing and recording a few of the tracks.
“We got in touch with Disney,” Menken, whose catalog also includes work on The Little Mermaidand Beauty and the Beast, said. “It was like somebody dropped a hot poker into a fragile bowl with explosives. ‘Uh, we’ll get back to you about that.’”
Ultimately, Disney declined Michael Jackson’s offer to be involved in the soundtrack.
“Finally, predictably, the word came back, ‘Disney doesn’t want to do this with Michael Jackson,’” Menken said. “I go, ‘OK, could someone tell him this?’ You can hear a pin drop, no response, and nobody did [tell him]. It fell to my late manager, Scott Shukat, to tell Michael or Michael’s attorney. In retrospect, it was the right decision. [But] Quasimodo is a character…if you look at his relationships with his family and his father, I would think there’s a lot of identification there.”
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