Pixar Honcho Gets Early Award-Season Prize

The man the Walt Disney Co. definitely doesn’t want to let get away is reportedly kicking off what could be a very rewarding award season with a kudo from the Art Director’s Guild.

Pixar Animation’s two-time Oscar-winning director and animator John Lasseter has been tapped to receive the ADG’s honorary Contribution to Cinematic Imagery Award. Not given on an annual basis, the award recognizes individuals whose body of work in the film business has “richly enhanced the visual aspects of the movie-going experience.”

In addition to overseeing all of Pixar’s film production and projects as a creative exec, Lasseter has directed Toy Story, A Bug’s Life and Toy Story 2. He’s also slated to helm Pixar’s upcoming Cars.

Pixar is currently in the middle of renegotiating its contract with Disney. The computer-animation studio wants ownership of all future product and a bigger slice of film profits. Disney, which has all but abandoned 2D animation, has had a very lucrative time with its association with Pixar’s groundbreaking 3D CG-animated output. Pixar’s Finding Nemo was 2003’s box office champ and is quickly amassing critics prizes as the 2004 award season moves into high gear. If Nemo doesn’t win multiple Oscars, it will be a surprise to just about everyone in the biz.

The ADSG awards will be presented on Feb. 14 at the Beverly Hilton.