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Howard Ashman Documentary to Stream in Late 2019

Audiences at last year’s Tribeca Film Festival watched and applauded a documentary about Howard Ashman, the lyricist for Disney hits The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, and Aladdin. Since then, Disney fans have been wondering where and when the film would be released.

Documentary director Don Hahn all but confirmed that Howard will be on Disney+, later this year, when speaking on the latest episode of Leonard Maltin’s podcast, Maltin on Movies.

We’ve been working really hard with one of the major new streaming services. Yet to be announced. It’ll be out later this year, you can probably connect the dots on that one. It’ll be a terrific international release to tell Howard’s story.

The documentary also has a new name. Originally screened as Howard, Hahn now refers to it as Simply Howard.

He told hosts Leonard Maltin and Jessie Maltin:

I love giving a voice to people who no longer have a voice, and Howard had a very powerful voice. I also knew we had a lot of footage in the archives of Howard. I had hours of tape of Howard and all this media, and no one had done a biography or a book, no one had done a film, no one had told a story.

I knew his sister and his mate Billy a little bit, and … I saw them at this animation conference called CGN that happens in Burbank every year. And I don’t know why, but I just said ‘I’m going to make a movie about Howard.’ It was like an impulse buy, how you buy the gum at the check out stand? I think I felt like I owed Howard so much in my personal career that I wouldn’t be where I was without Howard.

I also felt like it was a great story to tell. Here’s a man who is from Baltimore, Jewish, goes to school in Indiana, gay, moves to New York, has his own theatre company, ends up writing some of the most iconic Disney music ever while he’s dying of AIDS, in the heights of the AIDS crisis. That’s a story, and it’s a story I lived through and so I felt like I just had to tell it. It’s just one of those things you have to do.

The latest episode of podcast Maltin on Movies, released Friday, is an extensive interview of Hahn with Leonard Maltin and Jessie Maltin. The interview stretches back to Hahn’s beginnings as a messenger on the Disney lot, covering his careers in animation, writing, and as a documentarian.

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