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Roots founder and 'Tonight Show' favorite Questlove to direct Disney's live-action 'Aristocats'

Everybody wants to be cat, because a cat's the only cat who knows where it's at!

By Josh Weiss
The Aristocats (1970); Questlove

Everybody wants to be a cat...including Questlove!

The Hollywood Reporter confirmed today that the acclaimed musician known for fronting The Roots (in-house band of NBC's The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon) has been tapped to direct Disney's live-action remake of The Aristocats. It's an inspired hiring choice — one that certainly warrants a few saucers full of Crème de la Crème à la Edgar — given how the 1970 animated original is known for its toe-tapping musical numbers provided by Robert and Richard Sherman (known for Marry Poppins and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang).

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Ahmir "Questlove" Thompson — who made his directorial debut in 2021 with the Oscar-nominated documentary Summer of Soul — is also overseeing the songs and will pull triple duty as an executive producer under his Two One Five Entertainment banner. Will Gluck is an executive producer with Tarik Trotter, Shawn Gee, and Zarah Zohlman. Gluck (Peter Rabbit) and Keith Bunin (Horns) are writing the whiskery screenplay.

Released between The Jungle Book (1967) and Robin Hood (1973), The Aristocats was one of the final projects approved directly by Walt Disney prior to the founder's death in 1966. Set in Paris during the early 1910s, the film centers around a pampered cat, Duchess (Eva Gabor), and her three adorable kittens — Toulouse (Gary Dubin), Marie (Liz English), and Berlioz (Dean Clark) — who must find their way back home after they're drugged, kidnapped, and dumped in a river by their greedy butler, Edgar (Roddy Maude-Roxby).

Along the way, the feline family receives help from a lovable stray named J. Thomas O'Malley (Phil Harris). The voice cast also included the talents of Sterling Holloway, Scatman Crothers, Paul Winchell, Lord Tim Hudson, Vito Scotti, Pat Buttram, Thurl Ravenscroft, Charles Lane, George Lindsey, and Nancy Kulp.

While Disney has yet to announce an official release date for its Aristocats remake, fans of the Mouse House have plenty of remake-related content to look forward to over the next year with Peter Pan & Wendy (April 28), The Little Mermaid (May 26), and Snow White (March 22, 2024). A live-action Lilo & Stitch and a prequel to Jon Favreau's photo-realistic Lion King are also in active development.

New episodes of The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon air weeknights at 11:35 p.m. ET on NBC, and all episodes of the current season are now streaming on Peacock.