San Carlos vice mayor’s Tinseltown ride

Vice Mayor Brad Lewis had almost as many adventures producing Pixar’s new movie, “Ratatouille,” as the film’s four-legged star does in his journey from sewer-dwelling rat to French chef.

Now, after more than five years perfecting the ingredients for Pixar’s next film, Lewis is offering a sneak preview of “Ratatouille” at Pixar Studios in Emeryville on June 9. Proceeds will benefit the San Carlos Education Foundation, the San Carlos Parks and Recreation Foundation and the Riekes Center for Human Advancement. The event offers locals — who know Lewis through his work on the City Council, the Parks and Recreation Commission and with youth soccer — a peek into his moviemaking world.

Lewis clocked plenty of hours in the Pixar office, overseeing every detail on “Ratatouille,” which opens June 29. His production team also traveled to Paris to tour famous restaurants and sample the rat’s-eye view of the city (complete with tours of sewers and underground limestone caves). Lewis even interned for three days with Thomas Keller at The French Laundry in the Yountville to give the film authenticity.

“People underestimate how difficult these films are to write — to come up with a 90-minute piece of entertainment that appeals to all ages. And when it works really well, it seems simple,” Lewis said.

Lewis, a San Mateo native, got his start as an actor, singer and dancer who pioneered computer-graphic segments for the Merv Griffin Show, ESPN and MTV. He also spent a year working as a dancing monster on “Sesame Street” before eventually taking a job at PDI/Dreamworks in the late 1980s, where he produced “Antz” in 1998.

Despite his star appeal, Lewis is best known in San Carlos for his contributions to the community.

“He and his wife, Regina, are such civic-minded people, and they care so much forSan Carlos,” said April Carlson, director of the San Carlos Education Foundation, which raises money to support San Carlos School District programs, including physical education and music.

Parks and Recreation Director Barry Weiss is thankful that some of the funds will go toward the city’s newly minted parks foundation.

“Brad is a real quality family man,” Weiss said. “He sees the greater good, and this is one way he can help.”

“Ratatouille” is Pixar’s ninth film. It follows on the successes of 2006’s “Cars” and 2005’s “The Incredibles,” which won an Oscar for Best Animated Feature and earned director Brad Bird, who also directed “Ratatouille,” a nomination for best screenplay.

bwinegarner@examiner.com

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