News Archive July 2004
Saturday July 31,
Travel Channel to air "Fan's
Guide: Walt Disney World" in August
The Travel Channel will offer a backstage
tour of the most thrilling Walt Disney World attractions,
the shortest lines, the best shopping and more in a special
titled "Fan's Guide: Walt Disney World," airing on
Aug. 1 and 5 at 9 p.m. and on Aug. 2 and 6 at midnight.
The special is one of many the Travel Channel has taped at
the resort in the past two years, including
"Undiscovered Walt Disney World," "Walt
Disney World's Ultimate Ten" and "Secrets of
Disney's Animal Kingdom.
enjoying Disney bosses' 'comeuppance'
Director Michael Moore is laughing in
the face of Disney bosses, after his controversial film
Fahrenheit 9/11 went on to reap more cash then any of the
company's movies this year.
The film, which takes a scathing look at US President George W
Bush and the war on Iraq, recently became the first ever
documentary to cross the $100m (€83m) mark.
And while Moore is elated with the success, he remains aware
of the company's move to block subsidiary MIRAMAX from
distributing the film - and its recent string of flop films.
He says: "I don't wanna say too much bad about Disney
because the film has now made more money than any Disney film
"Most people go to work and you've gotta put up with a
lot of c**p and you get screwed every now and then, and you
never see the boss man ever get his comeuppance. To have that
happen, in this case with me, it is enjoyable."
Who shot Goofy? It's a mystery
The scenario was almost laughable – a
life-sized, stuffed Goofy laid out on a hospital gurney for a
brain X-ray. The medical mystery? Was the Disney cartoon dog
the unintended victim of a drive-by shooting in San Diego a
few years ago?
The X-ray clearly showed a bullet, probably a
.22-caliber, lodged in Goofy's cranial stuffing. A story and
photo were published July 29 on the front page of The
Dominion Post, the primary newspaper in New Zealand's
capital city of Wellington. Disney is big in New Zealand. This
Goofy is part of a huge private collection that once belonged
to a San Diego man. It's on exhibit there Aug. 4-24 in
celebration of Mickey Mouse's 75th anniversary.
Goofy was one of several thousand Disney
items dating from 1920s into the 1990s collected by City
Heights postal worker Sam Aguirre. After he died two years
ago, his widow and children sought a buyer for the whole
collection. New Zealand Disney enthusiast Andrew McClennan
flew to San Diego and bought it. When McClennan first visited
the Aguirres' home, he said he found nearly every room packed
with memorabilia. "The Aguirres lived 'inside' their
collection," McClennan says. He learned about the
family's suspicion that Goofy had taken a bullet while
watching a TV interview with them.
Little is known of the drive-by shooting
except that the Aguirres found a bullet hole in their laundry
room window. They never located the bullet, but Goofy was
opposite the glass. Before putting him on exhibit, McClennan
decided to have Goofy checked out, and, indeed, testing
revealed a bullet in the thick foam stuffing of his head.
Goofy's new owner isn't asking doctors to
extract the slug – after all, it adds to the item's
mystique. One mystery still remains, though:
Who shot Goofy?
Friday July 30,
Lawyer: Disney wants Tigger costume
changed for molestation trial
Walt Disney World wants to protect the
innocent image of Tigger during an upcoming sexual
molestation trial of an employee dressed as the character,
and has asked that the orange striped costume be changed for
the case, an attorney said.
Michael Chartrand was charged with
molesting a 13-year-old girl in February while he was
dressed as Tigger at Disney World's Toon Town. The trial is
scheduled to begin Monday.
A Disney lawyer suggested that the orange
Tigger costume be dyed black or white and its ears be
removed, said Chartrand's attorney, Jeffrey S. Kaufman Jr.
"Disney doesn't want this costume out
there," Kaufman said. "They want to protect their
copyright. They want to take off everything that would make
it look like Tigger."
A Disney spokeswoman confirmed that
attorneys expressed concern to Kaufman and prosecutors about
using the Tigger costume at trial. But she wouldn't comment
about suggestions of coloring the costume or taking off its
"Our hope is that the use of our
costume will be handled with appropriate sensitivity so as
to preserve the dreams and magic for our younger guests as
much as possible," Jacquee Polak said.
Kaufman, who has also played Tigger at
Disney and works part-time as a costumed character at the
theme park, said he refused to let the costume be
"bastardized" because an altered Tigger suit could
make his client look demonic or freakish.
Kaufman said he expects jurors to handle
the costume, so they can see how difficult it would be to
grope a young girl in the bulky outfit.
"Village" aims to scare
Four major movies enter a crowded market
on Friday led by director M. Night Shyamalan's mystery
"The Village" which looks to be the weekend's box
office champ despite a rash of mostly scary reviews.
"The Village" from The Walt
Disney Co. debuts in 3,730 theaters, or 863 more than its
next closest rival, Denzel Washington thriller "The
Manchurian Candidate" in 2,867 venues, according to box
office tracker Exhibitor Relations Inc.
The theater count, plus Shyamalan's strong
following and box office history, give "Village"
an edge over Oscar-winner Washington's obvious ability to
Comedy "Harold & Kumar Go to
White Castle" is in 2,135 theaters and family film
"Thunderbirds" is in 2,057 theaters.
After a rough year at box offices, Disney
looks for a hit from Shyamalan, who enjoys a strong
following among the young men who make up the core audience
of movie-goers. Fortunately for Disney, those audiences
rarely listen to critics.
"It's tedious instead of provocative
and so unconvincing as to be preposterous," wrote the
Los Angeles Times in one of several negative reviews the
The Seattle Times called it
"affecting but uneven," while filmcritic.com said
"generally excellent filmmaking and clever plot twists
redeem things on the whole."
But Shyamalan is, undoubtedly, successful
at the box office. "The Sixth Sense" hauled in
$294 million at U.S. and Canadian box offices and 2002's
"Signs" racked up $228 million.
"If you had to categorize ("The
Village"), you could say it is a suspenseful, period
love story," he told reporters in a recent interview.
In the film, an isolated farming utopia in
Pennsylvania has cut itself off from contact with the
outside world and made a deal with creatures living in the
surrounding woods: you don't bother us, and we won't bug
But when Lucius (Joaquin Phoenix) tests
this rule, the creatures begin an assault on the town. He,
his young lover, Ivy (Bryce Dallas Howard) and all the
townsfolk are in peril.
ESPN sets up shop at Disney
A little more than a year ago, hardly
anyone outside the television business knew Al Jaffe's
name. Not anymore.At least 36 sports celebrities,
including Rip Hamilton, Joe Namath, Michael Irvin and
Orlando Magic top pick Dwight Howard.
Thanks to the first season of ESPN's Dream Job, the
man responsible for hiring SportsCenter anchors
walked into the spotlight when he served as an on-air
judge for the show. Jaffe said he'll be in town this
weekend to help hold an open casting call for the second
season of Dream Job, starting at 9 a.m. today.
"It's been neat," said Jaffe, who's been with
ESPN since 1987. "Before the show started, I told my
wife I'd probably hear from a lot of old people I haven't
talked to for a while. She said, 'Al, all your friends are
old. They'll all be asleep when the show's on.'
"Sure enough, one of the first e-mails I got was from
my college roommate, who said he was asleep but that his
son told him the guy on the show looked really familiar.
It's been fun overall."
The Dream Job auditions comprise just a small part
of ESPN The Weekend, a grand celebration of sports fans
and the network's 25th anniversary at Disney's MGM
Studios. Aside from the theme park's normal attractions,
fans paying the standard admission price ($55 for a
one-day resident pass, though season passes will work as
well) also will see:
Two dozen ESPN personalities, including Dan Patrick,
Stuart Scott and Linda Cohn.
A number of interactive sports-themed games and
challenges, such as an actual SportsCenter desk
that fans can sit behind for photo opportunities.
Interactive forums to ask questions of the sports
celebrities in attendance, as well as hourly parades
featuring some of those celebrities.
And a chance to watch a host of live ESPN programming
produced on-site such as Baseball Tonight, and --
yes -- SportsCenter.
Surprisingly, all of this came together rather quickly.
Ken Potrock, senior vice president for Walt Disney World
Marketing, said the process has been rolling for only
about four months, setting a frenetic pace. That wasn't
the case of drawing in sports celebrities, though.
"You'd be surprised how easy it was to get those
athletes here," Potrock said. "We've worked
with them in the past, they love Disney World and most
of them are coming with their families, so it all works
out well for everyone."
Things may not look quite so rosy for most Dream Job
contestants, though. In fact, both Jaffe and Carol
Silver, co-creator of the show, said very few people
make it to New York for the final cut.
"People are showing up much more serious about this
than last year," Silver said. "Last year, we
had Hooters girls come in, random city people wandering
the streets. We even had a 73-year-old guy who looked
like Yogi Berra. Now people have seen the show and know
a little more what we want."
Here's what you can expect if you think you have what it
takes to make it all the way to SportsCenter:
First, trying out for the show is free. Just show up at
the production window at the front of the theme park and
you'll be escorted to the proper place. Second, you
can't have had more than six months of professional
on-air experience on either TV or radio.
Once you're there, you'll take a tough sports knowledge
test. Pass that and it's time to join a group of 10 or
so to stand in front of recruiters, such as Jaffe or
Silver, and discuss current sports events in rapid-fire
succession. This is where your personality comes into
Maybe one of 10 who pass the initial sports test gets a
call to return the next day, when more tests await. It's
all designed to make sure whoever wins has what it takes
"I don't want another 40-regular," Jaffe said.
"I want someone who stands out with substance.
Shtick over substance might get you to another round,
but it won't get you on the show."
In other words, living out your Dream won't be easy, but
you can still enjoy the rest of the show.
3-point play: Best of the Rest
Boxing: Tyson vs. Williams, 9 p.m., Pay-per-view. The
intrigue in this bout hardly centers around watching
Mike Tyson in the ring. Heck, we saw his punching-bag
impression two years ago against Lennox Lewis. No, two
things stand out as curiosities worth watching: the
pre-fight presentation (the Tyson-Lewis fight had
security personnel cutting the ring diagonally) and any
post-fight interview with Tyson (in 2002, he had
malapropisms aplenty). By the way, Danny Williams (31-3)
hails from London and owns the WBU International
heavyweight crown. Showtime's Steve Albert and Al
Bernstein will call the fight, and roving reporter Jim
Gray will add his normal insanity to a show that costs
$44.99 to order.
Men's basketball: U.S. Olympic team vs. Puerto Rico, 1
p.m., ESPN. Jacksonville gets some additional practice
hosting an event of international interest when Team USA
begins its Olympics warm-up schedule. Tim Duncan, LeBron
James, Allen Iverson and company take on mighty Puerto
Rico, with Jim Durham and Bill Walton on hand to call
the action. After this game, the team heads overseas to
take on Italy, Germany, Serbia and Turkey (twice) before
settling in Athens to run for a fourth straight gold
Golf: Battle at the Bridges, 7-8 p.m., ESPN2; 8
p.m.-completion, ABC (WFTV-Ch. 9). The sixth installment
of live, prime-time golf comes your way again from San
Diego, where no less than five ABC commentators will
keep viewers informed of the high-stakes 2-on-2 matchup.
This year, Tiger Woods teams with long-driving Hank
Kuehne against Phil Mickelson and John Daly. Aside from
the main purse, the match also features four holes worth
$300,000 to the player smacking the longest drive that
stays in the fairway. When asked how he felt about
Kuehne taking over his reign as long-driving champ last
year, Daly told reporters, "I've played with Hank a
lot, but we don't really pay attention to how long we
hit it. The game of golf, what matters is your
score." Right. That's sort of like saying people
noticed Dennis Rodman because of his great defense and
Today, NBC will announce the names of 10 people from the
area who will comprise a 22-person field hoping to make
their mark in competitive TV viewing. (Yes, there is
such a thing.) Kevin Keaveney, whose previous record of
46 hours, 30 minutes and 50 seconds was broken, will be
among the people trying to set a new standard in the
Guinness Book of World Records. The contest will take
place at Universal Orlando, starting with the Opening
Ceremonies and continuing with NBC's Olympic coverage.
Talk about an Olympic feat.
Terry Bowden, who hosts an afternoon show on 1080 AM
(ESPN Radio) will leave his role on ABC's college
football studio show to call games as part of a
three-man booth with Mike Tirico and Tim Brant.
"Terry's very enthusiastic about this," said
Mike Pearl, executive producer of ABC Sports. "He
had a lot to say, and you can't always get all that in
while you're showing highlights. This should give him a
better chance to do that." ABC brings in former
Green Bay Packers offensive tackle Aaron Taylor to take
Bowden's spot alongside John Saunders and Craig James.
The network also hired Jamal Anderson, Mike Golic and
Dan Reeves to work as game analysts from time to time.
Now that most of the NFL training camps have opened,
ESPN returns with the 12th season of Monday Night
Countdown, starting at 10 p.m. Monday. The usual
suspects, such as Stuart Scott, Michael Irvin and Tom
Jackson, all come back to talk football and provide
segments, such as "Jacked Up!" when Jackson
picks his five biggest hits of the weekend. Of course,
that won't happen until games actually start. Unless
he's talking about music.
And speaking of music, running classic sports highlights
during live performances from bands equals either a talk
show or a drippy time-filler like "One Shining
Moment" that CBS runs after every NCAA Final Four
title game, not current sports news. Got that, SportsCenter?
The way that show's going, we'll see a studio audience
Lance Armstrong's sixth straight Tour de France victory
propelled Outdoor Life Network to its best-ever ratings.
The Tour's live coverage of the final day brought OLN a
1.63 rating, and overall, live coverage rose from 0.50
last year to 0.62 this year.
NBC (WESH-Ch. 2) takes over coverage of the U.S. Senior
Open from 3 to 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, sending its
top crew (Dan Hicks and Johnny Miller will anchor
coverage) to St. Louis to see if Bruce Lietzke can
defend his crown. . . . If you're not into old-school
golf, CBS (WKMG-Ch. 6) has Tiger Woods, Vijay Singh,
John Daly and other stars playing at the PGA Tour Buick
Open, also 3-6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Bill Macatee
and Lanny Wadkins anchor CBS' telecast.
As if DirecTV's NFL Sunday Ticket package weren't enough
of a must-have for the NFL fan, the satellite provider
plans to offer 100 games this season in high-definition,
four times the amount of HD games shown last season.
And finally, in case you haven't caught Freddy Adu fever
yet, ABC will have the 15-year-old MLS phenom and Landon
Donovan wearing wireless microphones during the MLS
All-Star Game at 2 p.m. Saturday (WFTV-Ch. 9). No
mention of an extravagant halftime show, so apparently
the league doesn't want to cut the game time to preserve
a full halftime, as it did in 2002.
More Than 30 Sports Stars and Former
Olympians to Join ESPN Personalities for ESPN's 25th
Celebration at Disney-MGM Studios
ESPN The Weekend -- ESPN's 25th
anniversary celebration at Disney-MGM Studios at Walt Disney
World Resort in Lake Buena Vista, Fla., July 31 and Aug. 1
-- will give fans of all sports the opportunity to see many
of their favorite athletes as more than 30 professional
sports stars and former Olympians are scheduled to appear,
along with more than 25 ESPN personalities.
The list of Hall of Famers, sports legends
and current stars will feature athletes and coaches from
Major League Baseball, the NBA, NFL, NHL, the Olympics and
the world of action sports. In all, ESPN The Weekend will
mark the largest collection of sports stars ever assembled
at one time at the Walt Disney World theme parks. Those
scheduled to appear include: Scotty Bowman, Grant Fuhr,
Richard "Rip" Hamilton, Michael Irvin, Bruce
Jenner, Mike Metzger, Joe Namath, Dave Stewart, Kerri Strug,
Lawrence Taylor, Joe Theismann, James Worthy and others.
Over the two days, ESPN will present live
telecasts (spaced through morning, afternoon and evening)
from a set in front of the Disney-MGM Studios Mickey's
Sorcerer's Hat. On-site programs include a special
season-preview edition of College GameDay and live,
on-site telecasts of Baseball Tonight (twice daily)
as well as SportsCenter and ESPNEWS segments. Park
guests can watch the programs live as well as via two large
ESPN personalities scheduled to appear
include: SportsCenter anchors Linda Cohn, Dana
Jacobson, Dan Patrick, Stuart Scott, Trey Wingo and newcomer
Mike Hall, as well as the broadcast teams from Baseball
Tonight, Cold Pizza, College GameDay and Fuera
de Juego on ESPN Deportes.
In addition to the ESPN broadcasts, sports
celebrities and ESPN personalities will make appearances
throughout Disney-MGM Studios during this first-of-its-kind
event. ESPN The Weekend will include star motorcades and
conversations with network personalities and athletes;
sports shows in the ESPN Theater featuring ESPN commentators
and athletes; a visit from ESPN The Truck; a special
sports edition of the game show attraction "Who Wants
To Be A Millionaire-Play It!; the ESPN Sports Zone
interactive area; a SportsCenter and play-by-play
"role play" area; and an exclusive ESPN The
Commercials video of blunders and thrills.
ESPN's reality series Dream Job kicks
off ESPN The Weekend with an open casting call for its
second and third seasons on Friday, July 30, at Disney-MGM
Studios. The weekend will culminate with a final tribute to
the past 25 years in sports orchestrated to a Disney
pyrotechnics show exploding over the park's 12-story
Mickey's Sorcerer's Hat icon.
Sports celebrities scheduled to appear
include (not all personalities will appear both days):
Ottis Anderson -- Former NFL running
back (New York Giants)
Mack Brown -- Current college head coach
(University of Texas)
Harry Carson -- Former NFL linebacker (New York
Eric Dickerson -- NFL Hall of Fame running back
(Los Angeles Rams, Indianapolis Colts), former ABC
Sports Monday Night Football sideline reporter
Ralph Friedgen -- Current college head coach
(University of Maryland)
Darrell Green -- Former NFL defensive back
Desmond Howard -- Former NFL wide receiver (Detroit
Michael Irvin -- Former NFL wide receiver (Dallas
Jim Kelly -- Former NFL quarterback (Buffalo Bills)
Willie Lanier -- NFL Hall of Fame linebacker
(Kansas City Chiefs)
Karl Mecklenburg -- Former NFL defensive lineman
Joe Namath -- NFL Hall of Fame quarterback (NY
Nick Saban -- Current college head coach (Louisiana
Lawrence Taylor -- NFL Hall of Fame linebacker (NY
Joe Theismann -- Former NFL quarterback (Washington
Gary Carter -- Former MLB catcher
(NY Mets, Montreal Expos)
Jim Morris -- Former MLB pitcher (Tampa Bay Devil
Rays), real-life story behind Walt Disney Pictures The
Dave Stewart -- Former MLB pitcher (Oakland A's)
Greg Anthony -- Former NBA player
(NY Knicks, Portland Trailblazers), ESPN NBA analyst
Rick Barry -- NBA Hall of Fame player (Golden State
Caron Butler -- Current NBA player (Los Angeles
Richard "Rip" Hamilton -- Current NBA
player (Detroit Pistons)
James Worthy -- NBA Hall of Fame player (Los
Scotty Bowman -- Former NHL coach
(St. Louis Blues, Montreal Canadiens, Pittsburgh Penguins,
Detroit Red Wings)
Grant Fuhr -- Hall of Fame NHL player (Edmonton
Ken Morrow -- Former NHL player/member of 1980 U.S.
Olympic Hockey Team
Craig Patrick -- Former NHL player/assistant coach
of 1980 U.S. Olympic Hockey Team
John Tortorella -- Current NHL coach (Tampa Bay
Bonnie Blair -- Former U.S. Speed
Dorothy Hamill -- Former U.S. Figure Skater
Dan Jansen -- Former U.S. Speed Skater
Bruce Jenner -- Former U.S. Decathlete
Mary Lou Retton -- Former U.S. Gymnast
Kerri Strug -- Former U.S. Gymnast
Mike Metzger -- X Games gold
ESPN personalities scheduled to appear
include (not all personalities will appear both days):
Linda Cohn -- SportsCenter
Dana Jacobson -- SportsCenter
Dan Patrick -- SportsCenter
Stuart Scott -- SportsCenter
Trey Wingo -- SportsCenter
Peter Gammons -- Baseball Tonight
John Kruk -- Baseball Tonight
Karl Ravech -- Baseball Tonight
Harold Reynolds -- Baseball Tonight
Rob Dibble -- ESPN Radio / Baseball Tonight
Lee Corso -- College GameDay
Chris Fowler -- College GameDay
Kirk Herbstreit -- College GameDay
Luis Omar Tapia -- Feura de Juego
Diego Balado -- Feura de Juego
Randy Alvarez -- Feura de Juego
Carlos Hermosillo -- Feura de Juego
Thea Andrews -- Cold Pizza
Jay Crawford -- Cold Pizza
Kit Hoover -- Cold Pizza
Mike Hall -- Dream Job winner, SportsCenter
Aaron Levine -- Dream Job Season One
Maggie Haskins -- Dream Job Season One
Sal Paolantonio -- NFL reporter
Howie Schwab -- Coordinating Producer, Studio
Production, Stump The Schwab
Disney pulls plug on Duluth films
Disney says you can wish upon a star, you
just can’t watch movies under them.
Duluth officials learned this the hard way when they tried
to order a copy of “Finding Nemo” for their popular
Flicks on the Bricks outdoor family film series.
Duluth’s Downtown Manager, Alisa Williams, called Swank
Motion Pictures, Inc., a St. Louis-based company that
distributes non-theatrical movies for public showings.
The company had advertised “Finding Nemo” in its
catalog, but informed Williams Disney corporate bigwigs
recently decided they’d no longer allow their animated
films to be shown outside.
“I guess their reasoning is it would take
away from anyone going to the theater and the experience
of watching the movie,” Williams said. “I kind of
think it’s crazy.”
Williams said she’s shown animated Disney movies at
Flicks on the Bricks every year since the film festival
debuted in 2001. The kicker, Williams said, is that Disney
will let her show the studio’s live-action films, like
“Miracle,” slated to be shown next week.
The new regulation means two scheduled Flicks on the
Bricks movies will be changed — instead of watching
“Nemo” on Aug. 6, families will get “Shrek,” and
instead of “Monsters, Inc.” on Oct. 23, viewers can
watch the Don Knotts film “The Ghost and Mr. Chicken.”
Williams said she thinks kids will be pleased with the
substitute offerings, but said it’s a shame youngsters
can no longer watch Disney flicks under the stars.
“They just take you back into the past a
little bit. There’s no drive-ins anymore, and children
have never had that,” she said.
A Disney spokeswoman, reached by phone
Thursday, said, “In regards to releasing our films, we
do not comment on our overall business plan or
Officials with Swank Motion Pictures Inc.,
did not return phone calls by press time. As for Williams,
the decision may have cost the company a loyal customer.
“In the future, I’ll probably think
twice before ordering another Disney movie,” she said.
Disney to open August
program at Flyer
A Disney Spectacular, opening on Aug. 4 at
7:30 p.m. with additional performances on Aug. 5 and 6 at
10:30 a.m. is only one of the many great shows appearing
in the Dennis Flyer Theatre at Camden County College,
Blackwood during the first week of August.
Enjoy a great musical review loaded with songs from most
of your favorite Disney movies both new and old.
Tickets for A Disney Spectacular are $8 for
the evening performance and $6 for daytime.
On Aug. 5 Summer Stage will present Dance Explosion. This
evening of dance will showcase a wide range of dance
styles and new choreography.
Choreographer, Suzi Waldie, has worked intensely with a
group of dancers sharing her Broadway back round and years
of professional choreography. Tickets are $6.
Stephen Spielberg beware because the next award-winning
film artists will premier their work on Aug. 6 at 7:30
p.m. Two six-week programs under the direction of Becky
Horvath, graduate of the N.Y.U. Tisch School of Film, will
showcase their final film projects. Tickets are $5.
Then the Summer Stage season comes to an
end with the Harmony Show Choir Bon Voyage Concert on Aug.
7 at 7:30 p.m. South Jersey's premier show choir will give
a sneak peek at the show they have put together to wow the
audiences in Tennessee. Tickets are $10.
All of the Summer Stage shows are presented
in the Dennis Flyer Theatre.
Tickets for all of these events can be
purchased on line at www.mainstage.org/summerstageschedule.html
or by calling Mainstage Center for the Arts at (856)
Animation Niche's Overdrawn
DreamWorks set to spin off its animation studio and
promising to ramp up its computer-rendered production, it's
going to get crowded at the pixilated multiplex soon. Rick
Munarriz takes a closer look at DreamWorks, Disney, and
Pixar, and sees the potential for great rewards -- as well
as perilous pitfalls.
If DreamWorks has its way, it won't be
just Shrek fans seeing a little green later this
year. With Shrek 2 lapping Pixar's
Finding Nemo to become the highest-grossing
animated feature film of all time this summer, the
announcement of DreamWorks Animation to go public couldn't
have come at a better time.
On the surface, it seems like a can't-miss
proposition. When rival Pixar went public in 1995, just as Toy
Story was making its holiday season debut, it commanded
a $1.5 billion market cap, Investors bid up the shares
despite the fact that Pixar was a relatively unproven studio
and partner Disney had it tied to a
Machiavellian pact that found Pixar surrendering the lion's
share of the profits as well as the characters it created.
Now consider DreamWorks Animation. Not
only does it have the most productive franchise in
theatrical animation history under its belt before tapping
Wall Street for greenery, it owns it all -- down to the last
slime-covered toadstool. While it is shackled to its parent
company as a distribution partner through 2010, it still
stands to reap 100% of the profitable fruit of its laborious
harvest while retaining complete creative and licensing
control of its rendered releases. That's huge, especially
when you have a hit on your thick, grubby ogre hands.
While Pixar has been challenged to produce
a new flick every year, DreamWorks has the pipeline stocked
with enough productions to release two a year. That's not
just rhetoric. Even as Shrek 2 continues to play at
a movie theater near you, its fishy-fueled Shark Tale
is now just months away from splitting the celluloid
And, as if to paint market leader
Pixar as an industry slacker, DreamWorks is also putting out
a prime-time animated TV series with Father of the
Pride debuting this fall on General Electric'
With the company looking to raise $650
million, assuming that the firm is ultimately valued in
the ballpark of $3 billion, it might appear to be a
compelling value if one didn't know any better. Pixar is
nearly a $4 billion company today, but it will be splitting
profits with Disney through the end of next year, and all of
its handiwork up to that point will still have Disney
howling out "mine" like a flock of hungry
So even though I ran -- I ran so far away
-- I couldn't get away from the financials.
While Pixar earned $124.8
million last year on $262.5 million in revenues last year,
DreamWorks Animation managed to lose $160 million on $167.9
in operating revenue. While Pixar has been consistently
profitable (with fat margins to match), DreamWorks hasn't
turned a profit since it milked the last of its Shrek
juice back in 2001.
Naturally, this will all change as the
money from the popular Shrek sequel starts
trickling in. It's not just the global box-office receipts.
In November, Shrek 2 will hit the home video and
DVD market. Pixar's last two releases, as well as the
original Shrek, moved more than 25 million copies
apiece, and this one should shatter those milestones.
It's obviously fair to say that animation
has been taken too kindly in the retail space. Even
DreamWorks' five hand-drawn releases, averaging a rather
ordinary $72 million at the multiplex, still managed to sell
a cumulative 44 million units in the home video and DVD
Once you start tacking on broadcasting
rights to the lucrative licensing rights that come from rich
characterizations, then you begin to realize how a pure
play in animation can truly rock. If you like Pixar's
numbers now, just imagine how good they'll look in a couple
of years when it doesn't have to share the pie. But in
hyping up the prospects for DreamWorks Animation, it seems
as if the numbers keep getting in the way.
Pixar has gone through the cyclical lulls
between releases, yet it has always managed to produce
healthy income statements. Its hefty net margins have kept
the company afloat through thick and thin. So why did
DreamWorks Animation report a loss that was almost as wide
as the company's top line last year, and is there any hope
that it will ever become the lean, green money-printing
machine that is Pixar?
The balance sheet isn't very encouraging.
The amount of debt that has been allocated to the company by
its parent over the past two years has more than doubled
from $168 million to $380 million. Those saddles wear heavy,
especially given the bottom-heavy balance sheet that finds
the company coming to market with negative book value before
the offering's proceeds trickle in.
Pixar's consistency, efficiency, and
potential earned the stock props, but DreamWorks has a long
way to go if it wants to get there.
Some investors might also grimace at the
diluted voting power behind the class of shares being
offered by DreamWorks Animation. The insiders will retain
Class B stock that carries 15 times the voting power of the
freshly minted shares. That doesn't bother me as much as
knowing that Apple's Steve Jobs owns a
controlling stake in Pixar, so it's not as if the
shareholders have any material say in that company either.
Then again, if you know DreamWorks Animation CEO Jeffrey
Katzenberg, then you don't want to tinker with his
Katz and dogs
Katzenberg led Disney's studio through the rebirth
of its feature animation division in the 1990s. Pumping out
classics like Beauty & the Beast, Aladdin,
and The Lion King, he wanted more and felt cheated
when he was passed over for the vacant president position by
CEO Michael Eisner.
He left the company, helped launch
DreamWorks, and has been sparring with Eisner ever since.
Katzenberg sued Disney to claim his share of the royalties
during the animation studio's gravy days -- and won.
Katzenberg has also taken his battle with Eisner to the big
screen. DreamWorks' releases Antz and the upcoming Shark
Tale are suspiciously similar in subject matter to
Disney-distributed Pixar flicks. Watch Shrek, and
you will fill up a laundry list of salvos flung toward
Disney and Eisner.
Yet success is the ultimate revenge.
That's why it has to make Katzenberg's pride swell to see
his company ready to take the public markets by storm just
as Disney is backpedaling out of animated supremacy.
There will be computer-rendered collateral
in this animation war. My biggest concern is the one that no
one sees yet. The same thing that all but killed traditional
hand-drawn animation -- Disney's reckless disregard of the
standards of excellence -- is threatening to nip
computer-rendered features short as well.
There are some who argue that the days of
ink and paint just sauntered toward extinction, but I firmly
believe that it was Disney's decision to fill up the
distribution channels with substandard direct-to-video
releases that sullied the Disney brand as well as the
Computer-generated features would have
been unlikely to create this kind of buzz if Pixar had never
existed -- or if Pixar had chosen to color by hand instead
of by microchip. Pixar puts out a great product.
Period. Delivered on an Etch-a-Sketch, it would still blow
the public away.
But now that Disney is in John Derek mode
-- by teaming up with smaller studios to replace the
computer animation void that will be left behind when Pixar
moves out come 2006 -- and DreamWorks Animation is bent on
pumping out two new features annually, you're going to see
quite a bit of junk being put out. It will be a lot like
Jessica Simpson. Breathtakingly gorgeous on the outside. Disappointingly
hollow on the inside.
Yes, there will be hits -- some of them
huge -- but it will be the misses that will ultimately scare
away the public from automatically lining up for new
releases based on the format alone. That's significant
because the average cost of marketing a movie has nearly
tripled to $39 million over the past 10 years. That
raises the bar on what it takes to succeed, and it should be
even more worrisome if the format is about to suffer from
`Nemo Fest' Held Today
When it comes to finding Nemo, Lakeland is
the first place to look.
"Disney/Pixar's Finding Nemo," a live ice
production scheduled to tour the world, will make its
premiere Sept. 3-4 at The Lakeland Center. The facility is
celebrating the production by holding a "Nemo
Fest" today as tickets for the Disney on Ice spectacle
go on sale.
The kids party takes place from 5 to 7 p.m. and will include
a search for prizes hidden in 500 pounds of sand, as well as
a coloring contest, balloons, an aquarium and chances to win
tickets. Erica Smith, marketing director for The Lakeland
Center, says artist Jim Richardson constructed a 5-ton sand
sculpture in The Lakeland Center's lobby especially for the
Preparations for the Disney on Ice tour, on the other hand,
will be taking place behind closed doors at The Lakeland
Center leading up to the premiere performance. Smith says in
recent years Disney has used the facility as a staging point
while putting together its ice skating productions.
"Lakeland is the very first area and market ever to see
a Disney on Ice production, and then it goes on tour to all
the other areas throughout the United States," Smith
says. "We get a new show every year because Disney uses
The Lakeland Center as their production site. Many arenas
are seeing shows we already saw three or four years ago.
We're probably the only building that sees new shows every
Amid Questions, Gruden Hopeful As
Training Camp Opens
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers report to training
camp today facing a situation the franchise hasn't faced
since 1996.The development of the offensive line,
with free agent additions of Steussie, Derrick Deese, Matt
Stinchcomb and Matt O'Dwyer.
They are trying to rebound from a losing season.
The last time the Bucs finished below .500 (6-10 in 1996),
they rebounded the next season in Tony Dungy's second year
to finish 10-6 and make the playoffs.
Today, the Bucs report for their third training camp under
head coach Jon Gruden, whose club finished 7-9 last season
after winning the Super Bowl the year before.
As they have done the past two years, the Bucs will be
housed at Celebration Hotel in downtown Celebration and will
hold daily practices at Disney's Wide World of Sports
through Aug. 18.
The first workouts will be Saturday at 8:30 a.m. and 2:45
It's a team with some uncertainties. There are several new
faces in camp and some old familiar faces are gone.
Among the departed are defensive tackle Warren Sapp, strong
safety John Lynch and wide receiver Keyshawn Johnson.
The newcomers include running back Charlie Garner, wide
receiver Joey Galloway and tackle Todd Steussie.
One of the biggest questions facing the Bucs at the moment
is whether wide receiver Keenan McCardell will report to
camp. Although he still has two years left on his contract,
McCardell wants to renegotiate and has threatened to hold
out. He did not participate in any of the Bucs' summer
One thing is certain. The Bucs are a much older team. They
have 32 players with at least seven years of NFL experience
and 18 players who are 30 or older.
Four years ago, under Dungy, they reported to camp with just
10 seven-year veterans and four 30year-olds.
This will also be the Bucs' first training camp with new
general manager Bruce Allen in charge.
The McCardell issue aside, Gruden said at last month's
mini-camp that he expects his team to be ready for camp.
"They'll be prepared as long as they take advantage of
the hot weather," he said. "You've got to get
yourself acclimated to the heat down here, but mentally, I
think these guys are ready to go."
For some of the veterans, training camp will be a transition
time during which to learn Gruden's offense, especially for
Garner and Galloway. Gruden said the two will add punch to
"Galloway gets down the field in a hurry," he
said. "Garner is what he is. He's one of the most
productive backs in the last five years, rushing and
Other significant issues to watch include:
The health of fullback Mike Alstott (neck) and wide
receiver Joe Jurevicius (knee).
The development of safeties Jermaine Phillips and Dwight
Smith after the departure of Lynch.
The switch of Anthony McFarland from nose tackle to
defensive tackle to fill the spot left by the free agency
departure of Sapp.
The competition for the No. 2 quarterback job between
veteran Brian Griese and second-year pro Chris Simms.
Disney Union Contract Vote Set
At least one group is
critical of company proposals on health insurance, pensions.
Thousands of Walt Disney World employees will vote
next week on a new union contract after months of
negotiations that failed once before to produce an
However, a union leader acknowledged that negotiations
likely will continue even if union members vote against the
Disney and the Service Trades Council -- a group that
negotiates for about 20,000 workers from six individual
local unions -- head into the latest round of negotiations
with at least one union critical of company proposals on
issues such as health insurance and pensions.
The unions represent a wide range of employees, including
characters, food and beverage workers, housekeepers, stage
technicians, bus drivers and lifeguards.
(Disney, with a Polk work force of about 5,000 is the
county's secondlargest private employer.)
Disney's existing three-year contract was extended after the
two sides failed to reach an agreement before the contract's
original expiration date of May 1. The latest union vote is
scheduled for Aug. 6.
Joe Condo, president of the Service Trades Council, said he
expects to continue discussing economic issues with Disney
until at least mid-August.
The majority of noneconomic issues, such as work rules and
changes to grievance procedures, have already been settled,
Condo said. Disney is expected to make its first offers on
wages and some other economic issues next week, he said.
"This vote is so people can understand where we are
with noneconomic items and update them on where we are with
the first week of negotiations for economic issues," he
There has never been a strike at Disney.
Jerry Montgomery, a senior vice president for Disney who is
involved in the negotiations, said it's too soon to comment
on the negotiations.
"There's still a lot of work to do before we could
comment," Montgomery said.
The Service Trades Council represents The International
Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, Local 631; United
Food and Commercial Workers, Local 1625; Hotel Employees and
Restaurant Employees International Union, Locals 737 and
362; Teamsters, Local 385; and Transportation Communications
International Union, Local 1908.
Comments posted on two union Web sites reflect frustration
with some of the company's proposals so far.
Disney wants union workers to pay the same weekly costs for
health insurance as nonunion workers and executives pay,
Local 362 of the Hotel Employees and Restaurant Employees
union, or HERE, said on its site. The United Food and
Commercial Workers posted the same information.
The company hasn't yet made a proposal on wages or overtime
pay, but Disney is expected to offer bonuses rather than
wage increases, Local 362 said.
"So as the cost of gas, bread, milk, rent, medical
insurance go up over the next one, two, three years, workers
will have to pay the increased costs out of last year's ---
or in the case of topped-out workers, 2000's -- rate of
pay," the site said. "This is outrageous!"
Local 362 said it's also unhappy with a proposal by Disney
to increase the number of part-time positions, a move that
might reduce the number of full-time positions. Disney also
is proposing that workers hired after the contract is
ratified would not be covered by the company's pension plan
or receive personal time off, the union said.
Disney's Play 4 Days is back!
Walt Disney World Resort
treats Florida residents to unlimited park-hopping at all
four Disney theme parks on any four days of their choosing
between July 30 and Nov. 21, 2004 -- all for only $119* per
person, plus tax.
Compared to buying four one-day one-park tickets at $54.75
plus tax per day, the savings add up to $100 per resident
for four unforgettable days of Disney park-hopping magic.
Here are the money-saving details:
Good for Walt Disney World theme park visits July 30 through
Nov. 21, 2004 (no blockout dates).
Exclusive to Florida residents; proof of residency for each
Provides unlimited park-hopping privileges. That means
multi-park visits in one day -- if the guest wishes -- and
three more days to do the same thing.
Purchase at Walt Disney World theme parks and other
locations, such as Florida AAA offices and Florida Disney
Cost of the Play 4 Days pass may be applied to a resident
Annual or Seasonal pass.
"With a full schedule of fun ahead, the timing couldn't
be better for home-staters," said Al Weiss, president
of Walt Disney World Resort. "Play 4 Days is their
passport to fun -- and savings."
Play 4 Days ticket holders enjoy a full slate of options,
whatever they "elect" to experience ...
attractions and events such as:
Three electrifying first-year attractions --
Mission: SPACE at Epcot, and "Wishes" and
"Mickey's PhilharMagic" at Magic Kingdom.
The Epcot International Food and Wine Festival with more
days and more ways to sample great food, fine wines and
workshops, and groove to Eat to the Beat! concerts featuring
This year's dates: Oct. 1-Nov. 14.
Stitch's Great Escape, a new Tomorrowland attraction opening
this fall and promising Magic Kingdom guests otherworldly
sights, sounds and surprises -- with everybody's favorite
six-limbed alien in the middle of the fun.
ABC Super Soap Weekend Nov. 13-14 featuring more than 30 ABC
Daytime stars in a fan-fest coming to Disney-MGM Studios.
An art safari for culture buffs around Epcot as World
Showcase opens its sixth gallery, American Heritage Gallery,
with "Echoes of Africa" featuring artwork from the
Floridians can pair up their Play 4 Day savings on park
admission with great deals on Disney accommodations. For
Florida residents, Walt Disney World's famous resorts are
posting great late summer and fall savings on room-only
rates. Go to disneyworld.com and click on Florida Residents
to find out more.
For more information on Play 4 Days, guests can visit
disneyworld.com/play4days or call 407/WDW-4DAYS.
*With tax: $126.74
DH to Publish Comic Adaptation of The
Comic Based on the Walt Disney Pictures presentation of a
Pixar Animation Studios film Premiering November 2004
This November Dark Horse Comics, in conjunction with Disney
Publishing Worldwide and Pixar Animation Studios, will publish
a comic book adaptation of the Walt Disney Pictures
presentation of a Pixar Animation Studios film, The
Incredibles, a new animated feature about a family with
extraordinary powers. The Incredibles premieres in
theaters November 5, 2004. Pixar has created and produced five
of the most successful and beloved animated films of all time:
Academy Award®-winning Toy Story (1995); A Bug's
Life (1998); Golden Globe-winning Toy Story 2
(1999); the Academy Award®-winning Monsters, Inc. (2001);
and the Academy Award®-winning Finding Nemo (2003).
During the golden age of Supers, heroes protected the populace
from harm. The era’s main champion was the ultra strong Mr.
Incredible. But things went awry for Mr. Incredible and the
rest of the Supers when they were hit with a series of
frivolous lawsuits brought against them by those they once
saved. To diffuse the situation, the government created a
relocation program for the Supers, who, in exchange for
protection from further lawsuits, went into hiding and
promised never to use their powers again.
Fifteen years later, Mr. Incredible is simply Bob Parr, living
the quiet suburban life with his wife Helen, and their three
children. However, family life and the daily nine-to-five
routine aren't enough for Bob, who frequently sneaks out to do
"hero work" in the evenings. Bob's inability to move
on from past glories soon puts a strain on his home life. But
one day things take an unexpected turn when Bob is contacted
by a mysterious woman who recruits him for some top secret
This four-issue comic book series is adapted from the original
film story, which was written by director Brad Bird (Iron
Giant) and will feature illustrations by Incredibles
storyboard artist Ricardo Curtis.
The Incredibles issue #1 (of 4) arrives on sale
November 24 with a retail price of $2.99.
Scheduled Rehabs in August for WDW
The Wonders of Life Pavilion in
Epcot will operate on a greatly reduced schedule beginning
January 5, 2004. Body Wars, Cranium Command and the Making of
Me will be available during periods of peak attendance. The
quick service dining and merchandise locations in the pavilion
will cease operations.
Donald's Boat in Toontown will
be closed July 12 - August 12, 2004.
The Jungle Cruise will be
closed August 22 - September 5, 2004.
Tom Sawyer Island will be
closed July 25 through September 25, 2004.
It's a Small World is closed
May 2, 2004 and reopen spring 2005 for a rehab of the
characters and sound.
Encounter is closed and will reopen fall 2004 as Stitch's
Carousel of Progress is open
while Alien Encounter is being renovated.
Timekeeper is operating
seasonally until August 14, 2004
Cirque du Soleil's La Nouba
will be closed - August 22 to 25
A major pipe replacement project is underway
through the summer of 2005. No work is scheduled inside guest
rooms, but there may be some noise on the 2nd and 3rd floors
between the hours of 9:00am and 5:00pm Monday through Friday.
Thursday July 29,
Disney World Resort Announces New "BASS" Fishing
World-class theme parks and attractions are not the only
reasons for visiting Walt Disney World Resort. There's
fishing, too, with trophy-sized largemouth bass in the
14- pound range lurking in lakes and canals almost
within casting distance of Cinderella Castle. Popular
"catch and release" experiences around the
Vacation Kingdom promise to "lure" even more
guests to the Disney lakes, as Walt Disney World
announced a new line-up of BASS fishing excursions with
the nation's preeminent authority on the sport of
From true beginners to expert anglers,
thousands of Walt Disney World guests annually
participate in fishing excursions on Bay Lake, Seven
Seas Lagoon and other Disney waterways. New BASS
excursions will provide guests with access to 100 new
Bassmaster rods and reels, as well as depth finders and
other professional-grade fishing equipment. Disney's
experienced guide staff will sport BASS uniforms and
apparel, and the fleet of Disney boats and marina menu
boards will also be adorned with BASS marks.
In addition to having access to some
of the industry's best equipment, exceptional guides and
Disney's stocked lakes, all BASS fishing participants at
Walt Disney World will receive a one-year BASS
membership, which includes: 11 issues of Bassmaster
Magazine; a membership pack with a personalized
membership card, colorful members-only decal, an
embroidered patch and member handbook; free Gear
Giveaways; a Boat Theft Reward; information on local
BASS chapters; eligibility to compete in national
events; and other exciting special discounts and
"From children to adults,
everyone who picks up a rod and reel at Walt Disney
World should enjoy an authentic, exhilarating fishing
experience, and this relationship with BASS will help
ensure that," said Reggie Williams, vice president
of Disney Sports Attractions. "As guests learn more
about the exciting sport of bass fishing through our new
BASS excursions, they are sure to be hooked for the rest
of their lives."
"This is a great way to promote
BASS memberships as well as some of the finest bass
fishing the country has to offer, which just happens to
be in the shadow of the Magic Kingdom," said Dean
Kessel, vice president and general manager of BASS.
"I can't think of a better way to bring in new
members while showcasing the mutual commitment to family
activities and fishing education shared by BASS and Walt
Disney World. It will also mean a lot to our existing
membership that we have a presence at a respected,
family-friendly vacation destination."
The new BASS programs will also bring
many of the world's best anglers to Walt Disney World
Resort for BASS anglers special events and athlete
appearances featuring the likes of 2003 Bassmaster
Classic champion Mike Iaconelli, who has fished the
Disney lakes on multiple occasions. Iaconelli also
served as an unofficial BASS ambassador by presenting a
trophy to members of the Atlanta Braves following the
inaugural Walt Disney World Spring Training Bass Fishing
Classic on Disney's Bay Lake in March 2004.
Walt Disney World Resort
Guests with little or no fishing
experience can enjoy the thrill of guided BASS fishing
excursions on the waterway systems at Walt Disney World
Resort, including World Showcase Lagoon, Bay Lake and
Seven Seas Lagoon. Two-hour
"catch-and-release" tours led by experienced
fishing guides are offered daily on an
advance-reservation basis. Pontoon boats are fully
stocked for excursions with rods, reels, fishing gear,
beverages and a digital camera. A party of up to five
people can participate in tours and no fishing license
is required. Prices range from $195-$215 for parties of
five, and typical tour hours can be arranged for early
morning, mid-morning or early afternoon. Guests can make
reservations up to two weeks in advance at 407/WDW-BASS
(2277). General BASS tours are also available for
children, ages six to 12, for $30 per child for one
During construction of the Magic
Kingdom theme park in the late 1960s, more than 70,000
bass fingerlings were released into Bay Lake and Seven
Seas Lagoon. Organized fishing tours didn't start at
Walt Disney World Resort until 1977, leaving bass to
grow and breed undisturbed for years. The heaviest
largemouth bass caught and recorded at the Vacation
Kingdom was 14 pounds, 6 ounces. Guests routinely catch
bass weighing from 2 to 8 pounds -- and guides relate
tales of catches in the 12-pound range. Most trips catch
five to 10 fish, depending upon time of day, number of
people on board ... and luck.
BASS fishing excursions are part of
the menu of options available in various Dream Maker
Packages at Walt Disney World Resort, which start at
$359 per adult (based on double occupancy) for three
nights. Guided fishing excursions can be booked at 407/WDW-BASS
BASS is the world's largest fishing
organization, sanctioning more than 20,000 tournaments
worldwide through its Federation. The Bassmaster
Tournament Trail, which includes the all-new Bassmaster
Elite 50 series, is the oldest and most prestigious pro
bass fishing tournament circuit and continues to set the
standard for credibility, professionalism and
sportsmanship as it has since 1968.
CS Lewis story
to roar on big screen
Oscar winner will play leading role
OSCAR winning actor Jim Broadbent is putting on his scholarly
look today as he plays the Professor in the blockbuster movie
of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, the CS Lewis classic
fairytale which is being shot for the big screen on location
in New Zealand.
The big budget movie is being filmed 54 years after it was
written by the Belfast-born theologian and author - and is
being tipped as the next Lord of the Rings-style hit.
"I spent an absorbing week re-reading the yarn,"
said the star who won his best support Academy Award for his
role as John Bayley in Iris.
"Smashing stuff and I've got a great part as the Prof
- just ask any little boy or girl who has had the story read
to them at bedtime."
Broadbent, who was also in Moulin Rouge and Bullets over
Broadway, is joined in the cast of the £70m Walt Disney film
by the Vicar of Dibley Dawn French as the voice of Mrs Beaver,
Rupert Everett who is in Shrek 2, as the Voice of the Fox and
Scottish actress Tilda Swinton as The White Witch.
"The Lewis story is for all generations," said
Miss Swinton who won awards for her role in Adaptation with
"Imagine, this story by theologian Lewis which he
dreamed up first as a little boy in Belfast has sold 65
million copies around the world in 30 languages.
"I'm going to make a realistic evil witch, just the
way CS wanted her to be."
And for James Cosmo, seen recently on Belfast cinemas as
Glaucus in Troy starring Brad Pitt, the film will be a second
chance to play a role he loves - Father Christmas.
Cosmo had the part of Santa in Santa Claws, but will be
best remembered as the grizzled warrior Campbell in Braveheart
opposite Mel Gibson.
The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and the Chronicles of
Narnia first took shape in the family home at Circular Road in
east Belfast where CS Lewis played hide and seek with his
brother in an old wardrobe in the attic - a piece of furniture
which is now a collector's item in Chicago.
And in later life he would go walking at Craigantlet and
dream up the fairytale that was to thrill several generations
Former Belfast Lord Mayor Dr Ian Adamson, an authority on
Lewis, said today: "It's about time this film was shot.
The Chronicles, and in particular the wardrobe story, rival
anything in the Potter yarns and in The Lord of the Rings
'Big Daddy' Twins Show Disney Channel
the 'Suite Life'
It's been double
trouble for the Disney Channel when Dylan and Cole Sprouse
star in "The Suite Life," a new comedy.
The Sprouse twins, best known to viewers
from "Big Daddy" and "Friends," will
play 11-year-olds who live in the top-floor suites at a
swanky Boston hotel. Their mother (Kim Rhodes, "As the
World Turns") is a singer at the hotel and the have a
series of adversaries in the hotel's gift shop clerk (Ashley
Michelle Tisdale), the hotel owner's spoiled daughter
(Brenda Song) and the hotel manager (Phill Lewis). Despite
the constant supervision, they find a way to get into all
sorts of trouble in their upper class playground.
"We've set the bar high for
live-action comedies and on the heels of the successful
launch of 'Phil of the Future' and the now sever-days-a-week
hit 'That's So Raven,' we have great expectations for this
new comedy and we know kids will connect to its cast,
especially the telegenic Sprouse twins," says Disney
Channel President Rich Ross.
The series was created by Danny Kallis
("Hangin' with Mr. Cooper") and Jim Geoghan
("Family Matters"). Production is set to begin
this summer for a 2005 premiere.
Stay in the middle of the magic
Canadians will enjoy big savings this fall
at the Walt Disney World Resort in Florida. A new offer
available for travel August 29, 2004 to September 29, 2004,
allows Canadians to book rooms for as low as $55 US per
night at a value resort hotel like the new Disney’s Pop
Century Resort — a savings of $22 US per room per night.
But hurry! The offer must be booked before August 28, 2004.
Rates for Disney Moderate and Disney
Deluxe resorts are available during this same time period at
varying rates and include savings up to $80 US per night.
This room offer is a great opportunity for Guests to combine
the benefits of staying at an on-site Walt Disney World
Resort hotel with the excitement of Disney’s famous theme
parks. The benefits include:
themed accommodations located in the “middle of the
Disney Guest service and hospitality 24 hours a day
· exclusive early
entry to selected Walt Disney World theme parks and
attractions with paid admission
complimentary transportation (motor coach, water launches or
monorail) throughout Walt Disney World Resort.
In addition to the incredible convenience of staying within
the Walt Disney World Resort, Canadian guests can buy at
home and save up to $25 US per Park Hopper Ticket.
Disney’s five- and seven-day Park Hopper Tickets offer
unlimited admission to all four Walt Disney World theme
parks for the number of days purchased. Disney’s five- and
seven-day Park Hopper Plus Tickets offer unlimited admission
to all four Walt Disney World theme parks and two additional
visits to one of Disney’s themed water parks, Downtown
Disney Pleasure Island or Disney’s Wide World of Sports
To book this special room-only offer and order theme park
tickets, contact your local travel agent or call Walt Disney
World Resort reservations at 407-WDW-STAR and ask for
booking code BAJ. Visit http://www.disneyworld.ca/
for more information or call 1-888-712-5389 to order a FREE
Vacation Planning Kit.
Howdy Hey! Walt Disney World
Young'uns Can Kick Up Their Heels at Goofy's Country Dancin'
Howdy, partners! Welcome to the
world-famous Diamond Horseshoe Saloon at Walt Disney World
Resort, where young'uns are in for a rootin' tootin' good
time at Goofy's Country Dancin' Jamboree !
Several times a day, the legendary Magic
Kingdom venue in Liberty Square plays host to a fun
country music dance party starring Goofy, his pals Chip
and Dale, plus the stars of Disney and Pixar's "Toy
Story 2" -- Woody, Jessie and Bullseye.
Young guests are encouraged to mosey on
down to sing, play and learn how to country line-dance
with some of their favorite Disney characters and Miss
Sarah Jo, a true country sweetheart and Goofy's sassy
During each jamboree, Goofy and his pals
will teach plenty of kids to kick up their heels and dance
up a storm learning such classic country dances as
"Boot Scootin' Boogie," "Electric
Slide" and the special "Goofy Two-Step."
Grown-ups seekin' a special keepsake can head upstairs to
the saloon's balconies to shoot photos or video of the
action down on the dance floor.
During the holidays, a special version
of the jamboree includes such classic songs as "Have
a Holly Jolly Christmas" and "Rockin' Around the
It's a rip-roarin' good time that'll
leave everyone with a spring in their boots and smiles on
AROUND THE WORLD IN 80 DAYS DVD
International superstar Jackie Chan
Knights,” “Rush Hour”) stars in the fun,
action-packed film AROUND THE WORLD
IN 80 DAYS, Disney/Walden Media’s adventure for the
whole family touching down on
DVD and VHS on November 2. Fabulous adventures,
hilarious predicaments and
exhilarating action await an all-star cast as three
unlikely heroes attempt to settle an
outrageous wager by racing around the world in the most
On DVD, AROUND THE WORLD IN 80 DAYS has a host of
including: deleted scenes; director’s alternate opening
(with optional director
commentary); making “Around The World In 80 Days,” a
look at the film; “Around the World of Jackie Chan”
stunt choreography with Jackie
Chan; cast & filmmaker commentary; and music video
“All Over The World” performed
by Dave Stewart and the Sylvia School Children’s Choir.
Directed by Frank Coraci. Screenplay by David Titcher and
David Benullo & David
Goldstein. Based on the novel by Jules Verne. Available
for $29.99 on DVD (S.R.P.)
and $24.99 (S.R.P.) on VHS.
Eccentric London inventor Phileas Fogg (Steve Coogan, “24
Hour Party People”) has
come up with the secrets to flight, electricity, and even
in-line skates, but the world has
dismissed him as a crackpot. Desperate to be taken
seriously, Fogg makes an outlandish
bet with Lord Kelvin (Jim Broadbent, “Moulin Rouge”),
the head of the Royal Academy
of Science: to circumnavigate the globe in 80 days!
Joined by Passepartout (Jackie Chan) and femme fatale
Monique (Cécile De France), Fog
heads on a frantic, heart-pounding round-the-world race
that takes our heroes to the
world’s most exotic places by land, sea and air. Along
the way, our heroes face many
adventures and obstacles in an incredible
STREET DATE: November 2, 2004
Rated: “PG” For Action Violence, Some
Crude Humor And Mild Language
Bonus materials unrated.
Feature run time: Approximately 120 minutes
DVD Aspect ratio: 2.35:1 formatted for 16x9 TV
1.33:1 (full-frame) formatted 4x3
Sound: 5.1 Dolby Digital Surround Sound
Suggested retail price: $29.99 (DVD), $24.99 (VHS)
Languages: French audio & subtitles on DVD
Spanish audio & subtitles on DVD
With a distinctive mission to recapture imagination and
rekindle curiosity by marrying
popular entertainment and education, WALDEN MEDIA
is a multimedia company led
by Cary Granat, former president of Miramax Films’
Dimension label and education
entrepreneur Michael Flaherty. The venture, launched in
May 2001, focuses on
educational subject matter presented through the mediums
of film, television, live theater
publishing, and new media ventures.
Walden Media is a subsidiary of The Anschutz Company. The
Denver-based company is
one of the largest privately owned and operated ventures
in the U.S. Its affiliated
companies are principally engaged in telecommunications
and media, natural resources,
transportation, real estate, sports and entertainment.
Walden Media in association with The Walt Disney Company,
recently released “Ghosts
of the Abyss,” a 3-D large format James Cameron film and
“Holes,” the adaptation of
Louis Sachar’s Newbery Award-winning novel to critical
and box office success. The
company is making the first full-length live-action film
adaptations of C.S. Lewis’ book
series The Chronicles of Narnia, beginning with
“The Lion, the Witch, and the
Wardrobe,” to be directed by Andrew Adamson (“Shrek”).
Walden Media has also
teamed with renowned television and stage producer Douglas
Love to establish the
Walden Family Playhouse, a live children’s theater in
Denver, CO with other locations to
Creston teen gets to meet Disney cast
Emily Wemhoff of Creston, Neb., volunteered
alongside the cast of Disney's "That's So Raven"
after being honored for her work with fire safety.
"Disney Adventures" magazine recognized the
15-year-old as a "Disney Adventures All-Star" for
starting Project SAFE (Save A Friend Everyday) in 2002. Emily
was one of 6,000 entries.
As part of the award, she
planted flowers in June at a senior care facility in Burbank,
"We got to work side by
side with the whole cast," she said. "They were all
nice, but it was weird because you always see them on
She also won the
all-expense-paid trip for two to Los Angeles, tickets to
Disneyland and $1,000. She said she will give the money to
Creston's fire department.
Emily began Project SAFE
after hearing about a Lincoln house fire.
The fire prompted the
Wemhoff family to test its smoke alarm. The alarm didn't work.
Emily then called everyone
in Creston listed in the phone book to make sure their fire
alarms worked. It took a year to make the 217 calls.
Using grant money, she put
together gift bags with alarms for families who didn't have
Now she is organizing a
statewide day for families to practice fire-escape plans at
Wednesday July 28,
Disney reduces summer blackout dates
The move could boost business during August,
traditionally the slowest month of the season
Walt Disney World is slashing the number of
blackout dates for its four-park seasonal-pass holders, a move
that could boost business as the region's tourism industry
heads into what is traditionally the slowest month of the
Starting Friday, pass holders will get an extra three weeks to
visit Disney's theme parks this summer. With Disney's seasonal
pass -- which for Florida residents is about two-thirds of the
cost of a full-time annual pass -- visitors can't go to the
parks during peak times such as summer, the December holidays
and spring break.
This year's summer-blackout period started June 12 and was
scheduled to run until Aug. 19. But pass holders began
receiving post cards in the mail this week telling them that
the blackout would end Friday and offering them discounts at
some Disney resorts. "Like magic, you've just scored
three extra weeks!" the headline on the postcard shouts.
Disney's offer comes as Central Florida's tourism industry
prepares for August. Some local tourism experts point to a
decline in the number of in-state visitors -- as well as those
from other key markets in the South -- as children head back
to school in early August.
"August drops off when you compare it against June and
July, but how much of that is in-state and how much of that is
because of school starting is a tricky question," said
Kelly Repass, research director with Orlando/Orange County
Convention & Visitors Bureau.
Disney officials could not be reached for comment.
Students in the Northeast still have several weeks of vacation
in front of them. School doesn't start until Sept. 2 in
Pittsburgh and Sept. 13 in New York, for example.
But in Florida and in key Southeast drive markets, summer is
School begins next week in Seminole, Lake and Osceola
counties. Orange, Volusia and Duval county students go back
Aug. 9. Elsewhere in the South, Atlanta children are back in
the classroom Aug. 9, and Charlotte, N.C., students start Aug.
16. So it makes sense for Disney to do something to entice
in-state travelers -- who are most likely to hold seasonal
passes -- to come to the parks and hopefully spend money on
parking, food and trinkets, said Abe Pizam, a tourism
professor at the University of Central Florida.
"Maybe it's going to be a little soft and they want to
encourage tourists, especially the Floridians, to come,"
Hotel occupancy -- one key measure of the health of the
tourism industry -- often dips in August compared to other
summer months. Last summer, for example, Central Florida
hotels were an average 69 percent full in June, 72 percent in
July and 64 percent in August, according to Smith Travel
Still, Pizam and other tourism officials insist that this
summer is shaping up to be the strongest since the terrorist
attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, dampened the nation's enthusiasm
Earlier this month, several low-cost airlines slashed
late-summer and early-fall fares, a move that some travel
experts said could provide a boost to Orlando's attractions
Officials at Universal Orlando said Islands of Adventure and
Universal Studios have seen double-digit growth so far this
summer compared with last year.
"We've had a great summer," said Tom Schroeder, a
The Walt Disney Company
Increases Presence in China with Sponsorship of Country's
First NBA Games
ESPN to Televise Two NBA
Preseason Games Live from China in October 2004
The Walt Disney Company will
further enhance the presence of Disney in China this Fall
through its relationship with the National Basketball
Association. Disney will sponsor the first-ever NBA games
staged in China when the Houston Rockets and the Sacramento
Kings play two preseason games originating from Shanghai and
Beijing in October 2004, and ESPN will televise these games.
This is part of Disney's overall effort to expand
internationally, particularly in the Asia Pacific region.
"Introducing the magic of
Disney to the world's most populated nation is a truly
thrilling and historic undertaking," said Disney CEO
Michael Eisner. "While this is an incredible opportunity
for our company and our shareholders, it is also an important
cultural milestone for the Chinese people, as we open the
doors to entirely new worlds of fantasy, imagination and
"The combined strength of Disney, ESPN
and the NBA makes for a sports-entertainment powerhouse, and
we're pleased to bring them together for the first time ever
in China," said Bob Iger, Disney president and COO.
"Both Disney and the NBA offer experiences that transcend
cultural divides, which is why these exciting sporting events
are the ideal platform for introducing Disney's newest theme
park, Hong Kong Disneyland."
As part of the sponsorship, Hong Kong
Disneyland will work with the NBA on a number of marketing
activities to support the event. Hong Kong Disneyland also
will have an in-stadium and courtside presence at the NBA
games in China, as well as on NBA.com.
The historic NBA games -- the first staged
in China by an American professional sports league -- will be
televised live on ESPN Thursday, Oct. 14, at 7:30 a.m. ET from
Shanghai Stadium and late Saturday, Oct. 16, at midnight
(Saturday at 9 p.m. PT) from Capital Stadium in Beijing. ESPN
play-by-play commentator Mike Breen and analyst Bill Walton
will call the action. NBA China Games 2004 are part of the
league's continuing effort to support the development and
growth of basketball in China.
These games will mark the first time Yao
Ming returns to his native country with his NBA team, the
Houston Rockets. In addition to the domestic telecasts, ESPN
International will distribute the games to 100 countries and
territories in Latin America, Africa, the Middle East,
Australia and New Zealand. Additional international
distribution is pending. Each game will be reaired: the event
in Shanghai will be seen on ESPN2 Thursday, Oct. 14, at 7:30
p.m. and the contest from Beijing will be aired by ESPN
Sunday, Oct. 17, at 1 p.m.
Disney's presence in China includes
television programming, film, home entertainment products,
live entertainment, consumer products, publishing, Internet
properties, and in 2005/06 a theme park presence.
The Hong Kong Disneyland project was
announced in November 1999 as a venture between Disney and the
Hong Kong SAR Government. With the completion of reclamation
for Hong Kong Disneyland Phase I by the Hong Kong SAR
Government in December 2002, Disney began construction in
January 2003, with the project scheduled to open in late
2005/early 2006. The opening day program for Hong Kong
Disneyland will include a theme park in the style of
Disneyland Park and two hotels. The Phase I build-out includes
a projected 10-million-annual-visitor theme park in the style
of Disneyland Park, 2,100 hotel rooms, and an area for retail,
dining and entertainment. The project is estimated to create
18,000 new jobs at opening (both Disney and other employment),
growing to 36,000 once the first park reaches build-out. The
Hong Kong SAR Government estimated that the first phase of the
project will generate a present economic value of HK$148
billion (US$19 billion) in benefits to Hong Kong over a
40-year period. For more information, please refer to the Hong
Kong Disneyland website at http://www.hongkongdisneyland.com/.
Hong Kong Disneyland recently announced an
agreement with Television Broadcasts Limited to launch a
collaborative effort to bring the best of Disney's
entertainment to the people of Hong Kong. Under the
collaboration, TVB Jade will air three exciting new Disney TV
programs -- "Hong Kong Disneyland Fun Time,"
"Hong Kong Disneyland Viva Club Disney" and
"The Magical World of Disneyland," starting from
July. The three series will bring Disney stories and magic to
children and families in Hong Kong in the period leading up to
the Park's opening. "The Magical World of
Disneyland" will debut on Saturday, July 31, on TVB Jade,
broadcasting classic Disney animated films. "Toy
Story" will lead off, making it the first Disney animated
movie ever to be aired on TVB Jade. Other upcoming movies will
include "Dinosaur," "Monsters Inc.," and
"Beauty and the Beast." Prior to the airing of each
film, "Magical World of Disneyland" will also take
viewers behind the scenes to experience the magic of
Disneyland Park, and how Walt Disney's vision created a place
that transports guests into a world of fantasy, imagination
In June 2004, ESPN announced plans to launch
ESPN The Magazine in China later this year. Working with
Vertex Group, ESPN will publish the Chinese-language edition
monthly. The magazine will be distributed in Mainland China,
including Beijing and Shanghai, and in Hong Kong. The Chinese
edition of ESPN The Magazine will offer a mix of original
content targeted to the interests of sports fans in China, as
well as material from the U.S. edition of the magazine.
Editorial is expected to include coverage of international,
European, and Chinese soccer; international and Asian
basketball leagues, as well as the NBA; professional golf;
track and field events; auto racing; action sports; and more.
The magazine will be printed in simplified Chinese characters.
ESPN's joint venture with Star Sports in
Asia, "ESPN STAR Sports" (ESS), continues to grow by
providing first-class coverage of local and international
sporting events most relevant to the markets it serves.
Selected ESPN programming is distributed nationally in China
via CCTV and other outlets and reaches an estimated 100
million households. ESPN is also available as a 24-hour
network in Hong Kong and is transmitted in Cantonese,
Mandarin, and English.
Disney Consumer Products entered the China
market 12 years ago and has now expanded its retail presence
to more than 25 cities to reach 25 million consumers with more
than 690 Disney corners in China selling Disney-branded
merchandise. The business is growing at a rapid rate and sales
in China reached approximately US$128 million at retail in
2003. Disney is one of the leading children's publishers in
China and Mickey Mouse magazine is one of the most-read
children's comic magazines in China.
Mickey Mouse animation first appeared on
CCTV in 1986. Its continuing popularity culminated in a unique
relationship with CCTV1 to feature classic Disney animation,
which returned to CCTV1 in 2001. Disney animation on CCTV1
recently obtained a 28% share in recent ratings, reaching more
than 91.3 million children. Through close cooperation with
CCTV-6, Disney has started to bring big blockbuster titles,
including "102 Dalmatians," "Face Off,"
"Armageddon" and "Shanghai Noon" to
Chinese viewers for the first time.
Disney has launched numerous television
ventures across the Asian continent and continues to be on
expansion mode. Disney Channel (DC) is now available in 11
countries and regions across Asia, with Japan launched on Nov.
18, 2003, and Hong Kong added in April 2004. There are four
separate video feeds/services in the region -- the DC Japan,
DC Australian, DC Taiwan (Mandarin) and the DC Asia feed,
which also has an English, Mandarin and Cantonese audio feed.
In Korea, DC Asia also broadcasts with a Korean subtitling
The Walt Disney Company, together with its
subsidiaries and affiliates, is a diversified international
family entertainment and media enterprise which includes Walt
Disney Parks and Resorts, The Walt Disney Studios, ABC, Inc.,
ESPN, Disney Channel, Disney Consumer Products, television and
radio stations and Internet web sites.
Animal Kingdom Rehabs scheduled
Some new Animal Kingdom rehabs currently scheduled. Adjust
your trip planners now
Pocahontas and Her Forest Friends will be closed for
refurbishment Tuesday, September 7 through Saturday,
September 11, reopening Sunday, September 12, 2004.
Festival of the Lion King will be closed for refurbishment
Thursday, September 16 through Saturday, September 18,
reopening Sunday, September 19, 2004.
The Boneyard will be closed for refurbishment Monday,
September 20 through Thursday, October 14, reopening Friday,
October 15, 2004
Disney & Co settle patent dispute
over synchronized TV & Internet broadcast
OpenTV Corp., one of the world's leading
interactive television companies, and The Walt Disney Company, a
diversified, international family entertainment and media
enterprise, along with Disney subsidiaries, ABC and ESPN, have
settled patent litigation brought by OpenTV's subsidiary, ACTV,
against Disney, ABC and ESPN. The patents in suit relate to
certain systems and methods for synchronizing Internet content
with television programming, enabling television viewers to
receive content pertaining to a broadcast program through the
Kirkland & Ellis LLP partners Kenneth W.
Starr and Daniel F. Attridge along with associate Gregory F.
Corbett represented ACTV in this matter.
As part of the settlement, OpenTV has granted
Disney a non-exclusive, royalty-bearing license to use and to
exploit the patents in suit. The Walt Disney Internet Group has
also entered into negotiations for a non-exclusive, multi-year
development agreement with OpenTV for the creation and marketing
of enhanced television programming.
"We are very pleased that we have been
able to resolve this litigation with Disney, ABC and ESPN in a
mutually beneficial manner," said Jim Chiddix, Chairman and
CEO of OpenTV. "Disney's agreement to license these patents
and our late stage discussions with Walt Disney Internet Group
to work with us to develop enhanced TV programming provides a
solid foundation on which we can create exciting television for
viewers across the United States."
About Kirkland & Ellis LLP
Kirkland & Ellis LLP is a 1,000-attorney
law firm representing global clients in complex litigation,
corporate and tax, workout, insolvency and bankruptcy, dispute
resolution and arbitration, and intellectual property and
technology matters. The Firm has offices in Washington, Chicago,
London, Los Angeles, New York and San Francisco.
One of the world's leading interactive
television companies, OpenTV provides a comprehensive suite of
technology, content, games, tools, applications, and
professional services that enables cable and satellite network
operators in over 90 countries to deliver and manage iTV
services on all major digital TV platforms. OpenTV has its
Corporate Offices in San Francisco, California and regional
offices in the United States, Europe and Asia/Pacific. For more
information, please visit www.opentv.com.
OpenTV and the OpenTV logo are trademarks or
registered trademarks of OpenTV, Inc. in the United States and
other countries. All other trademarks are the property of their
respective owners. All OpenTV products and services may not be
available in all geographic areas
Harlem lot's set for Bette-r days
The divine Miss M
and Disney worked some magic on a Harlem vacant lot yesterday,
touching off its transformation into a neighborhood garden and
Disney CEO Michael Eisner and Bette Midler,
founder of the New York Restoration Project (NYRP), planted a
pin oak at 103rd St. and Park Ave. They said the new tree soon
will be followed by a new neighborhood gathering spot.
"It's going to be a world-class
park," said Midler, who was joined by some 50 volunteers.
"The people of this neighborhood deserve it, and it will
help the block come alive."
The 15,000-square-foot lot, nestled among
train tracks and apartments, has held only graffiti and
abandoned cars for years, neighbors said. Children in the area
have no place to play, they added.
"Now, kids play in the middle of the
street," said neighborhood resident Kareem Omary, 27.
"I hope kids can play here soon."
The park will be finished this summer and will
have a basketball court and playground, in addition to shaded
benches and a vegetable garden.
The project began in 2001, when Councilman
Philip Reed (D-Manhattan) approached Midler's group, which
maintains 55 city gardens. NYRP took over the lot from a defunct
youth group, setting the stage for the overhaul that took root
"Before, we were the leader in things
that make you sick," said Reed's chief of staff, Geoffrey
Eaton. "Now, we can showcase something positive."
Even Eisner was impressed with the visuals.
"Real magic is being created as this park is being
transformed from a source of blight to a thing of beauty,"
FGCU will compete in Disney event
The Florida Gulf Coast University men's
basketball team is going to Disney World.
The Eagles will begin the season with the
Disney Division II Tip-off Tournament on Nov. 12-14 at the Milk
House at Disney's Wide World of Sports in Lake Buena Vista.
FGCU, 22-5 last season, will compete in the
eight-team, three-game, full-bracket tourney.
Other teams are the University of North
Dakota, Barry, North Florida, Henderson State (Ark.), Clayton
State (Ga.), Indiana (Pa.) University and Bentley College
The Eagles graduated five players from last
year's squad, including former Port Charlotte High standout
Leighton Bowie, who played one season with FGCU after attending
College of Charleston. Another Pirate will be on the roster this
season: freshman guard Yavney Neptune, the reigning
Herald-Tribune Player of the Year.
Talks to bring Indians to Disney
Osceola County officials want to make it clear
they are ready to play ball when it comes to making the
Cleveland Indians the county's third major-league
Word surfaced last week that the club is
considering a move from Winter Haven to Disney's Wide World of
Sports by 2006. This week, county commissioners directed staff
to meet with the team and Disney to see what needs to be done
for the Indians to share Cracker Jack Stadium with the Atlanta
Braves. The Houston Astros' spring home is Osceola County
Stadium in Kissimmee.
County Commissioner Paul Owen, who has been
helping with a deal, said team officials prefer Disney over Fort
Myers and Tucson, Ariz., where talks also have taken place. Owen
expects Osceola to have a proposed deal, including whether the
county will split the cost, to vote on in about a month.
"These are serious discussions and it
would mean a lot to Osceola County to make this work," Owen
said. "I want to know what it will take to bring them
Renovating the stadium for a second team to
cover improvements such as new clubhouses and office space is
expected to cost about $20 million.
Feelers already had been put out to the
Florida Sports Foundation, a semi-government agency that helps
pay for sporting events that attract out-of-state visitors, to
help with the cost. The foundation quashed the idea because the
stadium is privately owned, spokesman Nick Gandy said.
But if a city or county does the asking -- and
is willing to split the cost -- the answer could be different.
Indians spokesman Bob DiBiasio confirmed that
talks have been under way.
"[The talks] have been very
cordial," he said. "We look forward to continuing
Disney spokeswoman Jackie Polak would say only
that the company was ready to welcome back the Atlanta Braves in
the coming years. A Braves spokesman had no comment.
The Indians are looking for a new home because
of a strained relationship with Winter Haven officials, who want
to develop the lakefront Chain O'Lakes Park site. The team,
which has played in Polk County since 1993, has committed to
stay only through 2005.
Performing Arts Center has booked "On the Record," the
staged compilation of Disney songs announced last week, as a
replacement for the canceled "Wonderful Town" in the
center's Broadway series, Sept. 6-18, 2005.
Last shot at
North Carolina - Flat Rock Playhouse has just
one more week of its smash musical "Disney's Beauty and the
Beast." Showtimes today are at 2:15 and 8:15 p.m. at the
theater on U.S. 25 and Little River Road in Flat Rock. But if
you want to see it, better pick up that phone and call right
this minute because it's been packing the house for virtually
every performance. Call 693-0731.
On the Net: www.flatrockplayhouse.org
Tuesday July 27,
Affleck on mission for Disney's 'Men'
The Walt Disney Co. knows where Ben Affleck is
-- attached to the adventure feature "Nowhere Men."
The studio has acquired the pitch for high-six figures for
Peter and David Griffiths to pen.
Based on a treatment by Soren Garcia Rey, a longtime friend of
Affleck, and Chris Angulo, the ensemble adventure is described
as "Ocean's Eleven" meets "Men in Black."
It revolves around a group of people, one of whom will be
played by Affleck, who pursue covert missions, aided by their
personal extraordinary gifts.
The Griffiths brothers pitched an expanded take
of the treatment to studio brass Nina Jacobson and Jason Reed
who bought it in the room. Affleck's partner at LivePlanet,
Sean Bailey, will produce, with other producing credits still
to be determined.
The writers and Affleck are repped by Endeavor. The scribes
penned "Collateral Damage" and "The
The Disney deal is good news for Affleck, who recently exited
the basketball drama "Glory Road." Before that, he
was attached to star in the studio's "Ghosts of
Girlfriends Past," but he fell out of that package as
well. He next stars in the holiday comedy "Surviving
Series, Movies Slated at Disney
Disney Channel has given the go-ahead to a new
live-action series and two movies, all scheduled to air in
The series "The Suite Life" stars
identical twins Dylan and Cole Sprouse ("Friends")
as 11-year-olds who get to live in a swanky Boston hotel.
The films are "Buffalo Dreams,"
about boys living on a Navajo reservation, and "World's
Greatest Kid Magician," which is set inside a reality TV
Euro Disney says no debt deadline
set for Prince al-Waleed on debt plan
No deadline has yet been set for Prince al-Waleed
bin Talal and other shareholders in the Euro Disney theme park
near Paris to make a decision on the company's debt
restructuring plan, spokesman Peter Boterman said on Monday.
This Saturday, July 31, is the deadline for
the company's creditor banks to make up their minds on
proposals for revamping Euro Disney's debt of 2.4 billion
euros (2.9 billion dollars) and on a plan for a capital
increase of 250 million euros.
Boterman said "I wouldn't say there is
no urgency" for Prince al-Waleed to give his view, but he
pointed out that the prince did not have to give his view by
The first hurdle for the restructuring plan
was to win backing from creditors and only then would a
timetable be set for shareholder approval, he said.
Boterman could not say when Euro Disney
might make a statement about the progress of the debt
proposals nor when the company might issue its sales figures
for the third quarter to June, although analysts expect them
In mid-morning trading, the price of shares
in Euro Disney was showing a fall of 0.01 euros or 3.03
percent to 0.32 euros amid investor anxiety about the debt
restructuring and the sales figures, dealers said.
The company, which attracted 12.4 million
visitors to its Disney theme park east of Paris last year,
suspended debt payments to core shareholder The Walt Disney Co
in November and has said it cannot repay its overall debts
unless shareholders back the refinancing plan.
At French brokers Fideuram Wargny, analysts
estimate that Euro Disney sales for the nine months to June
will be flat at 749 million euros, with revenues from the
theme parks showing a gain of 5.4 percent and turnover at its
hotels down 4.3 percent to 294 million euros.
The 250-million-euro capital increase
project has been backed by The Walt Disney Co, which will put
up 100 million euros in proportion to its 39.1-percent
Leading creditor Caisse des Depots et
Consignations, CDC a quasi-state French investment group, is
to provide another 75 million euros and other banks the
remainder, according to reports.
Prince al-Waleed rescued Euro Disney from an
earlier financial crisis in 1994 by taking a major stake.
However, the Saudi Arabian prince reduced
his holding to 16.3 percent from 24.7 percent last year. His
staff have said he was willing to talk about the latest debt
problems, but have given no details of his attitude towards
Fordyce Teachor Honored by Disney
Pamela Caldwell Vaughan, a high school
biology and physical sciences teacher from Fordyce, has been
honored by the Walt Disney Company.
Vaughan is among 39 teachers that Disney officials chose to
honor out of a field of 150,000 nominees. The 39 were chosen
by a national committee of educators.
All recipients of the 2004 DisneyHand Teacher Awards received
Premiere of 'The Village' in
Prospect Park New York
Below are photos of the
premiere of "The Village" held in New York.
'King Arthur' Fares Better Overseas
With a batch of big-budget movies playing
around the world, the foreign box office thrived last weekend
despite a falloff in parts of Europe because of fine weather.
Highlights of a busy weekend included the
early foreign turnaround of Disney's domestic disappointment
"King Arthur," the record-breaking top-of-the-market
opening of Germany's homemade "(T)Raumschiff Surprise --
Periode 1" (Spaceship Surprise -- Period 1, the
unofficial English translation), the ongoing approval of
Michael Moore's "Fahrenheit 9/11" and the holdover
power of "Spider-Man 2," "Shrek 2" and
"Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban."
Japan was the site of a blockbuster
shootout, with "Azkaban" holding the No. 1 position
for a fifth weekend with a $3.9 million haul in the face of
openings from "King Arthur," "Shrek 2" and
local film "Pocket Monsters '04," and the third
weekend of "Spider-Man 2." A $3.1 million two-day
weekend put "Arthur" in second place, followed by
"Spider-Man 2," "Pocket Monsters" and
"King Arthur," which will barely
break $50 million in North America, came through with a $10.1
million weekend from 14 countries, copping the No. 1 position
in six out of the seven markets (excluding Japan) in which it
opened. South Korea provided $2.3 million, hailed as a Disney
record in the market; Sweden reported in with $1.2 million,
Norway with $470,000 and Taiwan $514,000.
Moore trumpets earnings, takes shot
"Fahrenheit 9/11" director Michael
Moore has responded to news out of Aspen that the CEO of The
Walt Disney Co. enjoyed the divisive picture.
The director held a conference call Sunday
to promote the fact that "Fahrenheit 9/11" has now
grossed more than $100 million since hitting the silver screen
in June. He also took a shot at Disney boss Michael Eisner,
who blocked Miramax Films from distributing the film.
"I'm glad Mr. Eisner has said he liked
the film, but I would think that his stockholders might wonder
what his fiduciary responsibilities are to them at this
point," entertainment magazine Variety.com quoted Moore
as saying during the call, which was heard by about a dozen
The director was reacting to a story
published Saturday in the Aspen Daily News that reported
Eisner acknowledged seeing "Fahrenheit 9/11" at
FORTUNE magazine's fourth annual Brainstorm conference,
co-hosted by The Aspen Institute.
"The reason it is a hit is it's
entertaining," Eisner said. "I thought it was like
going to a rock concert. I loved it, but not in a political
Days before "Fahrenheit 9/11"
premiered at the Cannes Film Festival, Moore revealed Miramax
Films, a subsidiary of Disney, would not distribute it for
political reasons. At the time, he suggested Disney was
fearful of losing tax breaks in Florida because the film
critiqued President Bush's response to the Sept. 11 terrorist
attacks and motives for waging war in Iraq. President Bush's
brother is the governor of Florida.
Eisner has disputed the claim and explained
at the Brainstorm conference that Disney's shareholders and
customers would not want the company to release controversial
"We simply don't believe we should be a
partisan company," said Eisner, who owns a home in Old
Snowmass. "I have no regrets. I think we did the right
Miramax executives Bob and Harvey Weinstein
eventually acquired the rights to "Fahrenheit 9/11"
through a company it formed with Moore called Fellowship
Adventure Group. Lions Gate Films and IFC Films are
distributing the picture.
Raking in more than $100 million,
"Fahrenheit 9/11" is the most lucrative documentary
ever made and it has made more money than any Disney film this
Do lions' roars rattle the cheap
It's a given that “The Lion King” looks
great from the front of the beautifully refurbished Opera
House, especially from an aisle seat, where the life-size
puppets can easily be touched as they parade by.
But those seats to this smash hit are next-to-impossible to
come by. And for many families their cost - $87.50 - makes a
trip to the theater equivalent to a weekend vacation to Disney
World. (That's the box office cost for most orchestra seats;
special VIP seating is $132.50, and some Web sites are selling
tickets this week for up to $220 apiece.)
However, the producers offer a wide-enough price differential
that there are balcony and mezzanine seats available for
$22.50, making it possible for a family of four to see the
show for less than $100.
But can you see and hear the love tonight (to paraphrase the
show's ballad) from these locations, specifically the last row
of the balcony that offers a dodo's-eye-view?
To find out, I waited some 40 minutes at the box office and
picked up a $27.50 seat for last Sunday's matinee that placed
me in Row G in the mezzanine on the far right.
Though marked “limited view,” the seat was better than I
expected. Virtually all the visual effects, from the
eye-filling opening to the subtle use of shadow puppets, are
in full view. There is so much to see, in fact, that the
obstructed view hardly mattered, and the sound, though
obviously amplified with state-of-the-art technology, is clear
For the second half I moved back to the center of the last
row, raked high above the proscenium. Yet from this location,
where I sat with a family of four, the show appears like a
vibrantly colored pop-up book.
While the facial expressions of the actors could not be seen
without the aid of binoculars, it remained an eye-filling
spectacle that left the children beside me enthralled.
“Wow,” said one when the face of Mufasa, the dead lion,
appears like magic against a starry sky.
The sound, though, lacks the clarity it had from points below,
perhaps because the vast hall's natural acoustics create a
kind of bellowing effect.
Part of the show is the Opera House itself, which is not only
resplendent to the eye, but provides more than adequate
Monday July 26,
Experience Drives Katzenberg
When he ran the
studio of Walt Disney Co. in the mid-1990s,
Jeffrey Katzenberg lobbied tirelessly to become heir
apparent to Chief Executive Michael Eisner — prodding,
cajoling and pressuring his boss while toiling to turn out
box-office hits that included the animated blockbuster
"The Lion King."
Katzenberg wasn't rewarded with a promotion. Instead, Eisner
unceremoniously fired him in 1994, putting out the word that
his underling was an immature character with an oversized
The battle scars from those days may well prove the best
insurance policy for investors in the publicly traded
entertainment company that Katzenberg is now poised to run
"There's no question Jeffrey's got the
motivation," said analyst Dennis McAlpine, principle of
McAlpine Associates. "He wants to show Eisner what a
mistake he made."
Last week, Katzenberg and his DreamWorks Studios partners
disclosed that they were preparing this fall to take public
one piece of their enterprise — the computer-animation
factory that is home to the biggest animated U.S. box-office
hit of all time: "Shrek 2."
Yet for all of Katzenberg's determination, the gambit may
well be the diciest of his career.
DreamWorks is angling to become the next Pixar
Animation Studios, which enjoys an impressive
$3.7-billion value on Wall Street, thanks to its flawless
record in theaters. But while Pixar boasts a string of five
straight hits — among them "Toy Story" and
"Finding Nemo" — DreamWorks' record outside the
"Shrek" franchise has been mediocre.
"Jeffrey has very good judgment, he's a master
communicator and relationship builder and is too smart to
make rookie mistakes," said one Wall Street source who
knows Katzenberg well. "But a pure-play movie company
is a high-risk proposition."
Certainly, others have found that to be true. Imagine
Entertainment went public in 1986, only to be taken
private again seven years later by its two principles,
producer Brian Grazer and director Ron Howard. They created
little value for investors or themselves, and failed in
their attempts to expand beyond the volatile movie business.
Even Pixar's stock has been on a roller coaster ride, in
part because of the long fallow periods of more than a year
between its movies, when the company must rely on DVD
releases and its shallow library for revenue.
DreamWorks cannot comment because of the quiet period
required by regulators before a public offering. But
analysts say the company is looking to level out the
inherent volatility by pumping up the volume, issuing two
computer-animated movies a year, even though few rivals have
been able to pull off such a feat.
Pixar, the gold standard for the genre, is still striving to
raise its output to one movie every year but has struggled
because of what it claims is a lack of talent. And with the
major studios also looking to compete in computer animation,
analysts say it will be hard for DreamWorks to churn out
high-quality pictures as swiftly as it wants.
Much of the pressure, meanwhile, will fall squarely on the
53-year-old Katzenberg, the creative force behind
DreamWorks' animated fare.
"Lots of DreamWorks' success will be tied to
Jeffrey," McAlpine said. "I know he only sleeps
two hours a night, but how far can you spread one guy?"
There are bound to be other challenges, too. By issuing its
stock to the public after producing the highest-grossing
animated movie of all time ("Shrek 2" has taken in
$429.5 million to date in the U.S.), DreamWorks' future
films may disappoint investors whose expectations may have
been unduly inflated.
Indeed, the stock offering is expected to be held sometime
around DreamWorks' next computer-animated release in October
of "Shark Tale." Though the film is highly
anticipated, it has little chance of generating "Shrek"-sized
business, industry watchers say.
Katzenberg also will have to figure out how to balance his
time between the public company and the privately held
parent, which he previously ran and that will distribute the
animated movies and continue to produce live-action
features. Katzenberg will control the public company along
with his partner, David Geffen, while Steven Spielberg,
their other partner, remains at the parent.
"There is a built-in conflict and he'll have to sort it
out in a way that is perceived to be fair to
shareholders," the Wall Street source said.
Then there's the issue of disclosure. Executives who have
run private companies — as Katzenberg has done for the
last decade, along with his partners — can find it jarring
to suddenly face the scrutiny of the public market.
In past interviews, Katzenberg has been vague about
DreamWorks' financial strength, declining to disclose
specific numbers while simply claiming that its movies have
In a filing last week with the Securities and Exchange
Commission, DreamWorks revealed that its animation unit lost
$189 million in 2003 and has been in the black in only two
of the last five years.
"When you're a public company, you have to live by the
quarterly declaration of your actual performance,"
noted one veteran Hollywood executive.
In fact, sources say, DreamWorks is largely resorting to a
public offering because of the need to pay back one of its
main investors, billionaire Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen.
Under a 10-year agreement that expires next year, Allen has
the right to force DreamWorks to buy out his $660-million
stake if he has no other way to cash out.
"This deadline has been looming for two years and has
led to merger talks that never went anywhere because
DreamWorks priced itself so aggressively," said one
person familiar with the deal. "The IPO is a fail-safe
because DreamWorks doesn't have the money to pay Paul
Katzenberg, of course, has had more than a taste of life at
the upper level of a public concern.
As Disney's studio chief, he resuscitated the company's
animation franchise, overseeing a run of profitable movies
including "Beauty and the Beast,"
"Aladdin" and "The Lion King."
Katzenberg also had early success in reviving Disney's
live-action business with such films as "Good Morning
Vietnam" and "Pretty Woman."
"I think Jeffrey is one of the best … executives in
the business and has all the skills and abilities to lead
any company," said Dick Cook, who worked for Katzenberg
at Disney and is now chairman of Disney Studios.
But Katzenberg's relationship with Eisner soured when he
unsuccessfully pressed for the No. 2 job at Disney after the
company's president, Frank Wells, died in a helicopter
The animosities erupted into one of the biggest legal
disputes in Hollywood after Katzenberg sued Disney in 1996,
contending that the company breached his employment
During court testimony, Eisner sought to portray Katzenberg
as overly demanding and greedy. At the same time, Eisner was
confronted with disparaging statements that he had made
about Katzenberg, including most infamously, "I hate
the little midget." The case was settled in 1999, with
Katzenberg walking away with an undisclosed sum estimated to
be at least $250 million.
Eisner painted a particularly unflattering portrait of his
one-time protege in his autobiography, "Work in
"My deepest concerns about Jeffrey had to do with the
way he conducted himself, and the degree to which he focused
on his own agenda rather than the company more
broadly," Eisner wrote.
The Disney board shared Eisner's assessment that Katzenberg
was not ready to step into Frank Wells' shoes, said a source
familiar with the directors' thinking at the time. The
board's view was that, despite his undeniable creative
talents, Katzenberg lacked both the experience and the
temperament needed to run a multifaceted company such as
Some who know Katzenberg say that he has softened his
abrasive style, at least a little bit, over the last 10
"Since leaving Disney, he's made a concerted effort to
realize he needs to conduct himself in a different
way," said one industry executive. "At least he's
changed the veneer."
Ultimately, though, it will be Katzenberg's ability to make
money — not friends — that determines how he fares as
To that end, he has at least some advantages over Pixar. A
big one, industry executives say, is that DreamWorks owns
100% of the movies it makes. By contrast, Pixar's movies
are, at least for now, 50% owned by Disney.
That gives DreamWorks — and Katzenberg — a lot of upside
potential and, some believe, a real shot at becoming a Wall
Snowbird couples work seasonal jobs at Disney
Andy Anderson retired in 1973 as a senior
master sergeant after a 26-year career in the Air Force.
Anderson and his wife, Doris, supplemented his pension with a
number of odd jobs, including managing an apartment complex
and working at a ski resort.
Now in their 70s and married for more than
half a century, the Andersons could be living in quiet
Instead, they have spent the past 10 winters
working at Walt Disney World, returning to their home in
Portage, Wis., for the warmer months.
"We would have started earlier (at
Disney) if we had known about it," says Doris Anderson.
"It's so much fun to meet people from all walks of life,
from different states, different countries. Every day is a
The Andersons, who live in a travel trailer
near Davenport, Fla., from October through March, are among
dozens of retired and middle-age couples who work at Disney
World and other area theme parks during the winter as
"seasonal casual" employees.
For instance, SeaWorld currently has 80
seasonal employees among its 55-and-older staff, including 17
couples. The couples typically work two to four days a week,
from November through April, with their schedules arranged so
they can travel to and from the park together, says Dawn
Garrett, SeaWorld's manager of employment.
Universal Orlando does not keep tabs on the
number of snowbird couples who work in its parks. However, of
the roughly 500 retirees who work there during the winter and
spring months, most are couples, spokesman Tom Shroder says.
When it comes to recruiting seasonal
employees, Universal advertises at assorted Central Florida
retirement communities, while SeaWorld relies mostly on word
Disney, which would not reveal how many
seasonal casual employees it has, recruits at
recreational-vehicle conventions and advertises in RV
publications. It also depends on people, such as Andy and
Doris Anderson, to spread the word. The couple, honored as
official "Casting Scouts" by Disney, estimates they
have recruited more than a dozen couples.
The Wisconsin snowbirds spend three days a
week ferrying guests between Epcot and Disney-MGM Studios,
stopping at assorted hotels along the way. On the Friendship
boats, which hold up to 100 passengers, one of the Andersons
pilots the launch while the other serves as a tour guide.
"I generally drive over to the (MGM)
Studios, and coming back she takes the wheel," explains
Andy Anderson. "I don't want to lollygag around a pool or
sit in a clubhouse playing pinochle. I like to stay busy. At
my age, it keeps me young. It keeps me active. I really and
truly love it."
So do Jerry and Brenda Carter, who retired
in 2001 from their respective jobs, rented out their house in
Waynesboro, Va., and began to reside full-time in their
38-foot motor home.
Since then, they have spent their summers
working in national parks and their winters working at Disney.
"We had been planning on doing this for
years and years," says Brenda Carter, 59, a former
beauty-shop owner. Her husband, three years older, was a
tool-and-die maker. Die-hard Disney fans, "we wanted to
know the inner workings of Disney, how they created the
magic," Carter says.
They landed what they consider a dream job
at Disney. As "character greeters" they usher
costumed characters in the Magic Kingdom and other Disney
"We're on the happy end of it. We get
to experience smiling kids," Brenda Carter says. They
rarely work together, but they're usually scheduled in the
same park at the same time, so they can drive to and from
"If Jerry works an hour or two later
than me, I just put on my street clothes and enjoy the
The Carters typically work six-hour shifts,
two or three days a week, although as casual employees, they
can work as many as 60 hours in a busy holiday week and as few
as zero hours during slow periods.
No problem. "When we're off, we spend a
lot of time in the park," Brenda Carter says.
"I love to walk down Main Street, stop
at the bakery, get a cup of coffee and watch people go by.
It's a busman's holiday."
Not all of Disney's seasonal casual
employees are retirees. Paul and Sandy Bailey left their
demanding jobs in Phoenix, Ariz., for a less-stressful
lifestyle. "The pay was great, but we thought, 'There's
got to be more to life,'" says Paul Bailey, who is 58.
Since 2000, he and Sandy, 49, have lived, traveled and worked
as "full-time RVers." They get by on their savings
as well as earnings from jobs they find in RV campgrounds
throughout the country.
They spent last summer at a campground in
Ocean City, Md., and came south for the winter. They didn't
plan to work at Disney but jumped at the opportunity when they
heard about it. Since November, they have worked together as
counter workers in the park's quick-service restaurants, such
as the Pinocchio Village Hause in Fantasyland.
They would prefer to work outside - Bailey
says he would love to drive the monorail or the train that
circles the Magic Kingdom - but they're not complaining. They
get to work together and meet lots of people. Bailey says the
odds are "better than 50-50" they'll return next
winter after spending the summer at a New Jersey campground.
"It's a big country, and normally we
wouldn't want to do the same gig twice," Bailey says.
"But there are not that many places to go in the winter
where it's warm and you're able to work."
Unlike the Baileys, Lenny and Marilyn Erb
have no doubts about where they will spend next winter.
After taking their 38-foot Dutchstar motor
home to either the Smoky Mountains or the Pacific Northwest
this summer-they spent the past two summers in Maine-they have
definite plans to return to Central Florida come October for
their seventh consecutive season at Disney.
"We dreamed our whole married life we'd
work at Disney. We thought it was the happiest, cleanest place
in the world," says Marilyn Erb, 59, who retired in 1998
after a 35-year career as a medical secretary in Lewiston, Pa.
Her husband, 67, was a Ford technician and retired on the same
Erb says their work as convention guides and
special-event helpers gives them opportunities to learn, and
keeps them active and together. They like the routine of
working at Disney for eight months a year and traveling in the
At some point, however, the couple plans to
live in Florida year-round. "Then," Marilyn Erb
says, "we'll work for Disney full time."
Help Countdown The Days Until
Christmas At Disney World
If you love Christmas and have been to the
Downtown Disney Marketplace at Disney World you are sure to be
familiar with Disney's Days of Christmas. The shop is filled
with an amazing assortment of Disney Christmas items to make
your Holiday Season a magical Disney one.
Each day at the shop a Cast Member randomly
chooses someone to change the numbers on the shops
"Countdown to Christmas" Calendar to reveal the
number of days remaining until the big day’s arrival.
Barbara Tyink, the retail manger of the shop
said, "The children are happy to help and are excited
because there is one less day until Christmas." Tyink
added, "The children are so happy, and they feel special
when they get their certificate. It’s fun for everyone.
It’s Christmas here all year long."
So the next time you are at Disney World, go
in and change the "Countdown to Christmas" calendar
for them, or at least ask if no one else has already.
Disney's Fairy Tale Wedding
Engagement Packages At the Disneyland Resort
This is a magical, evening to remember in
Disneyland’s Magic Kingdom after hours. Upon arrival, the
couple is invited by the Royal Coachmen to enjoy a fairy tale
ride in Cinderella’s Crystal Coach along Main Street, U.S.A.
As the coach approaches Sleeping Beauty Castle, Herald
Trumpeters perform a welcoming fanfare.
The couple is then escorted by the Fairy
Godmother to Snow White’s Wishing Well where a romantic
table is adorned with a bouquet of roses and a glass slipper
containing the couple’s engagement rings sitting atop a
velvet pillow. The evening is entranced by musical
arrangements of a strolling violinist at which Mickey and
Minnie Mouse arrive to lead the couple to the Castle Garden
for a romantic, five-course dinner under the stars served by a
Royal Butler. For a sweet ending, Cinderella’s Crystal Coach
waits for the couple with champagne and chocolate-covered
strawberries and a return down Main Street, U.S.A. A
professional photographer is on hand to capture the
evening’s magical moments.
Sleeping Beauty’s Royal Engagement
Includes all features of the Castle Garden
Engagement Package (listed below) and adds a romantic picnic
basket filled with wine and assorted cheeses accompanied by a
romantic serenade of a solo violinist. The couple is then
joined by Mickey and Minnie Mouse in formal attire who present
them with a beautiful Sleeping Beauty Castle keepsake and a
photographer to capture the event’s special moments. To
conclude the evening, the couple is presented with a chilled
bottle of champagne and chocolate covered strawberries to
toast their new beginning.
Prince Charming Engagement $4500.00
Offers a private, romantic setting in the
specially-reserved Magic Kingdom Castle Garden, near Sleeping
Beauty Castle during park hours. A bouquet of roses lies next
to a bottle of champagne chilling in a silver bucket. The
newly engaged couple is then awestruck with a private viewing
of the night sky lighting up with the perfect magical
backdrop: the Disney's Imagine ... "A Fantasy in the
Sky" fireworks extravaganza! The couple is then presented
with Mickey and Minnie Mouse Wedding ears and a keepsake glass
slipper with a tray of chocolate truffles.
Castle Garden Engagement $2000.00
Euro Disney sales seen adding to debt deadline woes
Third quarter sales
figures expected this week for France's Euro Disney theme park
are expected to reveal slower growth in visitor spending and
add to its woes as it struggles to restructure its
2.4-billion-euro (2.9-billion-dollar) debt, analysts predict.
One week before the July 31 deadline for
shareholder approval, Euro Disney's second biggest
shareholder, Prince al-Waleed bin Talal, has yet to formally
signal support for the debt rescheduling plan as well as a
proposed capital increase of 250 million euros.
The company suspended debt payments in
November and has said it cannot repay its debt unless
shareholders back the refinancing plan.
"We expect a slowing in the rise in
theme park revenues in the third quarter," Fideuram
Wargny analyst Virginie Blin predicted.
"We are very worried about attendances
at the (theme) parks as first half figures gave no convincing
signs of a very favourable impact from the new commercial and
marketing policy," Blin said.
Euro Disney's resort east of Paris is
Europe's most popular tourist attraction but the 12.4 million
visitors last year were nowhere near enough to put the company
into profit, Blin said.
Attendance levels are the beacon towards
which all eyes will be turned, she said, adding that Euro
Disney has been faced with an inadequate return on assets
since the March 2002 opening of a second theme park, the Walt
"The current attendance level (12.4
million in 2003) is far below the profit threshold estimated
at 16-17 million vistors," the Wargny analyst said.
Wargny estimates Euro Disney sales for the
nine months to June will be flat at 749 million euros, with
revenues from the theme parks up 5.4 percent and turnover at
its hotels down 4.3 percent at 294 million.
For the six months to March, Euro Disney
announced sales of 473.8 million euros, boosted by a six
percent increase in theme park revenues.
But average spending per visitor in that
period rose largely because of a decision to scrap a reduction
in entry tickets during the low season, Blin said.
The 250-million-euro capital increase
project has been backed by Euro Disney's core shareholder, The
Walt Disney Company, which will put up 100 million euros in
proportion to its 39.1 percent stake.
Leading creditor Caisse des Depots et
Consignations will provide another 75 million euros and other
banks the remainder, according to reports.
The rights issue will be carried out by
March 31 next year if creditors back the scheme.
In addition, the company would obtain a new
10-year 150-million-euro line of credit from Walt Disney,
reducing to 100 million euros after five years.
A Memorandum of Understanding agreed by Walt
Disney and CDC provides for conversion of 290 million in
payments due to Walt Disney into a minority equity position in
a subsidiary that would hold substantially all of Euro
Disney's assets and liabilities, the company said.
Other proposed terms include deferral of
interest and repayments on various debts, with payment of
amounts owed to Walt Disney and CDC delayed until 2017 or
Valerie Carriere of CAI Cheuvreux said the
"first condition" for a successful rescheduling had
been met, as agreement by lenders to renounce some of their
financial obligations for a while is one of the requirements
for starting the financial restructuring of the group.
Andre Lacroix, Euro Disney's chief
executive, said the restructuring was necessary "in order
to enable us to execute our strategy of adding exciting new
rides and attractions to fuel long-term growth."
The latest crisis stems directly from the
failure of Walt Disney Studios to attract enough extra
visitors to the Marne-la-Valle resort to enable the company to
pay off the 610-million-euro cost of building the second park.
Euro Disney hoped it would add another four
million people to the 12.2 million visiting Disneyland Paris
Instead, attendances edged up only to 13.1
million in 2002 and fell back to 12.4 million last year.
Branded a "cultural Chernobyl" by
French opponents when the original theme park opened in 1992,
Euro Disney hit financial difficulties as early as 1994, when
Alwaleed rescued Euro Disney by taking a major stake.
But the Saudi prince reduced his holding to
16.3 percent from 24.7 last year. His staff said he was
willing to talk about the latest debt problems but have given
no details of his attitude towards the plan.
For stock market investors, Euro Disney has
long ceased to be a major attraction.
ABC launching 'News Now' on digital cable
US network ABC News is
today launching its 24-hour presidential election service on
digital cable, the internet and mobile phones.
The venture, ABC News Now,
offers viewers gavel-to-gavel coverage of the Democratic
National Convention, presented by veteran anchorman Peter
The service will compete with rivals on
multiple platforms, and offer some local programming.
ABC News president David Westin
said: "We wouldn't be doing this if we didn't suspect
there was a business for us in the long run." It is
understood that some broadband internet service providers,
such as America Online, will offer ABC News Now for free,
though the broadband offering is otherwise priced at $4.95 per
ABC conceded it had no idea how many viewers
and internet users would be attracted to the service. "I
am eager to find out," said Westin.
Briggs Takes To The Molecular Level
Darwin's Findings On Plants Sensing The Direction Of Light
US National Academy of Sciences member and
Stanford Professor Winslow R. Briggs will speak at the
American Society of Plant Biologists (ASPB) annual meeting
July 24, 2004 in Orlando, Florida about findings in his
studies of how plants sense the direction of light.
Most casual observers have likely noticed
that seedlings on a windowsill will grow toward the light.
This phenomenon, known as phototropism, is a manifestation of
a sensitive system plants have for detecting light. This light
sensing system guides seedlings through the soil and has
profound influences on their development during the critical
stage of seedling establishment and later as the leaves adapt
to changes in the light environment.
Briggs's research group has discovered the
two-member family of protein molecules that serves as the
detector and decoder of the blue photons on which the seedling
cues to determine the direction of light. The molecule, known
as phototropin, is now being intensively studied because of
its unique properties by chemists and biophysicists as well as
Professor Briggs began experimenting on how
plants detect the direction and intensity of light in the
1950's, but he certainly was not the first to be drawn to this
fascinating example of sensory biology. For example, Charles
Darwin and his son were drawn to the phenomenon and performed
some classic experiments that paved the way for further
studies, including Briggs' successful approaches. The Darwins
could not have imagined that the topic would in the 21st
century be studied at the molecular level as it is now.
Professor Briggs will present his group's
latest findings on the topic at the ASPB Annual meeting during
the Major Symposium on Tropisms 4 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. Saturday,
July 24, 2004 in Coronado Ballrooms L-T at Disney's
Coronado Springs Resort & Convention Center.
Champions Crowned at the 2004 US
Youth Soccer National Championships
US Youth Soccer National Champions
were crowned today at Disney’s Wide World of Sports Complex.
Champions in the Boys and Girls Under-14 through Under-19 age
groups from each regional event met to battle for the US Youth
Soccer National Championship.
The Far West Region took home top honors on
the day with seven National Championships, the Midwest Region
followed with two and Region I earned one. The California
South State Associations won four National Championships,
followed by California-North and Missouri with two each.
Michigan, Illinois, Maryland and Hawaii each take home a
In Under-19 action, the HSC Bulls ’85 of
Hawaii won the island state’s first-ever US Youth Soccer
National Championship, defeating CASL Elite of North Carolina
“I’m extremely proud of these players
and they deserve all the credit,” said HSC Head Coach Phil
Neddo. “A little island in the middle of the Pacific just
won a National Championship, and the name Hawaii will never be
taken off the James P. McGuire Cup.
The Pleasanton Rage take home the Under-19
Girls Championship, shutting out Georgia’s GSA Phoenix Red
2-0. adidas Golden Boot winner Christina Estrada netted the
first goal for Pleasanton Rage at 62:00, with teammate
Jennifer Tuttle following with the insurance goal at 86:00.
“I’ve coached them for seven years and
this is their 2nd National Championship,” said head coach
Jay Fischer. “This is an incredible way to end their US
Youth Soccer career.”
The Michigan Hawks won the Under-18 Girls
title, by a score of 3-2 over the San Diego Surf. The Surf’s
Amy Epsten opened scoring at 10:00, to be followed by
Michigan’s Melissa Dobbyn at 33:00. Epsten came back with
another tally at 63:00 and was answered twice by the Hawks’
Nicole Cauzillo at 67:00 and 81:00
“It’s unbelievable. Our hard work has
gotten us here and its very rewarding,” said Michigan Hawks
captain Maureen Pawlak “We’ve been together for 10 years
and its good to go out like this.”
Missouri took home another National
Championship, with a victory in the Under-18 Boys group. Busch
SC shutout the Sereno ’86 White (Arizona) 2-0. Busch’s
Zachary Przybeck tallied the first goal at 68:00, followed by
teammate Kyle Smith at 76:00.
In Girls Under-17 action, So Cal United
(California South) downed the Windy City Pride (Illinois) 4-1.
So Cal’s Kristina Loucks tallied a hat trick on the day,
with goals at 3:00, 43:00 and 90+, teammate Alex Fries added
one for good measure at 29:00. Windy City’s Crysti Howser
showed signs of a rally, finding the back of the net at 82:00,
but the So Cal defense minded their territory and took home
the US Youth Soccer National Championship.
Host state Florida’s Weston came up short
in overtime, loosing 2-1 to Scott Gallagher of Missouri in the
Under-17 Boys final. Weston’s Juan Guerra scored on a
25-yard bomb from center but Scott Gallagher’s Timothy
Walters was too much, scoring both goals, including the
The Casa Mia Bays of the Boys Under-16 group
defended their 2003 US Youth Soccer National Championship.
Maryland’s Casa Mia defeated FC United (Washington) 3-0,
with two goals from adidas® Golden Boot winner Xavier Rock.
“They may not be the best team on paper,
but on the field these guys are super,” said Casa Mia Head
Coach Stephen Nichols. “These guys respond to pressure -
they have all year.”
The Eclipse Select (Illinois) downed the
Slammers FC (California South) 2-1 in Under-16 Girls
Championship action today. Down two-goals, the Slammers tested
the Eclipse defense late in the game with a goal at 68:00, but
the Eclipse defense held strong and claimed their national
“This team is all about character. We
began as a piece of paper, pages of notes on player
identification when the girls were 13 and 14 years old,”
said Eclipse Select Head Coach Mike Nesci. “The goal was
simple - to win the National Championship. Today we’ve met
our goal, and in less time than we originally thought
“All year, the girls showed desire and I
believe their character is what got them here today. Character
always prevails,” added Nesci.
It took only one goal for California
North’s Mustang Blast to win the Under-15 Girls trophy and
defeat the Michigan Hawks. Heather Vandevanter found the back
of the net at 31:00 and that proved to be enough.
California South’s Arsenal FC downed the
Chicago Magic 2-1 in the Under-15 Boys final. Chicago netted
one goal at 65:00 but Arsenal’s defense kept them at bay
through the final seconds of the match.
In Under-14 Girls action, the Eagles
(California South) downed the ESC ’90 Black (Oklahoma) 2-1.
The teams played evenly for 64 minutes until the Eagles’
Kelsea Smith netted her first goal. Six minutes later, Smith
followed up with the insurance goal. ESC pushed the issue with
a tally in extra minutes, but the Eagles defense proved strong
enough to win the US Youth Soccer National Championship.
“In the last ten minutes, they took their
effort to a whole new level,” said Eagles Head Coach Vince
Thomas. “We’ve said to ourselves all along that we need to
take responsibility for winning. Kelsea showed guts getting
that last goal – and that’s how she’s been all week.”
The Under-14 Boys crown went to another
California South team, the Celtic Harps downed the Rockford
Raptors (Illinois) 3-1, finding the back of the net twice in
the first half. According to team officials, some of the
Celtic Harps have already been playing together for six years,
while Head Coach Matthew McDonagh claims his first National
Championship after 25 years of coaching.
Complete Game Results are available at www.usyouthsoccer.org.
July 25, 2004
Tours Take Guests Behind the Scenes
For a Closer Look at Walt Disney World Magic
The Walt Disney World Resort most guests see
is the picture postcard one. Many-splendored Cinderella Castle.
Colorful parades. Busy ferryboats plying Epcot’s waters with
distant Spaceship Earth looming like a silver moonrise.
But guests with more than a passing interest
in what makes it all tick can choose from a variety of
expert-led tours -- onstage and backstage. The creative magic of
Disney Imagineers, the world-class skills of Disney
horticulturists and animal care specialists, and the wonders of
Walt Disney World Resort are shared on these fascinating and
fun-filled tours. It’s the magic behind the magic.
The newest tour offering is Epcot Seas Aqua
Tour, which provides guests who don’t have an open-water scuba
certification an in-the-water experience with the animals of
Epcot’s The Living Seas. Guests use scuba-assisted snorkeling
equipment during the 2½-hour program.
Real Disney aficionados can get their fix on
Backstage Magic, a comprehensive, daylong guided tour which
calls at three of the four major Disney theme parks and treats
guests to special surprises along the way. In seven hours
(including lunch) guests peek behind the curtains at Epcot,
Disney-MGM Studios and Magic Kingdom -- areas strictly
off-limits to regular guests.
There are 12 themed tours offered throughout
the year plus a Yuletide Fantasy offering during December.
Information about themed tours is available by calling
And for guests who’d like the ultimate
customized experience, there’s a custom guided tour service
which can plan and lead a personalized itinerary. To plan a
custom guided tour, guests may call Disney Special Activities at
Disney concert excites Cal Phil
Violinist Elizabeth Blake, like every music lover
in Southern California, has long anticipated her first visit to
Disney Hall, the shiny new home of the Los Angeles Philharmonic
in downtown Los Angeles.
But her busy schedule as a professional
musician and teacher has left her little time for concertgoing.
This weekend, she will get her first chance to experience the
glories of the new hall. She'll be performing there Sunday with
the California Philharmonic Orchestra under Music Director
For Blake -- and for Vener and the Cal Phil --
the chance to perform at Disney is an important milestone.
"(Playing at Disney) adds a lot of credibility to your
reputation," Blake said. "People are looking at me and
saying, ‘You are playing in Disney Hall,' and are very
impressed, and these are people who know that I am a musician
and that I have played professionally for many years, but this
is something very special."
Special for Vener and the orchestra, too, a
way for them to establish themselves critically and
professionally after eight successful years of performing summer
concerts at the Los Angeles County Arboretum and Botanic Gardens
in Arcadia (the orchestra performs there Saturday) and in venues
around the San Gabriel Valley. Both concerts, featuring music by
de Falla, Rimsky-Korsakov, Ravel and Rodrigo, will feature
soprano Suzanna Guzman in works by de Falla and guitarist Adam
del Monte in Rodrigo's beloved "Concierto de Aranjuez."
The orchestra will perform two more times at Disney Hall this
Blake has been a member of Cal Phil since
1999, when she joined the orchestra as violinist. But she has
been a member of the orchestra's extended family much longer.
When she was 11 years old, Liz and Sabina Vener Harvey, Maestro
Vener's daughter and now a member of the Cal Phil, were practice
partners and performed together in the Pasadena Youth Symphony
Orchestra. Cal Phil violinist Janita Keck is also part of
Blake's musical family: "She was my elementary school
orchestra director," Blake said.
Blake has medium-length blond hair and a
bright smile, and she seems to be much too youthful to have as
much musical experience as she does, but, then, she began
playing the violin in her native Pasadena when she was only 3.
"I was watching Isaac Stern on television when I was 3
years old," Blake explained. "When I saw him playing
the violin, I said to my mother ‘I want to do that.'
"That was back when the Suzuki violin
program had just been introduced to the United States. I was
watching television because my mother had a friend over for tea.
The friend had five children who were all involved in the Suzuki
program, and one daughter had outgrown a tiny violin. When she
heard me say I wanted to play, she gave my mother that violin.
It was a little bit accidental that the friend was over for tea
at just the right moment for me."
Blake performed early in her life, with youth
orchestras in Pasadena, and went to Northwestern University,
where she earned her bachelor's degree in violin performance and
also in German. But from the moment she picked up that tiny
violin, she always knew that that was what she wanted to do.
She returned to Los Angeles after college and
began a career in local orchestra, including the San Bernardino
Symphony and the Riverside Symphony, and then moved to
Knoxville, Tenn., where she performed for nine years in the
Knoxville Symphony and met her husband, David. He joined the
symphony the same year she did, and is a Knoxville native. They
moved back to the Highland Park section of Los Angeles in 1997,
and Liz spent most of 1998 touring with Michael Crawford.
"That was fun," she said. "But I can't imagine
myself spending my life on tour."
She joined Cal Phil in 1999 and also became
the orchestral director for the student orchestra at Los
Cerritos Middle School in Thousand Oaks, where she has 51
students in two separate sections of orchestral music. Again,
the assignment is a family operation: husband David is the band
director at the same school (he's a trombonist).
Blake faces the concert Sunday with a
combination of awe and expectation, mixed with the professional
calm of decades of professional experience, but you can hear the
excitement in her voice when she talks about it.
"Playing at Disney Hall is a
validation," she said. "People are in awe when you
Disney hopes to transform show tent into a magic kingdom
As if there weren't enough attractions to
interest kids attending the Washington County Fair, a new event
has been added this year.
Radio Disney, a station geared to kids ages 6
to 14 and their mothers and heard locally at AM 540, will be at
the show tent at the fair from 4 to 8 p.m. Aug. 19 with a
variety of activities.
Two DJs, Magic Marker and Rockin' Renee, will
host activities that will test kids' Disney IQ and let them show
off their cool dance moves and air guitar skills. Radio Disney
promises a fun family event with popular music, interactive
games and great prizes.
Radio Disney broadcasts in 56 markets spanning
61 percent of the U.S.
The station has joined forces with the
Pennsylvania Beef Council for the event.
Making its first appearance in Pennsylvania
during the festivities will be the National Beef Council's
Beefmobile, a van painted with can't-miss pictures of beef on
Paul Slayton, executive director of the
Pennsylvania Beef Council, said his organization is trying to
reach some of the same group as Radio Disney, namely teenagers
and teenage girls in particular.
"We have a really good story to tell and
that is an audience of ours we have a hard time reaching,"
Beef representatives will be cooking up
hamburgers and handing out materials about the benefits of
"We hope that it is a raging
success," Slayton said.
Disney Characters Roaming The Streets
Of New York
The World of Disney is opening this fall in
the place most recently occupied by the now closed Disney Store
on Fifth Avenue. This store will be a part of the Walt Disney
Parks and Resorts Merchandise team just like the World of Disney
stores that are located at Disneyland and Walt Disney World.
This is the first location outside of a Disney
theme park or Disney Cruise Line to offer the character
meet-and-greet experience on a daily basis. This will allow for
the Disney fans in New York the ability to visit with some of
their favorite Disney characters without having to visit one of
Jay Rasulo, the President of the Walt Disney
Parks and Resorts is thrilled to bring Disney storytelling,
entertainment and a taste of Disney’s world-famous theme park
experience to the Big Apple. The shop will be stocked with a
wide range of traditional Disney items as well as items for the
trendy New York shoppers. Items ranging from cashmere sweaters
and vintage T-shirts, Buena Vista games and music to a Disney
Expected weak Euro Disney sales seen
adding to debt deadline woes
Third quarter sales figures expected this week
for France's Euro Disney theme park are expected to reveal
slower growth in visitor spending and add to its woes as it
struggles to restructure its 2.4-billion-euro
(2.9-billion-dollar) debt, analysts predict.
One week before the July 31 deadline for
shareholder approval, Euro Disney's second biggest shareholder,
Prince al-Waleed bin Talal, has yet to formally signal support
for the debt rescheduling plan as well as a proposed capital
increase of 250 million euros.
The company suspended debt payments in
November and has said it cannot repay its debt unless
shareholders back the refinancing plan.
"We expect a slowing in the rise in theme
park revenues in the third quarter," Fideuram Wargny
analyst Virginie Blin predicted.
"We are very worried about attendances at
the (theme) parks as first half figures gave no convincing signs
of a very favourable impact from the new commercial and
marketing policy," Blin said.
Euro Disney's resort east of Paris is Europe's
most popular tourist attraction but the 12.4 million visitors
last year were nowhere near enough to put the company into
profit, Blin said.
Attendance levels are the beacon towards which
all eyes will be turned, she said, adding that Euro Disney has
been faced with an inadequate return on assets since the March
2002 opening of a second theme park, the Walt Disney Studios.
"The current attendance level (12.4
million in 2003) is far below the profit threshold estimated at
16-17 million vistors," the Wargny analyst said.
Wargny estimates Euro Disney sales for the
nine months to June will be flat at 749 million euros, with
revenues from the theme parks up 5.4 percent and turnover at its
hotels down 4.3 percent at 294 million.
For the six months to March, Euro Disney
announced sales of 473.8 million euros, boosted by a six percent
increase in theme park revenues.
But average spending per visitor in that
period rose largely because of a decision to scrap a reduction
in entry tickets during the low season, Blin said.
The 250-million-euro capital increase project
has been backed by Euro Disney's core shareholder, The Walt
Disney Company, which will put up 100 million euros in
proportion to its 39.1 percent stake.
Leading creditor Caisse des Depots et
Consignations will provide another 75 million euros and other
banks the remainder, according to reports.
The rights issue will be carried out by March
31 next year if creditors back the scheme.
In addition, the company would obtain a new
10-year 150-million-euro line of credit from Walt Disney,
reducing to 100 million euros after five years.
A Memorandum of Understanding agreed by Walt
Disney and CDC provides for conversion of 290 million in
payments due to Walt Disney into a minority equity position in a
subsidiary that would hold substantially all of Euro Disney's
assets and liabilities, the company said.
Other proposed terms include deferral of
interest and repayments on various debts, with payment of
amounts owed to Walt Disney and CDC delayed until 2017 or later.
Valerie Carriere of CAI Cheuvreux said the
"first condition" for a successful rescheduling had
been met, as agreement by lenders to renounce some of their
financial obligations for a while is one of the requirements for
starting the financial restructuring of the group.
Andre Lacroix, Euro Disney's chief executive,
said the restructuring was necessary "in order to enable us
to execute our strategy of adding exciting new rides and
attractions to fuel long-term growth."
The latest crisis stems directly from the
failure of Walt Disney Studios to attract enough extra visitors
to the Marne-la-Valle resort to enable the company to pay off
the 610-million-euro cost of building the second park.
Euro Disney hoped it would add another four
million people to the 12.2 million visiting Disneyland Paris
Instead, attendances edged up only to 13.1
million in 2002 and fell back to 12.4 million last year.
Branded a "cultural Chernobyl" by
French opponents when the original theme park opened in 1992,
Euro Disney hit financial difficulties as early as 1994, when
Alwaleed rescued Euro Disney by taking a major stake.
But the Saudi prince reduced his holding to
16.3 percent from 24.7 last year. His staff said he was willing
to talk about the latest debt problems but have given no details
of his attitude towards the plan.
For stock market investors, Euro Disney has
long ceased to be a major attraction.
The Fan's Guide to WDW -- Travel
The travel channel will be premiering a brand new show on Walt
Disney World titled "The Fan's Guide to WDW"
The show will premiere Sunday, August 1st at 9:00 PM est. time.
Disney's 2004 Holiday Gift Guide Video Section
Below are scans of the video section of Disney's 2004 Holiday Gift
Guide. Click the picture for a larger view.
Small Disney World Update
In Tomorrowland at Magic Kingdom the X-S Tech signs are starting
to come down. 2 small signs are still up, but the biggest is gone.
A large piece of land has been cleared at Typhoon Lagoon, it is
not known what will fill the empty space but, the biggest rumor
going is a Water Coaster/Flume Raft Ride. This is just a rumor and
should be taken as just that.
Body of work on Disney
Pennsylvania man is drawn to Walt's magic, and it shows all over,
with tattoos from his neck to his toes.
George Reiger Jr. claims to be Disney's No. 1 fan.
If you want to challenge him, you'll have to
beat this: 1,643 tattoos of Disney characters from the base of his
neck to the tops of his toes; a 4,200-square-foot house in
Bethlehem, Pa., with 19,000 Disney collector pieces, and six
honeymoons at Walt Disney World in Florida.
And when he finally leaves it all behind, his will calls for his
ashes to be spread in the Pirates of the Caribbean ride.
Nothing is more important than Disney, says
Reiger, in Anaheim this week for the National Fantasy Fan Club
convention, a gathering of Disney collectors. Many have devoted
their vacations and paychecks to Disney memorabilia; Reiger has
devoted most of his skin - and his life - to the Magic Kingdom.
"My love for Disney comes first – that's
why I've been through so many wives," he said this week at
the Crown Plaza Anaheim Resort, headquarters for the NFFC meeting.
"Both my daughters (ages 18 and 25) have moved out, too. They
got tired of everything Disney."
Like the Mickey Mouse waffle iron, Mickey Mouse
teapot and cookie jar, and the Little Mermaid-themed bathroom.
Reiger strolled the convention rooms in shorts and a tank top,
showing off his tattoos. A decade ago, there were 300 and his goal
was 500. Now, he keeps squeezing them in, adding 47 Disney rides,
111 cast members and 13 hidden Mickeys to the characters.
Monstro, the whale from Pinocchio, yawns across
his belly. Beauty and the Beast dance on his left shoulder. Alice
in Wonderland fills his upper arm, surrounded by menacing playing
On his back you can count 101 Dalmations, plus
two. Yeah, he and his tattoo artist got carried away.
On his forearm is Reiger's first and favorite,
the one he got at 18 - Mickey Mouse as the apprentice in the film
"Fantasia." There are 28 more in places "only wives
Each tattoo is drawn by Sam Snyder of Easton,
Pa. It's part of the deal Reiger made with Disney to wear the
copyrighted characters on his body. He also agreed not to appear
in a tattoo magazine or to make money off his display.
Reiger admits that it's odd for a 50-year-old
man to be obsessed with characters created for children. But he
says the magic created by Walt Disney filled the voids of his
childhood. He grew up with his grandmother and Disney television
shows. He visited his first theme park, Disneyland, at age 8.
"Disney raised me,'' he said. "It's my
He has visited theme parks on three continents,
including Walt Disney World 379 times, and figures he pours
$50,000 a year into the company cash registers. It's most of what
he makes as a postal maintenance worker and magician. He says it
makes him happy.
"It makes hundreds of thousands of us
happy," he said. "That was Walt's dream."
Fireworks Shell Prompts Investigation
Disney has reportedly launched a
formal investigation this week after a company fireworks shell
was discovered miles away from theme park property, according to
Local 6 News.
Officials said someone found the
shell at the East Orange County landfill off Young Pine Road.
Law enforcement and Disney now want to know how the shell ended
up at the landfill.
Disney officials told Local 6
News that they are very concerned because of the tight control
they have on their fireworks.
Officials said they work closely
with the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms and Explosives
to make sure all regulations are followed.
They said a fireworks security
breach is highly unusual.
“Gold Medal Resort”
For the fifth time, the Walt Disney World
Resort has been rated by Golf Magazine as a “Gold
Medal Resort.” This year, 25 resorts won the award, which rates
course excellence and the overall resort experience as judged by
readers and the magazine's own raters. Walt Disney World Resort is
home to five championship courses.
Jungle tale is Disney's summer hope
Director: Jean-Jacques Annaud
Cast: Guy Pearce, Jean-Claude Dreyfus, Freddie
Highmore, Oanh Nguyen
When a couple of tigers out-act the humans - and here they really
do - then you know Disney must be involved somewhere.
They are, and this charming if fluffy slight tale of the jungle is
their big summer hope; hope fades already.
Well, OK, so the kiddies will love it since you simply could not
dislike the antics of Kumal and Sangha, two Indochina tigers, who
have been separated at birth and brought up under vastly different
As with most Disney films the sugar is so-so sweet and the animals
are laden with human characteristics in an attempt to make them
more accessible; but, hay, they're animals, big wonderful-looking
tigers, they come with more natural charisma than most of the
humans and they don't need the Burbank treatment.
But they are lovely to behold; burning bright!
Me, me, me: the Disney gospel
Disney may have colonised the imagination of the
world's children for the best part of 80 years, but - remarkably
in one of the world's most ostentatiously Christian countries - it
has done so without the aid of God.
The latest book by the author and journalist
Mark Pinsky shows the film industry's most family-oriented
entertainer rarely mentions God, and that such religious figures
as there are in its animated films are almost entirely bad.
The Gospel According to Disney: Faith, Trust
and Pixie Dust argues: "In the more than 35 animated
features Disney has released since 1937, there is scarcely a
mention of God as conceived in the Christian and Jewish faiths
shared by most people in the Western world and many beyond."
The first ordained character to have a big part
in a Disney cartoon was Frollo, the villainous priest in The
Hunchback of Notre Dame, and he did not appear until 1996,
nearly 60 years after the studio's first feature film.
Americans appear to have scarcely noticed that
none of the Disneyland theme parks - replete with every other
aspect of US main street culture - has a church. The company's
cruise liners do not have a chapel. The reason, the book says, was
Disney's determination not to offend anyone in a way that would
hamper the making of money.
Instead, it has quietly subverted the Christian
gospel with unChristian themes: belief in magic, that good people
are handsome and that what you wish for really can come true.
"The Gospel of Disney is all about
me," Pinsky writes. "My dreams. My will. 'When you wish
upon a star, your dreams come true.' The Disney bible has but one
verse and that's it. Walt's religion was built on the unfailing
American belief that virtue and hard work will make all your
dreams come true."
Pinsky notes that even in the earliest films the
company shied away from religious symbolism. When Geppetto, the
woodcarver in Pinocchio, falls to his knees to ask for his
puppet to be given life, he does not pray to God, even though his
eyes are raised heavenwards, but to a blue fairy. In Fantasia,
the finale may be Schubert's Ave Maria but instead of
showing a stained glass window, as planned, the film ends with
trees forming a gothic arch through which the sunset can be seen.
The book quotes Disney's daughter Sharon as
saying that her father was very religious. "But he did not
believe you had to go to church to be religious. He respected
The films' generally wholesome messages have
been used by clergy for decades to teach children about
self-reliance, compassion and loyalty.
The films have also portrayed less positive
ideas - in the casual racism of the early pictures: the black
crows in Dumbo; the obsequious black female centaurs in
early versions of Fantasia; and in occasional
The book argues that since Disney's death, the
company has branched out into animism in Pocahontas,
feminism in Beauty and the Beast and Mulan,
adventure capitalism in Atlantis and even Hinduism's great
circle of life tradition in The Lion King, set in Africa.
It got its fingers burnt when Aladdin,
made a decade before the World Trade Centre attacks, prompted
complaints of Arabophobia. All the film's villains have large
noses, dark complexions, facial hair and heavy accents.
It is only in the past few years that one of the
United States' most influential religious lobbying organisations
has complained - and then because of the corporation's off-screen
The 16 million-strong Southern Baptists launched
an unsuccessful boycott of Disney products in the mid-'90s after
Disney introduced equal rights for gay employees and their
The book says the Baptists also complained about
a one-second sequence in the marriage ceremony of The Little
Mermaid, which, they said, showed the officiating minister in
a state of sexual arousal. Closer inspection showed that the
offending picture actually showed the minister's knee.
"Walt Disney created his animated features
to entertain people and to make money, not to evangelise,"
Pinsky says. "If in the process Disney made the world a
better place, that was a fine but unintended byproduct. His
company was never a philanthropic undertaking."
DreamWorks' IPO, Disney's Nightmare
The last thing the Mouse House needs is another well-heeled
competitor, but that's what it's likely to get
The hits just keep on coming for Michael Eisner -- and not
necessarily the good kind. The Disney chief executive, under
fire for apparently driving away Steve Jobs's Pixar Animation
unit, now has to watch his one-time studio chief Jeffrey
Katzenberg take dead aim at Disney's animation stronghold.
Katzenberg, who in 1994 left Disney to form DreamWorks SKG with
fellow moguls David Geffen and Steven Spielberg, will head
DreamWorks soon-to-be spun-off animation unit, which filed its
initial public offering on July 21.
The announcement that Katzenberg
will head the publicly traded company is just DreamWorks' latest
shot across Disney's -- and Eisner's -- bow. DreamWorks' Shrek
2, released in late May, has grossed more than $410 million at
the U.S. box office, pretty much trampling prospects for Disney's
animated Home on the Range, which has grossed a dismal $49
million. With its IPO, DreamWorks intends to raise $650 million,
of which it says it will retain $175 million to make two
computer-generated films a year.
Disney has said that it's gearing up its own animated-film unit to
make computer-generated flicks, having determined that the market
for traditionally hand-drawn films has begun to wane, but
DreamWorks clearly has a headstart.
KEEPING PRIVATE. Insiders have
been saying for months that an IPO was coming, in large part so
that Katzenberg and his fellow moguls could reward employees who
have largely worked without bonuses as the company has suffered
intermittent dry spells with its live-action films and TV series.
(To read how BusinessWeek broke the story in May, see.)
Even last year, DreamWorks' animated unit lost $189 million, the
IPO says, as hand-drawn films Sinbad and Spirit:
Stallion of the Cimarron flopped at the box office.
DreamWorks says it has six computer-generated films in various
stages of development through 2006, including one that sources say
is Shrek 3, slated to open Christmas, 2006. Later this
year, it will release Shark Tale, which features the voices
of Will Smith and Robert De Niro. DreamWorks has said it, too,
will likely no longer produce hand-drawn movies.
DreamWorks officials declined to comment on the IPO, because
they're in a quiet period. The IPO is expected to go to market
sometime later this year. But filings with the Securities &
Exchange Commission say Geffen and Katzenberg will both sit on the
board, with Katzenberg acting as president and CEO. The chairman
will be Roger A. Enrico, the former chairman of PepsiCo Spielberg
won't sit on the board or have the ability to designate a board
member, according to the offering. Those with knowledge of the
situation say the director opted out of a board seat, not wanting
to make public the amount of money he receives for directing
DISNEY'S BIND. Dreamworks' S-1
filing doesn't spell out exactly what Spielberg, Katzenberg, and
Geffen would each receive from the spin-off, but it does indicate
that Geffen and Katzenberg, who will have voting Class B shares
that are worth 15 times Class A stock, would control the company.
Spielberg is expected to receive an equal number of shares, but
the filing doesn't spell out what type of shares. Microsoft
co-founder Paul Allen, who owns a 24% stake in DreamWorks, will be
issued special Class C stock that will give him a board seat, but
his stock doesn't carry any more than a single vote per share.
What does this all mean for Disney, which now could face a
well-financed competitor in DreamWorks as well as Pixar, which at
last count had more than $740 million in cash, investments, and
receivables on its own books? If Pixar walks, as its contract with
Disney allows it to do sometime next year, Disney will be in a bit
of a pickle. You have to think the folks in the Magic Kingdom are
looking for some way to restore the animation franchise that once
ruled the industry.
2004 Holiday Gift Guide
Disney has released their 2004
Holiday Gift Guide, which previews some of the major Disney DVD
releases coming later this year and early next. The Holiday Gift
Guide includes information and photos from these
From this, we learn that the
Wonderful World of Disney's 2003 telemovie Eloise at
Christmastime will be making its way to DVD on November 16. No
word on bonus features, but SRP will be $24.99. Meanwhile, the
direct-to-video Mulan II, originally slated for
this fall, has been pushed back to February 8, 2005, which rings
in the the Chinese New Year.
ESPN The Weekend to Feature
an All Star Line-Up of Sports Celebrities July 31-Aug. 1
ESPN's 25th anniversary celebration
at Disney-MGM Studios at Walt Disney World Resort in Lake Buena
Vista, Fla., July 31 and Aug. 1 -- will give fans of all sports
the opportunity to see many of their favorite athletes as more
than 30 professional sports stars and former Olympians are
scheduled to appear, along with more than 25 ESPN
personalities.The list of Hall of Famers, sports legends and
current stars will feature athletes and coaches from Major League
Baseball, the NBA, NFL, NHL, the Olympics and the world of action
sports. In all, ESPN The Weekend will mark the largest collection
of sports stars ever assembled at one time at the Walt Disney
World theme parks. Those scheduled to appear include: Scotty
Bowman, Grant Fuhr, Richard "Rip" Hamilton, Michael
Irvin, Bruce Jenner, Mike Metzger, Joe Namath, Dave Stewart, Kerri
Strug, Lawrence Taylor, Joe Theismann, James Worthy and others.
Over the two days, ESPN will
present live telecasts (spaced through morning, afternoon and
evening) from a set in front of the Disney-MGM Studios Mickey's
Sorcerer's Hat. On-site programs include a special season-preview
edition of "College GameDay" and live, on-site telecasts
of "Baseball Tonight" (twice daily), as well as "SportsCenter"
and ESPNEWS segments. Park guests can watch the programs live as
well as via two large video screens.
ESPN personalities scheduled to
appear include: "SportsCenter" anchors Linda Cohn, Dana
Jacobson, Dan Patrick, Stuart Scott, Trey Wingo and newcomer Mike
Hall, as well as the broadcast teams from "Baseball
Tonight," "Cold Pizza," "College GameDay"
and "Fuera de Juego" on ESPN Deportes.
In addition to the ESPN broadcasts,
sports celebrities and ESPN personalities will make appearances
throughout Disney-MGM Studios during this first-of-its-kind event.
ESPN The Weekend will include star motorcades and conversations
with network personalities and athletes; sports shows in the ESPN
Theater featuring ESPN commentators and athletes; a visit from
"ESPN The Truck"; a special sports edition of the game
show attraction "Who Wants To Be A Millionaire-Play
It!"; the ESPN Sports Zone interactive area; a "SportsCenter"
and play-by-play "role play" area; and an exclusive ESPN
The Commercials video of blunders and thrills.
ESPN's reality series "Dream
Job" kicks off ESPN The Weekend with an open casting call for
its second and third seasons on Friday, July 30, at Disney- MGM
Studios. The weekend will culminate with a final tribute to the
past 25 years in sports orchestrated to a Disney pyrotechnics show
exploding over the park's 12-story Mickey's Sorcerer's Hat icon.
Sports celebrities scheduled to
appear include (not all personalities will appear both days):
FOOTBALL: Ottis Anderson - Former
NFL running back (New York Giants) Mack Brown - Current college
head coach (University of Texas) Harry Carson - Former NFL
linebacker (New York Giants) Eric Dickerson - NFL Hall of Fame
running back (Los Angeles Rams, Indianapolis Colts), former
"ABC Sports Monday Night Football" sideline reporter
Ralph Friedgen - Current college head coach (University of
Maryland) Darrell Green - Former NFL defensive back (Washington
Redskins) Desmond Howard - Former NFL wide receiver (Detroit
Lions) Michael Irvin - Former NFL wide receiver (Dallas Cowboys)
Jim Kelly - Former NFL quarterback (Buffalo Bills) Willie Lanier -
NFL Hall of Fame linebacker (Kansas City Chiefs) Karl Mecklenburg
- Former NFL defensive lineman (Denver Broncos) Joe Namath - NFL
Hall of Fame quarterback (NY Jets) Nick Saban - Current college
head coach (Louisiana State University) Lawrence Taylor - NFL Hall
of Fame linebacker (NY Giants) Joe Theismann - Former NFL
quarterback (Washington Redskins) BASEBALL: Gary Carter - Former
MLB catcher (NY Mets, Montreal Expos) Jim Morris - Former MLB
pitcher (Tampa Bay Devil Rays), real-life story behind Walt Disney
Pictures "The Rookie" Dave Stewart - Former MLB pitcher
(Oakland A's) BASKETBALL: Greg Anthony - Former NBA player (NY
Knicks, Portland Trailblazers), ESPN NBA analyst Rick Barry - NBA
Hall of Fame player (Golden State Warriors) Caron Butler - Current
NBA player (Los Angeles Lakers) Richard "Rip" Hamilton -
Current NBA player (Detroit Pistons) James Worthy - NBA Hall of
Fame player (Los Angeles Lakers) HOCKEY: Scotty Bowman - Former
NHL coach (St. Louis Blues, Montreal Canadiens, Pittsburgh
Penguins, Detroit Red Wings) Grant Fuhr - Hall of Fame NHL player
(Edmonton Oilers) Ken Morrow - Former NHL player/member of 1980
U.S. Olympic Hockey Team Craig Patrick - Former NHL
player/assistant coach of 1980 U.S. Olympic Hockey Team John
Tortorella - Current NHL coach (Tampa Bay Lightning) OLYMPICS:
Bonnie Blair - Former U.S. Speed Skater Dorothy Hamill - Former
U.S. Figure Skater Dan Jansen - Former U.S. Speed Skater Bruce
Jenner - Former U.S. Decathlete Mary Lou Retton - Former U.S.
Gymnast Kerri Strug - Former U.S. Gymnast ACTION SPORTS: Mike
Metzger - X Games gold medallist (Motocross)
ESPN personalities scheduled to
appear include (not all personalities will appear both days):
Linda Cohn - "SportsCenter"
Dana Jacobson - "SportsCenter" Dan Patrick - "SportsCenter"
Stuart Scott - "SportsCenter" Trey Wingo - "SportsCenter"
Peter Gammons - "Baseball Tonight" John Kruk -
"Baseball Tonight" Karl Ravech - "Baseball
Tonight" Harold Reynolds - "Baseball Tonight" Rob
Dibble - ESPN Radio / "Baseball Tonight" Lee Corso -
"College GameDay" Chris Fowler - "College GameDay"
Kirk Herbstreit - "College GameDay" Luis Omar Tapia -
"Fuera de Juego" Diego Balado - "Fuera de Juego"
Randy Alvarez - "Fuera de Juego" Carlos Hermosillo -
"Fuera de Juego" Thea Andrews - "Cold Pizza"
Jay Crawford - "Cold Pizza" Kit Hoover - "Cold
Pizza" Mike Hall - "Dream Job" winner, "SportsCenter"
Aaron Levine - "Dream Job" Season One Maggie Haskins -
"Dream Job" Season One Sal Paolantonio - NFL reporter
Howie Schwab - Coordinating Producer, Studio Production,
"Stump The Schwab" A FAN'S CHANCE TO AUDITION FOR DREAM
JOB JULY 30
Fans visiting Walt Disney World on
Friday, July 30, will have the opportunity to try out for seasons
two and three of ESPN's reality series "Dream Job."
The second season of "Dream
Job" will debut Tuesday, Sept. 14, at 7 p.m. ET. The one-hour
show will be aired Tuesdays at 7 p.m. for 10 weeks with the winner
being named the newest "SportsCenter" anchor. The third
season will search for a play-by-play announcer and will be aired
beginning February 2005. Contestant hopefuls can visit ESPN.com
Search: Dream Job for eligibility rules and city-specific audition
details. ESPN will not accept video entries.
Disney Pixar Make up?
Hollywood is gearing up for an
Steve Jobs' Pixar Animation Studios
is likely to renew a lucrative movie-making partnership with
Disney, according to sources familiar with the matter.
Despite publicly backing out of
talks with Disney in January and making the rounds of other
Hollywood studios looking for a partner, Jobs has come to believe
that the best home for Pixar is at Disney after all, sources said.
A reunion would mark a significant
victory for Disney CEO Michael Eisner, who has long had an
acrimonious relationship with Jobs.
Pixar's decision earlier this year
to end discussions with Disney over an extension of their deal
became a focal point for angry shareholders looking to oust
But it appears Eisner called Jobs'
bluff when he dug in and refused to renew the deal on the
significantly less lucrative terms that Pixar had been proposing.
Under the current deal, which
expires at the end of 2005, Disney and Pixar split the profits on
the movies evenly; Disney also receives a 12.5 percent
distribution fee. By some estimates Disney and Pixar could split
some $1 billion from their most recent hit, "Finding Nemo."
Pixar had been seeking a new deal
that would pay Disney only a distribution fee — which some have
said was as low as 10 percent. Pixar had also sought to alter the
terms of the existing deal.
After bailing on Disney, Pixar held
preliminary discussions with other studios, including MGM, Sony,
Warner Bros. and Fox. (Both Fox and The Post are owned by News
Now, executives at those companies
have all but given up hope of striking a deal with Pixar, sources
Pixar had also been wooed by
Comcast after the cable giant attempted a hostile takeover of
Disney. Comcast had sought to bring Jobs to its side in the hopes
of convincing Disney shareholders that a merger with Comcast would
come with a renewed Pixar deal.
Representatives for Pixar and
Disney declined comment.
In March, when Eisner's job seemed
to be in jeopardy amid a backlash from dissident shareholders,
Jobs told Hollywood associates that he would go back to Disney
only if Eisner left.
Now he appears to be changing his
tune, sources say, and is likely to stick with Disney regardless
of how long Eisner remains as CEO.
If Jobs were to leave the Disney
fold, he would be leaving behind a film library that includes hits
such as "Toy Story" and "Monsters Inc." He
would also lose the rights to make sequels.
"He'll probably give Disney a
shot again because it doesn't make sense to split the
library," said a source.
Still, a new deal between Pixar and
Disney is not likely to be completed soon. Before the current
expiration date, the companies have two more movies to make:
"The Incredibles" and "Cars."
"Jobs really doesn't have to
do anything today," said a source. "He can wait."
No fairy tale: Indians give
Disney a look
The baseball team is considering sharing the complex with the
Braves, beginning in 2006.
Eager to get out of their spring-training digs in Winter Haven,
the Cleveland Indians are eyeing a move to Disney's Wide World of
Sports by 2006.
The Indians would share Cracker Jack Stadium with the team that
beat them in the 1995 World Series, the Atlanta Braves. A deal
would mean revamping the ballpark to handle two teams, including
adding minor- and major-league clubhouses.
However, the estimated $20 million price tag on a renovation, a
possible three-way split between Osceola County, the state and
Disney, could be a deal-breaker. To keep options open, the Indians
also are chatting with Fort Myers and Tucson, Ariz.
"There have been discussions but nothing definitive,"
Indians spokesman Bob DiBiasio said. "Winter Haven wants the
[current spring-training] property, so we are trying to get out of
the way ASAP."
The team has called Winter Haven its spring home since 1993, after
Hurricane Andrew destroyed its stadium in Homestead.
In the past year, the Indians have had a strained relationship
with Winter Haven officials who want to develop the valuable
lakefront Chain O'Lakes Park site. The team has committed to stay
in Polk County for 2005.
While acknowledging speculation that the Indians might play at
Disney, spokesman Bill Hofheimer said he was unaware of any
conversations on a deal. Hofheimer said Disney has no structural
changes planned for the stadium.
"The only plans we have are for the Braves to be here in '05
and beyond," he said.
A spokesman for the Braves had no comment.
Talk was more abundant in Osceola, where a deal would give the
county three major-league teams. The Houston Astros have trained
in Kissimmee since 1985.
"There is clearly an appeal to northern teams because they
are our source markets," said Tim Hemphill, director of the
county's convention and visitors bureau. "That's where we get
This isn't Cleveland's first flirtation with Osceola. The county
wooed the Indians in 2001 in case the Astros didn't extend their
pact to play at Osceola County Stadium.
The Astros finally signed a new deal to play at the stadium after
the county and state paid for an $18.4 million face lift. But the
team was disappointed there wasn't enough land for the work to
include adding space for a second team to share costs, Hemphill
Space isn't a problem at Wide World of Sports. Disney will unveil
four more baseball diamonds and four multisports fields for
amateur athletes next month.
But the county and state might be reluctant to put up money on a
deal if only Disney's hotels and attractions benefit from a move.
"It would certainly be interesting for Kissimmee to become
the spring-training mecca of Florida," County Commissioner
Atlee Mercer said. "If it's in the best interest of the
county, we would certainly entertain talking to them to help them
Firm opens animation studio
A Massachusetts start-up firm that's
developing a family-friendly, interactive game for release next
year has opened asmall animation studio in Orlando.
Cecropia Inc. of Lexington has hired seven former employees of
Walt Disney Feature Animation Florida, which closed in March,
and plans to hire as many as 20 more by the end of the year,
said Ann-Marie Bland, Cecropia's president and chief executive
The Disney alumni are now working
out of their homes, but Cecropia plans to lease office space in
the Dr. Phillips area by Sept. 1, Bland said.
"There's a gold mine of talent in Orlando," she said.
"We've been developing our new interactive game for three
years, and the addition of the new staff will help us
The ex-Disney workers will focus on creating artwork and
animation for the company's as-yet untitled game.
Cecropia's goal is to unite storytelling and video gaming in a
way that hasn't been tried previously, said Omar Khudar, the
Boston-area company's founder and creative director.
The intent is to create personality animation in an interactive
story that lets players participate in the actions and emotions
of the characters, he said.
$55 a Night at
a Disney Resort? Gawrsh!
There are many reasons to visit Walt Disney World in September.
For example, the summer crowds are gone, and the weather is a
bit more moderate. Here is another: Disney is offering some
goofy prices during its "Dog Days" promotion. Value
hotels, like the new Pop Century Resort, start at $55 and are
available most nights between August 29 and September 29, 2004.
That's nearly half the price Disney charges during the peak
AOL, Viacom for Fox Family
The Walt Disney
Co. showed itself to be in a very family way over the
weekend by snatching Fox Family Worldwide from erstwhile
suitors AOL Time Warner Inc. and Viacom Inc. in a
deal valued at $5.3 billion.
"Disney's got it," a
source familiar with negotiations among the various parties said
Sunday afternoon about the Mouse House's first major acquisition
since buying Capital Cities/ABC for $19 billion a half-decade
ago. The agreement reached with Disney, expected to be announced
July 23, was said to bring a halt to talks that had been
continuing with an "interested" Viacom and "even
more aggressive" AOL.
Details of the deal, which has
Disney paying $3.2 billion in cash and assuming $2.1 billion in
debt, are remarkably close to those put forth when Haim Saban,
the chairman and CEO of Fox Family, exercised an option at the
end of last year to sell his 49.5% stake to News Corp. But there
was fine-tuning, such as News Corp.'s giving Disney rights to a
couple of weekly major league baseball games in addition to its
49.5% stake of Fox Family.
The remaining 1% of Fox Family,
owned by investment bank Allen & Co., is going to
Disney as well. Also "traveling with the deal," a
source said, is the obligation to air "The 700 Club"
that Fox Family assumed on acquiring the basic cable channel
from televangelist Pat Robertson in 1997.
In contrast, Fox Kids Network,
which feeds weekday and Saturday-morning kiddie programs to News
Corp.'s Fox broadcast network, will stay behind with News Corp.
and Saban. But a separate buyout of Saban's remaining interest
there is expected, thus making Fox Kids available to the TV
network about to be buttressed by 10 more stations from Chris-Craft
That means Disney is shelling out
$5.3 billion for:
* Fox Family Network's reach of
81 million U.S. homes (estimated by Merrill Lynch & Co.
in late May to be worth $3.7 billion);
* Fox/Saban's 75% stake in
publicly traded Fox Kids Europe (estimated by Merrill at $574
* Fox Kids programming library
(estimated by Merrill at $1.5 billion).
The above's total value -- $5.8
billion as estimated by Merrill -- nearly matches the $6 billion
Saban's financial adviser, Morgan Stanley, had been
seeking for Fox Family from the get-go. News Corp. received
financial advice from Bear, Stearns & Co. throughout
the process, and is believed to be obtaining legal assistance
from New York law firm Squadron, Ellenoff, Plesent &
Sheinfeld llp. Disney was said to have negotiated the deal
on its own.
Interestingly enough, News Corp.
chief Rupert Murdoch was foremost among those who originally
scoffed at the initial figure thrown out by Morgan Stanley,
which it modeled on Viacom's $3 billion deal last year for Black
Entertainment Television. But Murdoch, who intimated Saban may
have been seeking a price too high by half, was positioning News
Corp. as a buyer of Saban's shares back then.
The company's transformation into
a likely seller didn't occur until May, once Murdoch's year-long
quest for a merger between News Corp.'s Sky Global Networks and
the DirecTV assets of General Motors Corp.'s Hughes
Electronics Corp. finally showed signs of quickening. That deal
has yet to be reached, although both sides are reporting
progress at more frequent intervals than ever before.
Meanwhile, considering economic
changes since Saban first exercised his option to sell the
business, even Murdoch can rejoice in Morgan Stanley's early
optimism. "They pretty much nailed the price from Day
1," a source said of the bank's valuation, once discounted
for the Fox Kids Network that stays behind.
News Corp.'s share of the Fox
Family sale can now be counted on to help Murdoch satisfy the
heavy cash component expected to be a part whatever deal he
strikes with Hughes, without jeopardizing News Corp.'s credit
BBB- rating. The sale to Disney also spares News Corp. and Saban
of continuing complicated valuation maneuvers established as
part of each other's exit strategy when they went into business
together four years ago.
Disney didn't return calls
seeking comment on its plans for Fox Family, while News Corp.
and Saban could not be reached.
Yet a person with a broad view of
negotiations for the assets ultimately won by Disney attributed
AOL's interest as part of the company's expressed desire to
expand in Europe via Fox Kids Europe. Viacom, meanwhile, was
said to go through the exercise in search of a complement to its
Nickelodeon children's cable channel.
and Disney sign internet content deal
Walt Disney and
cable telecommunications company Comcast have signed an
agreement to offer news and children's entertainment programming
from Disney through Comcast's high-speed internet service.
Comcast, the largest cable company in the US, will offer the
programming to its 21 million cable subscribers and its 5.7
million broadband subscribers.
The companies did not disclose
financial terms of the deal, although sources said the agreement
is for five years.
Comcast.net's Internet News
Channel will use content from Disney's ABC News, including ABC
News Live, which provides live breaking news events, hourly
news briefs and reports from ABC News correspondents
specifically designed for broadband customers.
ABC News already has deals with
other DSL (Digital Subscriber Line) providers in the US,
including America Online and the SBC Yahoo DSL service from
Yahoo and SBC Communications, and reaches about 35 million
dial-up and broadband internet users, according to
Julie Summersgill, an ABC News spokeswoman.
ABC News will not provide any
exclusive content to Comcast, she said, cconfirming that the
deal is a "multiyear" agreement.
Later in the year, Comcast plans
to launch an online Kids Channel, which will provide Disney
Connection, comprising broadband content aimed at children
between the ages of 3 and 11. Disney content will include
children's games, activities and video shorts for the broadband
When Comcast originally attempted
to buy Disney in February, it pointed to its desire for content
as one of the primary reasons behind the acquisition move.
Comcast has been facing stiff competition from companies
offering DSL service and sees content as one of the best ways to
woo customers to its cable broadband services.
Orange County Superior Court judge has denied an attempt to
disqualify the judge who ended the long-running dispute over
Winnie the Pooh royalties in favor of The Walt Disney Co.
Effort to Overturn Pooh Dispute Denied
The family that owns the merchandising rights to
Pooh to Disney said Thursday they will appeal the ruling.
In March, Judge Charles McCoy threw out a
lawsuit against Stephen Slesinger Inc., ruling that the company
unlawfully obtained confidential documents from Disney offices and
The ruling ended the 13-year-long lawsuit, which
alleged that Disney had not paid millions of dollars in royalties
for Pooh movies released on DVD.
McCoy dismissed the case with prejudice, meaning
that SSI could not sue again on the same claim.
The Slesinger family asked McCoy to recuse
himself and order a new hearing, saying one of Disney's legal
consultants on the case is a member of the judge's former law
On Monday, Judge Nancy Wieben Stock rejected
SSI's arguments, saying they were without merit.
July 22, 2004
Disneyland to woo Guangzhou families
Efforts by Hong Kong Disneyland to help bolster visitor numbers
during the predictably less busy weekday period are likely to
include setting up a sales office in Guangzhou to better target
``We are looking at having a small office in
Guangzhou,'' said Don Robinson, group managing director of the
He added that discussions to co-operate with
the tour, travel and hospitality trade would include marketing
the world's 11th Disney Park to weekday holidaymakers.
``We're not worried about attendance on
Saturday, Sunday and public holidays but we do need to make sure
that attendance continues Monday through Friday,'' Robinson
Hong Kong Disneyland is sticking to its
original attendance forecast of 5.6 million customers in the
first year of operation with the opening slated for late next
year or early 2006.
The theme park said its first phase, which
includes two hotels providing some 2,100 rooms, has a projected
annual target of 10 million visitors. Work on phase two is
expected to commence when this target has been reached, although
Robinson predicted this is still ``a long way away''.
The Walt Disney Company derives almost
one-third of its revenues from theme parks. In the US, the slump
in attendance at theme parks that started with the September 11
terrorist attacks continued through to last year.
But expectations are growing that this year
will end on a positive note with analysts looking at Disney to
report some very strong theme park results in the third quarter.
The rosy outlook has also made some theme park
operators in the US bold enough to raise admission prices this
summer to more than US$50 (HK$390). Others have disguised price
hikes in ingenious marketing ploys that give the ticket holder
so-called ``front-of-the-line'' privileges for almost double the
Universal Studios Hollywood sells a
front-of-the-line pass for US$89.75 while a regular adult ticket
Likewise, Lego Group's Legoland California
offers front-of-the-line access for US$100 compared with the
US$43.95 adult ticket.
The queue-jumping innovation was first
introduced by Disney with FastPass, a service that basically
allows customers to make an appointment for a ride.
Robinson declined to speculate on the pricing
of tickets to Hong Kong Disneyland.
To promote the theme park in Hong Hong, Disney
on Thursday unveiled the appointment of Canto pop star Jacky
Cheung as its celebrity spokesman. Known as one of the ``kings''
of Hong Kong's music industry, Cheung will host a new Disney
television program, Magical World of Disneyland.
Disney igniting "Hover Car Racer"
that Disney is set to put the gears to the techno thriller
"Hover Car Racer" in motion. The studio bought the
script penned by Matthew Reilly and will be produced by Alfred
Gough and Miles Millar, the duo behind "Shanghai
Knights" and also TV's "Smallville."
The film is set in the future where hover car
racing becomes the sport of tomorrow. A 15-year-old boy who
qualifies for the famed International Race School fights it out
in races on the international circuit, including a white-knuckle
super-race that winds through New York City.
Waters to helm "Bob the Musical"
that Disney has purchased the rights to "Bob the
Musical" as a vehicle for Mark Waters ("Freaky
Friday," "Mean Girls") to direct.
The film is written by Mike Bender and tells
the story of a man trapped inside a musical tuner.
The Disney Magic Cruise Ship
Introduces More Age-Specific Spaces Than Ever Before
Aboard a ship best known for kids and
characters, adults and teens now have three new venues of their
own in which to play.
Disney took the opportunity to add
age-specific spaces during the Disney Magic cruise ship's
regularly scheduled dry dock last fall. The refurbishments
support the line's commitment to find new ways to provide cruise
vacations that suit the unique needs of every member of the
Cove Café, open daily from 10 a.m. to
midnight, provides a quiet spot for adults to escape to daily.
The café neighbors the already-popular adult areas on Deck 9,
including Quiet Cove pool, Vista Spa and Salon and an outdoor
bar. It features comfortable furniture, large screen
televisions, paperback books and magazines, four Internet
stations and portholes for enjoying outdoor vistas. Cove Café
offers an alternative location in which to provide refreshments
with an array of gourmet coffee, specialty teas, cocktails,
pastries and desserts. The café replaces Common Grounds, the
former teen club.
Diversions, a traditional sports pub, provides
guests a broad range of evening entertainment options with the
addition of nightly themed activities. Here, the Pub Master
hosts guests for sporting events, trivia-based game shows, piano
sing-along entertainment and talent competitions. The décor
includes multiple satellite television screens and specialty
game tables for backgammon, checkers and chess. The pub joins an
already popular line up of spaces on Beat Street, the nighttime
entertainment district reserved exclusively for adults, and it
replaces the nightclub formerly known as Off Beat.
Both locations capitalize on the line's
growing need to accommodate the interests of adults who find
themselves with free time to explore adult activities aboard
Disney cruise ships. Today, more than a third of all guests
sailing with Disney are adults without children and those who do
bring the kids find little ones immersed in structured
activities designed for the 12-week to 17 year-old
set--activities staged in dedicated spaces which span nearly an
For teens, Disney introduces The Stack. This
all-new space is designed with the varied and often hard to
please interests of teens in mind, and is located in the ship's
forward (faux) funnel atop Deck 11. The Stack replaces ESPN
Skybox and achieves an isolated space, which teens crave. It
allows for a wider range of activities to be hosted in the
teen-dedicated area, including dancing, watching multiple
televisions, accessing the Internet or snacking with friends.
This new location allows for multiple activities to be staged
simultaneously and serves as the backdrop to an already stellar
line up of teen-friendly programs.
Together the spaces join the ship's full
complement of age-specific areas including:
Flounder's Reef Nursery
(ages 12 weeks to 3 years), an under the sea-themed nursery for
Disney's Oceaneer Club
(ages 3-7), an adventureland fit for Peter Pan, Wendy and
Disney's Oceaneer Lab
(ages 8-12), Buzz Lightyear's galactic, space-age station
designed for curious cruisers
(ages 3-12), a super-sized sandbox located on Castaway Cay,
complete with an authentic whale dig site, archaeology tools and
The Teen Beach at Castaway Cay is complete
with sand volleyball, soccer and build-your-own-raft challenges.
Beat Street, an
adults-only entertainment district, features three unique venues
and provides nightly live entertainment tributes to the 60s, 70s
Vista Spa and Salon,
an 8,000 square-foot escape, which allows adults to indulge in a
wide variety of treatments and relax in the only tropical
rainforest at sea
signature restaurant at sea, serves adult guests sweeping ocean
views and northern Italian specialties nightly and hosts
champagne brunch and traditional high tea on sea days.
Serenity Bay, a
secluded beach at Castaway Cay, provides cabanas for massages, a
lighter-fare lunch alternative set-up, cocktail bar and beach
In addition to offering seven-night cruise
vacations to the Caribbean, Disney Cruise Line offers three- and
four-night itineraries to the Bahamas and land/sea vacation
packages which include a stay at the Walt Disney World Resort.
During the summer of 2005, Disney Cruise Line will offer its
first-ever seven-night cruises to the Mexican Riviera departing
from the Port of Los Angeles. With a pre- or post- stay at the
Disneyland Resort, guests can combine the fun and excitement of
the Disneyland Resort with the enchantment of a Disney cruise.
The repositioning of the Disney Magic to southern California
also includes two 14-night Panama Canal cruises, nicely blending
exotic ports of call with leisurely days at sea.
Pay up or else the duck gets it,
Moviemaker Disney has until August 12 to
notify the Pretoria High Court whether it intends defending a
R15-million claim for damages for allegedly infringing the
copyright on the song The Lion Sleeps Tonight.
Disney Enterprises, Nu Metro Home Entertainment, the David
Gresham Entertainment Group and David Gresham Records all
received summonses and the particulars of the claim last week,
South African lawyer Owen Dean said yesterday.
The estate of the late songwriter Solomon Linda is seeking an
interdict restraining the four companies from continuing to use
the song, and damages totaling R15-million.
A total of R10-million is being sought against Disney and New
Metro and another R5-million against the David Gresham
A version of the song was used in the Disney smash hit The Lion
Dean said Disney had until August 12 to give notice of its
intention to defend the proceedings or not. Nu Metro and the
David Gresham companies had until July 28 and 30 respectively.
"If any of the parties fail to give notice of their
intention to defend the action by the respective due dates,
judgment will be entered against such party by default," he
said in a statement.
"Once having given notice of their intention to defend the
proceedings, the defendants are required to file formal answers
with the (Pretoria High) court within three weeks."
None of the parties had given any notice to date of an intention
to defend the action, Dean said.
He also announced that the registered trademarks of Disney
Enterprises Inc in South Africa - about 240 in total - have been
attached in favour of the executor of the Linda estate. These
included names like Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, and Disney
This was done in terms of a Pretoria High Court order obtained
last month to secure South African jurisdiction over the case.
Should judgment be granted against Disney in the copyright case
and the awards granted are not paid, the executor of Linda's
estate would be entitled to sell the trademarks.
The original melody for the song The Lion Sleeps Tonight was
composed by Linda, a migrant mine worker, more than half a
century ago. He sold the melody to Gallo for 10 shillings in
The tune, originally entitled Mbube, has since reportedly been
modified by more than 150 artists and generated more than
$15-million in royalties.
Linda's three surviving daughters and 10 grandchildren still
live in Soweto. They sought legal help after realising they had
lost out on millions of dollars in royalties.
Under the provisions of a Commonwealth law in force at the time
the song was first recorded, the rights to a song revert back to
the composer's heirs 25 years after his death.
Disney Movie Ranch Aids Firefight
Narrowly averting disaster itself over the
weekend, The Walt Disney Co.’s Golden Oak Ranch in Placerita
Canyon continued to aid the firefighting effort Monday as a
steady stream of helicopters scooped water from a man-made lake
familiar to fans of “Little House on the Prairie.”
On Saturday, in the first hours after the outbreak of the blaze
in the Newhall Pass, flames crossed onto the ranch property
immediately north of Placerita Canyon Road. Trees that normally
obscure the movie sets from the road were obliterated, but fire
crews managed to keep the fire well away from the Western movie
town Walt Disney built shortly after he bought the property in
The ranch’s history as a movie location actually dates back
farther, to the genesis of Hollywood Westerns. In 1922, pioneer
producer Trem Carr and set designer Ernie Hickson, unknown to
each other at the time, came out West. By 1926 they were making
motion pictures together in Placerita Canyon. Hickson initially
erected a Western movie town to the east of today’s state
Route 14; in 1936, after oil was found nearby, Hickson moved the
buildings to the current location of Melody Ranch, west of SR
Gene Autry bought Melody Ranch after Hickson’s death in 1952.
When Disney bought the easterly portions of Carr and Hickson’s
old movie ranch a few years later, he created a new Western town
almost precisely where Hickson had built his first one nearly
four decades earlier.
Hong Kong pop singer Jacky Cheung may be
spokesman for Disney theme park
The Walt Disney Co. has picked a local star to
be the celebrity spokesman for its Hong Kong theme park, and the
smart money is on veteran singer Jacky Cheung.
Disney remained tightlipped ahead of a news
conference set for Thursday afternoon, but Cheung's production
company manager said the 42-year-old star will be there.
The manager, Doris Chu, told The Associated
Press that Cheung has signed a promotional deal with Disney but
she provided no other details.
Cheung is renowned as one of the four
"Heavenly Kings'' of Hong Kong's music scene along with the
singers Andy Lau, Leon Lai and Aaron Kwok.
Cheung's mellow voice and clean image have won
the hearts of fans in Hong Kong, mainland China, Taiwan and in
overseas Chinese communities.
Once a clerk, Cheung won a singing contest in
1984 and went onto to become a mega-star who has toured across
the world with hits such as "Love You More Each Day'' and
The Disney park is expected to open by late
2005 on outlying Lantau Island. Disney hopes to attract throngs
of visitors from mainland China and elsewhere in Asia.
Feel the love: `The Lion King' gets
royal treatment in restored Opera House
"Lush'' and ``breathtaking'' hardly seem
descriptive enough for last night's official reopening of the
Opera House with hometown girl Julie Taymor's version of
Disney's ``The Lion King.''
From the moment the audience stepped into the
lavishly restored theater, atmosphere was everything. Every
detail of the 1928 house has been lovingly restored, from the
beautiful ceiling paintings to the bust of the theater's
original namesake, B.F. Keith.
The same can be said for Taymor's lush production of the
animated Disney favorite. From the jaw-dropping opening that
included a burnished sunrise and a awe-inspiring animal parade,
Taymor's vision - along with that of her collaborators,
choreographer Garth Fagan, scenic designer Richard Hudson and
lighting designer Donald Holder - honors the Disney story while
giving it a richer, more layered texture. The greatest gift
Taymor has given Disney is the audience's imagination. Because
her stagecraft is so transparent, we see a dancer on stilts in a
costume, and then we see it's a giraffe; we know dancers are
wearing headdresses, but we believe we are in the grasslands of
Taymor is unintimidated by the geographical challenges of the
storyline, offering up a waterfall complete with snapping
alligators, a wildebeest stampede, and an eerie elephant
Taymor anchors the action very definitely in Africa with the
help of music by Lebo M, in addition to the familiar songs by
Elton John and Tim Rice.
The Pridelands, we discover, are home to some serious sibling
rivalry between King Mufasa (a stately Thomas Corey Robinson)
and his nasty brother Scar (an intimidating Dan Donohue). With
masks that move menacingly downward when needed and then back
atop their heads when they're calm, the line between the mask
and the man becomes easily blurred.
The technique is even more effective for the story's two clowns,
the warthog Pumba (Ben Lipitz) and the meercat Timon (an agile
John Plumpis), who sing the carefree ``Hakuna Matata.''
But Taymor's rich imagery enhances, rather than detracts from
the story of the young Simba (Brandon Kane) whose curiosity gets
him and his pal Nala into lots of trouble (``I Just Can't Wait
to Be King'') despite the efforts of the king's major domo, Zazu
(Mark Cameron Pow, who manages to manipulate a bird puppet while
staying distinctly in character). When Simba runs away from
home, Taymor shifts scenes from the grassy plains to the verdant
jungle, with an array of costumes and vibrant pinks and greens
that are astonishing.
This touring company is vocally strong, with the ensemble nearly
outdoing the principals. Futhi Mhlongo as the baboon Rafiki is
amazing, and Alan Mingo Jr. as the grown-up Simba and Adrienne
Muller as Nala make a charming duo for ``Can You Feel the Love
With percussionists positioned in boxes on either side of the
stage, the production gives the sense of reaching out into the
audience. But the orchestra is limited to two programmed
keyboards, flutes and the percussion (two in the boxes, marimba
and drums), which flattened the sound and seemed an unfortunate
shortcut in a show with such depth everywhere else.
But, with some quibbling aside, the opportunity to see this
creative version of ``The Lion King'' is not to be missed.
News Corp., Disney Expected to Lead Earnings Parade
Second-quarter financials for major entertainment companies will
show solid year-over-year revenue and cash-flow gains driven by
growth in the cable network business, but filmed entertainment
results will in many cases be flat because of tough year-ago
comparisons, according to Wall Street analysts.
As Viacom Inc. kicks off the
latest quarterly earnings parade for the major media
conglomerates Thursday, investors will also look for hints on
advertising market trends and other possible drivers for
entertainment stocks, which have had a sluggish year so far.
In addition, mergers-and-acquisitions chatter will be on Wall
Street observers' minds, with sector investors particularly
looking for a possible update on how talks are going for the
sale of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, where both Sony Corp and Time
Warner are reportedly kicking the tires.
Overall, Goldman Sachs analyst Anthony Noto projects 8%
second-quarter revenue growth on average for large-cap media
companies with filmed entertainment businesses, which should
leave operating income 11% above year-ago results on average.
This growth puts the group ahead of other sectors of the
media economy, "reflecting the benefits of diversification
driven by a combination of network subscriber fees, DVD, theme
parks and mid- to upper-single-digit ad growth," Noto said
in a research report last week.
News Corp. and its Fox Entertainment Group unit will bring in
the strongest operating-income growth for the quarter at
14%-15%, followed by the Walt Disney Co. at 12% and Time Warner
at 9%, the analyst predicts.
Despite solid trends, Prudential Equity Group analyst
Katherine Styponias warns that second-quarter results are
unlikely to blow media investors away. "Second-quarter
trends across various businesses continue to chug along, but not
at a pace that suggests substantial upside surprise to
second-quarter estimates -- and probably not raised
guidance," she said.
Most on Wall Street share Styponias' expectation that Disney,
driven by its broadcast business, and Fox, driven by possible
out performance of its film unit, are the likeliest big
entertainment players to beat analysts' estimates for the
And most agree with Styponias that results will not be so
significantly above expectations that they will boost stocks.
"First-quarter results were strong, and the stocks didn't
react at all," Tradition Asiel Securities analyst Paul Kim
said. "I expect similar things this time around."
However, Fulcrum Global Partners managing director Richard
Greenfield believes that sector stocks may be buoyed by the
latest earnings season.
"The combination of strong (second-quarter) results, a
bullish tone to management conference calls, the continued
acceleration in advertising and the realization that many of the
stocks in the group have become attractive from a traditional
valuation perspective" could drive improved stock
performances during the balance of the year, he said.
One of the businesses that will once again be in the
spotlight this quarter are cable networks, analysts predict.
"We anticipate robust cable-networks results sector-wide,
driven by continued ratings success and a strong scatter
market," Merrill Lynch analyst Jessica Reif Cohen said. And
broadcast TV units should post "moderate" growth, she
Meanwhile, film results will be mixed because of tough
year-ago comparisons, according to Reif Cohen. She predicts that
Viacom and News Corp. will report 2% improvement in film
The stronger 8% revenue gain she projects for Time Warner is
driven by the summer box office success of "Troy" and
"Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban" as well as
a larger number of TV series released on DVD. However, the
marketing costs for tentpole movies will drag down TW's film
cash flow 4% year-over-year, Reif Cohen forecasts.
For Viacom, analysts predict strength at its cable networks
and broadcast units, while radio results will remain sluggish.
They also expect the conglomerate to incur severance charges
related to the recent departures of president and chief
operating officer Mel Karmazin and Viacom Entertainment Group
chief Jonathan Dolgen.
Time Warner will see improved film revenue and continued
improvements in some of America Online's key metrics, though
analysts believe that AOL lost at least 450,000 dial-up
subscribers during the second quarter.
Disney's results for its fiscal third quarter will see
positive momentum in theme parks, which are "recovering
faster than we had anticipated," Greenfield said. But
Disney's film operation has released mainly weak box office
performers of late. "Without another big hit this summer,
we believe Disney's studio profits will fall substantially in
2005," with the drop possibly as steep as 20% as the
company's home video pipeline stutters, Greenfield said.
News Corp. and its Fox unit, meanwhile, are set to post solid
fiscal fourth-quarter figures driven by continued gains at cable
networks like FX, analysts say. But the Fox broadcast network
remains a mixed bag, and film comparisons are once again tough
this quarter, meaning results could come in below last year,
But pointing to the recent success of "The Day After
Tomorrow" and "Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story,"
Noto said such projections "could be conservative" in
July 21, 2004
Fantasyland Skyway Station no more
It seems to be the final
farewell to Skyway as the removal of the Fantasyland Skyway
Station has begun. No word on what, if anything will replace
it. Speculation has it that perhaps with "it's a small
world" under rehab, room is being made for a more larger
and elaborate Small World facade, along with an out of the way
stroller parking, and yes , another meet and greet location.
Comcast tunes into Disney for broadband
Comcast struck a deal to offer
children's entertainment from Walt Disney and streaming media
from ABC News to its broadband subscribers, the companies said
Under the deal, the
Philadelphia-based cable television and high-speed Internet
service provider will begin offering streaming media and
on-demand video from Disney's ABC News. Comcast also announced
plans to launch an online channel for children later this year
with programming from Disney Connection, the entertainment
company's broadband destination for children ages 3 to 11, as
part of the effort.
The content-sharing agreement
underscores the reason behind Comcast's unsuccessful $66
billion bid to buy out Disney earlier this year. With that
bid, which was launched in February and officially withdrawn
in April, Comcast hoped to add brand name content such as ABC
News to power its next generation of services, including video
on demand, high-definition TV and streaming media.
The proposed merger was
ultimately scuttled when Disney's executives refused to
negotiate with Comcast and when Comcast became concerned that
the bid indicated to shareholders that it had lost confidence
in its existing cable business.
Comcast said it will
immediately begin offering on-demand programming from ABC News
broadcasts on Comcast's own Internet news channel, including
content from "World News Tonight," "Good
Morning America," "20/20" and "Primetime
Live." Comcast is also offering ABC News Live, a
streaming-video application that delivers breaking news in
real time, to its broadband customers.
Based on the agreement, the
Comcast Kids Channel will offer Disney Connection's online
games, activities and videos, in addition to content derived
from Disney Blast, a portal site for children, and Toontown
Online, the entertainment company's site for preschoolers.
Comcast said the deal will include access to a new premium
version of Toontown scheduled to arrive next year.
"Delivering content from
well-known and well-trusted brands over a true broadband
network is key to providing our customers the best possible
broadband Internet experience," Greg Butz, senior vice
president at Comcast, said in a statement.
Comcast and Disney in
High-Speed Internet venture
The Walt Disney Co. has struck
a deal with Comcast Corp. to provide news and children's
Internet programming as part of the cable company's effort to
distinguish its high-speed Web product, the companies said.
Disney will launch its Disney
Connection suite of kids Internet games and features in the
United States with the deal, while Disney's ABC unit will
provide its streaming broadband Internet news station.
Financial terms of the deal
were not disclosed.
Comcast, aiming to maintain
high-speed Internet prices above competitors' by offering
unique content, has been rolling out music, news and other
features on its Comcast.net portal, the home page built for
ABC News has deals with a
number of DSL providers in the United States, while Disney's
Internet Group has already launched its "Connection"
product outside the United States.
The ABC/Disney deal follows
others with the likes of CBS, Foxsports.com and Major League
Comcast has 5.7 million
high-speed Web subscribers.
Experience Walt Disney
World through pop-up book
A visit to Walt Disney World in
Lake Buena Vista, Fla., is more of an experience for its young
visitors than a trip, and "Popping Up Around Walt Disney
World" is more of an experience than a book. Five
"scenes" from the theme park pop off the pages, with
the Magic Kingdom standing almost 12 inches high.
Meanwhile, some two-dimensional
tidbits in the book, published by Disney Enterprises, include:
Pirates of the Caribbean
was the last theme park attraction personally supervised
by Walt Disney. The burning city effect was so realistic
that the original ride was almost closed before it opened.
The fire department chief who inspected it thought the
flames were real.
Big Thunder Mountain is
currently the tallest "mountain" in Orlando,
Fla., with its main butte topping off at 197 feet, 6
inches above sea level.
It takes three tons of food
a day to keep the 1,000 animals at The Animal Kingdom well
The Igbo Ijele mask in the
lobby of the Animal Kingdom Lodge is the only one of its
kind to exist outside the sub-Saharan region.
Protect children from mosquito
People aren't the only ones who
love summer's warm weather. Mosquitos, the season's most
prevalent insect, love the high temperatures and humidity.
KidsHealth.org, a Web site
devoted to children's health, suggests these steps for keeping
the pests at bay:
Stay indoors at dusk and
dawn when summer's most prevalent insects, mosquitoes, are
Use screens on doors and
Wear long-sleeved shirts
and long pants.
Use insect repellents. The
most effective and long-lasting ones contain DEET;
products with 10 percent to 30 percent DEET provide about
3 hours of protection.
However, check with your doctor
when it comes to using repellents on very young children.
Remove standing water from
gutters, old tires, wading pools, tarps, potted plants,
and other outside buckets and pails, which can become
mosquito-breeding areas. Also, be sure the water in pet
dishes and birdbaths is changed regularly.
"Playing outside is a lot
of fun -- bugs or no bugs. Fortunately, most bites and stings
are relatively harmless," says Dr. Neil Izenberg, a
pediatrician and editor-in-chief of KidsHealth. "The two
greatest risks from most insect stings and bites are an
allergic reaction, which rarely may be fatal, and infection --
also rare but with potentially serious consequences."
He adds: "Education and
supervision are the best preventive measures that parents can
take toward protecting their child. With a little bit of care,
you can have fun even when the insects come marching in!"
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Announce Training Camp Plans
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers will conduct their 2004 training camp
at Disney's Wide World of Sports Complex July 31-Aug. 18. The
Buccaneers, who trained at Disney's 200-acre sports complex in
each of the last two years (2002-2003), were the first NFL
team to conduct training camp at Walt Disney World Resort.
'Lion Sleeps' lawsuit awaits
U.S. entertainment giant Disney
has three weeks to respond to a $1.6 million compensation suit
filed by a Soweto family that says it lost royalties from the
hit song "The Lion Sleeps Tonight," a family lawyer
The song, popularized in the
long-running theater production and cartoon movie "The
Lion King" was originally written in 1939 by Solomon
Linda, a Zulu migrant worker turned songwriter.
Disney has denied liability,
but it has not filed a legal response to the suit filed in the
Pretoria High Court earlier this month.
Owen Dean, the family's lawyer,
said in a statement that Disney has until August 12 to give
notice of its intention to defend the matter in court.
Dean said the summons and
particulars of the claim were served on Disney Enterprises
Inc. in the U.S. on July 13 and to South African entertainment
groups shortly afterward.
"If any of the parties
fail to give notice of their intention to defend the action by
the respective due dates, judgment will be entered against
such party by default," Dean said.
The Africa manager for Burbank,
California-based Disney, Christine Service, declined to
comment, saying the matter was being dealt with by the group's
Linda died penniless in 1962,
having sold away the rights to the song, originally titled
"Mbube," to a South African publisher. It went on to
generate an estimated $15 million in royalties after it was
adapted by other artists, including the American songwriter
George Weiss, whose version is featured in Disney's "The
The song has been covered by at
least 150 artists, including The Tokens, George Michael,
Miriam Makeba and The Spinners.
Linda's three surviving
daughters and 10 grandchildren, living in poverty in the
Johannesburg township of Soweto, have received only a one-time
payment of $15,000.
The action is based on laws in
force in Commonwealth nations at the time the song was first
recorded. Under its provisions, the rights to a song revert to
the composer's heirs 25 years after his death
The World Chapter, NFFC Salutes Ralph “The Kid” Kent
A Very Special Event to Remember Ralph’s 40+ Years at Disney
We are excited to announce that we
will be having a Very Special Event on Saturday, August 21, 2004
at the Vista Del Lago Clubhouse.
As you know, Ralph Kent joined the Walt Disney Company back in
1963, and is retiring after a decades-long career with The Walt
Disney Company, Ralph Kent, Corporate Trainer for Artist
Development at Disney Design Group. Ralph has always been very
good to our little chapter and in return we want to honor him and
show him our appreciation for his many years of fine and memorable
service. So this is our way of thanking him.
It will be a night to remember with many special speakers and
guests, and due to an unprecedented demand for attendance, we need
you to RSVP your attendance. There will only be space for
about 150 attendees and we are sure that you will want to be one
We are asking all club members to bring a Main Dish, Salad or
Appetizer (enough to feed 8 adults). Please DO NOT bring a
dessert since the club will supply that. Also, due to this
Special Event, there will be an admission fee for all attendees,
Club Members $3.00 - Guests $5.00 This cost is to offset the
additional food and beverages and the club’s gift to Ralph.
There will not be an Auction or any Special Raffles (except for
our 50/50 raffle) so that we may have the most time to dedicate to
Doors will open at 6:00pm, food and soft drinks will be available
at 7:00pm, and our Special Event will start at 8:00pm. You
don’t want to miss this so please RSVP via e-mail at
email@example.com or by snail mail BEFORE August 1st.
Ask Disneyland to Restore Passes for Rides
The park's new system for giving handicapped access is arbitrarily
applied, petitioners say. Officials say it's now tailored to each
Kelsey O'Maley, 9, can't feed herself. She can't walk by herself.
She can't even sit up in her wheelchair without effort.
On a roller coaster, though, Kelsey can do what any other kid
does: have fun.
So when she and her mom arrived this summer at Disneyland and
discovered that the park no longer gives disabled patrons special
access to rides, they were reminded of what Kelsey couldn't do.
"For these kids, they don't get to be on swim teams or soccer
teams. They're always watching other kids do what they don't get
to do," said Kimberlee O'Maley, Kelsey's mother, of
Indianapolis. "Disneyland was probably the one place they
could have a positive experience."
Other park patrons are voicing the same complaints. Critics have
collected 14,700 signatures on an Internet petition that asks
Disneyland to again offer "special assistance passes"
that allowed disabled guests and those accompanying them to enter
rides through the exit, often bypassing long lines.
Many complain that a new system for the disabled is inconsistently
applied or not applied at all at the Disneyland Resort's two theme
parks. The O'Maleys, for example, said they spent much of their
time during a recent visit trying to figure out the new rules and
arguing with Disneyland employees.
The park discontinued the special assistance passes in March
because able-bodied people — many of them teens — were
cheating, park officials say.
Some took advantage of the system by renting a wheelchair,
requesting a pass and using it to cut to the front of the line.
Park officials said the program was so abused that sometimes the
handicapped line was longer than the normal one.
Under the new system, Disney employees talk with park visitors to
determine the level of assistance they may need, said Disneyland
Resort spokesman Bob Tucker.
The employees might then issue a "guest assistance card"
that is customized to the type of assistance needed.
A guest with a hearing or visual disability, for example, is
assigned a code that alerts employees to give them front-row
"The previous program applied the same solution to all guests
regardless of their needs," Tucker said. "Instead of a
one-size-fits-all approach, we now tailor our assistance to each
guest on a case-by-case basis."
The new system was developed with the help of disabled advocacy
groups, and Tucker said it has been "very positively
Rebekah McIlhenny of Garden Grove's Dayle McIntosh Center, which
helps disabled people live independently, helped Disneyland revamp
its procedures. She says the park is making an honest effort to
accommodate the disabled.
"I don't think there was any way that they were going to be
able to put a policy in place that wasn't going to have a lot of
kinks," McIlhenny said.
"We know there are concerns. I think the [employees] still
need additional training…. But I've been really pleased with
their willingness to discuss things and hear the complaints. I
think they are taking it very seriously."
But Sarah Demarco said that when she took her five children —
four of whom have disabilities including cerebral palsy and Down
syndrome — to Disneyland a few weeks ago, the kinks were still
far from worked out.
As she had in the past, the Tucson resident went straight to the
park's City Hall, carrying paperwork documenting her children's
disabilities. Employees first told her they no longer had disabled
passes to give her. When she complained, they gave her a pass that
allowed her to use her specially fitted triple-seat stroller as a
wheelchair, which allowed her to take it in lines for rides.
Normally, strollers are parked outside the lines.
DeMarco said she struggled to wind the stroller through long lines
and often had to lift it to fit through the queues. And when she
complained to ride operators, they told her to go back to City
Hall to request a different pass that gave her more access.
"I understand that people were taking advantage,"
DeMarco said. "But now the people that really are handicapped
are paying the price."
Camarillo resident Marcus Anthony, 43, has spina bifida and severe
arthritis. He said park workers would not give him a pass because
his disability was so obvious it was unnecessary. But once he got
to the attraction he wanted to ride, he was told he needed a
"It seems there's confusion among employees," Anthony
said. "I don't think everyone's getting the message on what
the actual policy is."
Critics complain that decisions about access are being left to
young, sometimes inexperienced, employees.
"They have taken federal law, and they're allowing it to be
applied at the discretion of [employees]," O'Maley said.
The best solution, she and others said, is to reinstate the
special assistance pass but distribute it only to people who prove
"Most people with a real disability don't mind having to
prove it" and routinely carry paperwork, O'Maley said.
This approach is used at some other amusement parks. At Knott's
Berry Farm in Buena Park, for example, officials say they also see
abuse of their special assistance pass but limit it by requiring a
doctor's note. The pass, according to the Knott's policy, is to
help accommodate wheelchairs and not to bypass the line.
Maryland attorney R. Wayne Pierce, who frequently represents
amusement parks, said that for the industry, it's a balancing act
between safety and access.
"In many ways, it amounts to a no-win situation," Pierce
said. "There's no way for an owner-operator to make a
The disabled patrons said they are simply asking for accommodation
"Do you know how many things we can't do that we
accept?" O'Maley said. "It's in your face every day what
you're shut out of…. This was one of the few breaks people with
contract offer rejected
Security workers at the Disneyland Resort soundly rejected a
contract offer Wednesday, union officials said after counting the
This is the third time the
Independent Employee Service Association has rejected Disney's
proposal. Negotiations could reopen next week.
The IESA, which represents about
575 employees, wanted a multiyear contract after its agreement
expired May 1. Disney offered to extend through March 31, 2005.
Union officials said they were
puzzled why Disney would not propose a three- or four-year
contract, similar to other union agreements signed this year.
Negotiator Dave Cox said the talks kept coming back to a law that
mandates health-insurance coverage for employees, set to go into
effect in 2006.
Disney officials said they are
continuing to study potential effects of the health insurance law,
which could be repealed by voters in November, and "other
business issues."Michael Eisner
on Talk Radio
Radio vet Michael Jackson
who virtually invented talk radio in Los Angeles, has joined
Infinity-owned KNX-AM. He will conduct interviews with major
newsmakers for the station, which plans to air the chats twice a
day -- beginning Thursday with Disney topper Michael Eisner.
erudite style and more liberal viewpoint stand out in an age
otherwise ruled by right-wing talk radio, has been off the air for
more than a year. He lost his show on KLAC when the Clear
Channel-owned station flipped to an AM adult standards format at
the end of 2002.
missed it, particularly when all of my radio colleagues are
lackeys for the Bush administration," Jackson said.
that I get to reinvent myself. The station is all news, so I will
not be doing the kind of call-in talk radio that I've done for
past 40 years," he said. "It's a chance to meet anyone
who fascinates me. (KNX execs) said that if you think it's
interesting, then we think it's interesting."
Jackson was recruited
by David Hall, Infinity's newly installed VP of AM programming in
Los Angeles. The two have been discussing a possible collaboration
ever since Hall helped induct Jackson into the Museum of Broadcast
Communication's Radio Hall of Fame in October.
Jackson and Hall last
worked together at KLAC, back when Hall was with Clear Channel.
Jackson's decision to
kick off his gig with Eisner comes with a dose of irony: The
Briton spent 32 years at Disney-owned KABC-AM, where he was first
demoted to weekends and then booted altogether by 1999.
But Jackson said he
has remained friends with Eisner, despite his
less-than-ceremonious departure from the station (and Jackson's
displeasure with that move, about which he was very vocal at the
KNX's move to hire
Jackson is the latest in a series of changes at L.A.'s two news
radio outlets since Hall took over at the end of last year. The
addition of Jackson likely will add to criticism that the station
is moving away from its all-news identity.
Jackson said he has
already lined up Robert Reich and John Kerry as future guests;
only Johnny Carson has turned him down so far. Upcoming interviews
include Michael Moore, Bill Press, Bill Clinton, Hillary Rodham
Clinton and former U.S. ambassador Joe Wilson.
He also hinted that
the synergistic minds at Infinity's parent, Viacom, may have other
things in store for him as well.
The host said he's
still frustrated by the combative state of talk radio and believes
there just isn't room for regular discourse over the airwaves
"This is a
different format for myself," Jackson said. "Maybe one
day I'll go back to talk radio -- but not in its current state,
that kind of hard-edged, one-sided approach.
"If (talk radio
hosts) are as influential as they trumpet themselves to be, how
come fewer Americans vote? Maybe they don't turn us on, they turn
July 20, 2004
Animal Kingdom Everest Update
Playing happily ever after
Girls' princess fantasies indulged by toys, books, films
It started when her daughter was about 1,
Mary Bailey says.
Claire's playing dress-up soon evolved
into playing princess, and the princess paraphernalia
quickly began to accumulate.
An umbrella. A tea party set. Books and
videos. Underwear. A pink, cone-shaped princess hat, a gift
from friends who visited Walt Disney World. A talking pink
wand with pictures of Disney's Cinderella, Snow White and
Belle from "Beauty and the Beast."
The allure of the sparkly, pastel princess
products is hard for little girls to resist, Mary Bailey
says. And it's relatively inexpensive, for how much fun she
has playing with it all, she says. More often than not,
she's happy to indulge her now 3-year-old daughter's
desires. "It's fine with me," she says. "I
had two boys."
With a slew of princess-themed toys, books
and movies, it's never been so easy for girls to live out
their princess fantasies. Mattel's Princess Barbie dolls and
Disney's princess-themed products are hugely popular. Disney
reported sales jumped from $100 million in 2000 to $1.3
billion in 2003 after the company decided to package its
most popular princesses together to sell everything from
fruit snacks to bedroom sets.
Princesses can charm older girls, too. The
fifth volume of Meg Cabot's "The Princess Diaries"
series - "Princess in Pink" - rides high this year
on The New York Times Best-Seller List of Children's Books.
The fourth volume, "Princess in
Waiting," and "Ella Enchanted" Gail Carson
Levine's Newbery Medal-winning book that is now a movie from
Disney-owned Miramax, are also among the top sellers.
The princesses portrayed in today's movies
are a far cry from the passive fairy-tale princesses of old,
as Levine, author of six princess books, points out.
All Cinderella does is wish her troubles
away, and she fails at her one task - to leave the ball
before midnight, she says. Snow White pricks her finger and
is out cold while all the action happens.
"There's fairy tale after fairy tale
like that," Levine says. "For me, in my takes on
fairy tales, I don't want the prince to fall in love with
the maiden because she's pretty and compliant."
In "Ella Enchanted" -
essentially "Cinderella" with a few key
differences - Ella tries to rescue herself from a curse that
forces her to obey every order, rather than wait around for
a prince to save her. (There is a prince, but he's far from
But Levine also says she's not writing to
make a point: She's writing to tell a good story. And her
stories resonate with many girls.
Even with their newfound independence,
though, princesses in most modern-day tales still end up
living happily ever after. Such portrayals of princesses
give pause to some.
Yasue Kuwahara, a professor of
communications and the director of popular culture studies
at Northern Kentucky University, says the image of the
pretty princess is overemphasized in the Disney movies and
the Princess Barbie dolls. "In that sense, I think it's
problematic," she says. "The focus is on the
Dr. Kathy Burklow, a clinical child
psychologist at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical
Center, says it's typical for girls to try out different
roles - princesses, brides, housewives - that are consistent
with their gender.
That kind of play can provide parents an
opportunity to teach their daughters that they're capable of
doing anything they want and don't need to be rescued,
Burklow says. "You can be on the softball team and
still wear a crown," she says.
Here's a look at the Aladdin: Collector's Gift Set
You get the movie in the same exact set as
the Platinum edition" (so don't buy both thinking you
are getting different bonuses on the DVDs), a book on the
making of "Aladdin," some small prints of charcter
sketches, and supposedly a single frame of the actual film.
Also noteworthy. . . well for some. This has not been
announced for Region 1 DVD's (USA) but for the Region 2
(Europe), they are also getting the option of buying the
trilogy of Aladdin films together as a set on the same day
that "Aladdin" is released. They can also purchase
the gift set of "Aladdin" with "The Return of
Jafar" and "Aladdin and the King of Theives."
We'll have to wait and see if those come here too.
Top Ten Good Things About Visiting Disney's California
No pesky crowds to block your way.
Your delicate stomach won't be upset
by extreme thrill rides.
Southern California residents won't
run into anyone they know and have to explain why
You won't have to hurt your back by
constantly taking the kids out of the stroller to load
them into rides.
You'll never get lost because it's so
You'll be totally grounded in reality
(like your shrinks want you to be).
You won't be far from The Happiest
Place on Earth.
If you're at DCA, you probably have a
Disneyland Annual Pass in your wallet.
You'll be able to focus on your
conversation as you walk between rides, cause there are
no attractive visuals to distract you.
You'll still have time to go to the
beach when you're through.
Disney Promotes Online Catalog in Print Catalog for
Disney has all its ducks in a row in the
retailing giant's 2004 Back to School catalog. Directly on
page two, Disney communicates the ability to shop the
catalog online with RichFX's Rich Catalog -- a true best
practice to help bridge the multi-channel gap. With a
picture to help illustrate the feature, the catalog text
reads, "Shop Our Catalog Online -- Flip through the
pages and click on your favorite items. It's that easy to
shop for summer at DisneyStore.com."It's no secret that
online catalogs support a seamless multi-channel strategy by
providing consistency across offline and online channels.
But what about print catalog-only shoppers that are not
aware of this familiar shopping experience online?
Effectively communicating this comfortable page- flipping
tool is critical for persuading traditional catalog shoppers
to try online purchasing. Catalog shoppers may only remember
where they saw an item and how it was featured -- only the
online catalog replicates this experience on the website.
Disney is setting the standard for many best practice trends
in multi- channel retailing. The company started bringing
their catalogs online with RichFX in January of 2004 and
they are timed perfectly with the print catalog drop. They
have had tremendous success -- several online catalogs
receiving close to 50,000 unique visitors, with an average
of 2,000 per day.
Paul Gainer, Vice President of Merchandising and Creative,
at DisneyStore.com explains, "As a multi-channel
retailer, we identified the Rich Catalog as an effective
tool to improve the online shopping experience for our
catalog guest. This tool also allows our catalog guest to
shop at DisneyStore.com and experience a breadth of
assortment that is a great point of differentiation for the
In a recent white paper called "Shop the Catalog,"
Lauren Freedman, President of the e-tailing group, agrees
that the online catalog is a success, helping reach broader
audiences. "For the merchant, it [online catalog] can
leverage existing catalog investments in photography while
simultaneously offering the consumer a comfortable
transition from the catalog experience which may be integral
to their current shopping behavior. Merchants can also reach
a much broader audience online that would be financially
unfeasible in the print world, increasing new customer
Now that the online catalog is a standard, the next step is
discovering best practices to maximize the investment.
Leading retailers like Disney will continue to try different
ways to effectively communicate the presence and function of
the online catalog to ensure customers have an optimal
multi- channel experience.
2004 NFFC Show
This is just a quick reminder
that the NFFC will again be hosting the World's Largest
STRICTLY Disneyana Show & Sale - on Sunday, July 25, 2004
at the spacious Crowne Plaza Resort Hotel in Garden Grove,
California (about 1½-miles South of the Disneyland Resort on
the Southwest corner of Harbor Boulevard and Chapman Avenue).
We'll have 150+ tables covered with every imaginable ©
Disney-themed collectable - old and new. From classic toys
to Litho art and PVC action figures to Walt Disney Art Classics
pieces - paper and buttons and mini-bean-bag plush and clothing
and plates and books and decals and videos and DVDs and music
and promotional items and PINS! Something for every Disney
The entry price for the Show & Sale is $5 for NFFC members
(with valid NFFC membership card) – $6 for the general public
– $5 for Disney Company Cast Members (with valid ID card) and $5
for LaughingPlace.com readers (who print this information and
brings it along to the show!!) There is also a $25
early-bird entry for those wishing to enter the show at 10:30am.
The Show & Sale hours are:
9:00am - for attendees of the NFFC's National Convention ‘04
10:30am - for NFFC members not attending this year's National
Noon - 5:00pm - for the general public.
The show and sale closes promptly at 5:00pm so come early.
Mickey’s All-American Pin Festival 2 Saluting the American
NFFC's good friends in the Disneyland Resort's Merchandise
division have arranged for another pin opportunity for us - ONLY
NFFC 2004 “20 Years – Keeping the Magic ALIVE!”
Conventioneers will be able to purchase this wonderful pin -
created for the second annual Mickey's All American Pin Festival
(MAAPF) - as will only be sold to those attending the event.
is back-stamped “Mickey's All American Pin Festival, NFFC
Member Exclusive, Limited Edition 1,000” and has the 2004
Disney Pin Trading logo. This is the ONLY MAAPF
Olympic pin in this limited an edition – only 1,000 pins.
And the ONLY pin in this promotion that will be released
to a private organization – how cool is that?
is featured on this 2 by 2-inch pin dressed in classic Greek
attire shaking the victorious Donald’s hand with the 2004 USA
Olympic logo across the bottom. Aside from being a very
collectable triple collectable – Olympics, Disney and NFFC –
it’s also a great way to support America’s team as portion
of the Original sale price of this pin has been donated by the
Walt Disney Company and the NFFC to support America’s
Olympians as they participate in the 2004 Athens Olympic Games.
will begin - on a voucher only basis - on July 21st at the
NFFC's Convention Registration/ NFFC Club table at the Crowne
Plaza Resort Hotel, and will continue throughout the remainder
of the week - or until the edition of 1,000 is sold out. This
very exclusive pin will sell for $12.00 and will be limited to
three pins per registrant.
available after July 24th will be sold at the NFFC’s Strictly
Disneyana Show & Sale on July 25th for $15.00 each.
A Picture from Disneyland's 49th Birthday
In a visually spectacular kick-off ceremony the morning of
Disneyland's 49th Birthday in front of Sleeping Beauty Castle,
Disneyland Resort President Matt Ouimet joined over 1,000
Disneyland Cast Members, plus their friends and families, in
formally launching an exciting new program that will be a major
part of the global celebration of the 50 th anniversary of
Disneyland next year. More information on news page 2 "Say
Disney in Marvel's Legal Web
Marvel Enterprises is having a nice little summer for itself
now that Spider-Man 2 has firmly proved to be a
box-office supernova; Sony is pretty happy, too. But, as Peter
Parker himself found out, for every good thing, there must be
a balancing event in the opposite direction. Perhaps the thorn
in Marvel's side is the lawsuit it just filed against Disney
Disney acquired the Fox Family cable station
from NewsCorp a few years back (it is now called ABC
Family) for more than $5 billion. With that purchase came
several deals already in place, including the subject of
Marvel's contention: The cartoons based on such intellectual
properties as Spider-Man and X-Men run on
the network, and certain royalty arrangements are expected to
be met. It is Marvel's opinion that those obligations have not
been satisfied, and the company accuses Disney of not keeping
Lawsuits are a way of life on Wall Street; I
recently wrote about one involving McDonald's. Disney receives
a lot of them, and Marvel certainly has no problem getting
involved. The company has to; protecting the cash flow its
characters generate from forces that might want to skim a
little off the top is its prime directive and its ultimate
promise to all the little-guy shareholders who are pumping
portions of their hard-earned paychecks into the concern
sounds a bit superheroic, doesn't it?).
I don't see this as a major event for
Disney, as I'm sure a comfortable settlement will be reached
-- it wouldn't be in the media conglomerate's interest to
prolong this legal affair. Marvel shareholders would be the
bigger beneficiaries in this case, but still, I wouldn't
purchase stock on such a speculative thesis. There actually
are better theses out there to support an investment in this
entertainment brand. For one thing, W.D. Crotty laid out a
marvelous report on the company's earnings and financial
situation back in May; plus, Seth Jayson wrote about the
company's recent buyback plans.
Marvel is a stock I wish I owned. All you
Foolish long-termers out there must be having a ball adding to
your positions with the opportunities being handed your way by
the market volatility. Short-term noise on the chart of a
quality holding is essentially tantamount to riches down the
Beijingers to embrace Disney on ice
People in the Chinese capital Beijing can
take a break from the summer heat to enjoy a Disney ice road
show from Tuesday to Saturday.
The show commemorates the 100th birthday of
Walt Disney, founder of the Walt Disney Company, who was born
on December 5, 1901, in Chicago, the United States.
The man who made Mickey Mouse and Donald
Duck the most famous animated characters in the world died in
1966 aged 65. He is remembered as a pioneering animator.
Over 60 stars from 12 Disney cartoons,
including Mickey, Pinocchio, Snow White, Lion King, Mulan,
Aladdin and Toy Story, will appear in the Beijing street show.
The show will be staged in the Capital
Disney bypassed God
may have colonised the imagination of the world's children for
the best part of 80 years, but -- remarkably in one of the
world's most ostentatiously Christian countries -- the
entertainment company has done so without the aid of God, a
new book points out.
The Gospel According to Disney: Faith, Trust and Pixie Dust,
by Mark Pinsky, an American journalist and best-selling author
of a similar book about The Simpsons, shows that the film
industry's most family-orientated entertainer has rarely
mentioned God, and that such religious figures as there are in
its animated films are almost entirely bad.
Pinsky, the religion reporter at the Orlando Sentinel,
argues: "In the more than 35 animated features Disney has
released since 1937, there is scarcely a mention of God as
conceived in the Christian and Jewish faiths shared by most
people in the Western world and many beyond."
The first ordained character to have a big part in a Disney
cartoon was Frollo, the villainous priest in The Hunchback
of Notre Dame, and he did not make his appearance until
1996, nearly 60 years after the studio began making feature
American Christians appear to have scarcely noticed that none
of the Disneyland theme parks -- replete with every other
aspect of US main street culture -- has a church. The
company's cruise liners do not have a single chapel on board.
The reason, the book says, was Disney's determination not to
offend anyone in a way which would hamper the making of money.
Instead, it has quietly subverted the Christian gospel by
substituting some decidedly unchristian themes: belief in the
power of magic, that good people are handsome, and that what
you wish for really can come true.
"The Gospel of Disney is all about me," Pinsky
writes. "My dreams. My will. 'When you wish upon a star,
your dreams come true.' The Disney bible has but one verse and
"Walt's religion was built on the unfailing American
belief that virtue and hard work will make all your dreams
Pinsky notes that even in the earliest films, the company
shied away from religious symbolism. When Geppetto, the
woodcarver in Pinocchio, falls to his knees to ask for
his puppet to be given life, he does not pray to God, even
though his eyes are raised heavenwards, but to a blue fairy.
In Fantasia, the finale may be Schubert's Ave Maria
but instead of showing a stained glass window, as originally
planned, the film ends with trees forming a gothic arch
through which the sunset can be seen.
The book quotes Walt Disney's daughter Sharon as saying that
her father, who died in 1966, was a very religious man.
"But he did not believe you had to go to church to be
religious. He respected every religion. There wasn't any that
he ever criticised. He wouldn't even tell religious
The films' generally whole some messages have been used by
clergy for decades to teach children about self-reliance,
compassion and loyalty.
The films have also portrayed less positive ideas: in the
casual racism of the early pictures -- the black crows in Dumbo,
or the obsequious black female centaurs in early versions of Fantasia
-- and in occasional anti-semitism.
The book argues that since Disney's death, the company has
branched out into animism in Pocahontas, feminism in Beauty
and the Beast and Mulan, adventure capitalism in Atlantis,
and even Hinduism's great circle of life tradition in The
Lion King, which is set in Africa.
It got its fingers burnt when Aladdin, made a decade
before the attacks on the World Trade Centre, prompted
complaints of Arabophobia. All the film's villains have large
noses, dark complexions, facial hair and heavy accents.
It is only in the past few years that one of the US's most
influential religious lobbying organisations has complained --
and then because of the corporation's off-screen activities.
The 16-million-strong Southern Baptists launched an
unsuccessful boycott of Disney products in the mid-90s after
Disney introduced equal rights for gay employees and their
The book says the Baptists also complained about a one-second
sequence in the marriage ceremony of The Little Mermaid,
which, they said, showed the officiating minister in a state
of sexual arousal.
Closer inspection showed that the offending picture actually
showed the minister's knee.
"Walt Disney created his animated features to entertain
people and to make money, not to evangelise," Pinsky
"If in the process Disney made the world a better place,
that was a fine but unintended byproduct. His company was
never a philanthropic undertaking."
town sets urban trend
Celebration creates neighborly feel from scratch; Michigan
cities follow on smaller scale
A ride into this central
Florida community begins at a quaint water tower, continues
along white fencing reminiscent of Kentucky horse country and
ends at a pristine lake in the middle of town.
The water tower is fake, the fence is made
of hollow plastic and the lake is manmade.
Residents are so uniformly friendly that
they seem no more genuine than the fixtures, but they insist
they’re sincere. What’s more, they attribute some of the
good cheer to the town’s layout, where homes are close
together and near stores, restaurants and public parks.
Whether geography can affect social behavior
is a question at the heart of an urban-planning movement
influencing the appearance of communities in Michigan and the
rest of America.
Developers see the so-called new urbanism as
an antidote to a half-century of suburban sprawl, which has
turned neighbors into strangers and rush-hour commutes into
Residents like it, too.
“It’s nice to know my neighbors, to go
to the coffee shop and have them say, ‘Hey, preacher,’”
says the Rev. Patrick Wrisley, 44, pastor of Community
Presbyterian Church in Celebration.
“People value community and
neighborliness. That’s something that we’ve lost in this
culture. People want it and miss it.”
In southeast Michigan, two dozen
neighborhoods use or plan to use various neotraditional
tenets, such as building lots of sidewalks or
Westwood Commons in Beverly Hills has
tightly clustered pastel houses with large front porches. The
homes are near a public square where residents can gather.
In downtown Howell, the houses at Town
Commons are close to the street with expansive porches out
front and garages in the rear. Stores are just a short walk
With the exception of Cherry Hill Village in
Canton Township, none of the Michigan communities has tried
what Celebration has done: Build an entire town from scratch
based solely on new urbanism principles.
And that’s why so many developers are
following the travails of the Florida development, which was
conceived by Disney a decade ago.
Not everyone is sold on the idea.
Some suggest that, no matter how good the
plans of architects and urban planners, a sense of community
has to evolve from the residents themselves.
They also wonder about heavy-handed attempts
by the town to control every facet of community life.
Ironically, controversies sparked by those efforts have done
more than anything else to bring residents together.
Celebration, which is 20 miles southwest of
Orlando, has 8,500 residents spread over eight square miles.
It has 16 shops, six restaurants, four
office buildings, two public schools and a golf course. Home
prices range from $200,000 to $2.3 million, with the average
It’s a town of narrow streets, wide
sidewalks and hidden cars.
Celebration has been popular ever since
selling its first 500 houses and apartments in a one-day
lottery in 1995. About 1,200 people plunked down $1,000
deposits for homes, sight unseen, that cost 25 percent more
than comparable ones in the area.
Despite the poor economy, homes continue to
sell briskly, breaking sales records the past three years. The
town has sold a half-billion dollars’ worth of homes since
Some moved to Celebration because they’re
self-professed Disneyphiles, mad about the mouse. Others are
trying to recapture a simpler time from their childhoods.
While residents aren’t always sure what
they’re coming to, they know what they’re running from: a
deep-seated unhappiness with the American suburb. Living in
virtual isolation for so many years have made residents like
Diane Musick, 60, yearn for more contact with neighbors.
“After retiring, I wanted certain things:
education and health opportunities, a vibrant community where
people were friendly, helpful, neighborly,” the retiree says
about her search for a new home. “When I walked in here,
they had literally every thing on my list.”
New urbanism communities promote contact
between neighbors by getting them out of their cars.
Modeled after 1930s towns in the Southeast,
such as Savannah, Ga., and Charleston, S.C., they conjure a
period before malls and highways.
They’re traditional small towns where the
pedestrian, not the car, is king. Most things are within
walking distance. And those strolls take walkers past front
porches that are close enough to the street to encourage
conversations between neighbors.
Parks, pools and other community facilities
beckon residents to leave their homes and mingle with others.
Sense of community
On a recent afternoon in downtown
Celebration, residents sat on wooden rocking chairs in a
pavilion along the man-made lake. The air filled with
easy-listening music from ground-based speakers. A flat-bottom
fountain continuously spewed water.
Part of the lake is bounded by a series of
outdoor cafes and a cream-colored movie theater, whose
stunning facade evokes the 1950s.
The nearby shopping district is a series of
upscale gift shops and clothing stores along a brick road.
Think downtown Birmingham, drenched with year-round summer.
“It’s a beautiful place,” says Anna
Lauren Long, a clerk at Village Mercantile clothing store.
“They work hard to maintain it.”
The rest of the community also is pleasing
to the eye.
The clapboard homes sprout pastel colors and
gingerbread detailing. They have columns, balconies, bay
windows and massive doorways.
Garages are tucked behind the homes,
accessible by paved alleys. That’s also where garbage cans
The homes and manicured lawns are fussed
over by a small army of service workers. One of the lawn care
firms is named AAA Perfection.
The streets are shrouded by oaks and
sycamores. The rear entrance to the community takes one past
800 stately pines that line both sides of the road for two
“I was yelling at the developer for making
the streets so narrow, but he explained that was done to slow
down the cars,” says real estate agent and resident Sonny
Buoncervello, 61. “The lots are so small, but that helps you
meet all your neighbors.”
So what’s being celebrated in Celebration?
The good life.
This is a community that hears fireworks
every night, courtesy of nearby Disney World, and the jingle
of an ice cream truck 12 months a year. It has hosted the
Great American Pie Festival three years in a row.
According to the March issue of the town
newsletter, the two biggest safety issues among residents were
skateboarders using a downtown bridge abutment as a ramp, and
youths driving gas-powered scooters recklessly.
Every need is cared for, no matter how
small, like ensuring that all outdoor basketball rims have
Town creates tourist
From the day after Thanksgiving to New
Year’s Eve, it snows every night in Celebration. Also,
during two weekends in October, oak leaves fall from palm
The “snow” is soap bubbles and the 2
1/2-inch “leaves” are tissue paper.
Such events, intended to draw tourists to
local shops, give the impression that the town is just another
Disney theme park in central Florida.
Visitors have asked residents whether
they’re actors and if they can tour their homes.
The somewhat defensive denizens of
Celebration are sometimes compelled to remind people that
“We Celebrants are most certainly real and
our numbers are growing,” resident Scott Almond, 34,
harrumphed in a letter to the local paper.
The town is marked by contradictions that
contribute to the sense of unreality.
Celebration has a town hall, sitting behind
28 columns, a veritable white forest, but no government. It
sits on a swamp but, because of heavy spraying, has few
mosquitoes. The town has little history but a multitude of
“traditions,” which were invented by Disney.
Some residents say the town likes the idea,
but not the reality, of having traditions and a history and
democracy. It doesn’t like the messiness of real life.
“Disney is good at handling crowds at
amusement parks,” says resident Alex Morton, 71, who owns
and edits the weekly newspaper, Celebration Independent.
“But building a community is not like building an amusement
park. You can control crowds but you can’t control
A three-day visit to Celebration found no
poor people, little litter, few blaring car horns or raised
voices. But it also yielded few minorities and no blue-collar
workers, except for those working there.
The town had banned for-sale signs, fearing
it would send the wrong message. It eventually relented,
allowing oval “Home Available” signs as long as their
width is no more than two feet.
Rules rule town
In Celebration, messiness is prevented by
myriad rules that seem to cover any contingency.
The appearance of homes and lawns, alone,
are governed by a 70-page pattern book.
Among the rules: Curtains that face the
street must be white or off-white. The color of a home, unless
it’s white, can’t be duplicated within three homes on the
same side of the street. At least a quarter of the front and
side gardens must have something besides grass.
One of the casualties of all the
restrictions was a University of Michigan scarecrow that Jim
and Marita Siegel put up every fall. The Siegels, who moved
from Plymouth in 2002, now must wait until October. They can
hoist their school flag only on game day.
But the Michiganians are fans of the strict
“I don’t want someone putting their car
on blocks in the front yard,” says Jim Siegel, 59, a
longtime Ford executive. “We’re buying more than a house.
We’re buying a lifestyle and a sense that this town will not
to tip off in Disney Classic
The Florida Gulf
Coast University men's basketball team might be going to
Disney World, but there's no guarantee it'll be a Magic
Kingdom for the Eagles.
FGCU opens the 2004-05 season at the eighth
annual Disney Division II Tip-Off Classic at the Milk House in
Disney's Wide World of Sports Complex from Nov. 12-14 against
a handful of Division II's top programs.
The tournament features eight teams from
various parts of the country who went a combined 136-83 last
season. It will be a stern early-season test for FGCU, which
lost five major contributors from a team that went 22-5 last
"It's a real challenge," said FGCU
head coach Dave Balza, who coached in the Tip-Off Classic in
2000 when he was at St. Joseph's College (Ind.). "It'll
give us a chance to see where we are early in the year."
FGCU opens the tournament against the
University of North Dakota at 8:30 p.m. on Nov. 12.
North Dakota returns four starters from a
team that went 14-14 last year and lost six games by a total
of 14 points.
"They're a perennial power," Balza
said. "They host the Division II national championship
next year. They've got four starters and 10 of their top 11
They've got really good talent, they're very
big and very well coached."
The tournament won't make or break FGCU's
season, but it comes just four weeks after practice begins.
That's not a lot of time to put together a team that almost
its entire frontcourt to graduation.
"It's a chance to build chemistry in
terms of our kids getting to know each other," Balza
"You stay five days in Orlando away
from everything and it gives you a chance to feel your team
The tournament will also be a homecoming for
senior center Michael Anderson, who is from nearby
Other schools in the tournament include
Clayton State (Ga.), Indiana University of Pennsylvania and
Henderson State University (Ark.), all of which qualified for
the NCAA tournament last year.
The games are considered "exempt"
games by the NCAA, meaning they don't count against FGCU's
27-game limit. And because the field is compromised of several
elite Division II teams, it will help FGCU's strength of
schedule regardless of how the Eagles fare.
"It's not an end of the world thing if
you lose all three," Balza said. "Last year
(Pittsburgh State) went 0-3 and then won 17 straight
Strength of schedule will be crucial for the
Eagles this winter now that FGCU is eligible for the Division
II postseason after becoming a full-fledged member of Division
II last week.
NCAA Tournament berths in Division II are
determined by regional rankings. Team record and strength of
schedule are major factors in gaining a spot in the
"We'll see where we stack up early and
what we need to improve on," Balza said. "I don't
think it'll impact your seed."
buoyed by response to West Coast cruises
Buoyed by the
popularity of its Caribbean cruises, the Disney Cruise Line
will sail into West Coast waters for the first time next year,
offering seven-night cruises between Los Angeles and Mexico.
The cruise line, which features Disney
characters and themed entertainment onboard, has been one of
the biggest success stories in the cruise business since it
launched in 1998. As the company's theme park operations have
suffered during the recession and post 9-11 travel downturn,
the Disney Cruise Line -- which offers three-, four- and
seven-night sailings from Port Canaveral, Fla., to the Bahamas
and the Caribbean -- has remained a bright spot for the
Burbank-based Walt Disney Co.
Like virtually everything Disney-related,
Disney cruises have a loyal following among families and those
who simply love the Disney style of entertainment. So when the
company announced in May that it was adding a limited-time
West Coast cruise in 2005 to celebrate the 50th anniversary of
Disneyland, interest was high.
The 877-stateroom Disney Magic is scheduled
to leave from the Port of Los Angeles (San Pedro) on Saturdays
at 5 p.m. beginning May 28, and will stop at Puerto Vallarta,
Mazatlan and Cabo San Lucas before returning to port. Twelve
cruises of these seven-night excursions are scheduled.
Days ahead of the official announcement,
travel- and Disney- oriented Internet chat boards were buzzing
with the news that the company was about to announce the
itinerary. According to booking agents, many cabins --
particularly the largest and most expensive ones in categories
1 through 3 -- were sold out almost instantly when
reservations were opened on May 5.
A Disney spokeswoman said a number of people
contacted the company weeks or months ahead of May 5,
expressing an interest in seven-night cruises for 2005 (the
line will have no seven-night cruises from the East Coast next
year). These folks got dibs on the relatively spacious and
pricey category 1-3 suites, which number 22 on the Magic.
Top Disney executives have crowed repeatedly
in recent weeks about the fact that the West Coast cruises are
on track to sell out faster than any other set of Disney
cruises. As of late June, Disney had taken specific pricing
information about the cruises off its Web site ( www.disneycruise.com
because so many of the cruises and stateroom categories were
selling out. Those interested in getting information or
booking directly through Disney are now asked to call the
company at (800) 951-3532.
Will Disney make the Los Angeles/Mexico
route permanent? The company isn't saying. But seeing the
response to the route so far, many would be surprised if
Disney didn't decide to make more Magic on the West Coast in
Two companies specializing in Disney travel
that advertise online said they had received more requests
than they could fill for the cruises, particularly for the
most luxurious cabins. Several Los Angeles-area travel agents
said they're guessing that the bulk of travelers booking the
Los Angeles-to-Mexico cruises are from the Midwest and Western
states -- Arizona and Washington, for example. They said they
had only booked one or two of the cruises each, even though
Southern California has one of the largest concentrations in
the country of rabid Disney fans.
One agent pointed to the fairly hefty price
tag of the West Coast cruises as one possible reason.
A phone representative for the cruise line
recently quoted a price of $3,403 as the lowest available for
a standard inside stateroom for the May 28 sailing from Los
That price is for two adults sharing a
stateroom, and includes meals, entertainment and taxes. With
two young children, the price rises to around $5,000.
The highest category stateroom available on
the May 28 cruise, a category 4 "family stateroom with
verandah," was going for $6,263 for two adults, or close
to $7,000 with two young children aboard. The Web site lists
rates for a standard inside stateroom on a Caribbean cruise
starting at just $829, with the price for a category 4 room
ranging from $1,749 to $3,199.
But a Disney spokeswoman said the prices for
the West Coast cruises are actually "in line" with
the seven-night Caribbean cruises. She pointed out that the
Web rates are per person, do not include various taxes and
fees and reflect seasonal pricing variations. Because the West
Coast cruises are occurring during the summer high season, she
said, they are priced higher than comparable cruises at other
times of the year.
The imperative for those wanting to cruise
with Disney next year: Book immediately if you want a West
Coast sailing. If you prefer to leave from the East Coast, you
will be limited to a three- or four-night cruise to the
Bahamas next summer.
Another difference next year will be the two
14-night Panama Canal sailings that Disney has added as
special repositioning cruises. The ships make the westbound
voyage in May and return to Florida in August, and those who
can't get enough of the Disney Magic get to join Mickey, Goofy
and friends for two weeks of sailing to or from California.
donates $100,000 to United Way
Walt Disney World Resort has given a
$100,000 check to Heart of Florida United Way to help improve
the lives of Central Florida children.
The donation was generated by the proceeds
of last October's Funai Classic at Walt Disney World Resort.
The event is sponsored by Funai Electric Co., a consumer
electronics maker in Japan.
Disney targeted its donation to 10 United
Way member agencies that provide health and human services to
The 10 agencies to receive funds are:
- Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central
- Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Florida
- Central Florida Police Athletic League
- Central Florida YMCA
- Edgewood Children's Ranch
- Girl Scouts of Citrus Council
- Orlando Day Nursery Association
- Quest Kids
- Second Harvest Food Bank of Central
- Welbourne Avenue Nursery and Kindergarten
Examples of services to be provided with the
funds include youth mentoring, after-school programs, services
from troubled youth, children's food programs and child care.
negotiates future with Disney
No Hollywood figure is generating more
intrigue these days than Harvey Weinstein, who's turned his
musings about his future into daily grist for industry gossips
and news hounds.________________________________________________________________________________________________
In a highly public spat, the Miramax Films co-founder recently
became so fed up with parent Walt Disney Co. that he said he
was ready to break free from a partnership that produced such
Oscar-winning hits as Chicago and Shakespeare in
Love. The boiling point came last month when Disney chief
Michael Eisner blocked Miramax from releasing Michael Moore's
anti-Bush documentary Fahrenheit 9/11.
But behind the battle lines it is the other Weinstein --
Harvey's younger brother Bob -- who may be the biggest dog in
this fight. Disney does not want him straying.
Unlike some of the pricey and risky movies now favored by
Harvey, Bob has produced a string of lower-budget money-makers
at Miramax's Dimension Films unit, including the Spy Kids,
Scary Movie and Scream franchises.
Then there's the added boost Bob brings to Eisner, who has
been criticized for alienating key creative partners.
If Eisner were able to keep him in the Disney family, the CEO
might avoid a public relations fiasco similar to what happened
after his company failed to reach a deal with longtime
collaborator Pixar Animation Studios. Although the financial
impact of losing the men behind Miramax's successes pales in
comparison, analysts said their departure would be
embarrassing because of the Oscar prestige they've brought to
"Miramax is highly visible, even though it's a small
division," said Merrill Lynch's Jessica Reif Cohen.
Disney executives declined comment, as did Harvey Weinstein.
Through a Miramax spokesman, Bob Weinstein said: "As
always, Harvey and I are working closely together in trying to
reach an amicable resolution with Disney."
Given the tensions and rhetoric, which recently reached an
all-time high, most observers think a resolution could come
within weeks. In the meantime, Harvey has tried to calm his
troops. During a meeting with his senior executives Friday, he
downplayed rampant rumors he was heading for the Miramax exit.
He said he intends to remain at least until his and Bob's
employment contracts expire in September 2005.
There is, of course, a chance that nothing will change and
that both brothers will continue to work at Miramax under
A source close to the Weinsteins said recent discussions with
Disney have become less strained. "The temperature from Fahrenheit
has cooled down," the source said.
The Weinsteins have feuded with Disney for more than a year
over the amount of production and marketing money the
conglomerate gives Miramax. They also have clashed over the
brothers' compensation. The two sides have not even been able
to agree on exactly how much Miramax has contributed to
Disney's bottom line.
Eisner recently said Miramax was profitable in just two of the
past five years, a contention disputed by the Weinsteins. Last
year, according to a source familiar with the studio's
finances, Disney recorded an $87 million profit at Miramax.
The Weinsteins pegged it at $211 million. From Disney's
perspective, Miramax's real value is in its library, valued at
an estimated $2 billion by Wall Street media analysts.
On top of the financial disputes is the personal animus
between Harvey Weinstein and Eisner, propelling the conflict
beyond the normal give-and-take between a parent company and
As a result of all this, Weinstein has been exploring ways to
leave the company he and his brother -- both college dropouts
from Queens -- founded 25 years ago and that they named after
their parents, Miriam and Max. In 1993, Disney paid about $75
million to buy the scrappy independent movie outfit, the most
influential purveyor of art-house films.
The many arrangements now under discussion all have one thing
in common: Harvey Weinstein wants the kind of autonomy that
can come only from escaping Disney's direct financial and
creative control. This would mean setting up an independently
financed production company that potentially would pay Disney
a fee to distribute its movies.
Sources said that in a best-case scenario, the brothers would
be allowed to buy the Miramax name -- something they hold dear
because of its sentimental and marquee value. By most
accounts, however, that possibility is a long shot.
More likely, Harvey, 52, would launch his own independently
financed production company while Bob, 49, would continue to
run Miramax's Dimension Films, remaining in the Disney fold.
"From Disney's perspective, it's a great
compromise," said Reif Cohen. "Having one Weinstein
is better than having none."
For Eisner, the structure removes a thorn in his side. Harvey,
who wants to make bigger movies and is attracted to
controversial projects, has chafed under Disney's tight
controls. At the same time, Eisner would be able to preserve
ties with Bob, whose movies are largely profitable and are
more in sync with Disney's sensibilities.
"Bob is a supremely successful producer, filmmaker and
businessman," said agent Robert Newman, who represents Spy
Kids director Robert Rodriguez and years ago worked for
the Weinsteins at Miramax.
Those who know the brothers say that whatever shape their
future working relationship may take, nothing will come
Said Newman, their longtime friend and business associate:
"Their loyalty to each other supercedes anything else in
events grow at Magic Kingdom
Disney's Magic Kingdom is expanding its annual Halloween
festivities this fall from 10 nights to 13.
Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party -- a G-rated alternative
to Universal Orlando's popular Halloween Horror Nights -- is
scheduled to take place on select nights between Oct. 1 and
Disney and Universal have steadily expanded their Halloween
events in recent years to keep up with demand. Universal
recently announced that it would expand this year's Halloween
Horror Nights to include both of its theme parks, Islands of
Adventure and Universal Studios.
Disney's event includes trick-or-treating throughout the park,
costume parties, storytelling and Mickey's Boo-to-You
Tickets are $34.95 for guests age 10 and older and $28.95 for
children age 3 to 9. Toddlers younger than 3 are free.
Musical `Aida' to Be Performed
``Aida a classic love triangle story about
enslaved African princess, Aida, her royal mistress Amneris
and Radames, the soldier they both love, will be back on stage
in August 2005. This time however, there will be no elephants
or camels roaming around the stage as there were in ``The
Great Opera Aida 2003 performances back in September 2003,
which remained one of the largest opera productions ever to
show here and also one of the biggest financial failures of
Instead, this one will be full of
contemporary energies generated by dazzling, modern,
MTV-styled dances and modern pop music by Elton John and Tim
Rice. It¡¯s Walt Disney¡¯s timeless love story of Aida,
but it¡¯s musical.
``Original Egyptian fable is our source, not
the opera, Marshall Purdy, executive producer of Disney
Theatrical Production said during last Tuesday¡¯s media
event at Seoul Plaza Hotel, emphasizing the shows originality.
``We were very pleased to discover the wealth of talent in the
musical market here, he added, anticipating an all-Korean cast
to perform the show.
Often grouped together with ``Beauty and the
Beast and ``Lion King as Disneys three major musical
productions, ``Aida, costing $15 million in production costs
opened at Palace Theater, New York, in March 2000. Wining four
Tony Awards in the very first year, including Best Score
(Elton John & Tim Rice) and Best Leading Actress in a
Musical (Heather Headley), it still remains the only musical
to be shown in Broadway among those debuted during the
Since then the show has toured 53 North
American cities with success. Its Japanese, Osaka debut in
December 2003 also garnered some enthusiastic reviews, proving
that Disney is now a major player in the global performing
Its final Broadway stage is scheduled for
Sept. 5, after 54 months and 1,852 regular performances at the
Palace Theatre. After that, all the original sets for the show
will be sent here to prepare for the 10 months of local
staging to be held at the LG Arts Center, southern Seoul.
``Those days of mega musicals running
extremely long periods of time has gone, the Disney producer
said. ``By any standards, it has run long enough. The
auditioning process, supervised by Disney staff, will be in
January next year, and set-up and rehearsal will follow in
June and last for eight weeks.
While local musical production Seesee
Musical Company purchased the exclusive right to stage the
show here until 2007, film industry giant CJ Entertainment
join the three-way partnership to help the shows marketing and
promotion. The company recently joined the promotion and
distribution of such well-known Broadway musicals local
productions as ``Cats, ``Mamma mia! and ``Cabaret. Under the
three-year contract with the musical production, CJ will take
charge of marketing for all the shows produced by Seesee. ``In
the long run, the partnership will be focused on producing and
promoting shows of our own, Choi Pyung-ho, executive director
of CJ said.
Walt Disney World Resort
Disney has released resort specials for room-only rates and
Disney-Dream Maker packages for travelers vacationing at Walt
Disney World between 8/29/04-9/29/04. Room-only rates range
from $55+ per night for Value Resorts, $85+ per night for
Moderate Resorts and $119+ per night for Deluxe Resorts. Rooms
are subject to availability. Call 407-W-DISNEY
Disney Looks to Rework Family Channel
When Disney chief executive Michael Eisner
announced the purchase of Fox Family Worldwide Inc. in 2001, he
called it a deal "we had been fantasizing about for maybe
three years." But the fantasy has been tougher to fulfill
than many had hoped. Critics have said that the company, which
laid out $3 billion in cash and assumed $2.3 billion in debt,
overpaid by as much as $2 billion, making the purchase a prime
example of Eisner's mismanagement.
"When Disney bought them, we thought,
'Here is nirvana a family content corporation buying what we
think is one of the premier channels,'" said Laura
Caraccioli-Davis, senior vice president at Starcom
Entertainment, a division of the advertising firm Starcom
MediaVest. "We expected positive changes immediately."
So did Disney executives, who predicted the
purchase would increase advertising revenue for its media
networks division by 50 percent within two years without a
substantial increase in programming costs. The Fox Family
Channel, now renamed ABC Family, would achieve the ambitious
goal by showing news programs from ABC, sports programming from
ESPN and comedies and dramas from ABC a strategy called
Instead, the channel has struggled to define
itself, adopting and then abandoning a slate of reality shows
and behind-the-scenes peeks at such ABC shows as "The
The channel has turned a profit, in part
because advertisers have few choices available to reach its
target audience, 18-34-year-old men and women. And ratings in
prime-time, which dipped last year, have improved on the
strength of shows it bought from the WB network.
Still, the channel has many problems to
"Their struggle has really been having to
rework a network that has already been reworked so many times
from the Family Channel to Fox Family to ABC Family, which is
almost like ABC II to some degree," said Stacey Lynn
Koerner of Initiative Media, a media buying firm.
The deal for Fox Family Worldwide also
included children's cable networks in Europe and Latin America,
the rights to such characters as the Power Rangers, and a
library of more than 6,500 episodes of kid's shows.
Disney executives have acknowledged they paid
too much. That has only increased the ire of critics, including
former board vice chairman Roy E. Disney, toward Eisner.
The task of turning ABC Family around has
fallen to Paul Lee, a 44-year-old programming executive who
previously served as president of BBC America, a cable channel
that launched such hits as "The Office."
Lee, on the job only a few weeks, told The
Associated Press in his first extensive interview that embracing
a definition of "family" broad enough to include 18-
to 34-year-old men and women is crucial.
"If there's something that's an emotional
touchstone for everybody's life, it's got to be family,"
Lee said. "There are plenty of networks out there trying to
make people care, and we've got a subject that is the most
important thing in my life and it's the most important thing in
a lot of people's lives."
Lee said he is glad to have the younger
audiences attracted to such WB shows as "7th Heaven."
ABC Family will also begin airing episodes of WB shows "Smallville,"
and "Gilmore Girls" in the fall.
"My job is to take that strength and
build on it, take the consistency that has been settled in, very
quietly, without anyone noticing, and make sure we can solidify
it and use it to launch some originals over the next two to
three years," Lee said.
Lee said he feels the channel's identity is
also broad enough to embrace the dysfunctional families
portrayed in such Fox shows as "Arrested Development"
and "Malcolm in the Middle."
"We don't plan to take any risks with
things like sex and violence," Lee said. "But we do
plan to take a lot of risks with storytelling."
Some of ABC Family's problems come from the
tenure of former ABC daytime chief Angela Shapiro, who failed to
remake prime time on ABC Family with new reality shows and
made-for-television movies. She tried to make the channel more
"hip," inserting one-minute films with pop culture
references between shows.
Shapiro's task was harder than many thought,
Disney officials say, because the channel's former owners loaded
the schedule with shows aimed at younger children.
"We were building off of virtually
nothing," said Anne Sweeney, co-chair of Disney's Media
Networks division. "Few, if any, of those shows worked. We
were starting at a much lower point than anybody realized."
Advertisers want the channel to succeed in
part because there are few channels that reach younger teenagers
and young adults. The Disney Channel, which is in more than 80
million homes, does not accept advertising.
"They never seem to have a consistent
strategy from year to year," Caraccioli-Davis said of ABC
Family. "It will help the whole landscape when they figure
out who they are and make it more competitive for us."
Stinky plant at Walt Disney World
has visitors holding noses
Something stinks at Walt Disney
It happens to be 5-foot-1 plant with a banana
shape and the smell of a dead fish.
The Amorphophallus titanum, or Titan Arum for
short, began blooming at Disney's Animal Kingdom on Friday when
the plant's sheath began to unfurl, revealing its frilly, purple
interior. The bloom was expected to last through Sunday.
When it was planted recently near a walkway
between the Africa and Asia sections of the park, the Titan
weighed 40 pounds. Some can grow to 170 pounds.
The titan debuted in several European cities
and arrived at New York Botanic Garden in 1937, causing a
Its most impressive feat is its putrid odor,
which is Mother Nature's way of attracting pollen. The stench -
often compared to rotten eggs - can be overwhelming.
By Friday, its spire had nearly doubled its
height in a week, growing from 37 inches to 60.5 inches. The
energy required for that growth spurt produces a temperature of
about 95 degrees, close to that of a human body, said Jim
Thompson, a Disney horticulturist.
"It's amazing how it grows so
quickly," said Richard Neal, a Disney visitor from
Leichester, England. "It smells like a big garbage
The female flowers are receptive to pollen
from male flowers from another Titan. In the wild, the pollen is
carried by insects to female flowers in other blooming Titans.
Thompson did the honors Saturday by lightly dusting the Titan's
female flowers with a pollen-covered cosmetic brush taped to a
Because there aren't any others blooming
nearby, he imported the pollen from Texas.
"It takes the seeds nine months to
gestate," Thompson said. "That's a very long time for
a plant to go, living on its tuber. It takes a lot out of the
Disney tops family spots
The top-rated family attractions
in the U.S., from Zagat Survey/Parenting magazine:
1. Disney's Magic Kingdom, Orlando
2. Discovery Cove, Orlando
3. Monterey Bay Aquarium, Monterey, Calif.
4. St. Louis Zoo
5. Disneyland, Anaheim, Calif.
6. Cedar Point, Sandusky, Ohio
7. Grant's Farm, St. Louis
8. San Diego Zoo
9. National Air & Space Museum,
10. Disney's Typhoon Lagoon, Orlando, Fla.
Weinstein Stays, Disney Hopes It's Bob
No Hollywood figure
is generating more intrigue these days than Harvey Weinstein,
who has turned his musings about his future into daily grist for
industry gossips and news hounds.
In a public spat, the Miramax Films co-founder recently became
so fed up with parent Walt Disney Co. that he said he was ready
to break free from a partnership that produced such
Oscar-winning hits as "Chicago" and "Shakespeare
in Love." The boiling point came in May, when it was
disclosed that Disney Chief Executive Michael Eisner had blocked
Miramax from releasing Michael Moore's anti-Bush documentary
"Fahrenheit 9/11" because of its political bent.
But behind the battle lines it is the other Weinstein —
Harvey's younger brother Bob — who may be the biggest dog in
this fight. Disney does not want him straying.
Unlike some of the costly and risky movies now favored by
Harvey, Bob has produced a string of lower budget moneymakers at
Miramax's Dimension Films unit, including the "Spy
Kids," "Scary Movie" and "Scream"
Then there's the added boost Bob brings to Eisner, who has been
criticized for alienating key creative partners.
If Eisner were able to keep him in the Disney family, the CEO
might avoid a public relations fiasco similar to what happened
after his company failed to reach a deal with longtime
collaborator Pixar Animation Studios. Although the financial
effect of losing the men behind Miramax's successes pales in
comparison, analysts said their departure would still be
embarrassing because of the Oscar prestige they had brought to
"Miramax is highly visible, even though it's a small
division," said Merrill Lynch analyst Jessica Reif Cohen.
"It's not something they can sweep under the carpet."
Disney executives declined comment, as did Harvey Weinstein.
Through a Miramax spokesman, Bob Weinstein said: "As
always, Harvey and I are working closely together in trying to
reach an amicable resolution with Disney."
Given the tensions and rhetoric, which recently reached an
all-time high, most observers think a resolution could come
within weeks. In the meantime, Harvey has tried to calm his
troops. During a meeting with his senior executives Friday, he
downplayed rumors that he was heading for the Miramax exit. He
said he intended to stay at least until his and Bob's contracts
expired in September 2005.
There is, of course, a chance that nothing will change and that
both brothers will continue to work at Miramax under Disney's
direction. All parties agree the situation is fluid.
A source close to the Weinsteins said recent discussions with
Disney had become less strained. "The temperature from
'Fahrenheit' has cooled down," the source said. "The
talks have become more amicable than in the past."
The Weinsteins have feuded with Disney for more than a year over
the amount of production and marketing money the Burbank
conglomerate gives Miramax each year. They also have clashed
over the brothers' compensation.
The two sides have even been unable to agree on how much Miramax
has contributed to Disney's bottom line.
Eisner recently said Miramax was profitable for two of the last
five years, a contention disputed by the Weinsteins. Last year,
according to a source familiar with the studios' finances,
Disney recorded an $87-million profit at Miramax. The Weinsteins
pegged it at $211 million. From Disney's perspective, Miramax's
real value is in its library, valued at an estimated $2 billion
by Wall Street media analysts.
On top of the financial disputes is the personal animus that has
developed between Harvey and Eisner, propelling the conflict
beyond the normal give-and-take between a parent company and its
As a result of all this, Harvey has been exploring ways to leave
the company he and his brother — both college dropouts from
New York — founded 25 years ago and that they named after
their parents, Miriam and Max. In 1993, Disney paid about $75
million to buy the scrappy independent movie outfit, the most
influential purveyor of art-house films.
The many arrangements now under discussion have one thing in
common: Harvey wants the kind of autonomy that can come only
from escaping Disney's direct financial and creative control.
This would mean setting up an independently financed production
company that potentially would pay Disney a fee to distribute
Sources said that in a best-case scenario, the brothers would be
allowed to buy the Miramax name — something they hold dear
because of its sentimental and marquee value. By most accounts,
however, that is a longshot. Disney would not want to create
public confusion over ownership of the brand, given that it
intended to retain control of the lucrative Miramax film
More likely, Harvey, 52, would launch his own production company
while Bob, 49, would continue to run Miramax's Dimension Films,
remaining in the Disney fold.
Such a scenario appears to benefit all sides.
"From Disney's perspective, it's a great compromise,"
Reif Cohen said. "Having one Weinstein is better than
For Eisner, the structure removes a thorn in his side. Harvey,
who wants to make bigger movies and is attracted to
controversial projects, has chafed under Disney's tight
controls. At the same time, Eisner would be able to preserve
ties with Bob, whose movies are largely profitable and are more
in sync with Disney's mainstream sensibilities. What's more, he
has not personally clashed with Eisner and has not been
creatively constricted, sources close to the brothers say.
Eisner recently praised Bob at Allen & Co.'s annual media
conference in Sun Valley, Idaho, calling him a talented
executive running one of the more successful businesses in the
In contrast, Eisner has said Harvey is at his best when he is
focused on smaller movies, rather than on projects that are too
expensive and return too little. Those have included such
star-driven films as "Cold Mountain" and "Gangs
of New York."
Bob's films at Dimension, meanwhile, have generated some of the
highest returns in the industry. The company claims that 45 of
its 54 movies have been profitable — an extraordinary run in
such a hit-or-miss business.
"Bob is a supremely successful producer, filmmaker and
businessman," said agent Robert Newman, who represents
"Spy Kids" director Robert Rodriguez and years ago
worked for the Weinsteins at Miramax.
A Miramax without Harvey would dismantle one of the most
successful studio partnerships in history — and fundamentally
alter a unique Hollywood relationship that began 25 years ago.
Always working within shouting distance of each other, the
brothers revolutionized the independent movie world. From their
cramped Manhattan offices, they turned inexpensive art-house
movies into mainstream hits through savvy marketing. Bob was
happy to run the less-glamorous business aspects of Miramax,
while his brother took the creative lead.
But in 1994, Bob began calling his own shots with the formation
of Dimension. The company hit pay dirt with its release
"The Crow," about a rock guitarist who returns from
the dead on Halloween eve.
Bob's triumphs moved him out from the long shadow of his older
brother, whose charismatic and larger-than-life personality
differed dramatically from his own. Unlike Harvey, known as a
heat-seeking publicity missile, Bob has always shunned the
Given his increased importance, any new deal that Disney might
strike to keep Bob at Miramax could be expensive and complicated
for the Burbank company. Undoubtedly, he would try parlay his
clout into more cash.
Unwinding Harvey's deal could be equally difficult. If Disney
decides to end the infighting by releasing him before his
contract expires next year, the company would have to pay him a
negotiated settlement. By March, Disney must let the brothers
know whether their deals will be extended for four years.
Those who know the brothers say that whatever shape their future
working relationship may take, nothing will come between them.
Newman, their longtime friend and business associate, said,
"They're loyalty to each other supersedes anything else in
Parade music exclusive on DVD
The fans of the music from Main
Street Electrical Parade will find a very special song on the
new DVD. Jean Jacques Perrey, who is the composer of the Main
Street Electrical Parade Music, wrote EleKtroPop as a proposal
to Disney for a possible new Electrical Parade but Disney was
already working on Fantillusion and other parades and did not
need another piece of music. So EleKtroPop was never released
and never published.
After the documentary was made Jean Jacques offered this
original, "never heard before" music as a gift to
MediaDreams for use in the documentary. It is therefor a full
exclusivity on the DVD and the only way to discover this music
is to get the DVD! The music is used during the end credits.
Southmoreland teacher wins Disney
Janey Layman, a 9th-12th-grade information
science teacher at Southmoreland High School in Alverton, will
soon be on her way to Disneyland in California for a free
Well, it's not really a vacation. It's one of
the rewards she will receive since being recognized out of more
than 150,000 nominees as a 2004 DisneyHand Teacher Awards
Honoree in April.
But that's just one of the rewards
Layman also received $10,000 for herself and
$5,000 for her school and will have the chance to win another
$15,000 for herself and another $5,000 for the school if she is
chosen by her peers, the other 38 honorees, as the High School
Teacher of the Year or the Outstanding Teacher of the Year at
the Awards Gala held while at Disneyland.
In addition, she will get an all-expense-paid
trip to Disney World in Florida in October for herself and for
the principal of the school, Dr. Carolyn Adams, to attend a
Other rewards include being honored by Mickey
Mouse at a ceremony at Disneyland, appear in a parade down Main
Street and receive a new glamour look from Ret Turner,
"costume designer to the stars."
The journey began in January when Adams told
Layman she had been nominated for the honor and asked her to
fill out the packet of information.
"I had to respond to four questions, and
there were two pages of pretty strict guidelines that I had to
follow," said Layman. "At first I thought it was nuts,
because what were the chances of me getting chosen, but then I
thought, 'this is so me,' so I completed the application."
It actually cost her approximately $28 to
participate, because the application had to be in by a certain
date and she was still working on it the day before the due
date, so in order for it to arrive on time, the shipping costs
were very high.
"I literally had to stop typing on the
last question so I could send it in," said Layman.
The months passed and she almost forgot about
it until one day at the end of April, Layman came home to find a
message on her answering machine from a Disney representative.
"She said she had some good news and that
I was to call her back," said Layman. "I was just
blown away when I found out I was chosen."
The honorees were actually chosen by a
selection committee made up of representatives from the American
Association of School Administrators, the American Federation of
Teachers, Association for Supervision and Curriculum
Development, the Council for American Private Education, Council
of Chief State School Officers, Council for Exceptional
Children, Council of Great City Schools, The Galef Institute,
Harvard University's Project Zero, National Association of
Elementary School Principals, National Association of Secondary
School Principals, the National Board for Professional Teaching
Standards, National Education Association, National Middle
School Association and National PTA.
After she found out she had won the honor,
Layman was told she was to write a completely new biography of
herself other than the one she submitted with her application,
and she was also to give a three-minute speech, which was also
to have different information other than that written in her
So far she has received her $10,000, which she
has used to go on a cruise and to pay off some bills. The Disney
Channel also came to videotape her classes for one whole day.
The producer who showed up was the same person who does the
Golden Globes, she said.
Layman hopes the money for the school can be
used to purchase some type of motivational tool.
"In my opinion, we don't do enough for
the top students to motivate others to get to their
levels," said Layman. "But I do want the money to
benefit the whole school if at all possible."
Her parents, John and Nancy Christner, are
extremely proud of Layman.
"We're just very proud," said Nancy
Christner. "Last year she won the Radio Shack Teacher of
the Year award."
Layman said she will be a little nervous when
she has to stand up in front of her peers and give her
"I will be nervous, but I am very
confident in who I am and at public speaking, so I'll be
excited, too," said Layman.
She and her husband will be in Disneyland from
July 22 to 26.
Theme Parks' Squabbling Could Kill
Bullet Train Project
There always has been fighting between Mickey Mouse, Shamu
the killer whale and Universal's superheroes over tourists'
dollars. But that cutthroat capitalism now threatens a potential
solution to booming Florida's traffic problems.
The SeaWorld Orlando and Universal Orlando theme parks
believe it's best for Florida if a bullet train network was
derailed before it ever leaves the station. High-speed rail is
too expensive and more roads would better solve the state's
smothering gridlock, they say.
However, many question whether the parks' big-dollar
contributions to an anti-train petition drive reflects anger the
line bypasses their properties and delivers visitors seven miles
away directly to rival Walt Disney World.
One civic leader believes a shortsighted war could have
"The tourist corridor is our bread and butter for not
only the region, but the state," said Rep. John Mica,
R-Altamonte Springs, the senior Floridian on the House Committee
on Transportation & Infrastructure. "At some point,
they're going to kill the goose that lays the golden eggs for
This fight became an inevitability four years ago, when the
state's voters approved a constitutional amendment requiring the
construction of a high-speed rail network. The first leg would
run from Orlando International Airport to Tampa, with a cost
currently estimated at $2.3 billion.
Ten miles west of the airport via the Bee Line Expressway is
the International Drive tourist district, home to SeaWorld,
Universal and the Orange County Convention Center; seven miles
beyond, near the Central Florida GreeneWay toll road's end, is
Both areas can lay claim to massive traffic, so making
arguments that a nearby stop would get people out of their cars
and off the roads. Between the two tourist draws, Interstate 4
sees a daily average of more than 150,000 vehicles, according to
2003 figures provided by the Florida Department of
The Florida High Speed Rail Authority decided on a route in
October by looking to who could deliver the most passengers. It
wasn't close, according to ridership studies: Disney offers 2.2
million riders annually, more than four times what I-Drive can
The station, if constructed, be located on 50 acres of Disney
land at the confluence of three major traffic arteries: I-4,
U.S. Highway 192 and the Osceola Parkway.
"The GreeneWay is the best route for high-speed service,
considering the interests of the state, the region and the
success of that service in Florida," Disney spokesman Bill
Even a longtime Disney critic admitted it would make more
sense to put the station at Disney.
"When you try to make mass transit work, you have to
make the trains go to where the people want to go," said
Rollins College political science professor Rick Fogelsong.
Stung by Disney's victory, SeaWorld and Universal have turned
their lobbying efforts toward killing the train. The parks have
combined to contribute $470,000 to DErail the Bullet Train
(DEBT), which wants to put an amendment repeal before the voters
in November. That's nearly one-third of the $1.48 million DEBT
SeaWorld's parent company wrapped its money in the rhetoric
of a good corporate citizen.
"Because of the negative economic impact on the state of
Florida, the taxpayers and businesses in the state,
Anheuser-Busch does not support the high-speed rail
project," the brewery said in a statement. "The
taxpayers of the state will be required to subsidize a losing
proposition when better, more economically sound alternatives
That position is closely aligned with that of Gov. Jeb Bush,
who has opposed high speed rail for years. One of his first acts
when taking office in 1999 was to kill the proposed Florida
The man who has made bullet trains his crusade questions
"SeaWorld was lobbying for a stop at I-Drive," said
C.C. "Doc" Dockery, who spent $3 million to get high
speed rail on the 2000 ballot. "Their opposition surfaced
only after the authority voted for the GreeneWay location.
There's nothing principled about that."
Universal, unlike their I-Drive counterpart, acknowledged its
actions were partially motivated by self-interest. "We
believe the Florida High Speed Rail Act is not good for Florida,
its taxpayers, the entire International Drive tourism community,
Orange County - and Universal Orlando," spokesman Tom
Neither theme park would comment on their position had the
FHSRA voted to run the train down the Bee Line.
"It's the hyenas here, not the lion, who are exposed as
engaging in blatant political maneuvering to serve their
interests," said Fogelsong, the author of "Married to
the Mouse," an expose of Disney's growth into a regional
power broker. "I'm sure Disney likes that to take the
attention off them and make them look like the good guys."
Sunday July 18,
Disney Hallmark Keepsake Ornaments 2004
Hallmark has released the 2004 Dream Book with pictures of all
this years ornaments including the Disney ornaments
pictured below. The Keepsake Ornament Premier was July
10th-11th with the release of Affection for Confections
($18.95 USA/$27.95 Canada) it's a two piece ornament one of
Mickey and one of Minnie baking cookies (not pictured)
During the Keepsake Ornament Debut October 2nd-3rd more than
sixty ornaments will be released including Sneaking a Treat!
($18.95 USA/$27.95 Canada) and that ornament is Pluto sneaking
some cookies of a table (not pictured)
Here are the Disney Ornaments for 2004:
The Sorcerer's Apprentice
Welcome Sound (miniature)
Candy Cane Trio (miniature)
A Sticky Situation
100 Acre Express
Baby's First Christmas
The Winning Bounce
Wings For Eeyore
Amigos Por Siempre (spanish)
Bambi and Friends
Oddball, Little Dipper, and Domino
Pinocchio Marionette (miniature)
Walt Disney's Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs
Amazing Number 53
Three Beautiful Princesses
Stanley and Dennis
Buzz Lightyear and the Claw
Historic Walt Disney Barn to Celebrate Five Years of Magical
Memories Sunday, July 18
The Walt Disney Family Foundation and the Carolwood Pacific
Historical Society celebrate the 5th Anniversary of Walt
Disney's Barn at the LA Live Steamers facility in Griffith Park,
Los Angeles on Sunday July 18th from 11a - 3p. Free admission
Disney's Robin Hood
The timeless tale of Robin Hood meets the
animal kingdom in Disney's classic animated masterpiece by the
same name, released on Disney Gold Classic Collection DVD.
The story, narrated by a singing rooster, tells of the great
King Richard (a lion), who was hypnotized by the snake Sir Hiss
and left his kingdom to go on the Crusades. With no one to look
after the crown and the kingdom, his bad brother, Prince John,
took over and began to overtax the good people of Nottingham
until they were poor, with the help of the equally bad Sheriff
of Nottingham (a wolf).
It is up to the handsome and good-hearted Robin Hood (a fox) and
his best friend Little John (a bear) to save Nottingham from
Prince John. He's got all the townspeople on his side, including
Friar Tuck (a badger) and an adorable family of rabbits, and
also has his true love, (and niece to King Richard) Maid Marion,
in his heart. She happens to be friends with wild Klucky (a hen)
who lets no one get in her way!
With all this help, will Robin Hood save the day? Will he and
Maid Marion live happily ever after? Hold on as you witness fun
and adventure with Robin and his friends as they try to restore
happiness once again to Nottingham.
Besides featuring a spectacular movie, this special DVD also has
plenty of extras, including a sing-along, trivia game, DVD
storybook and a cartoon featuring Mickey Mouse and the gang.
This is truly one of my favorite Disney films and one that will
certainly make you laugh while warming your heart.
Saturday July 17,
HAPPY 49TH BIRTHDAY DISNEYLAND
Click Mickey for “The Happiest Faces on Earth . . . A
Disney Family Album.” Info
Disney hires California homeland security chief to lead
company's security operations
The Walt Disney Co. has
hired California's director of homeland security to head the
company's worldwide security operations.
Ronald L. Iden, 57, will join Disney as a
senior vice president in charge of security for the
corporation's holdings, including theme parks, cruise ships and
the ABC and ESPN television networks, company officials said.
The company has reinforced security measures
since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and the discovery of
al-Qaida documents that listed Disneyland as a potential
Iden will be responsible for creating "an
even higher level of security standards for Disney guests and
employees," ABC President Robert A. Iger said.
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger appointed Iden in
January to oversee homeland security in California. In a July 9
letter to Schwarzenegger, Iden proposed a departure date of Aug.
1 but said he will stay until a successor is named.
A 25-year-FBI veteran, Iden headed the
bureau's Los Angeles division for two years after working as a
special agent responsible for investigations involving
terrorism, foreign counterintelligence, financial crimes and
allow visitors to cut to front of the line
With beepers, special
tickets and hand stamps, amusement parks these days are actually
encouraging visitors to cut in line.
Front of the line privileges for popular rides cost extra at
some parks and are free at others. The parks benefit because
less time standing means visitors can spend more money in shops
"Standing in line for two or three hours is just not
going to cut it," said Tim O'Brien, author of
"Amusement Park Guide." "Things have to be done
to avoid long lines and long waits."
O'Brien imagines that someday guests will reserve rides
through hand-held computers even before entering the park.
Bypassing lines is more than just a guest service. It's
expected by some visitors.
"No matter where you are people are generally
impatient," said Chris Knauf, assistant manager of ride
operations at Cedar Point amusement park, which gives out hand
stamps that allow visitors to skip ahead later.
The trend began five years ago with the FastPass reservation
system at Walt
Disney World's Animal Kingdom, and has trickled down to
regional theme parks. Complaints about long waits had been at
the top of the list of what people didn't like about visiting,
said parks spokesman Dave Herbst.
So the park came up with a solution. Visitors can avoid
standing in packed queues for 26 of the top attractions,
including The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror and Space Mountain.
Guest surveys show that those who use FastPass have a much
better experience at the parks and are able to see 25 percent
more attractions and shows.
"We're hitting at the one thing they dislike," said
Todd Evans, manager for attractions at the Florida parks.
While the Disney system is free, Six Flags parks charge a fee
for getting to the front.
Six Flags, with 28 theme and water parks nationwide, sells
front of the line tickets at most of its parks. Five parks rent
an electronic device that works like a pager.
The costs vary at each park. At Six Flags Over Texas and Six
Flags Over Georgia it costs $10 to rent the device and another
$10 for each person using it.
Guests insert the palm-sized device at a sign near the ride
and reserve their time to come back and get on a roller coaster
with little or no wait. The device, called a Q-Bot, vibrates and
beeps when it's time to ride.
The system, developed by England-based Lo-Q, is used at Six
Flags parks in New Jersey, Texas, Massachusetts, Missouri and
Leah Moss, director of Lo-Q's U.S. operation based near
Atlanta, said more people would visit amusement parks if they
knew they could cut to the front of the line.
"We're looking at people who work really long hours and
don't have much leisure time," she said. "People have
more money than time these days."
The Q-Bot also allows the parks to directly communicate with
guests through text messages that can be changed throughout the
"It can let them know when they're near an area that has
a special on drinks or food," she said. "It can
suggest a hotel to stay at when they're leaving or tell when a
show is about to start."
Not everyone thinks it's fair that some guests can buy their
way to the front, especially when the have-nots see the haves
bypassing them in line.
Sean Flaharty, a roller coaster enthusiast from Columbus,
said some parks do a poor job of merging those two lines,
resulting in clashes.
He said the system also can produce longer lines. Some parks
reserve coaster seats for only those with the front of line
passes, and those seats sometimes go unfilled.
"I can see why people get angry because that makes the
line actually go slower," said Flaharty, who estimates
he'll visit 70 parks this year.
To make sure there aren't problems, some Six Flags parks
station employees in the lines to explain how Q-Bot works.
"The program is fair because people are still waiting
for rides," said Kristin Siebeneicher, a spokeswoman for
Six Flags Great Adventure in New Jersey. "They just can do
other things while they wait."
The park typically rents 250 of the devices on an average
Cedar Point has a low-tech solution to long waits. Its hand
stamps allows guests to bypass the lines on six of the park's 16
The stamps are free and available to anyone willing to wait
from a few minutes to a half-hour. Lines start forming early,
and a day's supply of stamps for the two top coasters can be
gone in half an hour.
"We're waiting in line not to wait in line," said
12-year-old Corey Bodenbach, laughing at the thought while
waiting to get a stamp to ride Millennium Force, the park's
310-foot tall roller coaster.
The Bodenbachs, a family of five from Oshkosh, Wis., shaved
several hours off their waits over three days, allowing them to
ride more of the less popular rides.
"We were able to sit down and eat, and we did some of
the things that a lot of people say is a waste of time,"
said Corey's mother, Jennifer Bodenbach.
Right behind in line, Greg McNeely, of Lafayette, Ind., said
his family can't wait in long lines because their son has
diabetes and needs regular snacks and two insulin shots each
"This allows us to plan our day and make sure he has
everything he needs," McNeely said.
Park operators say the front of the line systems don't bring
in a lot of money but are popular.
At Disney, at least half of all visitors use FastPass on a
typical day. The number of Q-Bot users at Six Flags doubled last
year to about 750,000.
Many of the big theme parks place a priority on ensuring that
their lines move quickly.
Cedar Point sometimes rewards efficient ride operators with
breakfast, and there's an annual trophy that goes to the best
group. "Everybody wants to win it," Knauf said.
At Disney parks, any employee with access to a computer can
tell a guest where the shortest lines can be found.
Paramount's Kings Island near Cincinnati offers season pass
holders timed tickets for five of its most popular rides on the
weekends, and opens select areas an hour early for "Waterpark
Wednesday and "Thrill seekers Thursday."
The park is working on other ways of making the lines move
faster, replacing low-capacity rides with big attractions that
hold 50 or 60 people at a time.
"If we can manage all of the lines to where it's a
minimal wait," said park spokesman Jeffrey Siebert,
"there's no need for a ride reservation system."
Hidden Mickeys: Inside Joke has
Become a "Guest Quest" At Walt Disney World Resort
As millions of guests scurry
throughout Walt Disney World Resort to see Mickey Mouse, little
do they realize they may be passing him right by.
And though the Mickeys they miss are not the life-sized,
two-legged and three-fingered variety, they are "Hidden
Mickeys" -- silhouettes and abstract images of Mickey Mouse
cleverly hidden by Disney Imagineers across the 47-square-mile
Hidden Mickeys began as an inside joke among Walt Disney
Imagineers, the artists and engineers who design Disney parks
and attractions. As word spread of these subtle tributes to
Walt's famous mouse, guests sought to find them all.
That search continues today.
Like Easter eggs, Hidden Mickeys have been placed secretly
(and not so secretly) by Imagineers at locations across Walt
Disney World Resort. Imagineers include Hidden Mickeys when
designing, building or putting the finishing touches on a new
attraction or hotel, hiding silhouettes, profiles and other
images of Mickey Mouse in murals, queue areas and even golf
course sand traps.
"The popularity of Hidden Mickeys has just snowballed
with guests," says Dave Smith, founder and main archivist
for Walt Disney Archives, and author of Disney: A to Z.
"Many will almost use a magnifying glass through the parks
to find as many as they can."
No one knows how many Hidden Mickeys exist throughout Walt
Disney World Resort, since Imagineers have never kept an
official roster documenting their existence.
In fact, no one knows when the first Hidden Mickey even
appeared. And, since attractions are renovated and updated
periodically, many have appeared and disappeared through the
Where the next Hidden Mickey will appear is anyone's guess.
Here are some hints to start your quest for Hidden Mickeys at
Walt Disney World Resort:
- While the Haunted Mansion boasts "999 Happy
Haunts," it also has one "mouse" -- a Hidden
Mickey formed by an arrangement of dishes on the table in
the attraction's banquet scene.
- A Hidden Mickey enjoys a lazy day on the river in the
final scene in Frontierland's Splash Mountain. A pink cloud
floating high above the "Zip-A-Dee Lady"
paddlewheeler bears a striking resemblance to a profile of
Mickey lying on his back.
- Mickey goes around the world in Norway, Gateway to
Scandinavia. A burly Viking sports a pair of Mickey Mouse
ears on the mural above the queue line for Maelstrom, the
pavilion's boatride attraction.
- Mickey Mouse has always been the brightest of stars. And
at Spaceship Earth in Epcot Future World, Mickey is actually
hidden in his own constellation just beyond the attraction's
- A subtle Hidden Mickey can be found in the supernatural
realm of The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror. The young child
actress who vanishes from the Hollywood Tower Hotel one
stormy night is clutching a Mickey Mouse doll in the
- Mickey rocks his way into Rock 'n' Roller Coaster Starring
Aerosmith. Two Hidden Mickeys were placed in the tile floor
in the attraction's rotunda area.
Disney's Animal Kingdom
- Mickey can be "spotted" in the Pizzafari
restaurant in the park's Discovery Island. His silhouette
can be found on a wall mural, cleverly hidden among leopard
- Mickey really digs The Boneyard in DinoLand U.S.A. In the
woolly mammoth dig site, Mickey has been formed with a fan
and two hard hats.
- There are more than 25 Hidden Mickeys at Rafiki's Planet
Watch, with Mickey found hidden in murals, tree trunks and
paintings of animals.
- Mickey is remembered by golfers around the world for his
contribution to the sixth hole of Disney's Magnolia golf
course. A Hidden Mickey forms a giant sand trap that looms
ominously next to the green. (Many golfers have not been too
happy to find this Hidden Mickey, however, especially when
they discover their golf ball has found it, as well.)
- Golfers at Disney's Eagle Pines and Osprey Ridge golf
courses may hone their skills on another giant Hidden
Mickey. Mickey's head is used as a putting green at the
courses' clubhouse area.
- Mickey always knows the right direction at Disney's Grand
Floridian Resort & Spa, where a Hidden Mickey is found
on the weather vane atop the convention center.
- At Downtown Disney Marketplace, a Hidden Mickey provides
its share of splash-tastic fun. Interactive fountains at the
entrance of the shopping, dining and entertainment district
form Mickey's familiar silhouette -- providing a waterful
time for children (and a surprising number of adults) who
frolic in the leaping waters.
Disney Animation tour rehab at MGM
The Magic of Disney Animation will be closed
for refurbishment Monday, September 13 through Friday, September
24, and will reopen Saturday, September 25, 2004.
Disneyland Celebrates Another Birthday on Saturday, July
On Saturday, July 17th, Disneyland will
celebrate it's 49th birthday with a brief ceremony on Main
Street at 10:00 a.m.
Disneyland Resort Invites The World To Be A Part Of “The
Happiest Faces On Earth…A Disney Family Album”
In a visually spectacular kick-off ceremony in front of
Sleeping Beauty Castle at Disneyland in Southern California,
Disneyland Resort President Matt Ouimet will join 1,400
Disneyland Cast Members, plus their families and friends, on
Saturday, July 17 in formally launching an exciting new
program that will be a major part of the global celebration of
the 50th anniversary of Disneyland next year.
“The Happiest Faces on Earth .
. . A Disney Family Album” is an unprecedented invitation to
people around the world to send in their cherished Disney
memories (especially their favorite Disneyland memories) in the
form of photographs, snapshots or digital images (both old and
recent). The hundreds of thousands of anticipated submissions
will be woven together to create “The Happiest Faces on Earth
. . . A Disney Family Album,” a series of extremely unique
photo collages of classic Disney characters and images from the
last half century.
By contributing their favorite
Disney photo memories to the oversized photo collages of “The
Happiest Faces on Earth . . . A Disney Family Album ,” people
the world over will become active participants in the milestone
“The Happiest Homecoming on Earth” 50 th anniversary
celebration of Disneyland , officially launching on May 5, 2005
. The collages will then be on exhibit throughout the Disneyland
Resort, remaining on display for 18-months throughout the entire
duration of the celebration.
“Starting July 17, 2004, on the
49th anniversary of Disneyland and extending through December 31
of this year we invite everyone in the world to send us their
most treasured and special Disney photos, especially those of
their unforgettable visits to Disneyland,” said Ouimet.
“This is an amazing program that will allow everybody to
become part of this one-of-a-kind tapestry of memories during
our upcoming milestone 50th anniversary.”
To visually demonstrate the
collage concept, “The Happiest Faces on Earth . . . A Disney
Family Album” program will be launched via the unveiling of an
enormous photo collage of Mickey Mouse in front of Sleeping
Beauty Castle . Each of the 1,400 participants will hold a
square, 3'x3' color Disney image over their heads and when
properly arranged and combined, create a gigantic smiling image
of Mickey Mouse. The impressive visual will be produced to
accurately illustrate the photo collage technique that will be
utilized in creating “The Happiest Faces on Earth . . . A
Disney Family Album.”
Everyone is encouraged to submit
their color or black and white photos beginning today 8:00am via
information available at www.disneyland.com/photos . All photos
must be received by December 31, 2004 to be considered for use.
A photo release form is available online and must be included
with all photo submissions, along with appropriate contact
information (name, address, email and phone number).
Participants in the program are encouraged not to send original
photos. Not all photo submissions will be used for various
reasons. Confirmation emails and letters will be sent in spring
2005 to all participants confirming receipt of photo and, if the
photo is used, notification of the general placement of the
photo in the collages.
Photo imagery can also be sent
via the following mailing options:
U.S. Postal Service
Happiest Faces on Earth
PO Box 30464
Salt Lake City , Utah 84130-0464
Happiest Faces on Earth
c/o Data Services Direct
2481 S. 1560 West
Woods Cross, Utah 84087
Premiering on May 5, 2005 “The Happiest Homecoming on
Earth,” an extraordinary celebration of the 50 th anniversary
of Disneyland, will pay tribute to the millions of guests and
cast members who have contributed to the rich legacy of “The
Happiest Place on Earth” over the past five decades. The
18-month long occasion represents the biggest event in the
history of The Walt Disney Company and is the first truly global
Disney celebration (with commemorative events planned at each of
the Disney theme parks around the world in an international
salute to Disneyland ).
To learn more about “The
Happiest Faces on Earth . . . A Disney Family Album,” please
visit www.disneyland.com/photos . For general Disneyland
information, or information on “The Happiest Homecoming on
Earth” 50 th anniversary celebration, please visit http://www.disneyland.com/
2004 Food and Wine Festival Details Announced
Epcot's International Food and Wine Festival
doesn't begin until October 1, but the phone lines will be
buzzing on July 20 (1-407-WDW-FEST) as folks make their
reservations for all the special events that are part of the
The Festival Welcome Center will be located at
Innoventions Plaza. Be sure to stop here first to find out about
all the activities planned during your visit. There will be free
wine seminars, KitchenAid equipment to dream about and a
Champagne and Sparkling Wine Bar.
Around World Showcase will be over 25 booths
featuring food and wines from around the world, a la appetizer
portions, costing from $1.00 to $4.50.
The Eat to the Beat Concert Series returns to
the American Gardens Theatre with three shows nightly from
groups such as the Beach Boys, Three Dog Night, Chubby Checker
Special Exhibits include Valencia Spain,
Australia, South Africa, the Tortilla Cocina (which may be
familiar to those who have visited Disney's California
Adventure), Peru, New Zealand, Celebrate the Harvest, New
England Fair, History of Beer, Backyard BBQ, Oktoberfest, Great
Beers of the World and Time for Tea.
Family fun includes Epcot's Jr. Chef Program
and Pumpkin and Melon Mania, both at the Land.
The Odyssey will feature complimentary
culinary demonstrations and the Terrace will offer wine
Ticketed events include:
Party for the Senses -
Begins with VIP seating at 5:45 p.m. for Eat to the Beat,
followed by a tastebud feast with 23 chefs and over 50 wines
and beer at the World ShowPlace pavilion (formerly
Millennium Village); $95 per person
Food and Wine Pairings
- Three wines tasted and paired with three foods; $35 per
Brewer's Dinners -
It's all about beer; $55 per person
Lunch and Learn - At
the Odyssey, enjoy an appetizer, entree and dessert with
wines to complement the dishes; $75 per person
Sweet Sundays - Also
at the Odyssey, you can enjoy three pastry treats and a
dessert wine; $55 per person
Exquisite Evenings at
Epcot - Includes a six course meal and wines, live
entertainment and private viewing for IllumiNations. Takes
place at World ShowPlace; $185 per person. This is the only
event you do NOT need admission into Epcot.
Signature Dinners -
Five course dinners at select restaurants; $125 per person
Vertical Tastings - At
the Beach Club featuring 10 vintages from $95-$150 per
Wine Schools - Banfi
Italian, Bordeaux, Napa Valley and Australian wine schools
are daylong programs featuring winemakers; $125 per person
Citrico's Dinners -
Australian cuisine and wine at $125 per person.
Disney with a difference
When Disney gave permission for North Shore Music Theatre in
Beverly to be one of the first in the country to present
"Beauty and the Beast" while it is still running on
Broadway, they also asked the theater to make it a substantially
different production from the Broadway version. The theater folk
in Beverly have more than met this challenge, and the result is a
joyously original version that brings the audience to its feet
several times, whistling, clapping and screaming bravos.
Don't worry, it's still the same story, and the
beloved Alan Menken music is all still there. A rich and
satisfying orchestra surrounds the audience with those great hit
songs in the overture, and several of the leads in this production
sing them with glorious and powerful voices.
What is new are the sets, costumes, makeup and
choreography, and one couldn't ask for better. The sets, designed
by Dex Edwards, are wildly imaginative as they seamlessly appear
and disappear. Miguel Angel Huidor's costumes are gorgeous beyond
description in some cases, downright hilarious in others, and
perhaps too realistic in the case of Cogsworth the clock, whose
glassy tummy distractingly reflects a blinding white spotlight at
Dazzling athletic choreography by John MacInnis
brings the audience to its feet after "Be Our Guest."
This invigorating number features a surreal performance by Peyton
Royal as a carpet capable of seemingly physically impossible
feats. Add an excellent ballet number by Radio City Rockette
Jacquelyn Dowsett as a corkscrew to cancans, tangos and general
mayhem performed by enchanted silverware, plates, salt and pepper
shakers and a Kleenex box, and you have a happy audience.
This show-stopping number, led off by a
sophisticated vocal by Ron Wisniski as Lumiere, received such an
enthusiastic mid-show standing ovation last Thursday that the
performers finally had to just get on with the show before the
audience was willing to sit down again.
As for the lead performances, this production is
blessed with some major vocal and acting talents. Gaston, as
performed by Brian Noonan, is infuriatingly smug without
overdoing. Noonan knows just how far to take this outrageous
character, performing Gaston with a hilariously deep and resonant
speaking voice, topped off with an operatic baritone singing voice
and a wonderfully comical face.
Beautiful Nikki Renee Daniels as Belle has a voice
that can seemingly do anything, from light comic numbers to the
large dramatic solos. She is impressive during the dramatic and
defiant "Home," and throughout the show her singing is
equally clear and effective as she ranges high to low, powerfully
loud to lyrically soft.
There is much engaging comedy to enjoy between
Belle and her captor, that beastly enchanted prince who is first
seen as a looming spotlighted monster standing in the aisle. Brad
Little plays the beast with gusto and poignancy, making the most
of his fine operatic baritone and powerfully resonant speaking
Linda Wolverton's humorous script has the Beast
endlessly coached by his enchanted servants on how to court Belle
so she will fall in love with him. This would break the spell that
is increasingly robbing all of them of their last shreds of
humanity. Little is convincingly frustrated by the chore of
holding his animal fury in check as he clumsily tries to win the
heart of his feisty and initially unwilling houseguest. His
faithful servants, in their deliciously eccentric costumes, are
ever at his side, coaching him on the niceties of courtship.
As Lumiere, Wisniski seems quite the continental
gentlemen despite having candles for hands. He also gets to
deliver outrageous puns like "Ah cherie, you cut me to the
His cherie is the shapely and beguiling Babette,
transformed into a feather duster, expertly played and danced by
Jessica Leigh Brown.
Jeanne Lehman performs enchanted teakettle Mrs.
Potts with engaging warmth and a charming voice. Her little son,
transformed into a teacup on top of a traveling table, is brought
to sprightly life by Ari Shaps.
Gina Ferrall is divinely hilarious as Madame de la
Grande Bouche, the portly opera singer whose vanity remains
unchecked now that she has been transformed into an actual vanity.
Her convincing costume features drawers from which she can extract
clothing to offer Belle.
Dick Decareau is briskly in charge as the animated
clock who is becoming "a little more tightly wound" each
day. And as Gaston's hapless servant Lefou, Jeff Skowron delivers
as much physical comedy as one of the three stooges.
Portraying Belle's eccentric inventor-father
Maurice, George Merritt uses his well-known baritone voice to
great advantage, and delivers the lyrics of Tim Rice and Howard
Ashman with crystal clarity and conviction.
Some rather odd blocking for "No Matter
What," his first number with Daniels, results in something
seldom seen at North Shore's expert arena stage performances.
People in some sections of the audience can't see anyone's face
during most of this statically staged song. Daniels sings with her
back to them for an annoyingly long time, blocking Merritt, and
when she finally turns in their direction, she is in turn
completely blocked by him and all they see is his back.
Moments like this turn some people off to arena
theater, but moments like this are easily avoided, and this one
comes as a real surprise. Fortunately it is not repeated anywhere
else in the expertly mounted show. By evening's end it is some
enchanted audience, standing at the beginning of the curtain call
to give every member of the gifted cast a well-deserved standing
"Beauty and the Beast" continues through
Aug. 1 with performances at 8 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday.
Performances on Tuesday, July 27 and Thursday, July 29 will be at
2 p.m. only, with no evening performance. Other matinees are at 2
p.m. on Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays. The July 31 matinee
will be ASL interpreted.
Tickets are priced from $63 to $30, and available
by calling the box office at 978-232-7200, visiting in person at
62 Dunham Road, Beverly, or logging onto www.nsmt.org.
Out at the North Shore, an evening for the Gay and
Lesbian Community with a post show reception is on July 22.
"Meet the Theatre" after the 2 p.m. matinee on July 24
will feature a post-show audience discussion with the artists.
Bob Lambert Named Senior Vice President,
Worldwide Media Technology And Development, The Walt Disney
Bob Lambert has been named senior
vice president for worldwide media technology and development, The
Walt Disney Company, it was announced today by Peter E. Murphy,
senior executive vice president and chief strategic officer of The
Walt Disney Company.
In his expanded role, Mr. Lambert will work
closely with business unit and corporate executives on the
development and coordination of a number of Disney's digital
initiatives, including new media technology strategies, technology
planning, and interface with other media companies on technical
matters. He will focus on strengthening Disney's overall
relationships in the technology sector to advance the deployment
of new businesses. Mr. Lambert will also act as the company's
senior technical executive in new media, standards, regulatory,
and rights management work.
In announcing Mr. Lambert's expanded role, Mr.
Murphy said, "We expect advances in digital technology to
provide great opportunities for all our businesses going forward.
Bob has been intimately involved in some of the most
forward-thinking work in our industry for a number of years,
including the initial launches of the DVD format, digital cinema,
digital production, rights management technologies, and next
generation media. His technical depth and diplomacy is
well-respected both in and outside our company. Bob's
understanding of the technical, business, and inter-industry
landscape make him ideally qualified to represent Disney in our
interactions with technology partners, and in our business
Mr. Lambert will continue to lead the Disney New
Technology and New Media group, and provide corporate guidance for
the Walt Disney Imagineering Research & Development unit and
the Studio New Technology area. He is a senior member of Disney's
Media Technology Board, having served as its 2003-04 chair, which
comprises Disney's senior technology executives from across the
company's business segments.
Mr. Lambert has been corporate senior vice
president for new technology and development for Disney since
January, 1996, and prior to that he was senior vice president of
technology for The Walt Disney Studios. He has also served as
director and vice president in Disney's studio and animation
businesses, overseeing the conversion of production processes to
digital in the 1990s and creating a companywide new technology
program. Before joining Disney, Mr. Lambert was executive director
of new project development for Paramount Pictures. He serves on
the boards of USC and the American Film Institute, and has served
as an advisor to the National Academy of Science, the
Entertainment Technology Center, and the US FIRST program.
Marvel sues Disney
Marvel Enterprises said Friday that
it has filed suit against Walt Disney Co. over royalties stemming
from animated shows that run on Disney's ABC Family Network.
Marvel is accusing Disney of improperly accounting costs and
royalty distribution on three animated series based on its
Spider-Man, X-Men and Incredible Hulk characters. The suit was
filed late Thursday.
Disney has been inadequately accounting income
on the three series since it bought the cable network from News
Corp. in 2001, according to the suit.
As a result, Marvel alleges it has missed out on
$6 million in royalties and that Disney is improperly accounting
costs by roughly $16 million, working against Marvel's favor.
"To be fair, Disney inherited properties
that it never controlled or produced," said Marvel attorney
Carole Handler. "[But] it was given short shrift. It's a
breach of duty."
Disney representatives did not immediately
return calls seeking comment.
Shares of Marvel were unchanged at $15.99
in recent action. Disney was off 44 cents, or 1.9 percent, to
Since last Saturday Peter Pan's
Flight has reopened with some major changes to the queing system
and the Load/Unload-Station. Some of the expected major changes
did not show up - e.g. the exit is still at the same location,
just as the entrance for the stand bye line is still between the
"tower" at the buildings corner and the FastPass
distribution machines. The FastPass entrance on the other hand was
moved to the same Tower, just on its left side (so not toward
Toad's Hall but toward the main facade of Peter Pan's Flight). The
tower received a little add-on roof to cover the CM in the greeter
position, which got nicely themed and fits perfectly into the look
of the building. The location of this greeter position between the
two different entrances (stand bye and FastPass) also indicates
how confident Imagineering is, that the stand bye line will not
regularly grow so long that it would spill onto the main walkway.
This confidence stems from the quite long way the line can take,
when it makes us of all options in the open space between the
Peter Pan building and the terrace of Toad's Hall (so behind the
FastPass machines) - and from the new load/unload station set up.
While the ships still stop for loading and unloading, the parties
can now be assembled for boarding more easily, as station gates
have been added (as e.g. in the Rock'n'Roller Coaster) behind
which the guests line up. Also no longer just one ship can be
loaded, but two boats at once, as e.g. at Pirates of the
Caribbean. For this the appropriate number of station gates has
been set up and the "loading section" of the station
The new set up already seems to proof successful, as reports from
last weekend indicate that the lines were moving more fluent and
faster - which also results in easy misconceptions. E.g. at one
point the CM at the greeter position upon guest request as the
official waiting time sign was out of order estimated a waiting of
50 minutes based on the length of the queue, when it was 25 only
Disney's Sweeney, Dodging a Mouse Trap
Anne Sweeney showed the stuff she's made of during her first press
tour appearance in her new exalted mega-position of co-chairman of
Disney Media Networks and president of Disney-ABC Television.
Sweeney, a seasoned Disney executive, is one of those perfectly
poised masters of corporate speak. The kind of woman you just know
received training at an early age on the proper way to get out of a
low-slung sports car in a short skirt and heels.
The executive who spent the previous eight years running all of
Disney's non-sports cable networks opened ABC's two days at Summer
TV Press Tour 2004 on Monday with one of her trademark shareholders'
meeting speeches: "Cable or broadcast, I think the important
thing to know is that the formula for success is really the same. It
is about delivering strong and consistent creative and economic
results. That's what I built my career on and that's what I'm
bringing to this new opportunity."
On either side of Sweeney were two giant screens displaying the
logos of the many Disney cable and broadcast networks now under
Sweeney's watch. Just as Sweeney was getting to the good stuff --
"I started my career as a page in New York City and when I left
for graduate school I had every intention of returning to ABC, but
no one sent the note to ABC saying I was coming back, so I ended up
starting my career at Nickelodeon and I have to tell you that it was
really, personally as well as professionally, rewarding . . . "
-- suddenly, on the big screens, up popped an episode from the first
season of the FX plastic surgery drama "Nip/Tuck" -- which
by the way, is not owned by Disney -- in which model Kimber Henry
has tied Dr. Christian Troy to a bed and is sitting on top of him,
dressed in a black lace bra and panties, brandishing a very, very
large shiny dagger with which she appears ready to fillet him.
"Some of my new friends," Sweeney said, without missing a
beat. "And none of them appearing on the Disney-ABC Television
group of networks." Really, it was very impressive. And
although we think there may be something to one critic's observation
that the incident was "deeply symbolic of what a [Dick Cheney's
word] mess ABC is" these days, we must admit it contributed
mightily to our understanding of why Disney chief Michael Eisner and
Eisner's chief yes-man, Robert Iger, decided in April that Sweeney
was exactly the right person to head their sixth or seventh stab at
figuring out how to fix the fourth-place network.
Critics couldn't wait to ask Steve McPherson, ABC's new
entertainment division president, about Fox's piracy of the concept
behind ABC's fall reality series "Wife Swap." ABC
announced in May that "Wife Swap" would be on its fall
lineup, after which Fox decided to rush "Trading Spouses: Meet
Your New Mommy" into its summer lineup. About the same time,
NBC announced a new boxing reality series, "The
Contender," for its fall lineup, after which Fox announced it's
rushing the start of "The Next Great Champ."
It's interesting how critics, who for years have spit on reality as
a genre, are now getting all sentimental about the sanctity of
reality series concepts. Reality series piracy has become the big
issue at Summer TV Press Tour 2004. Anyway, it was the first
question lobbed at McPherson, who appeared before critics via
satellite from his honeymoon in Paris.
"If I was a member of the creative community, it would be
incredibly disconcerting to me that if you take a show, a pitch,
into Fox and they can't, don't or decide not to buy it, they will
steal it. I think it's really upsetting, I think it's bad for the
business, I think it's bad for the broadcast network and I don't
think it's right."
He said he didn't know if ABC planned to pursue legal action.
Sweeney said she hadn't spoken to her legal department about it yet.
Critics also couldn't wait to ask McPherson the "CSI"
Question. Before McPherson was named head of ABC's entertainment
division, he ran Disney's television production outfit, Touchstone
TV, and one of the shows he developed for ABC was "CSI."
When the Mensa boys at ABC decided to take a pass on
"CSI," McPherson sold it to CBS. After that the
Mouseketeers at Disney decided it didn't make sense for them to pay
to produce the show, and ABC now has no stake in one of the most
successful television franchises in recent history. Critics wanted
to hear his version of what happened.
"We developed it and put it on CBS. And, at the time, the
company decided that, for financial reasons, it didn't make sense to
continue to be a deficit entity on that. And the decision was made
and we've moved on," he said, sitting in Paris with the Arc de
Triomphe behind him.
"Did you agree with that decision at the time?" one critic
"No," he responded. Then McPherson rolled his eyes, which,
had he been there in person, nobody would have noticed. But because
he was appearing via satellite on those two giant screens that
played such an important role in Sweeney's opening speech, his head
was about six feet high and his eyes about four feet across. It was
as if you were visiting Mount Rushmore and George Washington
suddenly rolled his eyes. And with that, we're just guessing,
McPherson's honeymoon at ABC was probably over.
ABC News will offer gavel-to-gavel coverage of the Democratic and
Republican conventions to all its TV stations to transmit over their
digital television signal, ABC News President David Westin announced
at Summer TV Press Tour 2004. Peter Jennings will anchor the
convention coverage, which is available in about 80 percent of the
country, though it's unclear how many homes actually have digital
"We've been talking with affiliates for about a year now about
the possibility of this digital service going on," Westin told
critics. "We're in the process of working out all the details
and there will probably be further announcements coming out
Westin told critics the idea was Jennings's, which he came up with
while flying back from Iraq.
"He showed up at my office first thing the next morning and
said, 'Okay, this is what I want to do. I want to cover the
conventions gavel-to-gavel and you figure out the best way to get
that distributed. But I'll come in and I'll be the anchor and we'll
have the ABC News team in and we'll do it the old-fashioned way.'
The digital service will continue through the presidential election,
ABC News will also provide the same coverage of the conventions on
its 24-hour high-speed Web channel. Both CBS and NBC will also
provide gavel-to-gavel coverage on their Web sites, cbsnews.com and
msnbc.com. Meanwhile, it's business as usual for the ABC network as
well as its broadcast competitors with regard to convention
coverage. ABC, CBS and NBC have all put out news releases saying
they plan to cover the Democratic convention in Boston in two weeks
for just three hours: one hour on Monday, when former president Bill
Clinton is scheduled to speak; one hour on Wednesday, when vice
presidential choice John Edwards is scheduled to speak; and one hour
on Thursday, when presumptive presidential nominee John Kerry is
scheduled to speak. None of the three broadcast networks has plans
to cover live the speech that will be delivered at that convention
by Ron Reagan, younger son of the late president, the man the
current administration most loves to compare itself to. Reagan's
speech is expected to be delivered on Tuesday, though the party has
not confirmed that.
All three networks have also said they plan to cover only three
hours of the Republican convention in New York the week of Aug. 30,
including one hour that Tuesday, when California Gov. Arnold
Schwarzenegger is scheduled to speak, one hour on Wednesday to cover
Vice President Cheney's speech and one hour on Thursday to cover
President Bush's speech.
Paramount Domestic Television officially announced Monday that Pat
O'Brien will host its new "Entertainment Tonight" spinoff
"The Insider," set to debut Sept. 13.
The announcement comes a month after NBC Universal said it was
replacing O'Brien as host of its tabloid show "Access
Hollywood" with Billy Bush.
O'Brien told The TV Column in June that NBC was forced to announce
his replacement as a "preemptive strike" because he was
preparing to join the soon-to-be-rival "Insider."
"Access Hollywood" executive producer Rob Silverstein
countered days later in the trade publication TV Week that Bush was
to be O'Brien's successor "sooner or later" and that
O'Brien's expiring contract made the decision
Bush will debut as "Access Hollywood" co-anchor with Nancy
O'Dell on Aug. 12 from the Summer Games in Athens.
NBC also announced Monday that it has renewed Silverstein's contract
as "Access Hollywood" executive producer. He will remain
with the show "well into the eight-year-old newsmagazine's
second decade," according to a statement.
DVDs that commit suicide are
also murder on the environment
Next time you’re visiting Walt Disney World in
Orlando, making sure to slather on sunscreen to protect you and the
kiddies from the shrinking ozone layer, you ought to stop at Epcot.
While gaping at sure-fire attractions such as “Honey, I Shrunk the
Audience,” and “Mission: Space,” you might also unearth a
short film called “The Circle of Life.” It’s Walt Disney
World’s token tribute to ecology.
According to Disney World’s website, “The
Circle of Life” features The Lion King’s laissez-faire meercat
Timon, who, true to form, “wants to open a non-ecological
resort.” Hakuna matata not!
Fortunately, Pumbaa and Simba convince him to
“realize how important the different kinds of plants and animals
are to the health of the planet. After all, they’re part of the
Circle of Life.”
Back in Burbank, Disney execs have overlooked this
They’ve cooked up a new marketing scheme that
ought to be illegal. I like to think of it as Disney’s little
Circle of Trash: a round disc of disposable plastic called an ez-D.
The ez-D is a DVD with a full-length movie. In
addition, using espionage tech that would sic the entire Kim
Possible team on its parent company, it’s coated with a chemical
layer that turns black in 48 hours. Two days after you slash the
shrink wrap, the flick commits suicide.
The geeks at New York’s Flexplay Technologies
concocted the ez-D, but it’s the geniuses at Disney subsidiary
Buena Vista Entertainment who are promoting it.
Last year, marketing trials began in Peoria, Ill.;
Kansas City, Mo.; Charleston, S.C., and Austin, Texas, at groceries
and convenience marts. Recently, Disney expanded the test to larger
cities: Phoenix, San Antonio, Denver, and even Orlando, home of
Disney World’s ecology lesson. During the new campaign, folks can
pick up a disposa-flick at quickie stores such as those run by
Dallas-based 7-Eleven Inc.
Many of the 52 current Buena Vista ez-Ds are
anything but disposable, including high-caliber titles “High
Fidelity,” “Chicago,” “O Brother Where Art Thou?” and
“The Quiet American” (see video.movies.go.com/ez-d/). It’s a
shame they’re destined for a chemical version of a censor’s
black magic marker.
So what possessed the execs to sell these things?
The ez-D website explains, “Never pay late fees again.” Flexplay
calls its invention “the no return, no late fee movie rental.”
Apparently, marketers believe there’s an untapped market of people
who hate returning movie rentals so much they’ll pay $5.99 —
slightly less than the average rental plus a late fee — to avoid
that hateful chore.
If that logic is making your head spin worse than
Linda Blair’s in “The Exorcist,” consider this: A Buena Vista
suicidal DVD is identical, except for the extra chemical coating, to
a brand new disc that won’t off itself. Yet it’s up to four
times cheaper than one that doesn’t decay outside the shrink wrap.
This proves what everyone suspected: DVDs are overpriced.
Knowing that shovelfuls of black discs would make
environmentalists turn green over ez-Ds, Buena Vista didn’t dare
release them without a recycling plan. Mulching old DVDs into new
jewel boxes is being supervised by GreenDisk (www.greendisk.com).
Fill out GreenDisk’s web form with up to five UPC product codes
and the company will instantly e-mail you a postage-paid return
label. To test GreenDisk’s claim, I Googled a UPC code for an ez-D
movie (“The Rookie,” UPC 786936240993), plugged it into the
form, and sure enough, in seconds my printable mailing label
arrived. I’ll be using it to send them this column.
Because ... well, rewind a few paragraphs and
refresh your memory: ez-Ds are being marketed as a way to avoid
returning them (one press release calls them “the disposable
Therefore, the target consumers aren’t likely to
take the trouble to recycle them, are they?
And who needs GreenDisk anyway? Wasn’t renting
already recycling, before ez-D came along? After the rental chains
are through promoting them, they recycle them again as used product.
Eventually, they’ll turn up for a third
incarnation in secondhand shops.
Mark Steiner, manager of Louisville’s Great
Escape, one of several area stores that buys and sells previously
owned movies, knows the difference between a deal and a deal killer.
“It doesn’t look like what they’re offering is a bargain,”
he says of the ez-D. “Those are disks you can get on the
secondhand market for a lower price, and they’ll last forever.”
So a big thumbs down to ez-Ds, a product that
charges a late fee to future generations, so to speak, an idea so
wasteful it ought to be illegal, brought to you by the corporation
that teaches kids about “The Circle of Life.” Pumbaa and Simba
would be disappointed.
That’s this week’s Technicalities.
Thursday July 15,
Walt Disney's Failures Could Inspire Entrepreneurs
You are a struggling entrepreneur and sometimes it feels like
you are pushing a 3 ton boulder up a steep hill. Costs keep
mounting and you are considering giving up. Well before you do,
check out these 10 setbacks that Walt Disney had, some were
financial nightmares that put him millions of dollars in the
1) Walt formed his first animation company in
Kansas City in 1921. He made a deal with a distribution company
in New York, in which he would ship them his cartoons and get
paid six months down the road. Flushed with success, he began to
experiment with new storytelling techniques, his costs went up
and then the distributor went bankrupt. He was forced to
dissolve his company and at one point could not pay his rent and
was surviving by eating dog food.
2) Walt created a mildly successful cartoon character in
1926 called Oswald the Rabbit. When he tried to negotiate with
his distributor, Universal Studios, for better rates for each
cartoon, he was informed that Universal had obtained ownership
of the Oswald character and they had hired Disney's artists out
from under him.
3) When Walt tried to get MGM studios to distribute
Mickey Mouse in 1927 he was told that the idea would never
work-- a giant mouse on the screen would terrify women.
4) The Three Little Pigs was rejected by distributors in
1933 because it only had four characters, it was felt at that
time that cartoons should have as many figures on the screen as
possible. It later became very successful and played at one
theater so long that the poster outside featured the pigs with
long white beards.
5) Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs was sneak previewed to
College Students in 1937 who left halfway during the film
causing Disney great despair. It turned out the students had to
leave early because of dorm curfew.
6) Pinocchio in 1940 became extra expensive because Walt
shut down the production to make the puppet more sympathetic
than the lying juvenile delinquent as presented in the original
Carlo Collodi story. He also resurrected a minor character, an
unnamed cricket who tried to tell Pinocchio the difference
between right and wrong until the puppet killed him with the
mallet. Excited by the development of Jiminy Cricket plus the
revamped, misguided rather than rotten Pinocchio, Walt poured
extra money into the film's special effects and it ended up
losing a million dollars in it's first release.
7) For the premiere of Pinocchio Walt hired 11 midgets,
dressed them up like the little puppet and put them on top of
Radio City Music Hall in New York with a full day's supply of
food and wine. The idea was they would wave hello to the little
children entering into the theater. By the middle of the hot
afternoon, there were 11 drunken naked midgets running around
the top of the marquee, screaming obscenities at the crowd
below. The most embarrassed people were the police who had to
climb up ladders and take the little fellows off in pillowcases.
8) Walt never lived to see Fantasia become a success.
1940 audiences were put off by it's lack of a story. Also the
final scene, The Night On Bald Mountain sequence with the devil
damning the souls of the dead, was considered unfit for
9) In 1942, Walt was in attendance for the premiere of
Bambi. In the dramatic scene where Bambi's mother died, Bambi
was shown wandering through the meadow shouting," Mother!
Where are you, Mother?" A teenage girl seated in the
balcony shouted out, " Here I am Bambi!" The audience
broke into laughter except for the red-faced Walt who concluded
correctly that war-time was not the best time to release a film
about the love-life of a deer.
10) The sentimental Pollyanna in 1960 made Walt cry at
the studio screening but failed at the box office. Walt
concluded that the title was off-putting for young boys.
Walt was human, he suffered through many fits of anger and
depression through his many trials. Yet he learned from each
setback, and continued to take even bigger risks which combined
with the wisdom that experiencing failure can provide, led to
fabulous financial rewards.
Wicked Star Chenoweth Up
for Disney's "Rapunzel" with Tesori Songs
Wicked witch Kristin Chenoweth is up for a role as
another fairy tale diva in the upcoming Walt Disney animated
film "Rapunzel: Unbraided," possibly featuring songs
by Caroline, or Change composer Jeanine Tesori, according
to The Hollywood Reporter.
The trade magazine purports that the Broadway
blonde would voice the long-locked, tower beauty opposite film's
"Legally Blonde" actress Reese Witherspoon. Glen Keane
(supervising animator "Tarzan" and "Beauty and
the Beast") is set to direct the project.
"Rapunzel: Unbraided" reportedly
follows the modern-day fairy tale of a girl (Witherspoon) and
boy thrown into the world of the title character filled with
ogres, fairy tale characters and, yes, witches.
Chenoweth ends her reign as Glinda the Good in
Wicked July 18. The actress will be seen on the big
screen in the upcoming films "The Pink Panther" and
"Bewitched." She has previously appeared on Broadway
in Steel Pier, Epic Proportions and her Tony
Award-winning turn in You're A Good Man, Charlie Brown.
Her television movie turns include the ABC musicals
"Annie" and "The Music Man."
Composer Tesori, who penned Broadway's Thoroughly
Modern Millie and Caroline, or Change, previously
worked with Disney on the yet-to-be-released sequels to "Mulan"
and "Lilo and Stitch". She has also teamed with
Chenoweth on the NBC series "Kristin" and the song
"The Girl in 14-G" featured on her solo album,
"Let Yourself Go With Rob Fisher and the Coffee Club
ABC Fall Series Premiere Dates
-The Benefactor: Monday, Sept. 13, 8 p.m. ET - premiere
-Monday Night Football: Sept. 13, 9 p.m. ET - season premiere
-My Wife and Kids: Tuesday, Sept. 21, 8 p.m. ET - season
-George Lopez: Tuesday, Sept. 21, 8:30 p.m. ET - season premiere
-According To Jim: Tuesday, Sept. 21, 9 p.m. ET - season
-Rodney: Tuesday, Sept. 21, 9:30 p.m. - premiere
-NYPD Blue: Tuesday, Sept. 21, 10 p.m. ET - season premiere
-Lost: Wednesday, Sept. 22, 8 p.m. ET - premiere
-The Bachelor: Wednesday, Sept. 22, 9 p.m. ET - season premiere
-Extreme Makeover: Thursday, Sept. 23, 8 p.m. ET - season
-life as we know it: Thursday, Sept. 23, 9 p.m. ET - premiere
-8 Simple Rules: Friday, Sept. 24, 8 p.m. ET - season premiere
-Complete Savages: Friday, Sept. 24, 8:30 p.m. ET - premiere
-Hope & Faith: Friday, Sept. 24, 9 p.m. ET - season premiere
-Less Than Perfect: Friday, Sept. 24, 9:30 p.m. ET - season
-Wonderful World Of Disney: Saturday, Sept. 25, 8 p.m. ET -
-America's Funniest Home Videos: Sunday, Sept. 26, 7 p.m. ET -
-Extreme Makeover: Home Edition: Sunday, Sept. 26, 8 p.m. ET -
-Desperate Housewives: Sunday, Sept. 26, 9 p.m. ET - premiere
-Boston Legal: Sunday, Sept. 26, 10 p.m. ET - premiere
-Wife Swap: Wednesday, Sept. 29, 10 p.m. ET - premiere
The Walt Disney Company Executives
To Discuss Fiscal Third Quarter 2004 Financial Results Via
Senior executives of The Walt
Disney Company will discuss fiscal third quarter 2004 financial
results via a live webcast beginning at 4:30 p.m. EDT on
Tuesday, August 10, 2004 (results will be released at 4:01 p.m.
To listen to the webcast, point your browser to
www.disney.com/investors. The discussion will be available via
re-play through August 17, 2004 at 4:00 p.m. PDT.
ends talks to be in 'Glory Road'
"He's not going to do it," Ken Sunshine, a
spokesman for Affleck, said Wednesday. "We're not going to
get into any details. ... It will be a good project for
Haskin's 1966 team was the first ever to win a national title
with five black starters.
"We're looking for other actors," said Claire
Cooper, the movie's unit publicist. "We still plan to start
production in August."
Haskins, who coached 38 years at the school now known as the
University of Texas at El Paso, said last week he'd heard
Affleck had yet to sign his deal.
"I'm disappointed, but I know they'll find the right
person," Haskins said.
Haskins has always been a reluctant hero about his role in
changing sports history, saying he simply picked the best
players for the 72-65 win over Kentucky's heavily favored and
all-white basketball powerhouse.
After the victory, universities all over the country
increased their recruiting of black players.
Trade journals reported Wednesday that Disney is considering
Josh Lucas, who has appeared in Ang Lee's "Hulk,"
"Sweet Home Alabama" and "A Beautiful Mind.
Cooper said she couldn't confirm that Lucas is under
Kim Possible 2: Drakken's
Generally when you get a package from a game company that
touts the success of their product to kids 6-11 yrs old, you
just have a feeling you’re going to hate the next few hours
of your life. So when I got Kim Possible 2: Drakken’s Demise
I shuddered at the time I had to spend in order to review the
title, and even though I could never recommend it to anyone
outside the target audience, I swear to you I actually had fun
playing the game.
We’re not talking Splinter Cell kind of fun, but if you
happen to turn on your GBA and find this title already in it
(say your little sister was playing it), don’t immediately
turn it off. Spend a few minutes playing – you might find
yourself enjoying the time you wasted.
Kim Possible is a hugely popular Disney brand, that reaches
hundreds of millions of kids in North America alone, and in
Quarter 4 2003 managed to reach 60% of ALL kids in America
between 6-11. That’s the age group this game is targeted at,
and I can’t think of any world in which a female 6-11 yr old
wouldn’t absolutely love this game.
Despite the fact the combat system is beyond easy to
understand (done by simply pressing B button), even
experienced players may find little nuggets on each level that
require a little bit of timing, and precision gaming. In Kim
Possible 2: Drakken’s Demise you use B button to attack, A
to jump, L to switch between special gadgets, and R to use
your special gadgets. Not exactly hard to master, but trust me
when I say you’ll get flashback of the old Aladdin game on
the Genesis, that was so widely loved back then. It’s not that
good a game, but you’ll find glimpses of that in Possible 2.
You’ll play through 16 levels, and do battle with 5 new
enemies, while getting help from your TV friends.
I’m not going to spend one page worth of time intricately
reviewing this title, because quite frankly the title isn’t
even aimed at a crowd that would read through such a thing.
Rest assured though, if you’re a parent looking to buy
something for your kid aged 6-11 yrs old, and you happen to
see they’re watching Kim Possible on Saturday mornings (and
you SHOULD be keeping tabs on what your kids are watching!!!),
this is well worth the purchase. They’ll love the fact
they’re playing as Kim Possible; they’ll love the fact
it’s based on one of their favorite shows; and you’ll be
happy knowing it’s aimed squarely at your little one.
Stay away from this title if you’re older then 11, but
for anyone else I can’t recommend it enough. The review
score by the way reflects the age it was targeted at – if
you are outside of the 6-11 age group, check the low part of
the range, because that’s how this game will score for you.Memorial
Services for Legendary Disney Imagineer Sam McKim Announced
Sam McKim, the legendary Disney Imagineer who drew the
first souvenir maps of Disneyland in 1954 and went on to a
spectacular 32-year career with Disney lending his artistic
vision to many popular theme park locations and attractions,
died of heart failure on Friday July 9th at Providence Saint
Joseph Medical Center in Burbank. He was 79 years old. In
addition to his Disney career, McKim started out as a child
actor who appeared in films with John Wayne, Spencer Tracy,
James Cagney, Rita Hayworth and Gene Autry.
Commenting on McKim's passing, Marty Sklar, vice-chairman
and principal creative executive for Walt Disney Imagineering,
said, "Sam's early sketches for Disneyland's Main Street
and Frontierland are inspirational to Imagineers -- among the
very best ever drawn for Walt Disney theme park attractions.
He was the quintessential researcher; you always knew he would
dig out the real gems for our stories, especially for
historical subjects. He had incredible talent and was as fine
a gentleman as you would ever want to know."
McKim joined WED Enterprises (now Walt Disney Imagineering)
as an illustrator in 1954, six months before the opening of
Disneyland. His initial assignments included sketches for
attractions, shops, and restaurants for Main Street and
Frontierland, including the Golden Horseshoe Revue. His early
work as a Disney artist also touched several of the Studio's
films, including "Zorro," "Johnny Tremain,"
"The Shaggy Dog," "The Gnome-Mobile," and
"Nikki, Wild Dog of the North." He went on to play a
key role at the 1964-65 New York World's Fair, for which he
contributed sketches for all four Disney attractions
("Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln," "It's a
Small World," "Carousel of Progress," and
"Magic Skyway.") His paintings also helped introduce
the public to the "Haunted Mansion" and the Monorail
at Disneyland, and the "Hall of Presidents" at the
Magic Kingdom. Later, his artwork contributed to the story
development of Epcot pavilions, including the Universe of
Energy, and the Disney-MGM Studios, including "The Great
John Hench, the late great Disney Imagineer who passed away
earlier this year, once observed of McKim, "Sam was the
greatest to work with. He loved Disney, and his enthusiasm was
always contagious. Once he got involved in anything, no matter
how problematic, you always knew everything was going to be
okay. If I ever needed to hear the truth about something, I
always went to Sam."
Born in Canada on December 20, 1924, McKim came to Los
Angeles as a young boy and became a child actor, working with
many of the top stars of the day. In fact, he didn't get the
first Disney position he wanted, after auditioning for the
voice of Pinocchio in the 1930s. After serving in the U.S.
Army in World War II, McKim enrolled in Art Center College of
Design. The day after he graduated, he was called back to the
Army to serve in Korea, where he earned several medals and
honors, including the Distinguished Service Cross and the
Bronze Star. Upon returning to the States, he took acting
roles as well as advanced art classes at the Chouinard Art
McKim recalled, "John Ford offered me a supporting
lead in 'The Long Gray Line' with Tyrone Power, Maureen O'Hara
and Ward Bond. Would you believe I turned it down to become an
artist? I started at 20th Century Fox, then moved to Disney
for a temp job, and didn't leave until I retired 32 years
As one of a select group of Disney theme park
cartographers, McKim's "fun maps" charted the
layouts of Disneyland (several editions), the Walt Disney
World Magic Kingdom, "Pirates of the Caribbean,"
"Tom Sawyer Island," and Disneyland Paris.
Following his retirement from Imagineering in 1987, McKim
remained connected with WDI and Disney. In addition to
appearances at Disney fan events and consulting work, his two
sons both worked for Disney -- Matt for Imagineering, and
Brian for Feature Animation. He also continued to be active in
the arts. His work can be found in the U.S. Air Force and L.A.
County Sheriff Department Collections, as well as in private
McKim is survived by his wife, Dorothy; son Matt; son Brian
and his wife, Dorothy, and their two children, Tyler and
Natalie. A graveside service will take place this Friday
(7/16) at 2:30 at Pierce Brothers Valhalla (10621 Victory
Boulevard) in North Hollywood. A memorial service will follow
at 4:30 at First Christian Church of North Hollywood (4390
Colfax Ave.) in Studio City. In lieu of flowers, donations can
be made in McKim's name to the American Heart Association
(Gift Processing Dept., 1710 Gilbreth Road, Burlingame, CA
94010 or online at www.americanheart-donate.org).Sam
McKim's Artwork to Be Exhibited in Anahein July 18th
Louis Garcia's Just for Fun Disneyana Show & Sale will
feature a tribute to Sam McKim by Blaine Gibson, Harriet Burns
and Bob Gurr on Sunday, July 18th. In addition, Sam's son Matt
will be bringdown a lot of Sam McKim's artwork for the
tribute. The show and sale will be held at the Coast Anaheim
Hotel in Anaheim, California (1855 South Harbor Blvd) from 10a
to 4p. Admission is $3. For additional information, call
Muppet Site to
Relaunch Fall 2004
Go check out Kermit displaying his Disney spirit.
Available on DVD August 3rd
Hollywood superstar Viggo Mortensen (“The Lord of the
Rings: The Return of the King”) stars in the
action-adventure tale HIDALGO, coming to DVD and VHS on August
3 from Touchstone Home Entertainment. This rousing film is
based on the incredible true story of FrankPrincess
Diaries Special Edition: Available on DVD August 3rd
T. Hopkins, who with his horse Hidalgo defy all odds as they
attempt the impossible and compete in the legendary “Ocean
of Fire,” a grueling 3,000 mile race across the Arabian
Desert. On DVD this riproaring thrill ride also uncovers the
secrets behind the movie’s amazing special effects.
Available on DVD in separate widescreen and fullscreen
versions for $29.99 (S.R.P.) and on VHS for $24.99 (S.R.P.).
On DVD, HIDALGO’s bonus materials include “Sand &
Celluloid,” a behind-the-scenes featurette on the making of
the film; and “America’s First Horse,” a historic look
at the Spanish Mustang.
HIDALGO is an epic action-adventure and one man’s journey of
personal redemption. Based on the life of Frank T. Hopkins,
his legend comes to life when one of the greatest riders the
American west has ever known is pitted against the world’s
finest Arabian horses and racers. Onetime cowboy Frank T.
Hopkins (Viggo Mortensen) was once billed as a living legend,
but in fact the glory days for Hopkins and his beloved horse,
a mustang named Hidalgo, are past. Outcasts from their own
land, Frank and Hidalgo both have something to prove when
Hopkins becomes the first American invited to enter the Ocean
of Fire, a grueling 3,000-mile survival race across the
punishing terrain of the Arabian Desert. With his competitors
vowing victory, the race becomes not only a matter of pride
and honor, but a fight for survival as they attempt the
impossible. This spectacular adventure also stars Omar Sharif
(“Lawrence of Arabia,” “Doctor Zhivago”).
HIDALGO is written by John Fusco. Directed by Joe Johnston
(“Jurassic Park III,” “Jumanji”).
STREET DATE: AUGUST 3, 2004
Direct prebook: June 8, 2004
Distributor prebook: June 22, 2004
Suggested retail price: $29.99 (DVD); $24.99 (VHS)
DVD aspect ratios: 2.35:1 formatted for 16x9 presentation size
or 1.33:1 formatted for 4x3 presentation size
Total run time: Approximately 136 minutes
Rating: “PG-13” For Adventure Violence
And Some Mild Innuendo
Bonus Material Not Rated
DVD Sound: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound
DTS 5.1 Surround Sound
French subtitles: On DVD
French language track: On DVD
Spanish subtitles: On DVD
Spanish language track: On DVD
Walt Disney Home Entertainment presents THE PRINCESS DIARIES
in a 2-disc SPECIAL EDITION DVD available August 3. This
deluxe version of acclaimed director Gary Marshall’s
(director of "Pretty Woman," "Runaway
Bride" and more) hilarious, hip and heartwarming modern
day Cinderella story includes bonus materials that go
behind-the-scenes and give audiences a backstage pass for this
enchanting film. This Special Edition includes both
full-screen and widescreen viewing formats; outtakes and
bloopers; "Livin’ Like A Princess" featurette;
deleted scenes with director introductions; two audio
commentaries (with stars Julie Andrews and Anne Hathaway; and
director Garry Marshall); the "A New Princess"
featurette; Myra and Krystal Harris music videos, and more.
(Please see attached for bonus material details.)
The story of a shy San Francisco teenager who suddenly learns
she’s a real-life princess, Disney’s THE PRINCESS DIARIES
features a sparkling cast starring Academy Award. winner Julie
Andrews (Best Actress, 1964, "Mary Poppins"), Anne
Hathaway (upcoming "Ella Enchanted"), Hector
Elizondo ("Tortilla Soup"), Heather Matarazzo
("Welcome to the Dollhouse"), popular recording
artist Mandy Moore, Robert Schwartzman ("The Virgin
Suicides") and Erik Von Detten ("Recess: School’s
Out"). Screenplay by Gina Wendkos, based on the novel by
THE PRINCESS DIARIES SPECIAL EDITION 2-disc Disney DVD is
available for $29.99
• Full Screen Version of the film
• Eight deleted scenes, with introductions by director Garry
• A New Princess – behind the scenes featurette
• Miracles Happen – Myra Music Video
• Supergirl – Krystal Music Video
• Widescreen version of the film
• All-new Outtakes and Bloopers
• All-new "Livin’ Like A Princess" – a look at
the lives of real princesses and what it really takes to be a
• All-new Enhanced Computer Features –screensavers, door
signs, and more
• All-new exclusive sneak peek behind the scenes look at the
upcoming feature film, "The Princess Diaries 2: Royal
• Audio commentaries:
The Ultimate Tea Party with Julie Andrews and Anne Hathaway
Commentary with director Garry Marshall
• Royal Engagement: A Princess Diaries 2 sneak peek
Veteran producer, director and writer Garry Marshall is one of
the most successful filmmakers in Hollywood. His many
filmmaking credits include the hit comedies "Runaway
Bride" and "Pretty Woman," both starring Julia
Roberts. Some of Marshall’s other films include "The
Other Sister," "Frankie and Johnny,"
"Beaches," "Overboard," "Nothing In
Common" and "The Flamingo Kid." Marshall has
created and executive produced some of the longest-running,
most celebrated and award-winning comedies in American
television history, including "Happy Days,"
"Laverne & Shirley," "The Odd Couple"
and "Mork and Mindy."
In THE PRINCESS DIARIES, socially awkward yet bright San
Francisco teenager Mia Thermopolis (Hathaway) is thrown for a
loop when, from out of the blue, she learns the astonishing
news that she’s a real-life princess. As the heir apparent
to the crown of the small European principality of Genovia,
Mia begins a hysterical journey toward the throne when her
strict and formidable grandmother, Queen Clarisse Renaldi
(Andrews) arrives to give her "princess lessons."
It’s a comical transformation toward princess-ness when Mia
finds herself in the middle of a media storm, jealous
schoolmates and a takeover plot of her country in this funny,
uplifting and affirming comedy classic.
STREET DATE: August 3, 2004
Direct Prebook: June 8, 2004
Distributor Prebook: June 22, 2004
Bonus features unrated
Feature Run Time: Approximately 115 minutes
Aspect Ratio: Widescreen 1.85:1 formatted for 16x9 screens and
Fullscreen 1.33:1 formatted for 4x3 screens
Sound: Dolby. Digital 5.1 Surround Sound
Suggested Retail Price: DVD $29.99 SRP
French Language Track: Available
French Subtitles: Available
Spanish Subtitles: Available
Wednesday July 14,
ASIMO visit to Epcot a good time
ASIMO the robot built by Honda put on
a great show at Epcot's World Showplace. The little robot had
several shows a day from July 1st - 11th and some lucky kids got
to meet and even dance with ASIMO.
Latest Everest Photos
Here are the latest photos of Animal Kingdom's Everest. The top
photo shows the scenery changing to the far left is the top of
The Tree of Life and to the far right the current top of
Everest. both looking just about even in height but of course
Everest will soon surpass that height.
Disney counting on Shyamalan success
The Walt Disney Co. is counting on spooky film master M. Night
Shyamalan, a crooning Julie Andrews and a family of aging
superheroes to rescue it from a cold streak that even the
legendary King Arthur couldn't slay.
The studio, which last year produced a record $3 billion US
in worldwide box office revenue, has yet to have one film hit
the $100 million US mark domestically -- despite high hopes
for movies such as The Alamo, Home on the Range, and Hidalgo.
And with a first weekend take of only $15.2 million US, it
doesn't look like the historic epic King Arthur, a Jerry
Bruckheimer film starring Clive Owen and Keira Knightley, will
make it either.
"We're in a slump," Disney head of distribution
Chuck Viane said Tuesday. "We're not pleased with our
performance in the first half of the year."
King Arthur cost about $150 million US to make and market,
according to analysts, and may never turn a profit, despite
its expected international appeal.
The slump will not affect Disney's profits this year,
thanks to huge profits generated by home video sales of last
year's hits, including Finding Nemo and Pirates of the
Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl.
Disney's studio has already produced more operating income
in the first three quarters of this year than it did in all of
fiscal 2003, fuelled mainly by DVD releases.
But without a big box-office hit, Disney will be left with
little to fill next year's home-video pipeline.
"It will leave a gap in the first quarter of
2005," said Harold Vogel of Vogel Capital Management.
"That's where the pain will probably be most felt."
Things could conceivably turn in the second half for
Disney, which will release the supernatural thriller The
Village, from Sixth Sense director Shyamalan in two weeks.
Disney is also counting on the sequel Princess Diaries 2:
The Royal Engagement, in which Julie Andrews sings on screen
for the first time in years.
Other films this year include Ladder 49 with John Travolta
and the animated The Incredibles, from Pixar Animation
Studios, about a family of superheroes past their prime.
"I'm about to be on a hot streak," Viane said.
Still, the slump comes at a critical time for Disney and
its chief executive, Michael Eisner, who has pledged the
company will increase its profits by more than 50 per cent in
the fiscal year that ends in September and by double digits
each year through 2007.
Dramatic revenue and profit growth at Disney's theme parks
is expected to offset the falloff in profits at the film
studio, analysts say. And growth at Disney's cable networks
and at ABC could also help the company's profit outlook.
But the disappointing studio results leave little margin
"The company is under a lot of pressure," said
Paul Kim, an analyst at Tradition Asiel Securities. "It's
not necessarily going to be a rosy 2005."
Give Disney Some Credit
It seems only months ago that credit rating agencies were
threatening to downgrade Comcast if it went through with its
proposed acquisition of Disney From sandbag to free bird,
Standard & Poor's is now upgrading Disney's corporate
While the tweak may not seem like much -- going from
negative to stable -- it's a step in the right direction.
However, the timing may at first appear peculiar.
- Interest rates are rising, spiking the borrowing costs
of such leveraged companies as Disney.
- Just last week CEO Michael Eisner suggested that Disney
should hike its dividend, pleasing shareholders but
creating an even larger payout burden for the company's
- This past weekend's dismal opening for King Arthur
indicates that the company will need to lance a lot to
keep pace with last year's theatrical successes.
So, are the S&P folks looking to make creditors more
poor than standard? Of course not. S&P knows all about
Eisner's words and, yes, it remembers The Alamo. But
Disney is humming along nicely with plenty of leeway to
overcome plumper yields and box-office duds. An improving
economy will make the turnstiles click faster at its theme
parks and a healthier advertising market will work wonders for
its network business.
While Disney is looking to earn just $0.98 a share this
year -- near the $0.97 a share it earned three years ago -- it
sees double-digit earnings growth from here on out.
While there are plenty of long-term concerns, like how it
will fill the Pixar void with a skeletal animation crew come
2006 or how the company's recent wave of celluloid turkeys
will fare in the home video and DVD market, the near term is
Just as significant is that the two live-action movies that
may prove to save Disney's summer -- M. Night Shyamalan's
classy The Village and the feel-good Princess
Diaries 2 -- are still weeks away from their curtain
So give Disney some credit. S&P apparently thinks the
company has earned it.
Witherspoon in talks on Disney pic
'Legally Blonde' star Reese
Witherspoon is in talks to voice a new animated movie from
Disney called 'Rapunzel Unbraided'.
Variety says that the
all-CGI film is described as a new version of the fairytale,
but with a twist.
Disney has not set a
release date for the film.
Witherspoon has previously
voiced the animated movie 'The Trumpet of the Swan'.
PJs face test
A MAJOR high street store
is carrying out its own independent tests on Disney kids'
pyjamas at the centre of a health scare.
And the store says it will
remove the PJs from its shelves if the fears of two Ulster
MPs, Iris Robinson and Lady Sylvia Hermon, prove correct.
The two Ulster women are
among 38 British MPs who have signed a House of Commons
motion, which claims the pyjamas contain "highly
As Sunday Life revealed
last month, the motion claims the "extremely
dangerous" chemicals could damage kids' livers, kidneys
Debenhams is currently
conducting scientific tests on the items, and will urge all
stores to remove them if the results are positive.
Said a Debenhams'
spokeswoman: "The company's head of quality assurance is
currently investigating this issue.
"Our product complies
with current legislation, but they could be removed from
stores if results prove they are not up to safety
Disney insists its products
could NOT damage children's health.
The Commons motion follows
claims by Greenpeace that scientific tests had found toxic
chemicals in cartoon motifs on the pyjama tops, which feature
the characters Buzz Lightyear, Piglet and Tigger.
But a Disney spokeswoman
said: "The Walt Disney Company takes all matters related
to product safety very seriously.
"Disney requires that
Disney products - including pyjamas - are tested to, and
conform to, safety standards set by the European Commission
and the US Consumer Product Safety Commission."
Lady Hermon, Mrs Robinson
and leading Liberal Democrat, Simon Hughes, are among the MPs
who have backed the Early Day Motion by Sussex Lib Dem MP,
The motion states:
"This House condemns the use of highly-toxic chemicals in
Disney's children's pyjamas."
Disney Company declined to distribute Michael Moore's movie
Fahrenheit 9/11, but it will decide which charities benefit
from its success.
When Bob and Harvey
Weinstein purchased the controversial film from Disney
subsidiary Miramax for $US6 million ($A8.27 million), Disney
said it would donate any profits from the movie to charity.
Those donations could be
substantial as the film passed $US80 million ($A110.32
million) in box office sales this week. Disney is slated to
get about 60 per cent of the net profits, after Moore and film
distributors get their shares, according to The Wall Street
To date, Disney has not
specified which charities will benefit from the movie that
criticises President George W Bush's decision to invade Iraq.
Based on its past giving,
it's likely that Disney will choose nonprofit organisations
involved with children, the environment or the arts. The
Fortune 500 company regularly gives to groups like the
Make-A-Wish Foundation and the World Wildlife Fund.
beneficiary would be the Points of Light Foundation - a
Washington, DC-based charity founded in 1990 by former
President George Bush to promote volunteerism. Last year,
Disney gave the nonpartisan group more than $US250,000
And what is Moore's view on
his movie possibly benefiting a Bush-related charity?
Moore's spokeswoman Sarah
Greenberg referred questions to Disney. A Disney spokeswoman
did not return calls made today.
officials seize fake Disney panties
French customs officials in
Nice seized counterfeit underwear carrying the Walt Disney Co.
brand. Had they been genuine, the goods would have been worth
$1.1 million, a customs official said.
The 101,460 items of
women's underwear, with pictures of Disney characters such as
Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck, were discovered in a truck
driven by two Bulgarian nationals who are now in police
custody. The truck was headed to Italy.
frequently arrive in France from East Asian countries and
Turkey and are shipped to Eastern Europe and South America.
Last week, 100,000 pairs of
counterfeit Chanel eyeglasses were seized near Paris.
2.0: Killer App for Xbox Rocks With Adrenaline-Pumping Music
From Breaking Benjamin
Soundtrack to Include Songs From Breaking Benjamin's New Smash
CD WE ARE NOT ALONE
Aiming to deliver gamers
with one of the most explosive multiplayer gaming
experiences, Buena Vista Interactive, a publishing label of
Buena Vista Games, Inc., today announced that the soundtrack
for its highly anticipated title TRON 2.0: Killer App for
the Xbox® video game system from Microsoft will feature
songs from the popular rock band Breaking Benjamin.
Scheduled for release this fall, the game's
specially-created Xbox(TM) Live multiplayer levels will
offer 11 tracks from the band's just released, chart topping
CD WE ARE NOT ALONE and debut CD SATURATE for gamers to
enjoy while battling opponents in traditional online combat
modes and distinctive TRON game play modes including
overRIDE and squad-based combat.
Tracks slated for inclusion consist of the new hit single
"So Cold," as well as "Simple Design,"
"Follow Me," "Break My Fall,"
"Breakdown" and "Away and Believe," all
from WE ARE NOT ALONE. "Wish I May," the smash hit
"Polyamorus" and "Skin" from the band's
debut album SATURATE are also included.
"I'm a huge Xbox fan
and love playing video games while I'm touring on the road.
Having the opportunity to have our music featured in TRON
2.0 is a very cool thing, and I can't wait to play the game
with the rest of the band," said Ben Burnley, lead
singer of Breaking Benjamin.
"Music is such an
important part of video games, so when planning TRON 2.0:
Killer App's Xbox Live multiplayer levels, we knew the
soundtrack had to feature music that reflects the energy of
the game play," said Bob Picunko, director of product
marketing at Buena Vista Games. "With its raw,
hypnotic, edgy vibe, Breaking Benjamin's music plays
perfectly into the TRON 2.0 experience."
About Breaking Benjamin
Breaking Benjamin's new
album WE ARE NOT ALONE entered Billboard's Top 200 at #20
fueled by impressive first week sales of 48,000. Released on
June 29, WE ARE NOT ALONE is the eagerly awaited follow-up
to their successful 2002 debut SATURATE that featured the
band's first radio hit, "Polyamorous." Breaking
Benjamin's new single "So Cold" has been exploding
at active and alternative rock radio. The video is in
regular rotation at Fuse and MTV2. WE ARE NOT ALONE features
three ambitious tracks co-written by the band's Ben Burnley
and ex Smashing Pumpkin's frontman Billy Corgan.
Signed to Hollywood
Records, the Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania-based quartet is
comprised of Ben Burnley - vocalist/guitar; Aaron Fink -
guitar; Markus James - Bass; and Jeremy Hummel. Breaking
Benjamin will join Evanescence on a North American tour,
starting July 11 in Chicago, Ill. For more information on
the band, check out http://www.breakingbenjamin.com/.
About TRON 2.0: Killer
App for Xbox
Players are digitized
inside the world of a war-ravaged computer system on the
verge of collapse from a seemingly unstoppable army of
corrupt programs lead by the evil "user" Thorne.
As Thorne's relentless army grows, it infects helpless
programs, converting them into savage digital mercenaries
aimed at spreading viral agents throughout the system. The
security forces in the system struggle to quarantine the
corruption, but they are hopelessly outnumbered by the
mounting army of infected programs. Only a human
"user" inside the computer world can even the
odds. Armed with an arsenal of powerful digital weapons,
players face off in epic, action-packed warfare along side
security forces and against legions of horribly mutated
programs as you fight to stop the corruption from spreading
and bringing down computer systems worldwide. Currently in
development by Climax's Los Angeles studio, TRON 2.0: Killer
App will feature new, exclusive Xbox(TM) Live multiplayer
combat, specially designed to deliver gamers a
state-of-the-art online multiplayer gaming experience.
July Exhibits Posted at Disney Family Museum Online
The Walt Disney
Family Museum July exhibits include several tributes to Mary
Poppins, including the insights of British writer and
documentarian Brian Sibley.
Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe stars finally revealed
The four young stars in
Andrew Adamson's The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe have
finally revealed themselves to the world.
All four were involved in
a cricket game being filmed in the grounds of Monte Cecilia
House in Hillsborough when Prime Minister Helen Clark
visited the set today.
Their names have been a
closely guarded secret despite working around Auckland for
the past month.
The actors are: Georgie
Henley, 9, from West Yorkshire, who plays the lead character
Lucy; Skandar Keynes, 12, from London, who plays Edmund;
Anna Popplewell, 15, also from London, who plays Susan; and
William Moseley, 17, from Gloucestershire, who plays the
eldest brother Peter.
Popplewell, the veteran
of the group, has appeared in five previous movies,
including Girl with a Pearl Earring and Mansfield Park, as
well as three television series. Keynes has played a young
Enzo Ferrari in an Italian biographical movie.
These are the first movie
roles for Moseley and Henley, who despite her youth, has
been a regular participant in England's Wharfedale Festival
of Performing Arts.
Nine-year-old Henley said
she was tired, but is very excited to be involved in the
"It is quite tiring
and it was a bit overwhelming at first, but everyone is
doing everything they can to help, so it's cool."
She said her father and
sister have been in Auckland for the past three weeks and
her mother will be staying with her throughout the filming.
Moseley said he was
enjoying the work, but was feeling a little homesick for his
village near Stroud in the Cotswolds. "You don't know
what you have until it's not there anymore," he said.
The Hillsborough location
will serve as the grounds of the country mansion where Lucy
finds the wardrobe portal to the Kingdom of Narnia. The
mansion which will seen in the movie will be computer
Helen Clark said it was
always fun to visit a film set and meet the talent,
"especially when it means a great deal to the New
Zealand economy and our film industry. We are obviously
looking at possibilities for getting some leverage out of
it, as we did with Lord of the Rings. It's all good for the
Production manager Tim
Coddington said everything is on schedule and they have
another ten days of outdoor shooting to get through in
Auckland before the crew moves to the South Island in
mid-October. Most of the filming has been conducted on the
indoor set built in the old Hobsonville air force base.
James Cosmo, who played
Campbell in Braveheart and Mr Renton in Trainspotting, has
been confirmed for the role of Father Christmas.
He will join the other
cast members so far named: Tilda Swinton (the White Witch),
Dawn French (the voice of Mrs Beaver), James McAvoy (Mr
Tumnus) and Rupert Everett (the voice of The Fox).
A spokesman for The Lion,
the Witch and the Wardrobe denied all reports that
Australian actor Nicole Kidman will be involved in the
Pans Have Plastic Swords Confiscated by Customs
had their dream Disneyland holiday ruined – when French
airport customs officers swooped on them for carrying
The Luton girls, dressed in Peter Pan outfits, were making
their way home through Charles de Gaulle airport when they
were stopped for 'posing a security threat'.
At the security check, Olivia and Eva Ryan proudly walked up
wearing their outfits, bought at Paris's Disneyland Parc
France and bearing the plastic swords which are part of the
A stern "Non" from the customs and security men
met with a flood of tears from the youngsters, and anger
from their father, Luton photographer Pete Ryan.
The swords were confiscated with the grim warning that they
are replica swords and there was no way they would be
permitted on the aircraft back to Britain.
His amazement at the entire episode was underlined for Pete,
when after the swords had been confiscated by the French
"jobsworths" he saw vicious looking metal spikes
for sale just yards away in the duty free shop.
Pete, who works for Luton Borough Council, the
Herald&Post and a number of major organisations in town,
said: "I was furious. It really upset the twins, and
it was particularly bad since we had a really bad time at
Disney, which we thought was a total rip-off. It was just a
final insult when we walked through the airport and these
people decided that the youngsters were a security threat.
"Nobody in their right mind would think that the swords
that went with their outfit were real. It's security gone
Pete, of Cranleigh Gardens, said he didn't get angry with
the security men. "I just rubbed my eyes in disbelief.
They just said basically that rules are rules. If we go
again it will be to Disney World in Florida."
Great Disney Toy Exhibition in New Zealand
August 4-24 2004
The Great Disney Toy Exhibition is the largest collection of
toys and memorabilia ever to be seen in public. Anytime!
Starting in 1927 and running right through to Toy Story and
beyond and reflects the history of the 20th century. This
exhibition is about life, colour, families, fun, education,
experience a visual and sensory overload! This exhibition is
for all age groups, from toddlers to grandparents and is
part of the 75th Anniversary Celebration of Mickey
This may be to one and only chance to ever see this rare New
Zealand owned collection. A worlds of Wellington Trust and
Old Tin Toy Shop Event.
movie already planned
The folks behind Andrew
Adamson's upcoming The Lion, The Witch And The Wardrobe are
obviously confident it'll be a big success because they've
already started work on the sequel.
It's rumoured that the next movie will be Prince Caspian,
the fourth in CS Lewis's series of seven.
Filming on Disney / Walden Media's live-action adaptation of
the classic book started two weeks ago in New Zealand and is
due to continue there until October before moving on to the
Narnia: A Look Inside the Plans
highlights from an article about the Licensing plans for the
new Chronicles of Narnia films:
With 85 million copies sold in 29 countries, nearly 6
million copies annually, indeed, reader expectations will be
high on a worldwide basis. Producer Johnson believes
expectations will be met: "When audiences see this
movie, they will have never seen anything like it in their
"Projects of the scope of The Chronicles of Narnia are
few and far between," reveals Dick Cook, chairman of
The Walt Disney Studios. "This is well beyond a single
With HarperCollins as worldwide publisher of "The
Chronicles of Narnia," opportunity to cross-promote
between the books and the movie is a natural, according to
Mooney, and HarperCollins already has implemented some
marketing tactics and agreed to republish the books to
coincide with the first film. Asked what would be the
marketing spend for the film, Cook says coyly, "The
nature of the biggest marketing spend ever for a film."
As The Chronicles of Narnia has a broad fan base, Mooney
reveals the target age groups are "still being defined,
and may change over time." He continues,
"Historically, the books have skewed more girls than
boys. But translating the movie to product with the
environments, characters, and the Narnia world, merchandise
may skew more boys than girls." Mooney speculates a
60-40 ratio, particularly where toys are concerned as they
may have more boy appeal. In addition, he points to an older
avid reader fan base, and believes collectibles would be in
the merchandise mix. "We are treating this as a
long-term franchise, analogous to Lord of the Rings and Star
Wars," Mooney asserts. "We would rather have the
market be short on product than long on product." At
this stage in development, answering pointed questions
relating to product is no easy feat, as Mooney and the
Disney Consumer Products team are in the beginning phases,
and are headed to Licensing 2004 International Show this
month to showcase opportunities for The Chronicles of Narnia.
Walden Media-50/50 partner with Walt Disney Pictures on The
Chronicles of Narnia-which originally brokered the deal with
the C.S. Lewis Estate, secured the merchandising and
licensing rights to an education project, which includes
educational publishing, school workshops, and teacher
training. The entertainment company, in its negotiations
with the C.S. Lewis Estate, cinched the deal when it
outlined its plans for education, and forged a relationship
to work closely with the C.S. Lewis Estate on the
development phase of the project.
Mooney concurs, "We will be very careful about how we
embellish merchandise, whether toys, video games, or board
games, and will work in conjunction with the C.S. Lewis
Estate. The consumer products are an extension of the movie,
but we will work to remain true to "The Chronicles of
Narnia" original intent and content."
With The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe slated for holiday
'05, timing for the next film in the series has yet to be
determined, although License! attempted to pry.
No reindeer for Narnia
is reported in the Sunday Star-Times that Disney and
Walden Media were denied use of reindeer in New Zealand
for pulling the Ice Queen’s sled in The Chronicles of
Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.
It is likely that Peter
Jackson’s Weta Workshop’s special effects department
will take on the task of creating these animals, which
will also be seen pulling Santa’s sled in one scene.
It seems that the
Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry denied the filmmakers
permission to use reindeer but gave the green light for
Promises Talk Show Bonanza
on Monday promised television critics that his upcoming talk
show will be lively and unpredictable.
Speaking during a session
at the summer Television Critics Assn. press tour, Danza
said he plans to keep viewers of "The Tony Danza
Show" entertained with the unexpected when it premieres
"They hired me to be
an entertainer," said the former star of
"Taxi" and "Who's the Boss." "I
might break out in song or tap dance, but that won't be a
big part of it. I want to explore what interests me about
people and see if it interests the audience. I'm ready for
anything, and I'm willing to try anything."
Danza said he's not
worried about the challenges of hosting a live talk show
five days a week. He said such experiences as guest-hosting
"Live! With Regis & Kelly" and appearing in
his own live touring act have prepared him for the
show will be topical, Danza said, adding that he'd like to
feature a mix of guests who are well-known as well as those
"off the beaten path." Cooking segments also will
be a significant part of the show -- a kitchen has been
built into the set, he added.
Mickey and gang
The images of Tinker
Bell, Peg Leg Pete, Simba and other Walt Disney characters
from the past are being given new life in a creative
licensing deal. Also available will be the changing looks of
perennial favorites Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck over the
Disney is opening its vault of artwork on DisneyInkShop.com,
where people can use their favorite image to create
Visitors to the Web site can select from 2,500 character
images and from an assortment of phrases associated with
that character to create T-shirts, sweat shirts, nightshirts
and other tops for $19 to $26 in sizes for adults, children
A marketing expert thinks this is smart online retailing by
"It is a low-cost way for Disney to give people a
choice," says Erik Gordon, professor of marketing at
Johns Hopkins University. "If there are a small number
of people who like what Mickey looked like in the Steamboat
Willie days (the original Mickey Mouse cartoon from 1928)
and want a shirt, the company doesn't have to make a lot of
them, store them in warehouses or ship them to a lot of
different stores around the country. It's a classic good use
of the Web to aggregate demand."
Computer mouse pads and posters will be available in time
for back-to-school season. Disney also plans to add
accessories and other products. The move by Disney's
consumer products division is a major effort to gain value
from the Disney archive.
"Disney has always been protective of its artwork
because of piracy concerns," says Patrick Haley,
manager of new business development for
the division. "But technology has allowed this."
Although Disney has a strong presence with licensed
merchandise in mass-market retailers, the stores tend to
avoid merchandise tied to older characters in favor of
capitalizing on broader demand for items from a recent hit.
In addition to historical characters, DisneyInkShop.com
hopes to generate sales from goods related to movies
re-released on video and DVD, especially classics such as
Currently, about $15 billion in Disney products are sold
each year. (About $1 billion in sales come from the Disney
Store chain, which the company is in talks to sell to The
Though Warner Bros. and DreamWorks are among Disney's
fiercest competitors in animation, neither has opened the
doors of its art treasury to sell customized merchandise
tied to archival characters.
"A lot of companies are sitting on intellectual
property, and it's not current. There are still people who
remember the older stuff fondly, and this is a way of
gathering stuff that's gathering dust to get income out of
it," Gordon says.
Disney and embattled CEO Michael Eisner are under
shareholder pressure for results. Disney's net income nudged
up 2.4% last year to $1.3 billion on sales of $27.1 billion.
Animated films from Disney's Studio Entertainment unit
gained 10% in sales to $7.4 billion last year. The consumer
products unit licenses the Walt Disney name, characters and
visual and literary properties.
Disney Hoping for a Happy Ending to 2004
The company is counting on strength outside its faltering film
unit to bump up earnings for the year.
It's a long way from the ticket line to the bottom line.
That's the case for Walt Disney Co., whose
feature-film division has had a rocky first half of the year
after setting industry records in 2003. The latest
disappointment came with the premiere of "King
Arthur," the $120-million summer action movie from
producer Jerry Bruckheimer. It was in third place Sunday —
behind "Spider-Man 2" and "Anchorman: The
Legend of Ron Burgundy" — with an estimated ticket take
of $15.2 million over the weekend and $23.6 million since it
opened Wednesday, according to Disney.
With that kind of start, there's little chance that "King
Arthur" will live up to the success of Bruckheimer's last
summer movie for Disney, "Pirates of the Caribbean: The
Curse of the Black Pearl." And the studio, No. 1 at the
box office last year, is in sixth place now, tracking firm
Nielsen EDI said.
But Disney nevertheless may meet projections that its earnings
will grow this year by 50% or more. Even as the studio
sputters, the company is firing away on other cylinders,
giving Chief Executive Michael Eisner breathing room as he
seeks to shore up investors' faith in the Burbank-based
entertainment company. And executives expect the film division
itself to have better results in the second half of the year.
Underscoring his confidence in Disney's outlook, Eisner said
Friday that management probably would recommended a dividend
increase for shareholders this year.
Disney shares rose 25 cents Friday to $24.60 on the New York
There have been gains across various businesses, including
theme parks, which are recovering from a three-year slump.
Home-video sales of last year's box office hits have been
solid, and a strong advertising market has helped Disney's
owner-operated TV stations. Operating income in the cable TV
group, which includes the ESPN sports powerhouse and the
Disney Channel, is expected to grow 20% in the third fiscal
All that gives the company a cushion to absorb financial hits
elsewhere in the empire, notably at the struggling ABC-TV
network and the studio.
"Disney, like other media conglomerates, benefits from
having a diverse portfolio of businesses where potential risks
and losses from one area can be offset by gains in another
division," said Tim Wallace, managing director of
investment research for UBS Securities.
That doesn't mean Disney is off the hook when it comes to box
office returns. Many investors are particularly concerned
about the spotty record of the animation division. Their
anxieties were heightened this year after Pixar
Animation Studios, creator of the successful
"Toy Story" franchise and the blockbuster
"Finding Nemo," ended talks to extend its longtime
lucrative partnership with Disney.
Box office duds in the second half of the year could undercut
Eisner's argument that Disney's worst days are behind it and
provide more fuel to his fiercest critics, Roy E. Disney and
Stanley P. Gold. The former Disney board members led a
campaign against Eisner that culminated in a 45% protest vote
against his reelection to the board in March. Eisner
subsequently gave up his chairman's title.
"While poor performance may not undermine management's
expectations, it could have an impact on investor sentiment
about the company," Wallace said. "The studio has to
come up with decent films this year."
Disney faces a tough time living up to its performance in
2003. The smash hits "Pirates" and "Finding
Nemo" each amassed more than $300 million in ticket sales
in the U.S. alone.
By this time last year, three Disney films had opened in the
$30-million-plus range. In fact, the combined box office
openings of all of its movies so far this year total less than
what "Pirates" made in its first two weeks.
This year, the lackluster performers or outright flops include
"Hidalgo," the historical epic "Alamo" and
the animated barnyard tale "Home on the Range."
Disney was forced to take write-downs for the latter two.
A more recent letdown has been "Around the World in 80
Days." The remake cost more than $110 million but took in
only $22 million in the U.S. Disney spent tens of millions of
additional dollars to market the movie. The studio's financial
exposure was minimized, however, because the movie was
financed by billionaire Philip Anschutz.
Disney's biggest 2004 opening weekend haul was $19.4 million
for the Olympic hockey drama "Miracle," which hit
theaters in February.
The studio was hoping "King Arthur" would crack the
$20-million mark during its inaugural weekend, but it suffered
heavy competition and mixed reviews.
"Maybe there's a little bit of epic ennui," said
Nina Jacobson, Disney Studios' production chief.
Disney executives are expecting "King Arthur," which
stars British actors Clive Owen and Keira Knightley, to fare
well overseas and ultimately generate brisk home-video sales.
"The international market is going to be terrific for
us," said Chuck Viane, the studio's president of domestic
The studio's upcoming slate includes "The Village,"
a thriller from "The Sixth Sense" director M. Night
Shyamalan, due this month. Next month comes "Princess
Diaries 2: Royal Engagement," the sequel to the hit
romantic comedy. Bruckheimer's "National Treasure,"
an action-adventure offering with Nicolas Cage, opens in
November. And Disney is expected to do well with its November
release of Pixar's upcoming animated movie "The
Incredibles." Disney splits profits with Pixar and gets a
"We do have hopes for the second half of the year,"
Jacobson said. "We're confident that we can turn things
around." Meanwhile, she said: "We're grateful that
the aftermarket life of last year's movies has given us
shelter during the storm."
'King Arthur' Showing Keeps Pressure on
Walt Disney Co.'s lost quest to rule the box office with
"King Arthur" only slightly disappointed Wall
Street, although one analyst on Monday warned that the
studio's poor year at the box office would hurt DVD sales in
"Arthur," which cost between $110 million and
$120 million to make, sold $23.6 million in tickets over its
first five days and was beaten from Friday to Sunday by both
"Spider-Man 2" and the Will Ferrell comedy
Goldman Sachs called the performance "modestly weaker
than expected" and said Disney could ultimately lose $20
million, or about one-half cent per share, on the film.
But analyst Anthony Noto left his estimates for earnings
for the rest of the fiscal year intact, and a penny per share
ahead of the Wall Street consensus.
General expectations for the movie had been modest,
although the studio had hoped "Arthur" would be the
beginning of a turnaround after a frustrating year of mediocre
box office performance. One executive called the weekend
Disney has not had a breakaway hit this year and
"Arthur" was to be its "tentpole" summer
release that would restore the luster to the studio which set
box office records in 2003.
Morgan Stanley analyst Richard Bilotti said the pain of a
weak 2004 movie slate would come later. He cut his fiscal 2005
outlook for Disney on Monday, arguing that the weak box office
this year would cut into high-profit-margin DVD sales next.
DVDs have become a gold mine for Hollywood and last year's
record box office performance by Disney hits like
"Pirates of the Caribbean" and "Finding Nemo"
drove DVD sales this year which made up for many of the
problems with new releases.
"It is becoming increasingly likely that the weak
fiscal 2004 theatrical release slate will translate into
significantly lower home video and TV distribution revenues in
fiscal 2005," Bilotti wrote in a research note, cutting
his earnings forecast for fiscal 2005, beginning in October,
to $1.15 from $1.19.
The Wall Street average was $1.16, according to Reuters
Shares of Disney fell 25 cents or 1 percent to $24.35 on
the New York Stock Exchange.
PhotoshopWorld attendees get Disney
The National Association of Photoshop Professionals (NAPP),
a sponsor of the upcoming PhotoshopWorld Conference &
Expo, has arranged for significant savings off the price of
Walt Disney World theme park tickets for conference
attendees. Starting immediately through Aug. 17,
PhotoshopWorld attendees can purchase admission tickets at a
special price not available at theme park front gates. The
conference takes place Sept. 1-3 in Orlando.
builds for underdog network ABC
ABC faced TV writers Monday in a tough spot: Critics seem
to like its new shows more than those of other networks.
But with the network mired in fourth place, launching them
could prove difficult.
With last season's ratings down 10% from an already weak
2002-03, another team of executives is in place. New
entertainment chief Stephen McPherson made his first
appearance via satellite from his Paris honeymoon.
"We're not of the belief that
it is one show that saves the network," he said. The
biggest priority is to fix ABC's broken slate of dramas:
The network hasn't had a breakout hit since The
Practice in 1998, all six of last season's dramas
failed, and lone stalwart NYPD Blue is expected to
end next season.
Three will premiere in September:
soapy Desperate Housewives; Life as We Know It,
about sex-starved teen boys; and Lost, about a
group of plane-crash survivors marooned on an island.
They'll join Practice spinoff Boston Legal
and are aimed at countering the boom in procedural crime
shows on other networks. Another trio is teed up for
midseason, when Alias also returns.
McPherson says ABC's underdog
status allows it to be more patient with promising shows,
but "being patient with a show that isn't working
doesn't make sense," he says, in an apparent
reference to last season's low-rated Karen Sisco.
Unlike NBC and Fox, ABC is sticking
to a more traditional rollout schedule, unveiling its fall
lineup within a week after the season officially starts on
McPherson also jumped on the
Fox-bashing bandwagon, accusing the network of programming
thievery. Fox will premiere Trading Spouses next
week, two months before ABC's previously announced Wife
Swap, in which two families temporarily trade moms.
Those tactics send a distressing
message to producers: "If you take a show, a pitch,
into Fox, and they can't or decide not to buy it, they
will steal it. Plain and simple. I think it's really
upsetting." (The British producers of Wife Swap,
which airs in the U.K., say they never pitched their show
Also Monday, Nightline
anchor Ted Koppel took issue with Fahrenheit 9/11
director Michael Moore's depiction of network newscasters
as cheerleaders for President Bush's drive to sell the
American public on the war in Iraq. "It's a terrific
piece of entertainment ... but it is to the documentary
what the JFK film was to history," Koppel
He said Nightline has
questioned the administration's motives, "but we
didn't do those stories as political polemics." He
echoed weekend comments by NBC's Tom Brokaw, who accused
Moore of "taking a lot of liberties not just with the
facts, but how you arrange the facts."
ABC hopes patience will help change
Mickey Mouse ways
With a new management team and perhaps
its strongest fall schedule in years, ABC Television
expects to rebuild its tattered image.
It was a moment that summarized
the confusion, ineptitude and general chaos that has
characterized ABC for the past five years.
Just as network President Anne Sweeney was about to
introduce her new programming chief to an avid audience of
TV critics Monday, the giant video screen behind her
crackled to life. Suddenly, Sweeney was dwarfed by giant
images of a crazed blond plastic surgery patient menacing
her hogtied doctor with a scalpel, an errant satellite
feed of the rival FX network's hit show Nip/Tuck.
''Some of my new friends,'' said Sweeney, ''none of
them appearing on Disney-ABC Television group of
networks.'' She paused a moment, then added: ``I'm going
to remember this moment, too, for a very long time.''
It was an inauspicious debut for ABC's fourth
management team in five years. Once television's top-rated
network, ABC has become synonymous with disaster: Shows
come and go in the blink of an eye, their audiences barely
above test-pattern levels, while ABC's programmers --
paralyzed by the frequent management shuffles -- let
surefire hits like Donald Trump's The Apprentice
slip away to other networks.
PLEASE STAND BY
Sweeney and Stephen McPherson, her programming chief,
made their inaugural appearance before TV critics and
offered little in the way of new strategy except patience
as ABC tries to rebuild its tattered prime-time lineup.
And they jokingly conceded that even that simple commodity
may be in short supply.
''Bob and Michael have made it clear that I've got at
least until August,'' McPherson cracked, referring to Bob
Iger and Michael Eisner, his imperious bosses at ABC's
corporate parent Disney.
Nonetheless, McPherson and Sweeney both warned that
''strategy'' is less important than simply making good
''At the end of the day, it really is about
execution,'' Sweeney said. ``Too often when things go
wrong, people immediately run to reinvent their strategy.
. . . In the business of television, you know as well as I
do, it's about putting on shows that people want to see.''
ODD TIMING FOR CHANGE
Sweeney, former head of ABC's cable networks, and
McPherson, who was running Disney's Touchstone Television
studios, were named to their jobs in April after ABC
abruptly dumped their predecessors, Lloyd Braun and Susan
The management change seemingly came at a disastrous
moment, just weeks before ABC had to unveil its new fall
lineup for advertisers. But, paradoxically, advertisers
and critics alike generally regard ABC's fall schedule as
its strongest in years.
Particularly promising among the network's nine new
shows are several smartly written dramas, including Lost,
about plane crash survivors trapped on a desert island
with an unseen but scary creature; Eyes, a tale of
corporate espionage full of surprising twists; and Desperate
Housewives, a yarn of secret suburban mayhem.
McPherson acknowledged the shows may take time to catch
on with an audience skeptical of ABC's impetuous
programming shifts. And he pointed out that some of TV's
biggest success stories, including NBC's sitcom Seinfeld
and CBS' Everybody Loves Raymond, started off with
''Being patient with shows that are great is what makes
great television. It's what made Raymond, it's what
made Seinfeld,'' he said.
'So I really do think it's going to come down to, `Do
we have the material, do we have the shows to be patient
and to build this schedule and build this network back?' .
. . Hopefully, we can bring some stability to a network
that, on certain nights, has not had that over the past
But, McPherson added, patience shouldn't be confused
with paralysis: ``Being patient with a show that isn't
working doesn't make any sense.''
Disney Struggling at Box Office
The Walt Disney Co. is counting on spooky film master M.
Night Shyamalan, a crooning Julie Andrews and a family of
aging superheroes to rescue it from a cold streak that
even the legendary King Arthur couldn't slay.
The studio, which last year produced a record $3
billion in worldwide box office revenue, has yet to have
one film hit the $100 million mark domestically - despite
high hopes for movies such as "The Alamo,"
"Home on the Range," and "Hidalgo."
And with a first weekend take of only $15.2 million, it
doesn't look like the historic epic "King
Arthur," a Jerry Bruckheimer film starring Clive Owen
and Keira Knightley, will make it either.
"We're in a slump," Disney head of
distribution Chuck Viane said Tuesday. "We're not
pleased with our performance in the first half of the
"King Arthur" cost about $150 million to make
and market, according to analysts, and may never turn a
profit, despite its expected international appeal.
The slump will not affect Disney's profits this year,
thanks to huge profits generated by home video sales of
last year's hits, including "Finding Nemo" and
"Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black
Pearl." Disney's studio has already produced more
operating income in the first three quarters of this year
than it did in all of fiscal 2003, fueled mainly by DVD
But without a big box-office hit, Disney will be left
with little to fill next year's home-video pipeline.
"It will leave a gap in the first quarter of
2005," said Harold Vogel of Vogel Capital Management.
"That's where the pain will probably be most
Things could conceivably turn in the second half for
Disney, which will release the supernatural thriller
"The Village," from "Sixth Sense"
director Shyamalan in two weeks.
Disney is also counting on the sequel "Princess
Diaries 2: The Royal Engagement," in which Julie
Andrews sings on screen for the first time in years.
Other films this year include "Ladder 49"
with John Travolta and the animated "The Incredibles,"
from Pixar Animation Studios, about a family of superheros
past their prime.
"I'm about to be on a hot streak," Viane
Still, the slump comes at a critical time for Disney
and its chief executive, Michael Eisner, who has pledged
the company will increase its profits by more than 50
percent in the fiscal year that ends in September and by
double digits each year through 2007.
Dramatic revenue and profit growth at Disney's theme
parks is expected to offset the falloff in profits at the
film studio, analysts say. And growth at Disney's cable
networks and at ABC could also help the company's profit
But the disappointing studio results leaves little
margin for error.
"The company is under a lot of pressure,"
said Paul Kim, an analyst at Tradition Asiel Securities.
"It's not necessarily going to be a rosy 2005."
& Poor's ups Disney's outlook to "stable"
Standard & Poor's on Tuesday revised the outlook for
Walt Disney Co.'s debt ratings to "stable"
from "negative," citing the media and theme park
company's improved earnings and other factors.
An outlook upgrade to "stable" can result
in a company's borrowing costs falling slightly for new
bond deals or bank loans. The outlook revision indicates
that the company has a slightly lower chance of its debt
ratings being cut over the next 24 months.
S&P also affirmed Disney's ratings, including its
"BBB-plus" long-term corporate credit rating,
the third lowest investment-grade rating, and its
"A-2" short-term corporate credit rating.
Disney Imagineer Sam McKim Dies at Age 79
Acclaimed Artist Influenced Disney Theme Parks With His
Sketches and Drew First Disneyland Souvenir Maps
Sam McKim, the legendary Disney Imagineer who drew the
first souvenir maps of Disneyland in 1954 and went on to
a spectacular 32-year career with Disney lending his
artistic vision to many popular theme park locations and
attractions, died of heart failure on Friday July 9th at
Providence Saint Joseph Medical Center in Burbank. He
was 79 years old. In addition to his Disney career,
McKim started out as a child actor who appeared in films
with John Wayne, Spencer Tracy, James Cagney, Rita
Hayworth and Gene Autry.
Commenting on McKim's passing, Marty Sklar,
vice-chairman and principal creative executive for Walt
Disney Imagineering, said, "Sam's early sketches
for Disneyland's Main Street and Frontierland are
inspirational to Imagineers -- among the very best ever
drawn for Walt Disney theme park attractions. He was the
quintessential researcher; you always knew he would dig
out the real gems for our stories, especially for
historical subjects. He had incredible talent and was as
fine a gentleman as you would ever want to know."
McKim joined WED Enterprises (now Walt Disney
Imagineering) as an illustrator in 1954, six months
before the opening of Disneyland. His initial
assignments included sketches for attractions, shops,
and restaurants for Main Street and Frontierland,
including the Golden Horseshoe Revue. His early work as
a Disney artist also touched several of the Studio's
films, including "Zorro," "Johnny Tremain,"
"The Shaggy Dog," "The
Gnome-Mobile," and "Nikki, Wild Dog of the
North." He went on to play a key role at the
1964-65 New York World's Fair, for which he contributed
sketches for all four Disney attractions ("Great
Moments with Mr. Lincoln," "It's a Small
World," "Carousel of Progress," and
"Magic Skyway.") His paintings also helped
introduce the public to the "Haunted Mansion"
and the Monorail at Disneyland, and the "Hall of
Presidents" at the Magic Kingdom. Later, his
artwork contributed to the story development of Epcot
pavilions, including the Universe of Energy, and the
Disney-MGM Studios, including "The Great Movie
John Hench, the late great Disney Imagineer who passed
away earlier this year, once observed of McKim,
"Sam was the greatest to work with. He loved
Disney, and his enthusiasm was always contagious. Once
he got involved in anything, no matter how problematic,
you always knew everything was going to be okay. If I
ever needed to hear the truth about something, I always
went to Sam."
Born in Canada on December 20, 1924, McKim came to Los
Angeles as a young boy and became a child actor, working
with many of the top stars of the day. In fact, he
didn't get the first Disney position he wanted, after
auditioning for the voice of Pinocchio in the 1930s.
After serving in the U.S. Army in World War II, McKim
enrolled in Art Center College of Design. The day after
he graduated, he was called back to the Army to serve in
Korea, where he earned several medals and honors,
including the Distinguished Service Cross and the Bronze
Star. Upon returning to the States, he took acting roles
as well as advanced art classes at the Chouinard Art
McKim recalled, "John Ford offered me a supporting
lead in 'The Long Gray Line' with Tyrone Power, Maureen
O'Hara and Ward Bond. Would you believe I turned it down
to become an artist? I started at 20th Century Fox, then
moved to Disney for a temp job, and didn't leave until I
retired 32 years later."
As one of a select group of Disney theme park
cartographers, McKim's "fun maps" charted the
layouts of Disneyland (several editions), the Walt
Disney World Magic Kingdom, "Pirates of the
Caribbean," "Tom Sawyer Island," and
Following his retirement from Imagineering in 1987,
McKim remained connected with WDI and Disney. In
addition to appearances at Disney fan events and
consulting work, his two sons both worked for Disney --
Matt for Imagineering, and Brian for Feature Animation.
He also continued to be active in the arts. His work can
be found in the U.S. Air Force and L.A. County Sheriff
Department Collections, as well as in private
McKim is survived by his wife, Dorothy; son Matt; son
Brian and his wife, Dorothy, and their two children,
Tyler and Natalie. A graveside service will take place
this Friday (7/16) at 2:30 at Pierce Brothers Valhalla
(10621 Victory Boulevard) in North Hollywood. A memorial
service will follow at 4:30 at First Christian Church of
North Hollywood (4390 Colfax Ave.) in Studio City. In
lieu of flowers, donations can be made in McKim's name
to the American Heart Association (Gift Processing
Dept., 1710 Gilbreth Road, Burlingame, CA 94010 or
online at http://www.americanheart-donate.org/).
Florida derailing bullet train
Paperwork filed with the state says a road
builders' lobbying organization gave nearly one-third of
the $1.3 million collected for a petition drive aimed at
derailing Florida's bullet train project.
The group, called Moving Florida, is a political
established by the Florida Transportation Builders
Campaign finance reports say it was the largest
contributor to the so-called Derail the Bullet Train
group during the year's second quarter. Two major
central Florida theme parks bypassed on a planned route
that connects with Walt Disney World were also major
contributors to the Kill-the-Rail project.
Voters approved the bullet train four years ago. The
current move is to have voters repeal that amendment.
The first leg of the network would connect Tampa and
Orlando at a cost of $2.6 billion, though opponents say
it will be closer to $6 billion.
The future of theme park
Disney embraces smoke-free pyrotechnics
The smoke has cleared from the thousands of fireworks
displays — big and small — that mark our nation's
annual Fourth of July celebration.
However, there was a lot less smoke to clear at
Disneyland in California, where the company has
developed a patented system that uses compressed air
to replace the gunpowder normally used to lift its 361
colorful explosive devices into the air.
Disney developed the new
technology because it's safer, it's quieter and it
"Now that we have this
system in place at Disneyland, we're looking at our
other parks to test and see where it would make
sense," says Marilyn Waters, spokeswoman for Walt
Disney Imagineering, a subsidiary of The Walt Disney
Co. that's responsible for developing new technology.
It's possible the next place
to install the new system will be the new Disney theme
park going in at Hong Kong. Waters says Disney isn't
sure when its Central Florida theme parks could
install or start testing the new fireworks launch
Bugs in the
Not everyone is fired up about the new
For one thing, insiders say
it's expensive for new launch tubes, connectors,
compressed air tanks and new computer hook-ups to
allow the precise, timed-to-the-microsecond precision
of the Disney-style show. Disney currently declines to
reveal how much it would cost for other theme parks to
install the system.
Insiders also say the system still has some bugs to
work out, with delayed launches caused by leaking
launch tubes being the biggest problem.
But Waters says the new
system is working great, and that while the
undisclosed development costs spent over the last 12
years were high, the finished system uses
"off-the-shelf" products that are easily
That's why, says Waters, it's
Disney's plan to donate the seven patents it produced
to a yet-to-be-selected non-profit group that can
license the technology to the pyrotechnics industry.
Other parks are withholding
judgment on the system. A Busch Entertainment
spokeswoman says the Anheuser-Busch subsidiary that
operates the Busch Gardens and SeaWorld parks doesn't
know enough about the system to comment yet.
Universal-NBC says that,
"While we are aware of the new technology, at the
moment we are satisfied with our approach. We continue
to evaluate, however, new ways of doing things."
Julie Heckman, executive
director of the American Pyrotechnics Association,
says the new technology may be just a fantasy for the
immediate future. "It will take a little while
for the technology to reach the level of theme parks
and other fixed venues where it might make
sense," she says.
However, the time is right
for Disney, the largest single user of fireworks in
the country. The theme park giant puts on large
nighttime shows at three of its four theme parks in
Central Florida, including a major Magic Kingdom show
introduced last fall called "Wishes," which
is several times the size of the previous
"Fantasy in the Sky" fireworks show. Disney
says the new 12-minute show uses 683 fireworks.
Clean air concerns
Although concerns have been raised in
California about the environmental impact Disney's
fireworks shows have there, Florida officials have no
Disney's fireworks don't
impact the local air quality because the theme park
giant's extensive land holdings make "a nice
buffer," says Tammy Eagan, a meteorologist for
the Florida Department of Environmental Protection.
The department monitors fine particle pollution in
Orlando, Kissimmee and Tampa and, "We're not
noticing anything different. It is comparable to a
To many, Disney's
announcement that the new system had been activated in
California a week before July 4 seemed nothing more
than good publicity timing.
But others think the timing
may have been an attempt to preempt some bad
publicity: The July 9 agenda for California's South
Coast Air Quality Management District includes an item
that will address the issue of air quality and Disney
Waters dismisses the idea,
and says the timing of the announcement had to do with
the availability of the technology. noting it had been
operating "before the July 9 meeting agenda was
Still, California officials
say there have been numerous complaints about Disney
fireworks in the past. The South Coast Air Quality
Management District has recorded 73 complaints since
1991, five of them since 1997 on its complaint hot
The source of concern is
visible, documented smoke, odors and unburned bits of
paper and chemical that fall to the ground after a
There also have been several
organized protests from local Anaheim, Calif., groups,
says Sam Atwood, a spokesman for the South Coast Air
Quality Management District, which monitors sources of
air pollution in a four county region that includes
Disneyland and five other theme parks. "Behind
the small number of complaints is continued concern
from the community," he says.
Atwood concedes that
"there has been no violation, but that's not to
say that one is not possible."
Disney's use of the new
system and national publicity about it will go a long
way toward alleviating concerns, he says. "Disney
deserves credit for their proactive response."
Meanwhile, the goal of the
July 9 hearing in California is to "seek Disney's
commitment on paper ... to ultimately produce the
low-smoke and low-low-smoke products they are testing
now," he says. "We want to finalize their
The Legend of the Lion King
at the Videopolis is playing to packed houses five
times daily - the perfect proof of the immense sucess
which is also mirrored in the waiting times that most
days average around 90 minutes. Now the Resort is
trying to further improve the surrounding
experience... First step was the set up of a guest
flow system. To handle the crowds the Hyperion
entrance is only used for patrons of the restaurant
and as exit after the show, the only entrance used to
access the theater seating is the theater's official
main entrance opposite the FastPass entrance of
SpaceMountain. To make this more obvious and upgrade
the entrance not only two huge billboards high up on
the facade advertise the show, but a Broadway-style
light up marquee has been added to the left side of
the entrance - but note that only the official queue
forming toward the right side of the entrance and
directed up all the site of the building covered
against any rain shower will actually be allowed into
the theater. Side note for fans: note that the
Videopolis is referred to as "Videopolis
Theatre" on the marquee, while it was just the
"Videopolis" in the past.
But that is just one Broadway-style element ... a
souvenir shop offering show based merchandise is
another standard in Broadway Theaters. The resort so
far has not provided a full shop, but has placed
several carts between the theater entrance and Space
Mountain which offer a wide range of Lion King
merchandise as well as show specific merchandise,
including pins, mousepads and t-shirts with the show's
logo or artwork based on the show. Most of this
merchandise is available exclusively at these carts.
This includes the show's soundtrack CD (featuring
studio singers in the lead parts instead of the
premiere cast) that is frequently out of stock in the
carts (in this case: visit StarTraders nearby, where
the CD, even if not on display, most time is still in
storage). The carts even got a special Lion King
themeing with Simba himself and other animals inspired
by the movie adoring the roofs. Fans may notice that
these figures were used at Bixby Brothers when it was
the Lion King Shop earlier this year. While some of
that decoration remained in the store it now stocks
generic merchandise once again - instead the shop La
Girafe Curieuse in Adventureland is now an official
Lion King shop.
And there is one more Broadway-style upgrade coming
... according to one of the team-members behind the
smash sucess show a full color souvenir program with
flashy photos, a synopsis maybe even some making-off
material and maybe a cast overview as inlay is being
prepared right now that is supposed to be sold at the
Remembering Sam McKim (1924 -
of Detail", as Martin Sklar called Imagineer and
since 1996 Disney Legend (and former child star) Sam
McKim died late last week at the age of 99. He not only
contributed in a major way to the original Disneyland of
Walt Disney as he joined the team coming from 20th
Century Fox before park opening. His pre-opening work
centered mostly on the Mainstreet and Frontierland but
he may be best remember for providing concept art for
e.g. the Haunted Mansion or Pirates of the Caribbean and
also to later projects during his 32 years with the
company. Even after his official retirement in 1987 he
was called back frequently. For the "EuroDisney
Resort" he was asked to create the now in-famous
souvenir map on sale during the first years of
operation, that included a glimpse of the future
attractions like Discovery Mountain or Arielle which are
detailed in the Lost Rides Series of the F-Files on
DLP.info. Due to a heart attack of Sam McKim during the
creation of the map in 1991 the release of the map was
delayed to mid 1992, as he only finished the map's
design 3 weeks after the grand opening. Martin Sklar,
whom McKim had proposed to finish the map in time for
opening had declined this honor and opted to wait til
McKim was able to complete it himself. McKim already had
drawn the very first souvenir map of Disneyland Anaheim.
His legacy is not only treasured by today's Imagineers
(including his son Matt) but also by the many fans and
guests of Disney theme parks who still enjoy his works
of art. The team of DLP.info send his heart felt
condolences to his family.
The roller coaster fan magazine
First Drop des European Coaster Club features in its
current print issue an interview with Walt Disney
Imagineering Art Director Yves Benyeta - in it he
touches (among others) the subject of the extremly
sucessful "Haunted Mansion Holiday" overlay,
which transforms since several years the Haunted Mansion
at Disneyland Anaheim during the Halloween and Christmas
Seasons into a "Nightmare before Christmas"
attraction (based on the Tim Burton movie of the same
title). With the overlay supposed to premier at Walt
Disney World's Haunted Mansion soon too, more and more
fans had wondered wether Disneyland Paris may join the
party too. Especially since a Christmas overlay for It's
A Small World titled "It's A Small World
Celebration" and loosly based on the "It's A
Small World Holiday" overlay from Anaheim is in use
at Paris since 1999.
Here his answer: "Halloween is not a traditional
holiday in France but we have been celebrating it at the
park for just a few years. Until now, we've only
redecorated the whole of Frontierland area without
adding anything to the rides themselves yet. Maybe in
the future we will be adding something to rides like Big
Thunder Mountain and Phantom Manor. If that works, then
maybe we will consider doing 'Phantom Manor Holiday'.
2005 Taking Shape
The Disneyland Resort Paris
makes sure that its sponsors / partners are always in
the know what is happening in the resort - not only so
that they can plan their marketing efforts around it.
For this a special website has been set up featuring an
preview already of 2005. According to Robin this preview
reveals that not only the Princess' Parade, Peter Pan to
the Rescue and Good Morning Walt Disney Studios will
return in 2005 as the updated event calendar on the
official website reveals, but also the show Tarzan - The
Encounter. Still this is only minor news compared to the
confirmation that next spring the relaunch of
"Space Mountain: Mission II" will be the parks
centerpiece for spring and summer. Also mentioned is a
new post show for Star Tours (rumored already for this
year) and the arrival of the characters from Disney/Pixar
feature "The Incredibles" in the Walt Disney
Finally also revealed on the website are first details
about the Disney Kids' Carnival from February 5th
through March 13th 2005 that will take place on the Main
Street, U.S.A., and in Adventureland. According to this
source the event will be hosted by characters from
Aristocats, The Little Mermaid and (once again) The
10th the summer season 2004 was inaugurated at the
Disneyland Resort Paris - which meant fans were able to
welcome back some classics as the park is now open till
11.00 pm daily! For its second summer season (and third
season overall) Disney's Fantillusion returned to the
parade route in the Disneyland Park featuring only
slight changes like an overhauled choreography for the
dancers on the street. But it's lights were glowing as
bright as already last winter, being polished and
checked for its premiere till the last minute. Right
after the streetacular at 11.15 pm (so 15 minutes after
the official park closing) Tinkerbell's Fantasy in the
Sky Fireworks was set to return for its 7th season - its
farewell season. But nearly 6 minutes into the show
guests were in for a surprise! After the first finale
instead of the calp-along reprise of musical themes from
Peter Pan it was announced that the Resort is
celebrating the arrival of the Lion King. And in a
colorful burst the sky was illuminated to a roughly 90
second medley of hit songs from animated classic. The
musical material including vocals seems to have been
taken straight from the original soundtrack CD of
"The Legend of the Lion King" available at
StarTraders and the carts at the Videopolis entrance. A
surprising update to Tinkerbell's Fireworks that
connects it to the new highlight of the season.
If you are now curious to check out this special
nighttime entertainment the resort has re-introduced the
Starnight Passport from the last years, granting access
to the Disneyland Park as of 6.00 pm for 29,- Euro -
which is in time for the Princess' Parade as that only
takes place at 7.00 pm since Saturday.
The 250 Million
With the prospect of 250
million Euro to be spend on new attraction and
"resort assets" the rumor mill has gone in
overdrive. As usual it is at the current point
absolutely impossible to confirm any of the rumored
investments not only because officially the resort is
not saying anything but also because Imagineering is
working or has been working on numerous projects that
are or were proposed at some point to be financed with
the 250 million but neither WDI nor the resort has made
any final decision yet... So enjoy the following
overview of projects rumored for 2005 till 2007 with a
grain of salt and keep in mind that DLP.info is unable
to say anything about the possibilities that any of
these rumours is actually correct:
Half a year ago the possibility of Buzz going into
Discoveryland was a constant rumor but that one has
disappeared in favor of a location in the Studios (see
below), instead a huge water ride E-ticket for
Frontierland (based on a log flume or water coaster
technology) featuring AudioAnimatronics is now one of
the darlings of the rumor-world. A classic is also the
EMV-ride to go into Adventureland - which has seen more
mentionings recently too. Ridewise an odd rumor has
popped up a few days ago claiming that a large version
of the Winnie the Pooh dark ride as found in WDW's Magic
Kingdom and at Disneyland Anaheim might replace
Pinocchio and Snow White - but it needs to be pointed
out that both rides are still perfectly popular and
retrofitting a new ride in there would not save money
compared to building an all new one. Several sources
claim that the Fantasy Festival Stage may see a revival
though with a new show already under preparation by
Entertainment. One source claims that they are even
looking into replacing the live theater with a
4D-theater for Mickey's Philarmagic that proofed very
popular in WDW's Magic Kingdom since late last summer.
Certainly a constant of all sources is the rehab of
Space Mountain with the in the meantime rather well
known "SuperNova"-theme as the centerpiece for
2005. So far only the exterior rehab is underway which
is independent of the SuperNove-project, for which
finished plans exist that still need to be signed off by
Andre Lacroix. After initial reports that the attraction
will not close down for a lengthy period for the
rethemeing, now other sources are returning once again
with rumors claiming a closure of up to three months as
of January might be necessary. In this case, according
to some sources, Autopia may open. Even so the "SuperNova"-theme
stand unquestioned so far, sources indicate we might not
see this particular word popping up in the name, as a
similiar sounding toothpaste in France exists.
Walt Disney Studios:
The Buzz Lightyear Space Ranger ride already found in
WDW's Magic Kingdom, Tokyo Disneyland and soon in
Disneyland Anaheim is mentioned by the majority (but not
all) rumor sources, claims for a possible location vary
from Animation Courtyard (between Art of Disney
Animation and Flying Carpets) to a new ToonStudios/ToonLot
to the space between Cinemagique and the Disney Channel.
Quite often (but not as often as Buzz) the possibility
of a clone of Muppets 3D (from the Disney MGM Studios
and in the meantime als DCA) is mentioned too, again
either for the Animation Courtyard (next to Art of
Disney Animation) or a possible ToonLot. The
construction of a ToonLot is another centerpiece of
nearly all rumor sources. Some high level sources
describe it without mentioning its name / theme as
"a collection of several smaller and medium-sized
attractions, especially rides, in a new detailed themed
setting binding them together". No firm word on its
location yet, but it may involve a rerouting of the Tram
Tour. Some sources state parts of the area will be
indoors. The Roger Rabbit dark ride for it has dropped
out of the rumors interestingly. And finally the big
rumor: Tower of Terror. The higher up the sources the
more critical they are about this rumor or at least the
more tightlipped. Those sources mentioning it claim it
is set to go in definitely, but vary on the location. A
minority still sticks to the location behind La Terrasse,
but the majority claims a new location has been found.
Unfortunately nearly nobody actually points this
location out. One source described this way though: the
area behind the gates of La Terrasse will be used to
build a Boulevard similar to the Sunset Blvd. at Disney
MGM in Walt Disney World with shops and restaurants
leading up to the queue-lines of ToT, which will be
located behind the current TramTour road, so that the
new boulevard would make a slight right turn after
stretching out straight in the beginning. If realized
this would include the rerouting of the TramTour and
maybe the relocation of its station.
Here the talk of the town is a major expansion project
adding more restaurants and shops, according to some
sources also a bowling center. Totally surprising a new
rumor has popped up, claiming that a new World of Disney
store will be constructed between the IMAX and
McDonald's as the center piece luring guests into the
second main street of the Village. The new store
according to this rumour would be even larger than the
current one that could be replaced by a restaurant,
coffee shop or similar venue. This might not be the only
change to the current "main street", as there
are rumors that the aging Video Game Arcade might be
replaced with a newer arcade (originally it housed a
childrens' club), which might see the disappearance of
the games from the open area behind the central stage.
Elephant born at Animal
The Walt Disney World Resort's animal
care team welcomed a 230 pound bundle of joy to Disney's
Animal Kingdom earlier this week. The female African
elephant calf arrived Tuesday evening to join its
18-year-old mother Vasha after 22 months (gestation) in
the womb. Kianga is her name, which means
"Sunshine" in Swahili.
Both Kianga and her mother appear to be doing well
according to veterinarians and elephant managers, who
are cautiously optimistic about the calf's likelihood
for survival. The first-time mother experienced a very
short labor. With assistance from the animal care team,
the newborn became comfortable using her
"newly-discovered" legs and began nursing
successfully from Mom soon after her birth. She is
already feisty and very active.
"African elephants are endangered and difficult to
breed, and having a successful birth is a significant
event both for the species and for our talented and
experienced team of elephant experts who have been
working on this breeding program for more than five
years," said Dr. Beth Stevens, vice president of
Disney's Animal Kingdom Theme Park. Vasha, who is on
loan from the Dallas Zoo, became pregnant through
natural breeding on October 4, 2002, when she mated with
Jackson, a bull here on breeding loan from the
Pittsburgh Zoo. This arrangement is part of the American
Zoo and Aquarium Association (AZA) Elephant Species
Survival Plan (SSP), a consortium of zoos and wildlife
parks working cooperatively to conserve elephants.
"The next critical milestone is for Kianga to
continue the bonding process with her mother who will
teach her important lessons and protect her as she is
introduced to the heard," said John Lehnhardt,
animal operations director for Disney's Animal Kingdom
Theme Park. Going forward, the focus of the elephant
managers and veterinarians at Disney's Animal Kingdom
will be on the health and welfare of Kianga and her
In the near future, Guests will be able to see the
Kianga's progress on camera monitors at Rafiki's Planet
Watch at Disney's Animal Kingdom. It will be several
weeks before the calf and her mother will join other
elephants on the savanna.
Lehnhardt noted that breeding African elephants is a
challenging process, so it is especially exciting that
this is the second African elephant to be born at
Disney's Animal Kingdom Theme Park. A male calf, Tufani,
was born in May 2003 and has gained nearly 600 pounds in
its first year of growth. Lehnhardt said that because
many of the elephants giving birth in zoos and wildlife
parks are first-time mothers -- just as several of the
elephant cows at Disney's Animal Kingdom are -- it is
not unusual for the animals (both in the wild and in
wildlife parks) to lose their first calf, either through
a still birth or following the birth. He is optimistic
that observation and interaction with Tufani has helped
the other elephants gain additional maternal knowledge,
thus improving the success rate for the Animal Kingdom
breeding program. Two other elephants at Disney's Animal
Kingdom are pregnant and due in 2005; one is expected
next spring and the other in late winter.
Importance of Breeding Programs
African elephants are classified as endangered species
by IUCN, the World Conservation Union, and their future
in zoos and wildlife parks is complicated as the aging
pachyderm population in North American zoos passes its
Disney's Animal Kingdom has a breeding program that is
part of a cooperative effort coordinated by the American
Zoo and Aquarium Association (AZA) that is focused on
sustaining the elephant population in North America.
AZA's Elephant Species Survival Plan (SSP) has called
for a five-fold increase in African elephant
reproduction efforts -- using both natural and
artificial breeding methods -- in order to create a
self-sustaining elephant population among North American
zoos and wildlife centers.
Preparing for a newborn
In the same way that people prepare their homes for a
newborn baby, the staff at Disney's Animal Kingdom took
steps to "baby proof" the elephant habitat to
ensure that there were no hazards for a young elephant
calf. The team has taken a critical look at the habitat
and made many changes including planting more trees and
shrubbery for shading purposes, closing gaps between
boulders, and the installation of a shallow pool
behind-the-scenes where the calf will be able to explore
the water and learn to swim in a safe environment.
High Tech Pregnancy
Vasha received extensive pre-natal care during her
pregnancy. In addition to regular ultrasounds,
veterinarians and elephant managers monitored her
hormonal levels on a daily basis to help them determine
when she would give birth. She has been receiving
around-the-clock attention from the animal care team
over the past few weeks as the birth became imminent.
Disney Tails opened at Downtown Disney
Marketplace on July 1, 2004 inside Pooh's Corner.
Pet care products, fun toys, fresh baked animal treats
and personalization opportunities to include collar ID
tags with a Disney flair will be just some of the pet
pampering you will find at Disney Tails.
Christmas events at Walt
Disney World for 2004
Osborne Family Spectacle of
Lights (Nov. 24-Jan. 2) returns to Disney-MGM
Studios -- lighting a whole new area of the park -- the
backlot cityscape -- with millions of sparkling lights.
With Jennings Osborne's lights and a little Disney
magic, the big city will come alive in glowing color as
snow falls overhead. The dazzling spectacle is included
with Disney-MGM Studios admission.
Holidays Around the World (Nov. 26-Dec. 30) continues
an Epcot tradition with storytellers, a character
tree-lighting ceremony daily, a stunning display of
snow-white lights, and Candlelight Processional -- guest
narrators accompanied by a massed choir and orchestra
for a retelling of the Christmas story. The holiday fun
is included with regular Epcot admission.
Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party (beginning Nov.
28) features 12 evenings of special holiday fun in
Magic Kingdom: Nov. 28 and 30, Dec. 2, 3, 5, 7, 9, 10,
12, 14, 16 and 17. There are special holiday shows,
fireworks and treats. For ticket information, guests can
EISNER AIRS DISNEY'S DIRTY
LAUNDRY IN GRIPE SESSION
Disney honcho Michael Eisner
apparently is still smarting over losing his
chairmanship earlier this year.
In a closed-door gathering yesterday, Eisner told
execs in attendance that he thinks it's a bad idea to
split the roles of chairman and CEO, according to a
source in attendance.
Eisner, of course, was stripped of his chairmanship
in March after a shareholder revolt.
Eisner also indicated Disney Chairman George
Mitchell is not eager to keep the position for the
long-term, saying Mitchell "can't wait to get
out," according to another source at the meeting.
Meanwhile, Eisner was effusive in his praise of Bob
Weinstein, Miramax's co-chief, while suggesting Harvey
Weinstein, Bob's higher-profile brother, spends too
much on movies.
According to a source at the meeting, Eisner said,
"When Harvey makes smaller movies his results are
unbelievable, but now he likes to make big movies."
However, Miramax blockbuster "Chicago" —
a big-budget film Harvey made — grossed $170 million
in domestic box office receipts, while garnering eight
Oscar nominations. _______________________________________________________________________________________________________________
of Disneyland Ride Starting to Have Doubts
Third recent accident at Big Thunder Mountain has some
suggesting it be shut down permanently.
Some roller-coaster fans called it a fluke when a car on
Disneyland's Big Thunder Mountain Railroad derailed in
September, causing an accident that killed one man.
They were willing to forgive a second crash in April —
just three weeks after the ride re-opened following
extensive investigations — because no one was hurt.
The cars were empty as employees put the trains through
a dry run.
But after one Thunder Mountain train bumped into
another Thursday, slightly injuring three people and
shutting down the ride again, even the most ardent
Disney fans are frustrated.
One enthusiast's website actually asked the unthinkable:
"Should Big Thunder Mountain remain permanently
Thursday's minor collision occurred as a train returned
to the loading station. Disneyland officials
characterized it as a "bump" when two trains
"made contact" with each other. A 10-year-old
and his parents, complaining of minor neck and back
injuries, were treated and released from Western Medical
State inspectors investigated the accident Friday, and
the ride remained closed. Employees posted at the ride's
entrance told curious park patrons that "two cars
bumped" and said they did not know when the ride
would re-open. Disneyland and state officials said they
would not comment until the investigation is completed.
"People are saying this ride is cursed; it's
doomed. Tear it down. I've seen that across four
different [Internet message] boards," said Adrienne
Vincent-Phoenix, a columnist for mouseplanet.com, a
consumer-oriented Disney watchdog website.
"I'm seeing people be almost speechless on this
one. It's like, 'What is it going to take for them to
fix this ride, because obviously a fatality wasn't
After Marcelo Torres of Gardena died and 10 other people
were injured in the September accident, a state Division
of Occupational Safety and Health investigation faulted
ride mechanics who didn't tighten bolts and attach a
safety wire to a wheel assembly. The assembly fell off,
leading to a partial derailment in which the lead
passenger car slammed into the locomotive's
The state ordered Disneyland to retrain maintenance
workers and ride operators and now requires a daily test
run of all cars.
It was during one of those test runs in April when one
train ran into the back of another. Disneyland officials
said that the accident could have only occurred with the
trains empty. The state again ordered more training. It
was unclear Friday how the two most recent incidents
Santa Ana attorney Wylie Aitken, representing the Torres
family, said the evidence is building that there are
systemic problems with the ride. "It's been my
experience that every time one finds a symptom, there's
often an underlying disease," Aitken said.
Even those who say the accident might just be a run of
bad luck are finding Thursday's crash difficult to
"Perhaps it's a coincidence. Probably it's a
coincidence," said David Koenig, author of
"Mouse Tales: A Behind-the-Ears Look at
"But three accidents in such a short time catches
your attention. Every time Disneyland's name appears in
a negative way in a newspaper or television newscast
across the country, it's one more little chink in their
At Disneyland and on the Internet, fans debated the
effects of the accident. Some suggested that coasters
collide all the time. Some suggested that risks are
inherent on roller coasters and that people are just
looking for reasons to sue the company.
"How many people have gone through this place over
the last 50 years and how many accidents have there
been?" said Dennis Fyfe, 54, of Orange, visiting
Disneyland on Friday. "Things happen. That's why
they call them accidents."
Ellen Johnson, 51, of Laguna Hills spent about 15
minutes Friday afternoon standing on a bridge at one end
of Thunder Mountain watching empty rail cars rattle by.
"I'm sure they'll find the problem and fix
it," she said of her favorite ride.
But others were skeptical.
"No one's perfect," said Disney watchdog Al
Lutz, founder of miceage.com. "But I think
this coaster has been in operation long enough that all
this stuff should have been smoothed out."
injured on Disneyland roller coaster
Three people suffered minor back
and neck pain Thursday after two trains bumped into each
other on the Big Thunder Mountain Railroad ride at
Disneyland, authorities said.
It was the second accident on the
roller coaster in less than a year
A 10-year-old boy, a 44-year-old woman
and a 42-year-old man were transported by private
ambulance to a local area hospital after an accident on
the roller coaster about 5:05 p.m., said Maria Sabol, an
Anaheim Fire Department spokeswoman.
The Big Thunder Mountain Railroad ride
was closed pending an investigation by the state
Division of Occupational Health and Safety, according to
a Disney statement.
Police Sgt. Rick Martinez said that
because the accident was "not serious enough to
warrant a police investigation," the department
would take a medical aid report and leave the
investigation to state officials.
Last September, 22-year-old Marcelo
Torres of Gardena was killed on the same roller coaster
when the car in which he was riding ran into a derailed
locomotive in front of him. Ten other people were hurt.
The ride reopened on March 10 after
state safety officials cleared it for operation. State
officials concluded after a three-month investigation
that faulty maintenance had caused the collision.
Just days after the ride resumed
operating, Torres' parents suggested at a press
conference that more time was needed to study flaws that
caused the fatal accident.
Twenty-four people have claimed
injuries from riding the Big Thunder Mountain Railroad
since mid-2001, the state reported last fall.
Disney, Miramax Chiefs End
Meeting with Handshake
Hours after predicting a happy ending
to his dispute with Walt Disney Co. , Miramax studio
head Harvey Weinstein held a meeting with Disney Chief
Michael Eisner that ended with a handshake.
Weinstein and Eisner have clashed over
the direction of Miramax, the art house studio founded
by Weinstein and his brother Bob and sold to Disney in
1993, as well as pay packages for the brothers during
The disagreement has been very public.
But the talks on Thursday were even more so -- Weinstein
joined Eisner for an hour-long chat in view of
journalists and rival media executives at the exclusive
Allen & Co. retreat, held annually in Sun Valley,
Both men declined to comment
afterward, but they ended the conversation with a
handshake. William Morris agency President and Co-Chief
Executive Jim Wiatt, who sat with the two, told
reporters "nothing earth-shattering" was
Industry watchers have speculated that
the Weinsteins, or just Harvey, could leave the company
or buy part of it back from the entertainment
conglomerate. But Harvey Weinstein early on Thursday
said he expected a friendly end to the matter.
"These rumors are overstated. I
think the press is just having fun with us. I think this
will all be resolved amicably," he told CNBC
television in Sun Valley.
Miramax began as a foreign and
independent film distributor that grew into a studio.
Disney executives have said they want the unit to
refocus on smaller fare rather than big movies like
"Cold Mountain" and "Gangs of New
York" that it recently produced.
Miramax also backed Michael Moore's
production of the documentary "Fahrenheit
9/11," which mocks President George Bush's Iraq
policy, to Eisner's ire.
Disney next year has the right to
extend the brothers' contracts until 2009. A fight over
terms for the renewal have spilled into public,
particularly as the two sides debate the profitability
of the unit.
Disney says that Miramax calculations
showing strong earnings fail to take into account costs
such as the Weinsteins' bonuses.
Walden Ankles Disney
Walden Media has
announced that it will not be staying at Disney, but
will instead shift to a non-exclusive deal at Fox.
The company, which specializes in children's fare (Holes),
had pacted with the Mouse House for a deal which
included The Chronicles of Narnia and the
disastrous Around the World in 80 Days. The Narnia
project is staying with Dis, but Walden is taking other
properties with to Fox, including such kiddie staples as
The Giver, Because of Winn-Dixie, Bridge to
Terabithia and Nim's Island.
The Walden pull-out is just the latest for Disney.
Animation powerhouse Pixar announced plans to ankle the
studio after honcho Steve Jobs was unable to come to
agreement with Michael Eisner. And the future of Miramax
at Disney has come under question since the public spat
over Farenheit 9/11 highlighted majpr rifts
between Eisner and Harvey Weinstein.