I’m guessing this short film Tin Toy will be featured at the beginning of one of the next two new Pixar movies (either The Incredibles or The Cars). But why wait, check it out now – it appears to be a test piece for Toy Story and it’s actually quite brilliant.
Jim Hill has an interesting conspiricy theory about how Roy Disney and Stanley Gold have reportedly recruited members of the Jim Henson family to help out with their bid to oust Michael Eisner.
You see the strategy that’s emerging here? “Michael Eisner can’t get Steve Jobs to agree to a Pixar contract extension. But Roy Disney — who’s a friend of John Lasseter — can.” And “Michael Eisner missed out on closing a deal to acquire the Jim Henson Company (again) in May. But the Henson family is willing once more to do business with the Walt Disney Company … provided that Michael Eisner is out of the picture.”
This is really an ingenious strategy on Roy and Stanley’s part, don’t you think? Getting Disney shareholders to overlook the modest gains that the corporation has made over the past year by pointing out how much better the Walt Disney Company could theoretically be doing if Michael Eisner weren’t in the hot seat.
Attorney Johnnie Cochran Jr., best known for his work in OJ Simpson’s murder trial, stated last month that he is swearing off criminal law. It was announced today that his newest client is Winnie the Pooh — actually the heirs of the Stephen Slesinger. They allege that Disney owes them millions of dollars because they miscalculated royalties due from the sales of Pooh dolls, books and other merchandise for years. The lawsuit has been going on for the last 12 years, and the Slesinger’s have changed attorneys several times in that time.
Pati Slesinger stated, “We are honored to have Mr. Cochran […] on our team.” Stephen Slesinger, Pati’s father, acquired the rights to Pooh from British author A.A. Milne in 1930 and expanded them in a 1932 agreement.
In 1930, A.A. Milne transferred to Slesinger exclusive merchandising and other rights to Winnie-the-Pooh works in the U.S. and Canada. In 1961, Slesinger exclusively “assigned, granted, and set over to” Disney the rights in the 1930 agreement. A 1983 agreement sought to resolve the parties’ disputes, but Slesinger contends it retained rights in the works, while Disney maintains Slesinger assigned all rights. In 1991, before the present litigation, Slesinger sued in state court, alleging breach of the 1983 agreement. Slesinger acknowledged that the 1983 agreement “regranted, licensed and assigned all rights” to Disney. The action was ultimately dismissed. The dispute continued in federal court. The district court dismissed, noting that the parties’ actions indicated the rights were transferred to Disney in the 1983 agreement. Between 1983 and 2006, Disney registered at least 15 trademarks. In 2004, Disney registered copyrights in 45 works and renewed copyright registrations for another 14. Slesinger did not attempt to perfect or register trademarks or copyrights before asserting its federal claims and never objected to Disney’s registrations until 2006, when the state court dismissed its claims and Slesinger attempted to cancel Disney’s applications and marks. The Federal Circuit affirmed the Board’s dismissal, citing estoppel.
Special-effects guru Mark Hurt design and built a scale replica of Disney’s Haunted Mansion. He lives in the home, which he explains, “will always be a work in progress”. He even has his own home-brew audio-animatronics and a ghost that appears in his bathroom mirror.
MiceAge.com shares Walt’s nephew, Roy Disney’s, resignation letter. Roy blames Michael Eisner’s poor leadership and relates point by point reasons how Michael Eisner has failed:
- The failure to bring back ABC Prime Time from the ratings abyss it has been in for years and your inability to program successfully the ABC Family Channel. Both of these failures have had, and I believe will continue to have, significant adverse impact on shareholder value.
- Your consistent micro-management of everyone around you with the resulting loss of morale throughout the Company.
- The timidity of your investments in our theme park business. At Disney’s California Adventure, Paris and now in Hong Kong, you have tried to build parks “on the cheap” and they show it and the attendance figures reflect it.
- The perception by all of our stakeholders — consumers, investors, employees, distributors and suppliers — that the company is rapacious, soul-less, and always looking for the “quick buck” rather than long-term value which is leading to a loss of public trust.
- The creative brain drain of the last several years, which is real and continuing, and damages our Company with the loss of every talented employee.
- Your failure to establish and build constructive relationships with creative partners, especially Pixar, Miramax, and the cable companies distributing our products.
- Your consistent refusal to establish a clear succession plan.
Not that we didn’t all know this before, but Disney has now officially stated that the Big Thunder Mountain railway accident last September was caused by poor maintenance.
Leslie Goodman, senior vice president of strategic communications for Walt Disney Parks and Resorts made the statement, “Our own analysis found that the accident was caused by incorrectly performed maintenance tasks required by Disneyland policy and procedures that resulted in a mechanical failure.”
I am going to Disneyland. It’s official, Anna has purchased our passes, there is no turning back now. However I have some good news. It appears that I may be finishing school earlier than expected. I don’t believe I have any final exams outside of class time — which means I may be done as soon as December 6th. I am not sure how this will affect my desire to stay and swim for the last couple of weeks that Andy has practices sceduled. Actually I’m very certain this will negatively affect my desire to stay. Hmmm, and how am I going to explain my absence? I’ll keep you posted.
In the realm of feature animation, the hand-drawn no longer rocks the cradle. Thanks to the consistent success of Pixar’s five computer-rendered theatrical releases, coupled with Disney’s recent failure to produce popular hand-drawn films, it’s easy to see why folks are favoring bytes and pixels over ink and paint.
Slashdot is offering up a great article and discussion thread about Disney’s abandonment of traditional, hand-drawn animation (which Disney has sworn, for years, it would never give up), in favor of 3D, computer-generated work.
Supposedly, all of their animators—even staunch traditionalists such as Glenn Keane– are being trained on 3D computer animation techniques. The last hand-drawn high-budget Disney feature scheduled for release is Home on the Range, which is due out next April. It appears that Disney is bowing to the supposed pressures of the market, even though the hand-drawn Lilo and Stitch was considered a success and the all-CG Dinosaur (done at Disney’s now-defunct FX house The Secret Lab) was not. However, I believe there’s another factor at work: Pixar’s contract with Disney is set to expire soon, and the revered CG house has been making their own demands of Disney for the contract’s renewal.
It’s no secret that Disney feels threatened by 3D Animation. “For the first time in decades, the entertainment giant that pioneered feature-length animation with 1937’s “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” has no traditional animated big-budget movies in production.” Disney has not only fired many of it’s traditional 2D animators, but it has also been auctioning off the tools of the 2D animation trade, a sign that they don’t plan on rehiring new animators. “Among the items listed [for sale] was an animation desk for $1,299; a story board for $54.15; and a 6-foot-tall cabinet for stacking scenes for $64.95.”
Thursday, July 10th, 2003 – Early Evening
After deciding to actually go on this crazy trip the day had finally arrived (finally as in it had been almost 3 days since we got the tickets). I was planning to work both my life guarding job and then do 3 hours at the phone survey place. Well as luck would have it Anna-Maria talked me into phoning and getting the whole evening off so that we could just leave and get to Calgary. It was a good thing because it took me about an hour to get everything done I needed to, plus we ran over to Anna’s and then back to pickup some last minute laundry at my house. It was 9:30 by the time we arrived at Wally’s house. We ran out and got some food for Friday and Saturday from the nearby Safeway. Helga set the alarm clock for us and we hit the hay.
Friday, July 11th, 2003 – Early Smearly
I guess somehow the alarm clock was set half hour fast and at 3:30AM the annoying sound of an alarm clock went off, (actually it went on. To say that it went off would be lying. It was definitely on.) Anyway Wally was so kind as to drive us to the airport a little after 4:00AM as planned and then we were really off. After a quick layover in Seattle we arrived in sunny California and the fun began. Hitching a ride on the Disneyland Shuttle it didn’t take more than 45 minutes to be in the park. We bought our tickets and entered the happiest place on earth. It still gives me tingles just thinking about it. We did so much that day, it’s hard to remember all the places we went. Toon-Town to Roger Rabbit’s ride, bought some cotton candy, Splash Mountain, oh and we even went over and checked into our hotel. It was so much fun! Then evening we went into the Haunted Mansion and saw the truly spectactular show, Fantastica! It’s a laser/light/fireworks/live actor/animitronic masterpeice that takes place on Tom Sawyer Island and the Rivers of America. Truly an amazing site to see.
Saturday, July 12th, 2003
We got up early, went and had our complimentary hot breakfast in the train car restaurant next door to our hotel, and then walked over to the Disney Cast Building. I don’t know how nervous Anna was – I know I was nervous for her. I didn’t want to tell her I was nervous for fear that I might throw her off. She however seemed cool as a cucumber. The way the audition works was that everyone was assigned a number, and if when it came time for them to make cuts they read off numbers. If your number was called, that meant you were being cut. She said the highest number she noticed was 139. I left her to audition and hit Disneyland and California Adventure on my own. I remember as a kid, some of my fondest memories of Disneyland were from Tom Sawyer Island. I decided, well I’ll check out the old island and just see what’s over there. On the trip over I saw the character Tom Sawyer chatting it up with some of the other park guests, so when we arrived I followed him and he showed us around the Island. He showed us where Injuin Joe’s Spirit was trapped in a cave and what to do if we see him. He took us to his stash of pirate treasure that he and Huck Finn stole from Captain Hook’s own ship. Apparently Captain Hook has been circling the Island ever since trying to get his treasure back. Tom also took us through his caves up to a lookout fortress where we played “Fox and Rabbits”. It seemed a lot like hid and go seek, but a lot more fun since I was bigger than all the other kids playing. Actually I was on pretty even ground with them in my sandals, plus I wasn’t trying my hardest – didn’t want to look like a psycho. We stopped by the old graveyard, and up into Tom and Huck’s tree house where I learned their secret handshake. We also went down fishing – well attempted to fish, but they didn’t catch anything. They just didn’t have a clue as to how to catch fish. They figured it must have been some bad luck from “signing their names in all them people’s books”. Park guests would come up to them asking for autographs.
Later that day I checked up on Anna-Maria and we went to Taco Bell to get her some supper. She was doing great in her audition and she gave me all the details of her day so far. She had to go back for another couple of hours during which time I went and took in the X-Games at California Adventure.
Sunday, July 13th, 2003 – Call Backs and good news
Anna and I got our free breakfast again this morning and then headed to Disneyland to get in as much fun as we could before her 2:00 call back. We rode the matterhorn, Splash mountain, and California Screamin’ (the sweet rollercoaster they have in California Adventure) as well as the Jungle Cruise and Tarzans Treehouse. I can’t remember all the places we went, but we did a lot. We saw Muppets 3D and the Bug’s Life 3D movie as well. There was the Sword in the Stone Ceremony, not to mention watching all the parades and fireworks that evening. There were so many things we did that day. Anna went back and finished her call back and was offered the job. Whether she takes or not, well I’m not sure what she is going to do. Anyway we hooked up with cousin JP after the fireworks were over and he took us to his place in Fullerton. It’s a really cool place – I especially love the fact that they have an outdoor pool that their landlord maintains for them.
Monday, July 14th, 2003 – From Hollywood and Highland to Home
John Paul took us to Hollywood Blvd. where we checked out the Mann’s Chinese Theatre and the Hollywood Walk of Fame. We saw the cement handprints of famous actors from the last century and then took in lunch at Mel’s Diner. What a great day it was. Then it was off to the airport where we flew back to Calgary and slept another night at Wally’s. This time I set the alarm clock myself.
If anything this trip was not only a not a waste of money, it has been quite possibly the best trip I’ve ever been on. Disneyland really is the happiest place on earth. If you don’t believe me, then go check it out yourself, you won’t regret it.
Anna-Maria and I are strongly considering going to Edmonton on the 28th of March to audition for a job at Disneyland. I would have to get a working visa first though and I am not sure if that will be possible, given the short amount of time I have to do it. It would be really cool to work at Disneyland though. I’ll keep you updated.