Among the notable animation home video releases for December 3 are Disney's LILO & STITCH and two excellent offerings in the Walt Disney Treasures collection, plus Miyazaki's MY NEIGHBOR TOTORO on DVD.
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Disney chairman Michael Eisner outlined his strategy to revitalize his company in the December 9 issue of FORBES Magazine. Among other juicy tidbits, Eisner reveals that he has written a letter to the Disney board recommending a successor and implies that his choice is current president and COO Bob Iger. Eisner also details his revitalization plan for Disney, which may include selling The Mighty Ducks hockey team, 64 company-owned radio stations and other ancillary businesses with an aim to substantially reduce Disney's $13 billion debt over the next 18 months.
Walt Disney Television Animation Special Projects and ESPN have teamed to bring to life the syndicated comic strip IN THE BLEACHERS. Disney has created a series of 15-second animated shorts based on the Steve Moore sports strip that will run during select ESPN Original Entertainment programming. The shorts mark the network's initial foray into animation and feature a witty, ever-changing cast of characters in situations centered around athletics.
Yet another twist in the bitter battle for Winnie the Pooh royalties surfaced this week when Disney reportedly made an announcement that the granddaughter of Pooh creator A.A. Milne and the granddaughter of Pooh illustrator E. H. Shepard have decided to reclaim all rights to the characters. According to an AP report, Disney cited a clause in the 1998 Sonny Bono Copyright Extension Act that will allow the heirs to reclaim the international rights granted to Disney, as well as rights granted to Stephen Slesinger Inc. and grant all those rights exclusively to Disney starting in 2004.
The Internet rumors have been flying for weeks and now a recent LA TIMES report has stated that Tom Schumacher, president of Disney Feature Animation, may leave his post when his contract expires in June 2003. No word on what Schumacher will do if he departs, but he is reportedly in discussions with Disney to figure out what his role will be with the company. Schumacher has headed Disney Feature Animation since 1999, throughout a turbulent time for the division.
The long-running litigation over WINNIE THE POOH royalties took a startling turn as accountants hired by the court to audit Disney's records were officially fired on October 25, 2002. Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Ernest M. Hiroshige had determined that the accountants were biased in favor of Disney and their auditing methods unreliable. He has ordered that a new independent accounting firm be hired.
REUTERS reports that television mogul Haim Saban is in talks to buy the Jim Henson Co. from Germany's EM.TV. According to REUTERS sources, the sale price is hovering around $100 million, a deep discount from the $680 million (cash and stock) that EM.TV paid for the Muppet factory in February 2000. Since EM.TV put the Henson Co. on the block on 2001, both Viacom and Disney have been rumored suitors for the company but no deals were ever solidified, although Disney has been hovering around the property for years.
Just days after the announcement that former Disney Resorts president Paul Pressler has left to take a position as president and chief executive officer of Gap Inc., Disney has announced his successor. James A. (Jay) Rasulo, a 17-year veteran of The Walt Disney Company and chairman and chief executive officer of Euro Disney S.C.A. has been promoted to president of Walt Disney Parks and Resorts worldwide.
If you have a chance to see The Sweatbox, the inside, non-Disney created documentary of the painful making of The Emperor's New Groove, run -- don't walk -- to see it! Eric Lurio reports.
Mike and Sully will get a new look when U.S.-based manga publisher Tokyopop releases a graphic novel based on the Disney/Pixar property MONSTERS, INC. The 104-page paperback manga version of the hit CG-animated film, which features collectible stickers of the entire monster cast, will hit the shelves of bookstores and comic book retailers in October 2002, just after the film's North American DVD/VHS release.
SHREK producer John Williams and his company Vanguard Films have partnered with Walt Disney in a deal to provide multiple CG animated projects for the studio. Vanguard will fill the void left by Pixar Animation, which has made no plans to renew its agreement with Disney once the existing production deal is fulfilled with the delivery of Pixar's next three films -- summer 2003's FINDING NEMO, holiday 2004's THE INCREDIBLES and 2005's CARS.
Diana Longarzo has been named vice president of international strategy and business development for the Walt Disney Internet Group (WDIG). In this role, Longarzo will lead strategic product development and business development for WDIG's mobile and broadband businesses. Longarzo joins WDIG from Longarzo Consulting, a consultancy she founded that specialized in business strategy for entertainment and media companies such as Palm, Inc. and QBEO, Inc., an interactive television company.
The Animation Guild has informed AWN that animator Tom Ferriter has passed away at the age of 74. He started his animation career at Disney in 1955, and went on to work for Filmation, Hanna-Barbera, Krantz and Chuck Jones. He returned to Disney in 1976, where he remained until his retirement in 1990. Ferriter's credits include THE FLINTSTONES TV series and the feature films THE LITTLE MERMAID, THE GREAT MOUSE DETECTIVE, THE FOX AND THE HOUND and THE WHITE SEAL.
The law firm of Weiss & Yourman has filed a class action lawsuit on behalf of purchasers of securities of the Walt Disney Company between August 15, 1997 and May 15, 2002. The complaint alleges that Disney and some of its officers and directors violated the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 by failing to disclose to the investing public the existence, details and potential effects of a pending lawsuit over merchandising rights concerning WINNIE THE POOH.
If you live in the Los Angeles-area, you have the opportunity to see Walt Disneys 1959 classic animated feature SLEEPING BEAUTY in its fully restored, original Technirama 70mm format. Screening exclusively at Hollywood's El Capitan theater, this special widescreen print of the film also features a restored audio soundtrack that takes maximum advantage of the films six-track Stereophonic mix highlighting the film's score, which was adapted from the music of Tchaikovsky.
Buddy Baker, a 29-year Disney veteran who composed the musical scores for nearly 200 Disney feature films, television shows and theme park attractions, passed away from natural causes on Friday, July 26, 2002, at his home in Sherman Oaks, California. He was 84 years old. Baker first came to the Disney Studio in 1954 and went on to compose music for such popular television shows as DAVY CROCKETT and THE MICKEY MOUSE CLUB. His theatrical credits include the featurette DONALD IN MATHMAGIC LAND, plus memorable scores for the three original WINNIE THE POOH offerings.
Despite the strong box office performance of recent hits LILO & STITCH and THE ROOKIE, The Walt Disney Company has reported lower than expected earnings for the quarter and nine months ended June 30, 2002. Referencing the downturn in the international and domestic travel and tourism industry as well as the economy as a whole, Disney cited in particular the drop-off of attendance at its domestic theme parks and resorts, and the lack of television advertising dollars at the ABC television network.
Talking animals...why are we so attached to the talking animals? The Pimp, of course, has some ideas.
Some rumors regarding Walt Disney have lived on far too long. Was he a Nazi? A super-secret FBI agent? Is he frozen somewhere in a vault? And why does the Christian right hate his company so much? Karl F. Cohen takes on all these myths and more to set the record straight.
Bill Matthews, Disney Feature Animation's longtime training and recruitment head, has joined Glendale, California-based Cornerstone Animations Board of Advisors. In his new role, Matthews will advise Cornerstone executives and creative staff on strategies for recruitment, training, production management and creative direction of the studio. Matthews makes available to Cornerstone his wealth of experience as one of the founding instructors of the Sheridan College Animation Program and as a ten-year manager of artist development for Walt Disney Feature Animation.
Interactive software publisher TDK Mediactive, Inc. has signed a worldwide licensing agreement with Disney Interactive to create games based on two upcoming Disney films that take their premises from well-known Disneyland theme rides. First up is the HAUNTED MANSION, which will make its way to the big screen in 2003. The theatrical release of HAUNTED MANSION will be supported by TDK Mediactive on most major video game platforms in time for Halloween and the holiday season.
Ward Kimball, one of Disney's legendary Nine Old Men, passed away on July 8, 2002 from natural causes at Arcadia Methodist Hospital in Arcadia, California. He was 88 years old. Ward Kimball's work at Disney began in 1934, when he joined the animation staff at the age of twenty.
Toon Disney,Disney's 24-hour all-animation network, will begin airing its newfall schedule on Tuesday, September 3, 2002, which includes eight newseries for the network. In addition to premiering original episodesof TEAMO SUPREMO, three series from Walt Disney Television Animation-- HOUSE OF MOUSE, LLOYD IN SPACE and THE WEEKENDERS -- will be partof the line up, as well as acquisitions SABRINA, THE ANIMATED SERIESand MARY-KATE & ASHLEY IN ACTION. Toon Disney will also present the
HP is once againproviding technology to another big animation studio. After recentlyannouncing a three-year, multi-million dollar technology strategicalliance with DreamWorks, designed to "revolutionize animationproduction," HP has announced that Walt Disney Feature Animation hasselected HP's Linux-based workstations and servers as components forits next-generation digital animation production pipeline. WaltDisney Feature Animation and HP have been working together for the
June 9, 2002 is Donald Duck's 68th birthday and to celebrate, Toon Disney will air A WHOLE DARN DAY OF DUCKS, nine hours of animated programming starring Disney's famous animated duck and related feathered friends. The marathon, featuring episodes of DUCKTALES, QUACK PACK, MIGHTY DUCKS and DARKWING DUCK, airs Sunday, June 9 (10:00 am-7:00 pm) on Toon Disney.