Wed, 20 July 2016
Comic-Con International kicks off Thursday in San Diego and I will be there along with Team Mouse Castle and about 150,000 of our closest nerdy friends as we pack the San Diego Convention Center. It will be my first visit ever to Comic-Con, and I'm super excited to finally be a part of all the craziness. I’m also super excited about my guest today, a gentleman who will co-host a presentation at Comic-Con at 10:00 a.m. on Thursday. He’s one of the previsualization supervisors with Halon Entertainment, Tefft Smith. Tefft will be joining visual effects editor Ed Marsh to present “Feed Your Head: The VFX of Alice Through the Looking Glass.”
Halon Entertainment is a visual effects studio in Southern California that specializes in motion picture previsualization—and what that is, I’m going to let Tefft explain. Halon has done effects work on an impressive list of films including Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Jurassic World, Ghostbusters, Tomorrowland, and Birdman. Their most recent collaboration with Disney, Alice Through the Looking Glass was a visually stunning return to Wonderland, directed by James Bobin and starring Johnny Depp, Mia Wasikowska and Helena Bonham Carter. To tell us all about that experience, as well as his best advice on how to survive Comic-Con is Tefft Smith, my guest today in The Mouse Castle Lounge.
Tue, 21 June 2016
A few weeks ago, we previewed the Collecting Disney auction with Mike Van Eaton from Van Eaton Galleries. This past weekend, over 700 items of Disney history and memorabilia went under the hammer at this successful auction event. Two of those items were a sweater and a pair of mouse ears that belonged to Disney Legend Annette Funicello. Proceeds from the sale of those items went to benefit the Annette Funicello Research Fund for Neurological Diseases.
Annette founded the Research Fund in 1993 to research the cause, treatment and cure of Multiple Sclerosis and other neurological diseases. In 1987, Annette had been diagnosed with MS, a chronic and often debilitating disease that attacks the central nervous system. Annette had the most severe type of MS, which eventually left her unable to walk or to speak. In 2013, Annette passed away at the age of 70 from the complications of MS.
Her legacy, however, will always be that of an actress, singer and eternal Mouseketeer. At the age of 12, Annette was the last child cast for Walt Disney’s original Mickey Mouse Club TV series in 1955. Fueled by her talent, good looks and girl-next-door charm, Annette’s popularity quickly skyrocketed, and soon she was receiving more than 6,000 fan letters per month—an astounding figure in a pre-Internet age. She appeared in numerous other Disney TV and movie projects, including Zorro, The Shaggy Dog and Babes in Toyland.
In the mid-1960s, her Disney contract behind her, she appeared in a series of popular “Beach” movies with singer Frankie Avalon. In 1965, Annette married talent agent and casting director Jack Gilardi, gradually distancing herself from show business to raise a family. The couple divorced in 1981. In 1986, Annette married her long-time friend, rancher and horse-trainer Glen Holt, who I’m happy to say is with us today in the Lounge. Glen was married to Annette until her death and helped care for her throughout her illness. Theirs is a story of great love, friendship and courage in the face of adversity. Also joining us today is Dave Mason, the director of development with the Annette Funicello Research Fund. Prior to the Van Eaton Galleries Disney auction, the three of us talked about how Annette’s personal items are benefitting the Research Fund, but most importantly, we talked about Annette herself: her life, legacy and place as one of Disney’s most iconic stars. We’re remembering Annette Funicello today in The Mouse Castle Lounge.
Thu, 2 June 2016
It’s always a pleasure when Mike Van Eaton from Van Eaton Galleries drops by the Lounge, because that means he’s got some really cool Disney stuff up for auction. Today is no different. Now through June 17, you can visit Van Eaton Galleries in Sherman Oaks, California and see their Collecting Disney collection, over 700 items dating back to the earliest days of Mickey Mouse in the late 1920s. The collection includes over 40 years-worth of Walt Disney Studio related merchandise and collectibles. The items are priced for all budgets and tastes, so you can bid $50 on a vintage Sword in the Stone book all the way up to $60,000 for a complete set of studio office furniture. And there are plenty of other surprises in the collection, I guarantee. Of course, if you can’t make it to Sherman Oaks, you can still see the entire collection online at www.vegalleries.com. The entire collection goes up for auction on June 18.
Please welcome Mike Van Eaton, my guest today in The Mouse Castle Lounge.
The Mouse Castle Lounge has been nominated for a People’s Choice Podcast Award. And we are super excited about it, but we really need your support. People’s Choice means podcasting fans choose who wins, so you can show your support of The Mouse Castle Lounge by going to www.podcastawards.com and casting your vote for us the Society-Culture category. You can vote once per day every day now through June 12 and we would really appreciate it if you did. Thank you so much for being part of Team Mouse Castle.
Thu, 26 May 2016
Long before Walt Disney World opened--and later closed—an elaborately themed entertainment district, there was a Pleasure Island. Before Six Flags operated a hillside full of thrill rides in Southern California, there was a Magic Mountain. These theme parks were nothing like their contemporary namesakes and their lifespans were frustratingly short. But, along with their often-forgotten sister park, Freedomland in New York, they hold a special place in theme park history and provide a direct line connecting the game-changer that was Disneyland with Universal, Six Flags, Disney and other popular theme parks of today.
In March, historian Todd Pierce was my guest in the Lounge and he told us about C.V. Wood, the colorful entrepreneur who was instrumental in the design and development of Disneyland. My guest today, Robert McLaughlin, picks up where Todd left off. Because, after departing Disney, it was C.V. Wood and his company that designed the Disneyland-wannabe parks of Magic Mountain in Colorado, Pleasure Island near Boston and Freedomland in New York. They were ideas that looked great on paper, but fell short dramatically when it came to financing and attendance. They were pretty good for what they were, but they were no Disneyland.
Direct download: TheMouseCastleLounge05-26-2016.mp3
Category:Entertainment -- posted at: 12:00am PDT
Sun, 17 April 2016
So you want to be a Disney historian? A lot of peple aspire to the title, even though it doesn't pay well--if at all--and pretty much no one is going to hire you to fill the job vacancy of "Disney Historian."
Still, it's a noble field with many esteemed names, a number of whom it's been my pleasure to welcome to The Mouse Castle Lounge: Jim Fanning, Sam Gennawey, Didier Ghez, J.B. Kaufman, Jeff Kurtti, Todd Pierce and Paula Sigman Lowery. And those are just the people who have contributed to Jim Korkis' new book, How to Be a Disney Historian. It's a collection of tips, tricks and anecdotes about the world of Disney history research. It's an incredibly useful and informative book even if Disney history isn't your thing, because there's plenty of advice about writing and research in general, regardless of your particular topic of interest.
Jim Korkis is a great friend of The Mouse Castle Lounge and it's always a pleasure to have him as my guest. The lengthy list of Disney history books Jim has written includes The Book of Mouse, Secret Stories of Walt Disney World, and four volumes of his Vault of Walt series.
Today, Jim shares with us his best advice on how to become a Disney historian and what separates the contenders from the pretenders. Together, he and I tell our own real life stories about how to make an interview go horribly wrong. Please welcome Jim Korkis, my guest today in The Mouse Castle Lounge.
Sat, 9 April 2016
For the first time in way too long, the Food and Wine Festival has returned to Disney California Adventure. It’s going on this month every Friday, Saturday and Sunday ending on May 1st. It’s a celebration of the tastes of California and an opportunity to sample an assortment of beverages and tasty treats you can’t otherwise find at DCA. You can eat and drink your way from Carthay Circle to Paradise Pier at 8 different Festival Marketplaces, plus there are a number of beverage seminars and culinary demonstrations happening throughout the event.
In Hollywood Land, they’ve set up a celebrity kitchen. For $99 per person you can enjoy presentations by famous chefs like Andrew Sutton, Guy Fieri, Keegan Gerhard, G. Gavin and Graham Eliot--and no, not all those presentations are sold out yet. You can find out more by visiting https://disneyland.disney.go.com/events-tours/disney-california-adventure/food-and-wine-festival.
Last weekend, Team Mouse Castle dropped by the Food and Wine Festival and, oh yes, we sampled as many culinary offerings as we could. Saturday night, we all got together at Napa Rose inside the Grand Californian Hotel and shared our thoughts about Food and Wine, how it compares to similar past events at DCA and especially how much of a value it is for guests. Team Mouse Castle overindulges in food and wine—what could possibly go wrong?
Direct download: TheMouseCastleLounge04-09-2016.mp3
Category:Entertainment -- posted at: 12:00am PDT
Tue, 22 March 2016
There’s been a lot written about the birth of Disneyland and how Walt’s eponymous theme park emerged from the Anaheim orange groves in the 1950s. We’ve all heard the myth-making official version: Walt visualizing his dream from a Griffith Park bench, the struggles to finance Disneyland, the struggles to build it, and especially the chaotic, near-disastrous opening day. But, have we ever really gotten the complete story? Disney historian Todd James Pierce sets out to do that in his fascinating new book, Three Years in Wonderland: The Disney Brothers, C.V. Wood, and the Making of the Great American Theme Park.
Todd’s book digs deep to chronicle the evolution of Disneyland from its humble early concept as a family park adjoining the Walt Disney Studios to its ultimate success as a one-of-a-kind themed destination. Along the way, we meet the people who made Disneyland a reality: Walt and Roy Disney certainly, but also an often overlooked character, C. V. Wood, or “Woody” as he was known to his friends. Woody was Disneyland’s first general manager and a key player in the park’s development. He was a shrewd and energetic entrepreneur, but also a charlatan of questionable ethics. His approach to business would help guarantee Disneyland’s success, but would also ensure Wood’s personal downfall with the Disney brothers a mere six months after grand opening.
Todd spent nine years researching his book, with much of the content culled from more than 150 interviews. He’s an English professor and co-director of the creative writing program at Cal Poly University. A long-time Disney fan, Todd is a contributor to the Disney History Institute website as well as the Walt’s People book series. He’s published a number of fiction and non-fiction works that have nothing to do with Disney and you can find out more about them at his website, www.ToddJamesPierce.com.
Please welcome Todd Pierce, my guest today in The Mouse Castle Lounge.
Wed, 16 March 2016
A few weeks ago, it was my pleasure to have filmmaker Pamela Tom in the Lounge to talk about her documentary Tyrus, the story of Chinese-American artist and Disney Legend Tyrus Wong. Last Thursday, I had the opportunity to finally see Tyrus on the big screen. The film opened CAAMFest, an annual film festival in the San Francisco Bay Area that supports and celebrates Asian art and culture.
It was a delightful evening, with the screening held at San Francisco’s historic Castro Theatre. It was followed by a gala at the Asian Art Museum. On display at the event was an 80-year old watercolor masterpiece by Tyrus Wong called "Chinese Jesus." It depicts an ethereal Christ-like figure floating in a partially clouded sky. For decades, the painting was thought to have been lost, only to be rediscovered a few years ago stashed away in a San Francisco church. The painting came full circle on March 9, when, during a ceremony designating the day as “Tyrus Wong Day” in San Francisco, Tyrus Wong, at 105-years old, signed the painting.
Last Friday, since I was in the neighborhood, I dropped by the Walt Disney Family Museum and spent time with Michael Labrie, the museum’s director of collections. In 2013, Michael curated Water to Paper, Paint to Sky an exhibition of Tyrus Wong’s work. In our conversation, Michael and I talked about Tyrus, as well as a contemporary of Tyrus’s at Disney, Mel Shaw. Mel is the subject of a current retrospective at the Museum, Mel Shaw: An Animator on Horseback.
After talking with Michael, imagine my surprise to run into none other than Tyrus Wong at the Museum. He was the guest of honor at a member event later that evening, but he had arrived early to take in the Mel Shaw exhibition. We only chatted briefly, but as always, Tyrus was charming, good humored and an absolute pleasure to talk with.
CAAMFest runs through March 20, so if you’re in the San Francisco Bay Area this week, I highly recommend seeing one of the many fascinating films screening during the festival. In fact, the Walt Disney Family Museum, in celebration of Tyrus Wong, is showing Bambi this Saturday and Sunday. Plus, you can catch an encore showing of Tyrus at the New Parkway Theater in Oakland also on Sunday. For times and ticket information, visit caamfest.com/2016/schedule.
Sat, 5 March 2016
I first learned about Scott Zone from a recent article in the Orange County Register detailing his 20-year association with the Walt Disney Family Foundation and the Disney family. Through Scott’s work as a film archivist, he has restored and preserved 18 hours of home movies shot during Walt Disney’s lifetime. That in itself is an interesting topic of conversation. But, when I finally sat down to talk with Scott, I quickly learned that his Disney connection is just a small part of his successful career in the motion picture industry, a career that Scott began as a special effects cameraman on The Empire Strikes Back and Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan.
Scott also has close ties to the Golden Age of Hollywood. His Aunt, Beryl Wallace, was the headline performer at the Earl Carroll Theatre, a renowned supper club on Sunset Boulevard in the 1930s and 40s. It was a Hollywood landmark with a 20-foot high neon portrait of Beryl proclaiming, “Through these portals pass the most beautiful girls in the world.”
Scott and I met at the Off Vine Restaurant, not far from where the Earl Carroll Theatre used to be. This converted craftsman-style home also has a connection to Beryl Wallace and Earl Carroll, but I’ll let Scott explain that story. It’s Walt Disney, Star Wars and Old Hollywood with my guest Scott Zone in The Mouse Castle Lounge.
Fri, 26 February 2016
This week, Team Mouse Castle didn't make our usual trek to the red carpet in Hollywood to preview the Academy Awards. We found a pretty suitable substitute venue though, Trader Sam's Enchanted Tiki Bar at the Disneyland Hotel. Give a listen to Christi Andersen and me for our annual vague and highly suspect predictions on who will win at Sunday's Oscars.
The Big Short
Bridge of Spies
Mad Max: Fury Road
Bryan Cranston, Trumbo
Matt Damon, The Martian
Leonardo DiCaprio, The Revenant
Michael Fassbender, Steve Jobs
Eddie Redmayne, The Danish Girl
Cate Blanchett, Carol
Brie Larson, Room
Jennifer Lawrence, Joy
Charlotte Rampling, 45 Years
Saoirse Ronan, Brooklyn
Christian Bale, The Big Short
Tom Hardy, The Revenant
Mark Ruffalo, Spotlight
Mark Rylance, Bridge of Spies
Sylvester Stallone, Creed
Jennifer Jason Leigh, The Hateful Eight
Rooney Mara, Carol
Rachel McAdams, Spotlight
Alicia Vikander, The Danish Girl
Kate Winslet, Steve Jobs
Boy and the World
Shaun the Sheep Movie
When Marnie Was There
Sanjay's Super Team
We Can't Live without Cosmos
World of Tomorrow
Chris Rock hosts the Oscars on ABC Sunday, February 28 at 4:00 p.m. PT.