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Why For?

Why For?

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Before we get started here, I just want to share a bit of good news. That brand-new snazzy version of www.savedisney.com that I talked about earlier this week over at AintItCoolNews.com? Well, it's finally gone live. And it's well worth a looksee.

Anyway ... first up, we've got an e-mail from big WALL with a question about an old MGM street show:

Dear Mr. Hill,

I am a huge fan of your work. Now that we got that out of the way, I remember in the mid-90's an advertised attraction at MGM Studios for an Ace Ventura meet and greet. I don't think it ever happened, but do you know anything of its fate? And yes, I'm sure it was Disney. I have the brochure somewhere in here.

Thank you for your time.

Thanks,

big WALL

Dear big WALL,

Strange as it may seem, Ace Ventura actually DID make appearances at the Disney-MGM studio theme during the winter of 1995. No, not Jim Carrey himself. But -- rather -- a Disney cast member who looked and dressed like Carrey's pet detective.

As far as theme park shows go, this one was pretty lame. WDW guests who gathered out on New York Street got to watch this Carrey clone climb the side of a building and then rescue an albino bat (a supposedly rare creature that played an important part in the 1995 "Ace Ventura" sequel, "When Nature Calls"). Afterwards, Ace returned to street level and happily posed for photos and signed autographs.

That was pretty much the show in a nutshell. No singing, no dancing. No live animals on display. Just some Disney cast member wearing a Hawaiian shirt as well as an Ace Ventura wig doing a G-rated impression of Carrey's character. Given that this Disney-MGM show only ran for three month before the Mouse pulled the plug ... well, I'm guessing that you can tell that Mr. Ventura didn't prove to be all that popular with WDW visitors.

Which is why the "Ace Ventura Live" show ended up on Disney-MGM's scrap heap. Alongside R.L. Stine's "Goosebumps" show and the "New Let's Make a Deal."

Next, Tonny S. from the Netherlands checks in to ask about a persistent rumor that's been bouncing around the Web.

Hi Jim,

Disney and Turkey?!

No, I'm not talking about those flying creatures that inhabit the earth, I'm talking about turkey as a country. Here's something I found on the Internet:

BIGGEST EUROPEAN DISNEYLAND TO BE BUILT IN ANTALYA -- Antalya is preparing to be the host of one of the biggest projects in Turkey. The meetings between Ata Holding Company and Walt Disney Corporation, which were being held secretly to build one of the biggest entertainment centre in Europe, reached the final stage. According to the news published in the 'Para' magazine, the Deputy Chairman of the Executive Board of Walt Disney Corporation will arrive in Turkey and start this project. A member of the Executive Board of Ata Holding Company, Erhan Kurdoglu, said, "We made an agreement in principle for the implementation of the Disneyland project, which we expect to amount to nearly 1.6 billion dollars according to the first calculations. During the meeting that we held with the officials from Walt Disney administration, they told us that they would meet half of the investment cost."

Now I know how unreliable the Internet is. I actually heard someone mention that this "news" came from an international hotel association or other (which sounds pretty reliable). But still, I haven't heard a
thing about this! Do you have any idea if there is any truth to this story? It seems rather farfetched to me, but who knows...

Buhbye,
Tonny S.
The Netherlands

Dear Tonny,

To be honest, this sounds a lot like that Spain-is-adding-a-new-pavilion rumor that was flying around the Web a year or so. I.E. Wishful thinking that's masquerading as real news.

But -- just in case this could actually be true -- I forwarded your e-mail to a friend who works fairly high up in WDI and asked if there was any truth to this Disney-theme-park-in-Turkey rumor. Here's his reply:

Jim -

RE: Your Disney theme park in Turkey story

Nope. There's no such theme park in the works. Just to be sure, I called my friend over in Imagineering's international projects department. He said that -- after Hong Kong -- we're concentrating on the Shanghai park. Then possibly another park for the mainland of Japan, followed by Australia and South America. But no Turkey theme parks.

You know what was the real giveaway that the news story that you sent me was a hoax, Jim? That the Walt Disney Company would actually agree to pick half the construction costs for a $1.6 billion resort. Disney management would NEVER agree to a deal like that nowadays. They much prefer deals like the one we cut with the Hong Kong government. Where -- by just putting up $314 million of its own money -- the Walt Disney Company was able to claim a 43% ownership stake in this $3 billion resort project.

So this news story has the Mouse happily putting up $800 million to build a theme park in Turkey. That's not the Disney Company that I know, Jim. So this has gotta be a hoax.

So there. Does that answer your question, Tonny?

Next, it's Dan A. asking about one of those "Disney Decade" projects that never made it off WDI's drawing board:

Hi Jim,

Back when Disney announced the "Disney Decade" and plans for Walt Disney World, one of the proposed additions was for "Plectu's Fantastic Galactic Revue" to replace the Carousel of Progress. I have never seen any concept artwork for this show, but I believe I caught a glimpse of some maquettes of the figures during a behind the scenes glimpse of WDI in a Walt Disney World Special (there was a sculpted head on a shelf that looked a little like a cross between Alien Encounter's Skippy and Imagination's Figment).

There was also a rumor that WDW's Sonny Eclipse was taken from Plectu's Revue and that George Lucas was somehow involved with the performing aliens show. I know that Sonny Eclipse is actually a duplicate of Officer Zzzzyxxx from Tokyo Disneyland's Star Tours/Pan Galactic Pizza Port complex, but was this alien originally created for Plectu's Revue?

Also, where can I see some concept art from this show? Are there any books out there that feature artwork from this attraction?

Thanks!

Sincerely,
Dan A.

Dear Dan A.

Sadly, I don't think that there's a Disney book on the market that contains images of the "Plectu" project. The only place outside of WDI that I ever recall seeing any imagery of this proposed "Carousel of Progress" redo was in the "New Tomorrowland" show that the Disneyland Gallery presented three or four years again. This display featured at least one concept painting of what the exterior of the COP's theater-go-round building would have looked like if "Plectu's Fantastic Galactic Revue" had been installed inside. "What did it look like?" you ask. Like someone had brought the Mothership from "Close Encounters of a Third Kind" in for a three-point landing in the heart of Tomorrowland.

So what sort of exotic out-of-this-world creatures would we have found inside? Well, I remember the late David Mumford once giving a bunch of folks at an N.F.F.C. convention a brief glimpse of some characters from the "Plectu" show. These including this flying circus' three-armed ringmaster, P.T. Quantum as well as some giant swamp creature that -- as part of its performance -- rose out of the muck and sang operatic arias with its multiple mouths.

But as for why this neat sounding "Tomorrowland 2055" attraction never made it off of WDI's drawing board: AA-heavy shows like this are expensive to build and difficult to maintain, Dan. (Just look at all the problems that WDW Ops department has had lately with keeping the Magic Kingdom's "Carousel of Progress" looking neat and tidy. My good friend, Jeffrey Lange, visited this Tomorrowland favorite last month duing his Disney World vacation. He described the condition of the Audio-Animatronic figures featured in the show as being "just awful. Eyes were malfunctioning. Their plastic skins didn't fit right. It was really, really sad.")

Plus Disney CEO Michael Eisner reportedly never really warmed to the whole "Plectu" idea. In meetings where the Imagineers would try and pitch him various different versions of the show, Eisner would allegedly say things like "A revolving theater full of singing aliens? How is that different from what they've got at Chuck E. Cheese? We need a better idea for this show."

WDI supposedly pitched dozens of variations of the "Plectu" project to Disney's CEO. But Michael reportedly never liked any of them. Which is why -- in the end -- the "Tomorrowland 2055" project was eventually scrubbed. "Plectu's Fantastic Galactic Revue" never came in for a three point landing. Which is why we're now stuck with (God help us) Innoventions.

To my way of thinking, Marty Sklar's 50th anniversary Disneyland museum can't get here fast enough. But -- come 2008 -- somebody in WDI HAS TO come up with a halfway decent, workable and affordable concept for this Tomorrowland facility. Please?

And -- finally -- Back to Burbank takes me to task for supposedly giving JHM readers the wrong impression of what happened this past Monday at Feature Animation Florida:

As an employee at WDFA-F, I have been enjoying your coverage of these events. However, I was in the multi-purpose room yesterday, and I am somewhat disappointed at the spin you put on your article. I'm talking about all of your references to booing. I only heard one boo at one point in the meeting. You may have emphasized it for dramatic effect, but it reflects poorly on the people in that room, who behaved themselves in a very professional manner (and were complimented on that fact by Andrew Millstein during his emotional remarks.) I feel you owe all of the WDFAF staff a public apology. There are other factual errors in your article, but they are minor in comparison to this.

Sincerely,
Back to Burbank

BTB --

First of all, I do appreciate you taking the time to write to me to express your concerns about JHM's coverage of David Stainton's meeting with the WDFAF crew this past Monday. And if that article really did offend you or any other Feature Animation Florida staffers that actually attended that meeting, then I do sincerely apologize for any offense that I may have caused you.

So why did I write that article the way I did? Well, by this past Monday evening, I had received upwards of a dozen e-mails from various WDFAF staffers who were actually there in the multi-purpose room earlier that morning to hear Stainton's remarks. Some painted the meeting as being this relatively civilized affair with just a little grumbling and a few boos from the staff. Still others painted the event as being something like the "Kill the Beast" number from "Beauty and the Beast," with Feature Animation Florida vets waving torches and pitchforks and calling for David's head.

Since I wasn't in the multi-purpose room that morning to see for myself what actually happened, I had to make a judgment call, BTB. I felt that the truth must lie somewhere in the middle. And -- since most of the e-mails that I received that afternoon stressed the booing as well as the WDFAF staff's audible reaction to Stainton's comments -- that's the why I decided to write my article.

If it's any consolation, BTB, you weren't the only one to take me to task for this article. Over on the JHM discussion boards, Mortimer Mongoose said:

"David didn't get that many 'boos' at all. I heard one small one when he handed the mic off to Andrew Millstein. There was some small grumbling, but all in all everyone handled themselves very professionally."

And Laidoff chimed in with:

"Well, as mentioned above, the 'boos' weren't really there. Maybe twice, there were very low rumblings, but I will say, nobody was happy, but everyone conducted themselves very professionally. No shouting or booing. Arguing, yes."

And even David Stainton himself -- in an e-mail that was just forwarded to me -- supposedly had problems with that article. Particularly the part where I repeated what he reportedly said about the public not being able to tell the difference between Disney's feature animation and its direct-to-video product. When queried about that, David said:

"I didn't even remotely say that. That was the point that was implied by the question I was being asked--the artist was saying that the public was very confused by the direct-to-video product and our feature films, and I was making your point exactly--the audience knows and is not at all confused by the different types of movies that we make."

So my apologies to Back to Burbank, Mortimer Mongoose, Laidoff and especially David Stainton if they were offended by Tuesday's JHM article. It honestly wasn't my intention to hurt anyone's feeling at Disney Feature Animation with that piece.

Of course, in the spirit of full disclosure, I guess I should point out that I received 74 other pieces of e-mail over the past few days. Many of them from other WDFA-F staffers who were in the studio's multi-purpose room Monday morning. These folks seemed thrilled with my coverage of that meeting, saying things like:

"You really nailed it. Particularly the part where Stainton froze like a deer in the headlights when we all started booing."

And:

"You were actually too nice to Stainton. That speech he gave us just reeked of insincerity. It was obvious that he didn't really care about what was happening to us. That's why we decided to give him a hard time in return."

So the truth ... As I said earlier, I think it lies somewhere in the middle. If I did actually overstate the amount of booing in the meeting, then I do apologize. But there's no getting around the fact that WDFAF staffers actually DID boo David Stainton. Which (to my knowledge) is the first time that the head of Disney Feature Animation was treated that derisively by his staff.

And as for getting Mr. Stainton's quote wrong ... well, if David would like to let JHM readers know what he actually said this past Monday, he's welcome to contact me here at JimHillMedia.com. My e-mail address is stadlerhill@mindspring.com. I'd be happy to post a piece that corrects and/or clarifies the comments that I said that David made to the Feature Animation-Florida staff earlier this week.

The ball's in your court now, Mr. Stainton. I sincerely hope to hear from you soon.

Beyond that ... Man, it's been a busy week here at JimHillMedia.com. I just did a quick count of the number of articles that I've churned out over the past six days. Counting the piece over at AintItCoolNews, that's seven articles in six days. No wonder I'm bushed.

Which is why I've decided to take advantage of the long Martin Luther King weekend to recover. So no new stories 'til Wednesday morning, okay?

You folks have a great weekend. We'll talk again soon, alright?

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