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Steve's salary?! Duff as Dorothy?! It must be time for another Monday Mélange

Steve's salary?! Duff as Dorothy?! It must be time for another Monday Mélange

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Want to really jumpstart the conversation around the watercooler this morning? Then try tossing out this question to your co-workers today:

"How much do you suppose Pixar paid Steve Jobs last year?"

For those of you who don't know: Steve Jobs is the Chairman & Chief Executice Officer of Pixar Animation Studio. Mr. Jobs also owns 30,000,001 shares of Pixar common stock. That means -- in essence -- that Steve owns 53.1% of that corporation.

Okay. So Mr. Jobs is the Chairman & CEO of Pixar as well as the company's largest shareholder. Which means that Steve wields tremendous control over the corporation.

So I ask you again: How much do you suppose Pixar paid Steve Jobs last year?

Still don't feel that you have enough info to draw an accurate bead on Jobs' compensation package? Okay. What if I were to tell you that the combined worldwide box office receipts of the five films that Pixar Animation Studio has produced & released to date (I.E. "Toy Story," "A Bug's Life," "Toy Story II," "Monsters Inc." and "Finding Nemo") totaled more than $2.5 billion.

And -- last year -- Pixar paid John Lasseter (The studio's Creative Executive Vice President as well as the director of "Toy Story," "Toy Story II" and the studio's 2005 release, "Cars") $2,776,988.

Okay. Now that you've got all of those numbers rolling around in your head, would you care to take a stab at the salary that Steve Jobs drew from Pixar Animation Studio last year? Would you believe $53.00?

No, that's not a typo. I'm pulling this info straight off of Page 17 of Pixar Animation Studio's proxy statement. Which was mailed out to all of the company's shareholders in preparation for Pixar's annual stockholders meeting. Which was held this past Thursday at San Francisco's Museum of Modern Art.

"Why $53.00?," you ask. Well, the way I understand it, Steve Jobs only pays himself $1 a week for all his Pixar-related efforts.

"But -- if there are only 52 weeks in a year -- then why did Jobs pay himself $53.00 for 2003?," you continue. Well -- according to Pixar's proxy statement -- fiscal 2003 was actually a 53-week year. Which means that Steve earned $1 more than he paid himself back in 2001 & 2002.

Okay. I know. That salary may seem ridiculously low. But that $53.00 that Jobs paid himself for working at Pixar last year is actually $52.00 MORE than Steve got for running Apple in 2003.

Yep. As the CEO of Apple Computer Company, Jobs (on paper, anyway) only took home $1.00 in 2003. Which -- according to the folks at the Guinness Book of World Records -- makes Steve the lowest paid Chief Executive Officer in the world.

Which -- in theory -- should make us all feel pretty good about our own miserable salaries.

Speaking of salaries ... Guess which tween star the Walt Disney Company supposedly recently offered a very nice chunk of change, with the hope that she'd then agree to pull on a pair of ruby-red slippers and play Dorothy in "The Muppets' Wizard of Oz"? Would you believe Miss Lizzie McGuire herself, Hilary Duff?

Yes, this is the same performer who -- back in May of 2003 -- angrily stormed away from the Mouse House. Reportedly because Hilary's mother (who also acts as Duff's manager) wasn't "feeling the love" from Disney company executives. At the time, mother & daughter Duff were allegedly asking Mickey for a whole lot more moola if Hilary were to continue working for the Mouse.

Back then, Disney supposedly had big plans for Ms. Duff. These included a new "Lizzie McGuire " TV series (which would have taken the lovable tween from junior high to high school) which was then to have aired on ABC as part of that network's "TGIF" line-up. The company also allegedly wanted to make several sequels to Hilary's highly successful movie debut, "The Lizzie McGuire Movie" (Which wound up grossing $42 million during its domestic run last year).

According to published reports, Disney reportedly offered Duff $35,000 per episode to appear in a new "Lizzie McGuire" TV series. There was also talk of a $500,000 bonus if the tween star would sign to do two sequels to "The Lizzie McGuire Movie." But mother & daughter Duff wanted more. LOTS more. Which is why they noisily walked away from the Mouse House in May of 2003 and began to negotiate with other studios.

Still, it didn't make sense -- career-wise -- for Hilary to totally cut her ties to the Mouse House. Which is why -- back in June of last year -- Ms. Duff signed a three record deal with Disney's Buena Vista Music Group. This turned out to be a pretty shrewd move on on both Hilary & Disney's part. For Ms. Duff's first album -- "Metamorphosis" -- eventually became the 8th biggest selling LP for 2003. This recording sold over 2.4 million copies in the US alone.

Since then, the Mouse has been desperate to kiss & make up with the mother / daughter team. With the hope with the Duffs will eventually return to the Disney fold and make lots more money for the Mouse in the years to come. This is why the "Muppets' Wizard of Oz" script supposedly got dropped in Hilary's lap earlier this month.

Yes, I know. As recently as last Monday, I was telling you guys that Natalie Portman & Anne Hathaway were supposedly the front runners for Dorothy in "The Muppets' Wizard of Oz." But -- according to Mouse House insiders who reached out to me last week -- this is no longer the case.

Mickey's new plan is supposedly to use this project to lure Duff -- who's said to be a huge Muppet fan -- back into the Disney fold. The current hope is that Hilary will jump at the chance to work with Kermit & Co. And that -- sometime over the six weeks that "Wizard of Oz" will be in production this fall -- Disney will finally be able to mend fences with mother & daughter. Which will then clear the way for that new "Lizzie McGuire" TV series for ABC (which could really use a hit right about now) as well as those sequels to the "Lizzie McGuire" movie.

Mind you, nothing's been signed yet. But those in the know consider it very significant that Ms. Duff has chosen to wrap her latest concert tour on September 12th. Just a day before before shooting on "The Muppets' Wizard of Oz" was supposed to begin.

Okay, I know. That evidence -- all by itself -- seems somewhat slim. But what if I were to remind you that "The Muppets' Wizard of Oz" is being shot up in Northern Vancouver. And that -- on September 11th -- Hilary will actually be performing at Vancouver's Pacific Coliseum. Followed by a one day jaunt over to Alberta to play at Calgary's Pengrowth Saddledome.

So -- given that she's going to be across the border already anyway -- is it really such a stretch of the imagination to think that Hilary Duff would then take advantage of this opportunity to head over the rainbow?

L. Frank Baum fans that I've spoken with about this proposed casting actually seem cautiously optimistic. Why for? Because -- should Hilary Duff sign to play Dorothy in "The Muppets' Wizard of Oz" -- this will be the first time in Hollywood history that Baum's heroine is portrayed just as L. Frank originally envisioned her ... as a blonde!

In other news ... Remember last Tuesday, when I talked up Buena Vista Home Entertainment's new release, "The Three Musketeers"? Well, over at IGN Filmforce, Ken Plume recently reached out to that film's director -- Donovan Cook -- to ask him about what was involved with the creation of this BVHE video premiere. Cook responded with a detailed letter that walked Plume through the entire process of making the picture. Which -- me personally -- I think makes for excellent reading.

Speaking of Mr. Plume ... Ken has a weird sort of bet going with the folks over at SideShow Collectibles. That toy company -- which reportedly has the rights to reproduce action figures that feature the likenesses of the performers that appeared in the original "Star Trek" TV series -- doesn't believe that there'd really be a market for a talking William Shatner doll.

Mr. Plume -- on the other hand -- believes quite strongly that there are a large number of us dweebs out there who'd love to have our very own plastic James T. Kirk seated on our desk. Who -- at the mere touch of a button -- could scream "KHAAAAN !?" at us. Or perform "Promise" margarine commercials. Or -- for those of us who are doing a lot of traveling lately -- give us the latest update on what flights are costing over at Priceline.com.

So could you nice folks please do me a favor and help out my pal, Mr. Plume, by heaving a note at this e-mail address? A message which insists that -- yes -- you'd love to have your very own talking William Shatner action figure? Thanks in advance for all your help here.

Okay, we've gone from salaries to Shatner. Muppets to Musketeers. All the dough that Disney will give Hilary Duff if she'll just agree to be Dorothy. Me personally, I think that that's quite enough mindless muttering for one Monday's Mélange ... don't you?

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