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A special "Cease & Desist" edition of Monday Mélange

Jim Hill

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A special "Cease & Desist" edition of Monday Mélange

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You know, in the world of webmastery, it's said that you haven't truly arrived until you receive your first "Cease & Desist" letter.

Well -- for JimHillMedia.com -- that big moment finally arrived this past Friday afternoon at approximately 2 p.m. EST. When a registered letter suddenly appeared in my mailbox down at the New Boston post office.

Now I have to admit, folks, that I found this highly anticipated event to be somewhat anti-climatic. By that I mean: I had always assumed that my very first "Cease and Desist" letter would come straight from the Mouse. That Disney's attorneys would eventually determine that some article that I had written was so inflammatory, so offensive, that they'd swoop down en masse and threaten to sue me for every cent that I've got. (Which -- given that the vast Hill estate currently consists of $9.88 -- I would imagine that that would have been a very short trial. But I digress ... Anyway ... )

So imagine my disappointment when JHM's first "Cease and Desist" letter came NOT from Mickey. But -- rather -- from a lawyer that represents two film-makers that I actually like & admire, Dan Lund & Tony West.

For those of you who don't know: Dan Lund & Tony West are the two guys behind "Dream On Silly Dreamer." You may even recall the "Monday Mélange" that I did back in November where I talked up their terrific short film about the demise of traditional animation at Walt Disney Studios.

Well, Tony West was so pleased with that preview piece that I did about "Dream On Silly Dreamer" that he actually sent me a screener of he & Dan's film. Which I watched, loved and immediately began talking up to friends. Telling them that "Dream On" was this really important film, how this motion picture deserved to be seen by as many people as possible, which is why it was really crucial that this movie get a distribution deal ASAP, etc.

You see, that's the real problem with "Dream On Silly Dreamer." Dan & Tony's film doesn't have a distribution deal yet. Which -- given that this motion picture says some pretty cutting things about the all-powerful Walt Disney Company -- I guess is understandable. After all, Hollywood is a very small town. And -- in a very small town -- no one wants to tick off the Big Cheese. Out of concern about what the long range career implications might possibly be of associating yourself with an anti-Mouse project.

So Lund & West had hopes of getting "Dream On Silly Dreamer" shown out of competition at this year's Sundance Film Fest. But that evidently didn't happen. Which is why their fine little film eventually wound up having its world premiere held in the U.K. Today -- in fact -- at this year's Animex International Festival of Animation in Middlesbrough, England.

And -- given how terrific "Dream On Silly Dreamer" is -- I'm sure that all of those animation fans in the U.K. will come away from today's screening just as I did, talking up Tony & Dan's picture. But will today's screening ultimately lead to a distribution deal for the film? To be honest, I don't know ...

I mean, all of us traditional animation fans can certainly hope & pray that it does. Or that the free screenings of "Dream On Silly Dreamer" that Lund & West will be holding next week in Minneapolis' Crown Theater on the day before the Walt Disney Company's Annual Meeting will finally get some buzz going about their picture. Which -- in turn -- might lead to a distribution deal for the picture.

Speaking of trying to get some buzz going ...  That was what I was actually trying to do last month when I pulled a few strings and arranged to have a five minute excerpt of "Dream On Silly Dreamer" shown at the World Chapter meeting of the N.F.F.C. With the hope that this brief taste of Lund & West's fine little film might actually get Disneyana fans talking. Which -- in turn -- might generate some on-line excitement about "Dream On Silly Dreamer." Which then might get other potential audience members interested in seeing this picture. Which (hopefully) might eventually lead to some sort of distribution deal for the movie.

It was the airing of that brief excerpt of the film (I think) that led to the letter that I received from Dan & Tony's attorney last week. Which makes all sorts of vague statements about how I have somehow diminished " ... the value of their copyright."

Which I have to admit I found somewhat bizarre. Given that -- Over the past three months, I have done nothing but talk up "Dream On Silly Dreamer" -- it would be rather hard to argue that I have done any damage to the film's copyright. If anything, by continually praising this picture to whoever will listen to me, I've actually probably increased the value of "Dream On" 's copyright.

But look: That's a matter for Dan & Tony's attorney and I to sort out. I'm sure that -- with just a few phone calls -- we can eventually get this whole mess straightened out. I mean, these guys have had their "Dream On Silly Dreamer" screener back since the middle of December. I actually dropped that tape in the mail after I aired that excerpt at the World Chapter meeting last month. So this isn't really a case of "Stop me before I screen again!"

So let's cut to the chase here, shall we? Am I mad at these guys? No. In spite of the "Cease & Desist" letter that I got from West & Lund's attorney, I bear absolutely no ill will toward these two.

More importantly, I still believe that Tony & Dan have made a very important film, one that deserves to be seen by as many people as possible. Which is why I will continue to talk up "Dream On Silly Dreamer." Do whatever I can to promote the picture.

Speaking of which .... If you live in the U.K. and can get over to Middlesbrough ASAP, I strongly suggest that you attend today's screening of "Dream On Silly Dreamer" at Animex. Or -- if you're going to be in Minneapolis next Thursday and want to see a really wonderful film -- that you definitely make your way over to the Crown Theater. Where you can attend one of the five free screenings (at 1, 2:30, 4, 7 and 8:00 p.m.) that are being held that day at that multiplex.

And -- for God's sake -- if there's a JHM reader out there who actually has access to Harvey Weinstein's ear, can you please make Harvey aware that "Dream On Silly Dreamer" exists? By that I mean: I can think of no better way for Weinstein to settle his score with Disney CEO Michael Eisner (after the sale of Miramax is complete, of course) than to have Harvey release & distribute "Dream On Silly Dreamer."

Think about it: What clearer way would there be to illustrate how truly stupid it is for the Walt Disney Company to dissolve its relationship with the Weinstein brothers (Who -- through their two film production companies, Miramax Pictures & Dimension Films -- have earned the Mouse hundreds of millions of dollars. Not to mention earning Mickey dozens of Academy Awards & Golden Globes over the past 12 years) then to have Bob & Harvey's next company release a film that reveals how short-sighted it was for Walt Disney Studios to kill off its traditional animation unit?

Now some of you might find it kind of bizarre that I would have chosen to air JHM's dirty laundry in this manner. Certainly some other webmasters might have been embarassed to receive a "Cease & Desist" letter. Particularly from two film-makers that they like & admire.

But you have to understand, folks, that this story isn't really about me. It's about Tony West & Dan Lund. More importantly, the movie that they've made: "Dream On Silly Dreamer."

And -- in an age where a no-talent like Paris Hilton can become a star virtually overnight all because her home-made porno tape gets leaked to the Internet -- it's obvious that all publicity (even bad publicity) is good publicity these days. Soooo ... If talking about how Tony & Dan's attorney sent me a "Cease & Desist" letter actually ups "Dream On Silly Dreamer" 's profile, gets even more people talking about this picture ... Well, who am I to let a little personal embarassment stand in the way of this film getting a little more time in the spotlight?

So be sure and spread this story around, folks. NOT just because it's a juicy bit of gossip associated with JimHillMedia. But -- rather -- because it helps to get "Dream On Silly Dreamer" 's name out there. So that even more people will know about this great little motion picture ...

After all, we don't want "Dream On Silly Dreamer" to become the next "Sweatbox." You know? That terrific Trudie Styler documentary about the making of Disney's "Kingdom of the Sun" / "The Emperor's New Groove" that the Mouse has successfully surpressed. People really need to see this picture about the death of traditional animation at Walt Disney Studios. So that they can then actually know what they're missing out on.

So like I said, folks. Be sure and talk this story up. Don't worry about what this whole "Cease & Desist" thing will do to my good name. I mean, it's not like I actually had all that good a name to begin with. The really important thing is that people need to know that "Dream On Silly Dreamer" is out there and that this is a picture that truly deserves to be seen.

And -- while we're working in the gratuitous plugs this morning -- I guess I should mention that there's also this great new Disney history book out there: "Walt's People: Talking Disney with the Artists who Knew Him." This is actually Volume 1 of a proposed series of books that will actually publish transcripts of in-depth interviews with such late Disney legends as Marc Davis, Milt Kahl, Ken Andersen and John Hench. And some of the top animation & theme park historians working today have contributed to this volume. Among them Mike Barrier, Paul F. Anderson and that old JHM reader favorite, Jim Korkis.

"So what's your tie to this project, Jim?," you ask. To be honest, I don't have much of one. By that I mean: Didier Ghez -- the editor of the "Walt's People" series -- asked to help out with the transcription of one of the interviews as well as to help out with the promotion of the project. Which I did. Gladly.

Why for? Well, because -- just like with "Dream On Silly Dreamer" -- I think that it's important that these stories (I.E. The ones that tell us what really goes on inside the Mouse House. Not just the ones that are carefully buffed & edited by Disney's PR department) actually get out there.

So do yourself a favor and click on this link . Which will take you directly over to Xlibris.com where you can order your very own copy of "Walt's People: Talking Disney with the Artists who Knew Him."

In the mean-time ... I promise that I'll keep you posted on the whole "Cease & Desist" saga. Which I'm sure will blow over in a day or so.

But -- in the meantime -- if you'd like to learn even more about "Dream On Silly Dreamer," then I suggest you follow this link to the film's official website.

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