I'd always heard that cliche but never quite understood what it meant. Until these past five days in LA.
I mean, who would ever have thought that you could actually attend a Walt Disney Company annual shareholder meeting and never once hear the name "Michael Eisner" ?
Don't get me wrong, folks. Michael's name did finally come up when Friday's meeting at Anaheim's Arrowhead Pond was thrown open to questions from the floor. And a few disgruntled shareholders got in a couple of half-hearted jabs at Disney's former CEO.
But from the stage, during the formal presentation portion of this year's annual meeting ... Eisner's name was never once mentioned. Not by Disney Chairman of the Board George Mitchell or by the company's new CEO, Bob Iger. More importantly, Michael's image was carefully cropped out of the corporation's 2005 highlight reel. So that -- even though Eisner obviously spent a lot of time in the spotlight during Disneyland's official 50th anniversary celebration and/or Hong Kong Disneyland's grand opening -- the man was nowhere to be seen in those film montages.
To be honest, it was kind of eerie. As if Michael's 20+ year reign at the Mouse House had never actually occurred.
I sort of got the same kind of feeling as I rode on DCA's newest attraction, "Monsters, Inc. Mike & Sulley to the Rescue." Which (to be honest) is a rather charming C Ticket ride that cleverly recycles a lot of "Superstar Limo."
By that I mean: "Monsters, Inc." makes use of "Superstar Limo" 's old queue and load / unload set-up. This DCA attraction's track lay-out is exactly the same. Hell, "Mike & Sulley to the Rescue" even recycles "SSL" 's old limousines. The only thing that got changed there was that these DCA ride vehicles got a new paint job.
Not that I'm complaining, mind you. I think that what the Imagineers did here easily compares to what happened back in 1998 at WDW's Magic Kingdom. When they took "Take Flight" (Which -- admittedly -- was a rather boring ride) and -- even though WDI made very few changes to this Tomorrowland attraction's physical planet -- transformed it into "Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin." An interactive C Ticket that has eventually become a very popular franchise attraction at Disney theme parks worldwide.
But getting back to today's "fame is fleeting" theme ... as I was riding through DCA's "Monsters, Inc. Mike & Sulley to the Rescue" attraction, I couldn't help but think that some of those CDA (I.E. Child Detection Agency) figures looked awfully familiar. Then it hit me ...
That CDA rep who's rappeling in from above? That's "Superstar Limo" 's old Jackie Chan figure.
That CDA representative who offers us some literature? That the old Drew Carey figure from "SSL." You know? The one who tried to sell you a map to the stars' homes?
You want to hear about a particularly funny bit of figure recycling? You know that moment where Randall leans out from behind a corner in "Monsters, Inc."? He's only able to do that because the Imagineers stripped all of the mechanics out of "Superstar Limo" 's old Regis Philbin figure.
I mean, here was this ride that actually celebrated celebrities. But -- in the end -- not a one of these figures was considered famous enough to be spared from recycling.
Which sort of reminds of a story that Rick West once told in "Theme Park Adventure" magazine. Which detailed James MacArthur's thoughts about the "Tarzan's Treehouse" redo at Disneyland.
For those of you who don't know: James MacArthur was the actor who actually played Fritz in Disney's 1960 feature, "Swiss Family Robinson" And MacArthur ... He used to delight in bringing his friends and family to Disneyland so that they could then climb around in this recreation of the treehouse set of the "Swiss Family" film.
But then in early 1999, Disneyland's Swiss Family Treehouse was shut down and then rethemed around the characters & settings from Walt Disney Pictures' forthcoming animated feature, "Tarzan." And James MacArthur ... Well, he was one of the celebrities who was actually invited to attend the grand opening of "Tarzan's Treehouse."
And it was at this event that someone supposedly asked James about what he thought about seeing Disneyland's "Swiss Family Treehouse" attraction transformed into "Tarzan's Treehouse." And MacArthur's reply reportedly went along these lines:
"It feels strange to have actually out-lived one's memorial."
Mind you, that was also sort of the vibe that I got while attending this past Saturday's Movieland Wax Museum auction. Where many of wax figures of still-living celebrities were sold off to the highest bidder.
Photo by Dan Witkowski
It's often been said that you can't put a price on celebrity. Well, that clearly wasn't the case this past weekend. Where a wax figure of Elizabeth Taylor -- which was clad in an outfit from Taylor's 1963 film, "Cleopatra" -- fetched $25,000. While a wax figure of Elizabeth's former spouse, Richard Burton, only went for $5,000.
It was actually kind of fascinating to see what these wacky, waxy versions of celebrities went for. I mean, given how much the 1939 Academy Award winning film is loved today, it really wasn't a surprise that the Movieland's "Wizard of Oz" tableau went for $33,000 ...
Or that the wax versions of the members of the cast of the original "Star Trek" television all went for more than $4000 apiece.
And given how popular this comedian is in France ... Well, is it any wonder that Jerry Lewis' "Nutty Professor" figure went for $18,000 to some collector who was bidding online?
Mind you, what was often more interesting was to see the low price that wax versions of some former Hollywood high rollers went for. Take -- for example -- the former "Terminator" and now current governor of California Arnold Schwarzenegger. Arnold's waxy likeness only fetched $400 (Which doesn't exactly bode well for his political future).
Barbra Streisand also seems to have also fallen from favor. Given that her wax figure only fetched $400 as well.
To be honest, the biggest seller of the day -- both figuratively and literally -- was an exact replica of Michelango's statue of David ...
... which sold for $120,000.
Of course, given that the original version of this statue was carved back in 1501 and is still well known today ... I guess that undercuts the whole "fame is fleeting" concept of today's column.
Anyway ... That's a brief look back at what I've been up to since I got out to LA last week. I promise to pass along a more detailed report once I get back to New Hampshire tomorrow.