Welcome to Wednesday. Or -- as it's known to all us working stiffs -- Hump Day.
I don't know what it is about the middle of the week. But typically this is the point where energy ebbs, spirits sag, every task seems just that little bit tougher ... Let's face it, folks. Wednesday ain't all that fun.
So do you find yourself in need of some inspiration? A little something to get help those creative juices flowing again? Well, if you live in or around Cupertino, CA., have I got a treat for you? McNair Wilson is coming to town tomorrow to present his "Recapture Your Creative Spirit" talk.
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Now some of you Disneyana fans out there may not be familiar with McNair's name. And that's easy to understand. Given that it's been quite a while since Wilson was last an Imagineer.
But if you've ever stood on Hollywood Boulevard at Disney-MGM Studios and laughed at that theme park's streetmosphere players, you have McNair to thank. Wilson actually created all of those characters, then hired & trained the first set of actors to play the citizens of Hollywood. And ever since May of 1989, these talented group of performers have been delighting WDW visitors.
Mind you, NcNair is also a rather notorious prankster. People at Disney still talk about the time that Wilson persuaded the actor who was playing Sid Caheunga (You know? The guy who supposedly owns that "One of a Kind" shop on Hollywood Boulevard?) to go noodge Michael Eisner as the then-CEO was doing a walk-through of that yet-to-be-opened studio theme park.
The story (as it was told to me) goes something like this: Michael was touring MGM in the early spring of 1989, making sure that WDW's newest theme park would be ready to open on May 1st. And as Eisner moved through the park, saying things like "Paint this" or "Fix that," Disney's then-CEO was closely followed by a covey of corporate flunkies. Who dutifully noted all of the Big Cheese's comments, so that all of Michael's concerns could quickly be addressed.
Copyright 1989 The Walt Disney Company
From a distance, Wilson observed Eisner -- with that cadre of suits following in his wake -- slowly moving down Hollywood Boulevard. And sensing that it might be fun to play with Michael's head, McNair quickly gets together with the actor who was playing Sid Caheunga that day and forms a plan.
As Eisner finally reaches the "One of a Kind" shop, Sid is lounging on the porch. As soon as he sees the then-CEO, this streetmosphere character quickly leaps to his feet and rushes out into the street. Then grabbing Michael's hand, Caheunga pumps it and says "Mr. Eisner! What a surprise! Why didncha let know that youse was comin'?"
Michael then turns to the subordinates that surround him and tries to explain that this is one of the park's streetmosphere characters. But the then-CEO can't get a word in edgewise, given that Sid immediately begins to harangue him by saying "What happened to all them uniforms that youse promised me from 'Good Morning, Vietnam' ? And them baby clothes from 'Three Men and a Baby' ? How am I supposeta keep my shop open if I don't have any new stock comin' in?"
Eisner laughs at this bit and then says "I'm sorry, Sid. It must have slipped my mind." Michael now turns to his assistant and jokingly says "Make a note of that. We have to get those props & costumes to Sid Caheunga's ASAP."
The then-CEO and his entourage continue with their walk-through of Disney-MGM. And Wilson & this streetmosphere performer chortled about how Sid Caheunga just got to hector the all-powerful head of the Walt Disney Company.
But here's the kicker: A week or so later, all of these boxes from California start arriving at Sid Caheunga's "One of a Kind" shop. "And what was inside those crates?," you ask. Uniforms from "Good Morning, Vietnam" and baby clothes from "Three Men and a Baby."
Strange but true, folks. It seems that Michael's assistant-at-that-time dutifully wrote down everything that the then-CEO said that day. Inclduing the jokes. And once he got back to Burbank, Eisner's flunky issued a memo, saying that the Big Cheese wanted costumes from these two Touchstone Pictures productions boxed up immediately and sent down to Disney-MGM. And per the boss's instructions, that's exactly what happened.
So the morale of the story is: Never spoof Disney's CEO. Or you may wind up surrounded by pile after pile of Vietnam-era uniforms and/or stained baby clothes.
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Wasn't that a great story? Well, these are the sorts of tales that McNair Wilson tells as part of his "Recapture Your Creative Spirit" presentation. Using examples from his lown ife as an actor, teacher, playwright and -- yes -- an Imagineer to show those who attend his Imaginuity class how they can rekindle their creative spirit.
Doesn't that sound like a great way to recover from a somewhat lackluster Wednesday? Take a drive out to Cupertino and have a gifted storyteller like Wilson tell you inspiring tales? Oh, and did I mention that this presentation of McNair's acclaimed "Recapture Your Creative Spirit" class is free?
If you'd actually be up for doing something like that, folks ... I guess I should mention that Mr. Wilson will be speaking at the Valley Church on 10885 N. Stelling from 7 to 9 p.m. And given that space at this venue is somewhat limited, the folks who are actually presenting this inspirational talk (I.E. The Christian Writers Guild) ask that you register in advance by lobbing an e-mail at Ms. Mimi Moseley at email@example.com
Mind you, I wish that I could be there myself. For McNair Wilson really is one of my favorite storytellers. But I'm already booked to fly down to New Orleans today to cover Disney's annual shareholders for JHM readers tomorrow.
Anyway ... Here's hoping that a few of you folks can make the trip out to Cupertino tomorrow for McNair Wilson's sure-to-be-entertaining-and-inspiring talk.
Damn, too bad I can't come, because he sounds like a very enjoyable guy, who can really enlighten you with his great stories :)
That's a great story- getting the uniforms he just joked about. I wonder what Eisner thought of that guy afterwards...that's great.
Long time reader - first time commenter!
I just check out the church website. The event is going to be on Thursday evening.
Have fun at the annual meeting today! Get a scoop for us!
Great story about SId's, which used to be my favorite last stop for any visit to the Studios. Used is the operative word here, as Sid's has degraded from the 'One-of-a-kind" shop advertised into just another souvenir store. You'll still see some autographs for sale, but gone are the cases of for-sale movie props and racks of costumes, all provided with a certificate of authenticity. Sorry for using this as a rant, because Mcnair is a truly enjoyable speaker. I met him years ago at the Studio, but never heard the Sid story!
Didn't this guy call himself "Craig" back in the eighties? Didn't he hang out with Marnie McPhail on the Disney Channel? Didn't I see her in an ice cream commercial recently???
I seem to remember Craig's name attached to the design & distribution of the buttons that read "This place will be great when the Nunis wears off" and "Dick Nunis before he dicks you" - an obvious jab at then-WDA President Dick Nunis who was the sworn enemy of WDI at the time!
Funny you should write about Mr. McNair. He was in Grass Valley, CA. recently
and I quickly stuck my head in to see what was happening. There was a sign outside
that said "Disney Event" so It deffinately got my attention. I couldn't stay
as I had a previous appointment but it looked like everybody was having fun.