It's the highest honor that a Mouse House employee can possibly recieve. The Disney Legends award.
Established in 1987 to honor " ... the many individuals whose imagination, talents and dreams have created ... Disney magic," each year's honorees are selected by a committe chaired by Roy E. Disney. And over the past two decades, this awards program has paid tribute to dozens of animators, Imagineers, actors and executives who have had a significant impact on the creative legacy of the Walt Disney Company.
And based on the list of 2008 honorees that JHM recently got a peek at, that tradition of excellence & achievement will continue with this year's awards. Among those selected for induction are:
All of the folks listed above (particularly those last two. For those of you who don't know, Russi & Wayne are the husband-and-wife team who are the official voices of Minnie & Mickey Mouse) are obviously deserving of recognition. Which is why I'm sure that the entire Disneyana community will applaud their nominations.
Minnie & Mickey flanked Michael Eisner earlier this year, when Disney's former CEO was honored with his very own star on Hollywood's Walk of Fame. Copyright 2008 Disney. All Rights Reserved
There is -- however -- one additional Disney Legends honoree that I'm sure certain segments of the fan community are going to have some trouble with. And that's the company's former CEO Michael Eisner.
Now before all of that "Save Disney" era talk can start up again, where the die-hard fans rail about how Eisner almost drove this company into the ground ... I think it's important to take in the bigger picture. You gotta remember that -- when Michael & Frank Wells first took control back in October of 1984 -- Walt Disney Productions was a show business dinosaur verging on extinction. The corporation had just survived two greenmail attempts. And few -- if anyone -- in Hollywood took this Burbank-based operation seriously.
But under Eisner & Wells' guidance (with a large assist from then-Disney Studio head Jeffrey Katzenberg), the Mouse House eventually became a media powerhouse. Over the two decades, the company built seven new theme parks, acquired ABC, ESPN as well as several other cable channels, launched a cruise line as well as creating a stage division.
And during that time, Walt Disney Productions grew from being a $1.5 billion operation (with most of that value coming from the company's theme park division as well as its film library) to a $30.75 billion behemoth. A worldwide multimedia corporation with nearly 130,000 employees (which was up almost 100,000 from the 28,000 people who were working for Disney back in 1984).
An achievement of that size does deserve some recognition, folks. Which is why it's only right that Michael Eisner receive a Disney Legends award. But I would imagine that there are those of you who would disagree. Which is what JHM's TalkBack section was built for.
So -- please -- share your thoughts on what's sure to be a somewhat controversial ceremony. Which will be held sometime later this fall in the Disney Legends Plaza on the Burbank lot.
Michael Eisner got his reward, to the tune of a billion or so dollars that he raked in over the years. He did a lot of great stuff for Disney, no doubt.
That was his job.
Miller DOES deserve the award, too. But, frankly, they should stop giving these awards to executives of any sort. That's not the spirit.
I'd much rather them reward long-time cast members or other Burbank employees who made a difference. But considering that Human Resources wants to pretend they never existed once they get terminated, that won't happen.
Disney's highly dysfunctional, and "rewarding" the former CEO with this sycophantic award just showcases that.
I don't have any great love for the man, especially considering what he was responsible for in the last couple of years of his reign (of terror). But it's hard to argue this one point:
A lot of what the Company is today - good and bad - was the result of Michael. Heck, the might not even be a Walt Disney Company today if he, Wells, Katzenberger, et. al. hadn't come in and started screwing around with things.
He's going to get it eventually, and any bitterness that's felt toward Michael isn't likely to dissipate in 5 years, or 10, or even 20.
Let him have his little prize. If it bugs you that much, get a copy of the Legends Ceremony program, put an asterisk next to his name, and add your own comments after the official writeup. ;)
Okay, after reading the list of past LEGENDS, I guess Eisner should probably get one. I mean, if Phil Collins and Elton John got one, I guess Eisner qualifies too. It's sad to see names of folks who did one or two terrific things getting an award before guys like Ron Miller. Guess the whole Disney Legends thing isn't really a big deal. They give 'em to people who stepped in for a second and stepped right back out. Oh well. At least Eisner hung in there for a while.
If anything um, "highlights" Eisner's trashing of the Disney company, that pitiful special with Disney's tween stars and the Muppets that aired a couple of weeks ago does it in spades. It's obvious that the current regime is trying desperately to make a silk purse out of a frog's ear (ha ha) and figure that by mixing something popular with something antique, that will do it. Sorry, but no. It's like putting a NASCAR driver in a horse-and-buggy. The special was an ill fit and frankly embarrassing, and that's something we can thank Eisner for, wasting millions on a dated property and thus forcing the current regime to waste millions more trying to squeeze a dime out of it. Disney should be giving its Legends awards to people who actually contributed to the legacy, not detracted from it. But what the heck; if Babwa Wa-Wa is getting one, obviously it's worthless and so let Mike get one too. At least it's cheaper than the golden parachute he was given at his departure and the mess he left behind.
You know, it's funny that this should at one point be compared to Ford's pardoning of Nixon, since Nixon's entire life and career was eclisped by his fall at the end. Regardless of what he ultimately did, Nixon also accomplished a lot of positive things in his career, most notably his China relations. I was just reading about them in, by coincidence, Barbara Walters' book "Audition," which despite the media label of being a salacious tell-all is actually a fascinating chronicle of history, entertainment and the changing role of women (it also addresses jabs like "Baba Wawa" and the infamous "If you were a tree, which tree would you be?" question with a humorous grain of salt).
Disney bought ABC in 1996. Three years later, Barbara Walters got the first interview with Monica Lewinsky. Not only that, she convinced Lewinsky to do the interview for free, to "take the high road," and turn down lucrative offers from others. She also launched "The View" on ABC under Disney, which again, whether you like or loathe it, you cannot deny its impact.
If the awarding of any recipient seems unjust, the earlier comments about focusing on the ones that DO seem correct is the best way to keep from getting bent out of shape. No awards ever recognize everyone who deserves them. After all, best acting Oscars were never given to Cary Grant, Rosalind Russell or Irene Dunne.
Wow... since when did our posts start getting edited???? Someone has powerful friends on here.
Anyway, I could really care less about Eisner. I'm glad for all the good things he did for Disney, and I hope his myriad of mistakes get fixed soon. I'm glad he's gone but I don't wish him ill. And really, what does an award mean to us? Nothing.
Plus, looking at the list of honorees.... everyone gets one.
My advice, we need to be happy for the people that deserve recognition and just ignore the rest.