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November, 2014

  • Jim Hill

    Disney Television Animation executives attribute their current hot streak to turning DTA into a more talent-friendly place

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    It's been an interesting month for the folks at Disney Television Animation as this division of The Walt Disney Company celebrated its 30th anniversary. So there have been parties and presentations ... Notable creative talent mark Disney Television Animation's 30 years of unrivaled animation for kids and families, at an event sponsored by the International Animated Film Association (ASIFA) and Disney's D23, at The Walt Disney Studios in Burbank, CA on Wednesday, November 5th. (L to R...
  • Jim Hill

    Jeff Calhoun talks about the new & improved Disney "Newsies" before ducking out to work on a "Duck Dynasty" show for Las Vegas

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    So when the good people of Pittsburgh head out for the Benedum Center later this week to catch the North American touring company of Disney "Newsies ," will they be seeing an exact duplicate of the Tony Award-winning show that ran for 2 1/2 years on Broadway? Nope. And you have Thomas Schumacher , the president of the Disney Theatrical Group to thank for that. "Look, no one ever walked out of a theater saying that a show was too short," said Jeff Calhoun , the director of Disney...
  • Jim Hill

    To Hell with Bill Cosby? Disney already did that with "The Devil and Max Devlin"

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    Like a lot of you folks out there, I don't exactly know how to feel about Bill Cosby right now. I mean, the man is a comedy legend. As a kid, I listened constantly to his LPs and memorized many of his classic stand-up routines. But as someone who's been writing about the entertainment industry for over 3 decades now, I have long heard the whispers about Bill's darker side. Which is why when stories began to bubble up about all the women that Cosby had allegedly drugged and then taken...
  • Jim Hill

    How a droopy diaper and a cute rice cooker helped inspire Baymax's distinctive look and movement in Disney's "Big Hero 6"

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    If you're a new parent and find that there's something strangely familiar with Baymax, the huggable robot star of " Big Hero 6 ," there's a good reason for that. "It took us a while to find just the right walk cycle for Baymax," Zach Parrish -- an Animation Supervisor on "Big Hero 6" -- admitted. "But in the end, we decided to model his walk on a baby with a loaded diaper." Which -- I know -- may sound like an odd choice. But given that this Don...
  • Jim Hill

    Craig McCracken talks about the labor intensive story process behind Disney XD's "Wander Over Yonder"

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    How long does it take a group of grown-ups to come up with a workable storyline for an 11 minute-long cartoon? Would you believe two days? So says Craig McCracken , the talent behind those Emmy-Award winning Cartoon Network series, " The Powerpuff Girls " and " Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends ." Though -- more recently -- Craig has been riding herd on Disney XD 's acclaimed animated adventure, " Wander Over Yonder ." Mind you, this character-driven sci-fi...
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    "Disney During World War II" and "Hope: Entertainer of the Century" showcase two Hollywood legends who did everything they could for the troops

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    As a former servicemember, I have to admit that I'm always intrigued by how various entertainment entities observe Veterans Day. Take -- for example -- PBS . Their way of acknowledging that today is November 11th (i.e., the date that our nation honors all those who have served in both wartime and peacetime) is by airing a two hour-long documentary on the Navy Seals . Meanwhile over at Disney Junior , they're showing a special episode of " Doc McStuffins " called "Training Army...
  • Jim Hill

    Hollywood creatives and theme park fans appreciate the Universal difference

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    It's often been said that if you build a better mouse trap, the world will beat a path to your door. Harry Potter fans race up the red carpet to be among the first to experience The Wizarding World of Harry Potter - Diagon Alley when this new "land" at Universal Studios officially opened to the public on July 8, 2014. Copyright NBCUniversal. All rights reserved Well, when Comcast reported its third quarter results last month, it wasn't a mouse trap that turbo-charged that corporation's...
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    From "Planes" to "Show Boat," "Fernwood 2 Tonight" to "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno," Fred Willard looks back on his storied career

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    Ol' Man River, he just keeps rollin' along ... As does Fred Willard . You'd think -- given that this veteran actor / comedian turned 75 back in September -- that Willard would finally begin to slow down at this point. Well, think again. For this Fall has been full of firsts for Fred. Take -- for example -- last month, when Willard made his daytime drama debut on " The Bold and the Beautiful ." Fred appeared in four episodes of this long-running CBS soap opera back in October...
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    "Star Wars Rebels" uses characters & vehicles that were designed for the original trilogy to expand the saga

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    When the powers-that-be at Disney & Lucasfilm decided that they wanted to set " Star Wars Rebels " in that time period between the prequels and the original trilogy, executive producer Dave Filoni knew that this new Disney XD animated series was going to be tough to pull off. "Look, it's one thing to do what we did on ' Star Wars: The Clone Wars .' That animated series was set between ' Attack of the Clones ' and ' Revenge of the Sith .' So we had a...
  • Jim Hill

    Knott's 'Special Ops: Infected' proves that wide open spaces can be just as scary as dark twisty mazes

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    It sounds like an interesting challenge. Staging an authentic-looking zombie apocalypse while -- at the same time -- not scratching up any of Grizzly Creek Lodge's nice new furniture. But that's exactly what Jon Cooke has spent the past five-and-a-half weeks doing. Taking Knott's Berry Farm 's recently refurbished Camp Snoopy and -- using the 45 minutes between when this Buena Park theme park closes for the day and when Halloween Haunt officially opens for the night -- then transforming...
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