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  • Jim Hill

    New animated series based on "DuckTales" will launch on Disney XD in 2017

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    After a winter full of record snowfalls & bitter cold, here's a weather report that's sure to please all of you Disney Afternoon fans out there: Life is about to get "like a hurricane" again in Duckburg. Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved Yep. An all-new "DuckTales," an animated comedy series based on the Emmy Award-winning series treasured by a generation of viewers, has been ordered for launch in 2017 on Disney XD channels around the world. Set...
  • Jim Hill

    When Woody met Mickey: The day Universal's walk-around characters almost stormed WDW's Magic Kingdom

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    Picture -- if you will -- a WDW Security Officer in her vehicle, frantically waving her arm and honking her horn, trying to stop a caravan of Universal characters as they sped past the toll booths on World Drive and then made their way to the Ticket and Transportation Center. That sounds like something out of a bad sitcom, right? Well, this unlikely event actually happened back on May 21, 1987. Back when the folks at MCA Inc. were looking to send Mickey a message that Disney's then-recently announced...
  • Jim Hill

    Potter fans of all ages have a wand-erful time at Universal Orlando's "Celebration of Harry Potter"

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    I want you to take a close look at the photo below. These are three young men in their late teens / early twenties. Do you notice anything different about them? Photo by Jim Hill Each of them is carrying a wand box. When I snapped this photo of these guys on Sunday, February 1st, they were hurrying through Universal Orlando 's entrance complex because these three didn't want to miss the last day of 2015's "Celebration of Harry Potter." That's what honestly surprised me about...
  • Jim Hill

    When it comes to Disney's "101 Dalmatians," the de Vil is in the details

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    Here's a fun factoid for all you film fans out: Given that Disney's " Sleeping Beauty " was released on January 29, 1959 and " 101 Dalmatians " bowed in theaters on January 25, 1961, that means that this animated classic was cranked out in less than two years. Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved Which is pretty impressive unto itself. But then when you factor in that -- in the wake of "Sleeping Beauty" under-performing at the box office --...
  • Jim Hill

    As construction continues on WDW's Downtown Disney redo, the Imagineers stitch together a backstory for Disney Springs

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    As you've probably already heard, Disney Springs' first two shops -- APEX, which sells high-end sunglass brands like Maui Jim, Oakley and Ray-Ban ... Photo by Jim Hill ... and Chapel Hats ... Photo by Jim Hill ... which features a fun assortment of hats and funky headwear -- ... Photo by Jim Hill ... both recently opened in The Landing Section of this radically reimagined version of Downtown Disney, WDW's retail, entertainment and dining district (FYI: March 22nd of this year marks the...
  • Jim Hill

    "Big Hero 6" producer Roy Conli reflects on his first-ever Academy Award nomination

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    After Disney "Tangled" made its theatrical debut back in November of 2010, Roy Conli thought that there was no way to top the experience that this veteran producer had just had on that Walt Disney Animation Studios production. Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved "I honestly thought that 'Tangled' was going to be my Disney legacy. I mean, we faced so many technical challenges on that movie. Scenes where we had 45,000 lanterns floating in the air to Rapunzel's...
  • Jim Hill

    Which 1980s TV favorites almost voiced Ursula the Sea Witch for Disney's "The Little Mermaid"

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    As you read through the liner notes for Walt Disney Records ' Legacy Collection version of "The Little Mermaid" soundtrack (which is this terrific 2 disc exploration of the Academy Award-winning score that Howard Ashman & Alan Menken wrote for this 1989 Walt Disney Animation Studios release), there's an anecdote in there that's sure to blow pop culture fans' minds. It reveals how Ashman (who not only wrote the lyrics for this John Musker / Ron Clements film but also...
  • Jim Hill

    How Walt Disney Animation Studios kept "Feast" from looking like a dog's dinner

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    Patrick Osborne tried something interesting back in 2012. He set up two 1 Second Everyday accounts. With one, he used this app to capture brief glimpses of his day-to-day life. And with the other, Patrick recorded quick footage of many of the meals he consumed that year. "And it was the 1 Second Everyday footage of all that food which turned out to be the far more compelling recording. There's something cool about the amount of life you see just in showing your meals. These hints of intriguing...
  • Jim Hill

    Why "Doctor Who" 's Peter Capaldi didn't make the final cut in Disney's "Maleficent"

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    Given that Nick Frost already had the beard as well as a Santa Claus-like shape, it probably didn't take all that much behind-the-scenes effort to transform this "Shaun of the Dead" star into Saint Nick for tonight's annual " Doctor Who " Christmas special, " Last Christmas " (which airs on BBC America at 9 / 8 p.m. Central) Copyright BBC America. All rights reserved I mean, that brief spritz of white hairspray which Frost had to endured was nothing compared...
  • Jim Hill

    Seth MacFarlane celebrates the classic Christmas albums of the 1940s & 1950s with "Holiday for Swing!"

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    So how much time does it take to craft a brand-new holiday album that has a timeless sound? To hear Joel McNeely (i.e., the Emmy Award-winning arranger / producer behind Seth MacFarlane 's " Holiday for Swing! ") talk, it took a full year to lay down all 13 tracks for this top-selling recording. Which honors the rich sound / orchestral jazz tradition of those classic Christmas albums that Bing Crosby, Perry Como and Rosemary Clooney performed on back in the 1940s & 1950s. Copyright...
  • Jim Hill

    D23's Adam Sanderson sees social media, digital technology as the smart way to grow Disney's official fan club

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    When it came to proving his "Disney geek" street cred last January, Adam Sanderson -- Head of D23: The Official Disney Fan Club -- had just the secret weapon in mind. To decorate his new office, Sanderson (who had previously worked as the Senior Vice President of Franchise Management for the Disney / ABC Television Group) brought in one of his most prized childhood possession: a 45 of the theme song from "it's a small world." "This is actually a souvenir from my family's...
  • Jim Hill

    Gamers deck the virtual halls in their Disney Infinity Toy Boxes

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    As you've probably already heard, Disney Parks & Resorts go kind of Christmas Crazy this time of year ... Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved ... with character-specific decorations giving each land at the Parks an especially festive feel for the holiday season. Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved But what you may not have heard is that Disney Infinity fans are now also embracing the spirit of the season. Which is why many of them have begun decorating...
  • Jim Hill

    Anika Noni Rose brings back Disney's first black princess for special "Sofia the First" episode

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    It was eight years ago tonight. The Los Angeles premiere of "Dreamgirls." And while it seemed like all of Hollywood had turned out to catch the West Coast debut of this DreamWorks / Paramount co-production at Beverly Hills' Wilshire Theatre, only a select few were then invited back to Eddie Murphy's house for the after-premiere party. "And I was actually invited to that party. But I had to tell Mr. Eddie Murphy 'No.' I couldn't go to his big fancy Hollywood party...
  • Jim Hill

    "Mr. Magoo's Christmas Carol" makes the jump from beloved holiday special to Broadway with next Monday's Actors Fund benefit

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    Here's a challenge for all of you Christmas trivia buffs out there: Name the first-ever animated holiday special produced especially for television. If you were thinking "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer," you'd be wrong. That much-beloved Rankin-Bass production didn't debut on NBC until December 6, 1964. Likewise "A Charlie Brown Christmas" (That Peabody Award-winning program didn't premiere on CBS 'til December 9, 1965) and "Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch...
  • Jim Hill

    Macy's brings its Thanksgiving Day Parade balloons down to Florida to add some Big Apple spice to Universal Orlando's holiday program

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    Every year, after Santa's 60 foot-long sleigh float rolls up in front of Macy's Herald Square store on Thanksgiving morning, 50 million television viewers turn off their sets and say "Well, that's it for this year's parade." Not exactly. Though NBC's broadcast of this NYC tradition ends promptly at 12 p.m. ET, Macy's employees will then spend much of Thanksgiving afternoon deflating the 16 balloons and dissembling those 27 floats which traveled that 2.65 mile-long...
  • Jim Hill

    "How Star Wars Conquered the Universe" reveals the political references that George Lucas worked into Episodes I - VI

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    It's been kind of amusing to watch what's been going on online this past week in the wake of the release of the "Star Wars: The Force Awakes" teaser trailer . And -- no -- I'm not talking about the faux controversy surrounding that lightsaber with those two mini-lightsabers coming off of its hilt. But -- rather -- the ridiculous response that certain Star Wars fans have had to John Boyega's appearance in the teaser for this upcoming J.J. Abrams film. Copyright Disney Lucasfilm...
  • Jim Hill

    Galyn Susman talks about Pixar's first-ever Xmas special, "Toy Story That Time Forgot"

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    So what's been going on with the Toy Story gang since we last saw Buzz, Woody & Co. on the steps at Bonnie's house, as they sadly watched Andy drive off to college? Quite a lot, actually. Copyright Disney Pixar. All rights reserved On the heels of the June 2010 release of "Toy Story 3," Pixar Animation Studios took a two-tiered approach toward keeping these much-beloved characters front-of-mind. The first part of this program involved the creation of "Toy Story Toons,"...
  • 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...
  • Jim Hill

    "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...
  • Jim Hill

    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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