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  • Jim Hill

    What with "The Boss Baby" paying tribute to "Beauty & the Beast," are Disney & DreamWorks Animation now finally declaring a truce?

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    Times certainly have changed in Toontown. 20 years ago, this was a particularly competitive & cutthroat corner of Hollywood. Take - for example - the extraordinary lengths that Disney went to back in November of 1997 in order to maintain its dominance in feature animation. To deliberately undermine the November 21 st release of "Anastasia" (which was Fox Animation Studios' first foray into features), the Mouse launched a multi-pronged attack. The first thing Disney did was to send...
  • Jim Hill

    Looking to make an authentic Irish meal for Saint Patrick's Day? If so, then chef Kevin Dundon says not to cook corned beef & cabbage

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    Let's at least start on a positive note: Celebrated chef, author & TV personality Kevin Dundon - the man that Tourism Ireland has repeatedly chosen as the Face of Irish Food - loves a lot of what happens in the United States on March 17th. "I mean, look at what they do in Chicago on Saint Patrick's Day . They toss all of this vegetable-based dye into the Chicago River and then paint it green for a day. That's terrific," Kevin said. But then when it comes to what many Americans...
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    Theme parks around the US use food-based events to drive up their seasonal attendance levels

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    Theme park food is a really big deal these days (And when I say "big," I'm not just talking about those ginormous turkey legs that the Mouse sells at Disneyland and Walt Disney World. Which - according to what Zachary Levi told Conan O'Brien this past Thursday [one hopes, in jest] -- might actually be emu legs. Anyway ...). Ever since WDW managers first learned 20+ years that they could boost Epcot attendance levels every Fall by staging a food & wine festival around World Showcase...
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    How a production delay helped make all of those eye-popping FX sequences in Marvel's "Doctor Strange" possible

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    Stef Ceretti is a master of movie magic. And I'm not just saying that because Stef has been the visual effects supervisor on Academy Award-winning films like "The Matrix." Or because of his ground-breaking work on FX-filled extravaganzas like "Batman Begins," "X-men: First Class," & Marvel's "Guardians of the Galaxy." No, I'm called Ceretti a master of movie magic because - to date - he's worked on three different motion pictures where magic...
  • Jim Hill

    An epic meet-up with the Avengers sets Season Two of "Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy" in motion

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    It's the moment that Marvel fans have been waiting for ever since " Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy " originally premiered on Disney XD back in September of 2015. When Peter Quill & pals journey to Star-Lord's home planet of Earth and then cross paths with the Avengers. It's worth noting here that the Marvel Cinematic Universe - through multiple motion pictures that have been released in its Phase Two & Phase Three arcs - has been building towards a similar sort...
  • Jim Hill

    Why did Mandy Moore decide to reprise Rapunzel for Disney's "Tangled: Before Ever After" & "Tangled: The Series"

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    Even though Mandy Moore has long been a fan of the Disney Princesses ("When I was a little girl growing up in Orlando, I remember that - after I first saw ' The Little Mermaid ' - I would walk around the house singing 'Part of Your World,' "Ms. Moore recalled during a recent phone call. "I'd then pester my parents, asking them 'Who sings that song better? Me or Ariel?"), she was still initially reluctant to reprise Rapunzel for a new series that Disney...
  • Jim Hill

    Universal's Volcano Bay is where fiery spirits play & glow worms light the way

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    People who have previously visited Central Florida already know that it can sometimes get a trifle warm in this section of the Sunshine State. Well, come May 25th, Orlando's about to get a whole lot hotter. That's when Volcano Bay - Universal Orlando 's water theme park - officially opens for business. More to the point, that's when Vol - the trickster fire spirit - begins interacting with visitors to Krakatua. Which is the 200 foot-tall water and fire volcano that stands at the very...
  • Jim Hill

    "DuckTales" first look proves that this new Disney XD series will put a fun, new spin on the world of Scrooge McDuck

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    It's a moment that will no doubt shock old-school "DuckTales" fans. Donald Duck's nephews first climb up on Uncle Scrooge's desk. And then they pelt this beleaguered bajillionaire with a series of quick, cutting, personal questions. "Are you really our uncle?," asks Huey. "How old are you?," queries Dewey. But perhaps the most painful question comes from Louie. Who straight-out says to Scrooge "You used to be a big deal. What happened to you?" That's...
  • Jim Hill

    Looking back on Elizabeth Taylor's 60th birthday celebration at Disneyland Park

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    25 years ago tonight, Disneyland Park traded its "Happiest Place on Earth" reputation for one that stressed security. Which is why - as you approached the perimeter of this famed theme park on the evening of February 27, 1992 - you'd have then encountered guards armed with flashlights & German shepherd dogs stationed at 50 foot intervals. "Why the extra security?," you ask. Because this was the night when all of Hollywood had driven down to Anaheim to help Elizabeth Taylor...
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    Oscar winners & nominees apply their craft to cutting-edge theme park attractions for Falcon's Creative Group

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    Tonight, all eyes will be on the Dolby Theatre as Hollywood comes together to celebrate the craft of movie-making. Mind you, as entertaining as the Academy Awards may be to watch, it's important to remember that those who receive Oscars don't necessarily limit themselves to just working on movies that then show up at your local multiplex. Take - for example - Mark Lasoff , the veteran visual effects artist who, along with Thomas L. Fisher , Michael Kanfer , and Robert Legato , took home 1998's...
  • Jim Hill

    It was "Kubo" 's moments of stillness - rather than that movie's big action sequences - which really challenged the animators at LAIKA

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    What was the biggest challenge the team that animated " Kubo and the Two Strings " faced during production? Copyright LAIKA / Focus Features. All rights reserved Was it this film's battle in the Hall of Bones, which made use of the largest stop motion puppet ever made (a 16-feet tall articulated skeleton that weighed in at a whopping 400 pounds)? Or was it "Kubo" ''s ambitious opening sequence, which drew its inspiration from that famous Japanese woodblock print, Hokusai...
  • Jim Hill

    "Circus 1903" uses modern stage craft & pachyderm puppets to recreate a turn-of-the-century traveling show

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    30+ years ago, David Williamson almost ran away with the circus. "I was a teenager growing up in Ohio," Williamson recalled during a recent phone interview. "And this one ring circus came to town. They found out somehow that I did magic and then tried to recruit me to come join their show. The idea sounded so romantic, but my mother wouldn't let me go." We now jump ahead a few decades and Williamson has become a conjurer's conjurer. Voted "Sleight of Hand Magician...
  • Jim Hill

    The Mouse makes use of its theme parks, in-cinema events and podcasts to help spread the word about Disney Theatrical Productions

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    Given that Disney Theatrical has - over the past two years - launched four international productions of its hit Broadway musical, "Aladdin" (With the Japanese version bowing in Tokyo in May of 2015, the German version debuting in Hamburg back in December of 2015, the London version opening in the West End in June of 2016, and the Australia version of this Tony Award-winner opening in Sydney back in August of 2016) ... It's not exactly as though this division of The Walt Disney Company...
  • Jim Hill

    How relocating to a leaky old warehouse made rebooting Disney's smart, subversive "Zootopia" so much easier

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    It was the one-two punch that would have felled a lesser group of filmmakers. Back in November of 2014, the " Zootopia " story team had just realized that - after 3+ years of developing this project for Walt Disney Animation Studios - they were going to have to change this movie's protagonist. "And doing that sort of reboot, changing our film's story so that it could then be told from Judy's point-of-view rather than Nick's, was going to cause a lot of upheaval,"...
  • Jim Hill

    Spending Valentine's Day at the Winchester Mystery House is not for the faint-of-heart

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    When it comes to making a romantic gesture on Valentine's Day, most men opt for the safe choices (i.e., cards, chocolate and/or flowers). But if you're one of those guys who's got a bit of a dramatic / gothic streak, if you sincerely believe that every great romance should have an element of surprise & mystery to it ... Well, maybe you should consider taking your beloved out to San Jose to tour the Winchester Mystery House . Okay. I know. Taking someone that you care about into what...
  • Jim Hill

    Getting "Zootopia" just right really challenged Disney screenwriters Jared Bush and Phil Johnston

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    Given that " Zootopia " is set in a mammals-only city, it's entirely appropriate that this Walt Disney Animation Studios production took home the lion's share of the prizes at this year's Annie Awards . This Byron Howard / Rich Moore movie wound up claiming six of the top trophies at Saturday night's ceremony at UCLA's Royce Hall . Among them Best Animated Feature, Best Directing, Best Storyboarding, Best Character Design and Best Voice Acting in an Animated Feature...
  • Jim Hill

    "Hanna-Barbera: The Architects of Saturday Morning" shines a spotlight on one of the greatest comeback stories in Hollywood history

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    60 years ago this month, William Hanna & Joseph Barbera were riding high. Following the retirement of their longtime boss / nemesis, Fred Quimby , Bill & Joe were finally fully in charge of MGM's animation division. And these two were genuinely looking forward to extending their studio's Oscar-winning streak (From 1940 - 1957, seven cartoons produced by MGM's animation unit wound up taking home the Academy Award for Best Animated Short. To put this in perspective: During this...
  • Jim Hill

    Three Disney Parks put very different spins on their Chinese New Year / Lunar New Year celebrations

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    Today's the first day of the Chinese New Year, a holiday that one sixth of the world's population will celebrate with friends & family. Mind you, not everyone will be celebrating the first day of the Year of the Golden Rooster in the exact same way. On the Mainland, Chinese New Year is kind of like Christmas & New Year's all rolled into one. Which is why this weeks-long celebration takes on almost an epic quality with spectacular entertainments, festive decorations, and special...
  • Jim Hill

    PR professionals pay tribute to Disney Legend Charlie Ridgway, Magic Kingdom Press Agent

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    It's been over a month now since we lost Charlie Ridgway. And for those of us who were lucky enough to know and/or work with this Disney Legend, this is a wound that will take a while to heal. "And why exactly is that?," you say. Well, I could go on & on about my own dealings with Charlie over the past three-plus decades. What a genuine pleasure he was to work with because Mr. Ridgway was that rarer-than-rare thing: A PR guy who actually liked working with reporters. Charlie Ridgway...
  • Jim Hill

    NASCAR stars & legendary car designers lend their street cred to Disney Junior's new "Mickey and the Roadster Racers" show

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    " Mickey and the Roadster Racers " may look like a cute little cartoon show from the outside. But were you to pop the hood of this new Disney Television Animation production (which premieres tomorrow on Disney Junior at 9 a.m. ET/PT), you'd discover that some serious car cred went into its creation. Mind you, that's largely because Rob LaDuca (i.e., the executive producer of "Roadsters Racers") and Mark Seidenberg (who's the Co-EP & Supervising Story Editor of...
  • Jim Hill

    How "Pinocchio" beat "Bambi" to become Disney's second feature-length animated film after "Snow White"

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    " Pinocchio " has long been hailed as Walt Disney's masterpiece. While Walt Disney Animation Studios ' second feature-length production may admittedly lack the heart that " Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs " had, there's no denying that "Pinocchio" tops its predecessor. At least when it comes to artistic ambition and technological advances. Mind you, "Pinocchio" wasn't always supposed to be the film that followed "Snow White." In fact...
  • Jim Hill

    Dana Daniels brings a little bit of Disneyland to NYC in "The Illusionists: Turn of the Century"

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    Given that Dana Daniels began his career at Disneyland Park , you wouldn't think that this award-winning comedy magician would be all that impressed with palaces. Ah, but the palace that Dana is currently performing in isn't found at some theme park. It's THE Palace Theatre in New York City's Times Square. That historic 1,740 seat venue where - during the first half of the last century -- countless legendary entertainers once worked this stage. "I am a huge Marx Brothers fan...
  • Jim Hill

    When you're having "Yourself A Merry Little Christmas," which version of this holiday classic do you prefer to sing?

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    "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" had a pretty big year in 2016. Thanks to Josh Groban, this 72 year-old Hugh Martin / Ralph Blane tune reached No. 1 on Billboard's adult contemporary charts . Copyright Reprise / Warner Bros. All rights reserved Mind you, this isn't the only time in recent memory that this holiday song has charted. Back in 2014, Sam Smith's cover of "Merry Little Christmas" made it into Billboard's Hot 100 . And Michael Bublé's...
  • Jim Hill

    Never mind about Santa Claus coming to town tomorrow. Rudolph, Charlie Brown & the Grinch are all spending the holidays in Orlando this year

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    Head's up to all you baby boomers out there: Tonight's your last chance to catch the "Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas" during its annual network airing ( NBC will be running this Chuck-Jones -produced holiday special this evening starting at 8 p.m. ET/ PT). Copyright Warner Bros. Entertainment. All rights reserved Mind you, if you're just not ready to say "See You Next Year" to Cindy Lou Who - or the cast of "A Charlie Brown Christmas" &...
  • Jim Hill

    Garth Jennings sings the praises of those Illumination Entertainment staffers who helped him through the animation production process on "Sing"

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    How hard can it be? That was the question that Garth Jennings asked himself when Chris Meledandri - the CEO of Illumination Entertainment - offered him the opportunity to direct "Sing," his very first animated feature. And given the many types of productions Garth has worked on over the course of his career (i.e., shooting well-received videos for bands like Blur & Radiohead back in the 1990s. Helming big-budget feature films like 2005's "the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy...
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