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  • Jim Hill

    Never mind about Meryl & Emma. What about Julie & Audrey's epic battle for Best Actress back in 1965?

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    Okay. I know. You're feeling kind of blue because members of the Academy didn't show " Saving Mr. Banks " all that much love last week. There's also a number of you out there who are really, really angry at Meryl Streep right now. Mostly because you believe that her ill-considered remarks at the National Board of Review awards gala is what wound up costing Emma Thompson a Best Actress nomination. Meryl Streep and Emma Thompson at the 2014 Board of National Review Awards Gala...
  • Jim Hill

    Huffington Post -- Disney "Frozen" directors credit their crew with this film's Best Animated Feature nomination

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    So was it glamorous & exciting for Chris Buck and Jennifer Lee earlier today when they learned that " Frozen " -- the Walt Disney Pictures release that they had co-directed -- had been nominated for Best Animated Feature ? Not exactly. Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved "You have to understand that the Academy makes these announcements at around 5:30 a.m. West Coast Time. And the last time I was nominated, for " Surf's Up ," I didn't set my...
  • Jim Hill

    "Roadblock!" reveals how Disney's "The Happiest Millionaire" wound up being such a cinematic misfire

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    What with " Saving Mr. Banks " being out in theaters right now, there's been a lot of talk lately about " Mary Poppins ." How this Academy Award-winning film was perhaps Walt Disney's crowning cinematic achievement. But me? I can't help but look at the two Disney-produced movie musicals on either side of "Mary Poppins." To be specific, 1961's " Babes in Toyland " and 1967's " The Happiest Millionaire ." Which are ... um ... Here...
  • Jim Hill

    Was Walt Disney an anti-Semite? Not according to The Wizard of Oz

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    Sorry I've been away for a couple of days. So what did I miss? Ah, yeah. Meryl Streep 's speech at the National Board of Review awards. Where -- before she handed Emma Thompson the best actress award for her stellar performance in " Saving Mr. Banks " -- Streep first went out of her way to attack the late Walt Disney. Calling him racist, sexist and anti-Semitic . Look, Floyd Norman has already effectively addressed the racism issue . And Amid Amidi did a great job of debunking Meryl's...
  • Jim Hill

    Adam Sanderson is named as the new head of D23: The Official Disney Fan Club

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    Ever since Steven Clark -- the head of D23 -- stepped down in late September, people have been wondering what this means for the future of the Official Disney Fan Club. Even though Bob Iger had already announced that The Walt Disney Company would be staging another D23 EXPO in Anaheim in 2015 , there were those within the Disneyana fan community who were concerned about the Club's future. The Ben Franklin & Mark Twain audio animatronic figures from the finale of Epcot's "American...
  • Jim Hill

    Why didn't Disney & Marvel officials come to Spider-Man's rescue during "Turn Off the Dark" 's Broadway debacle?

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    Over the past few days, you've probably seen a story or two about " Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark ." You know, that problem-plagued Broadway musical which just closed at the Foxwoods Theatre this past Saturday night . Given that Marvel Entertainment, LLC is a wholly-owned subsidiary of The Walt Disney Company , there were always those within the theater community who wondered why -- when "Turn Off the Dark" was genuinely floundering during this show's seemingly endless...
  • Jim Hill

    "Saving Mr. Banks" production team works with Disney Archives to accurately recreate Walt's World circa 1962

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    So just how far did the " Saving Mr. Banks " production team go when it came to replicating the look & the feel of a early 1960s version of Walt Disney Studios and Disneyland Park ? Pretty darned far. Or so says Becky Cline , the Director of the Walt Disney Archives . "When the Studio brought Kelly Marcel 's script for 'Saving Mr. Banks' in February of 2012 , it was all over the news out here. And as soon as Disney officially acquired the project, the filmmakers then...
  • Jim Hill

    Though Disney "Frozen" may be the Snow Queen of today's movie box office, "The Lion King" still reigns supreme

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    You have to admit that Disney "Frozen" has already had a pretty spectacular run at the box office. Over the past five weeks, this Walt Disney Animation Studios production has earned an estimated $248.4 million domestically . And then when you favor in the $250 million worth of tickets that foreign film-goers have purchased for "Frozen" to date, that's a half billion dollars right there . And given that this Chris Buck / Jennifer Lee movie is expected to maintain its box office...
  • Jim Hill

    Have a Holly Rolly Christmas by listening to "More Cute Stories -- Volume 2: Animators and Imagineers"

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    If you're like me, you spend a lot of time during the holiday season on the road. Take -- for example -- last night, where Nancy and I drove down to her sister's place in Massachusetts so that we could then spent Christmas Eve with the Moores. Then later today, we'll climb back in the car and once again zoom down to the Bay State. Just so that we can then do Christmas dinner with my family. And given that Nancy and I live 'way the hell out in the woods of New Hampshire (How far out...
  • Jim Hill

    New England Studios hopes to begin producing motion pictures & television series at this state-of-the-art facility in 2014

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    "If you build it, they will come." No, that's not just a phrase that gets whispered to Kevin Costner as he wanders through a cornfield. That's also the dream of would-be entertainment entrepreneuers everywhere. They sincerely believe if they build a state-of-the-art soundstage somewhere other than Hollywood, filmmakers who are tired of dealing with the high costs & hassles of shooting in Southern California will flock to this new facility. Copyright 2013 New England Studios...
  • Jim Hill

    Huffington Post -- Watch Santa give Krampus a seasonal smackdown on "The Aquabats! Super Show! Holiday Special"

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    He sees you when you're sleeping, He knows when you're awake, He knows if you've been bad or good, So be good for goodness sake. This particular refrain from "Santa Claus is Coming to Town" has always kind of creeped me out. Mostly because -- according to European folklore -- St. Nick actually has this sinister sidekick called Krampus . And this horned holiday devil will not hesitate when it comes to dropping the hammer on naughty little girls & boys. So how big a bad-ass...
  • Jim Hill

    Classic Disney characters help turn the lobby of Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children into a more kid-friendly space

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    Let me take you back to March of 1994. I'm in the Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children . And because my then-wife Michelle had just begun having contractions, the staff in Maternity had quickly admitted her. And since I wanted to keep both sets of would-be grandparents aware of what was going on in this pre-cell-phone era, I went off in search of a pay phone. Which the woman working at the admissions desk said was downin the lobby. So I hustled down to the lobby, made two phone calls (One to Massachusetts...
  • Jim Hill

    Busch Gardens Williamsburg went right down to the wire while decking the halls for the 2013 edition of Christmas Town

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    I wanted to share a few shots that Nancy and I took last month at Busch Gardens Williamsburg . We were onsite for the official opening day of this year's edition of Christmas Town . Photo by Jim Hill We actually managed to make it inside this 350+ acre theme park before it opened to the public and got to see some of BGW's decorating team at work. Photo by Nancy Stadler I now want to direct your attention to the clock in the bottom-left-hand corner of the above image. Photo by Nancy Stadler...
  • Jim Hill

    Never mind about Emma Thompson playing P.L Travers. Did you hear about the time that this "Saving Mr. Banks" star was supposed to play Mary Poppins?

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    Given that one of the key scenes in " Saving Mr. Banks " is the Hollywood premiere of " Mary Poppins " (which was held on August 27, 1964 at Graumann's Chinese Theatre ), I thought that all of you movie trivia buffs out there might be interested to learn that the 49th anniversary of this Walt Disney Productions' London premiere (i.e. the one that Walt had hoped Pamela Travers would attend, rather than the Hollywood premiere) is today. Yep, according to what Valerie Lawson...
  • Jim Hill

    Huffington Post -- I Remember Papa: Jonathan Winter's Smurfy swan song

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    When it came time to find just the right voice for Papa Smurf, Raja Gosnell and Jordan Kerner were admittedly feeling a little blue. Why For? Because the casting department at Sony Pictures Animation kept coming up short. (L to R) Sony Pictures Digital Production president Bob Osher, director Raja Gosnell and producer Jordan Kerner at the Los Angeles premiere of "The Smurfs 2." Photo by Michael Buckner / Getty Images North America "This was back in early 2010 when we had just begun...
  • Jim Hill

    Huffington Post -- How Josh Gad almost missed out on the chance to voice Olaf the snowman for Disney "Frozen"

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    To be asked to participate in the first reading of a brand-new Disney animated feature was like a dream come true for Josh Gad. "You have to understand that -- when I was growing up -- I was absolutely obsessed with the animated films of Disney's Second Golden Age," Gad explained during a recent phone interview. "I mean, I recall going to see ' The Little Mermaid ' in theaters no less than 20 times. My poor mother had to send me with various aunts and uncles and nephews...
  • Jim Hill

    There were lots of tiny tots with their eyes all a-glow at Sesame Place's "A Very Furry Christmas"

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    SuperGrover22 wrote in yesterday with a Why For question: Copyright Ballantine Books. All rights reserved I just finished reading your review of Brian Jay Jones ' " Jim Henson: The Biography ." Can you please explain why Michael Eisner seemed so eager to get his hands on the Sesame Street Muppets? Disney had all of its own characters plus it was about to acquire all of the classic Muppets. Wasn't that enough? Why For did Eisner keep trying to persuade Henson to hand over the Sesame...
  • Jim Hill

    What role did Great Wolf Lodge play in the development of MagicBands for Walt Disney World?

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    Pauline S. dropped me a note the other day to ask: I've read lots of stories lately about all the testing that's being done at Disney World for MagicBands . And while there's been a lot written online about how everyone's WDW vacation experience will supposedly be changed forever once the entire resort is wired into this system, I have yet to hear anything about where the idea behind MagicBands actually came from. Do you know why Disney decided to implement this system in Orlando...
  • Jim Hill

    Huffington Post -- This "Little Mermaid" has legs: Disney Legend Jodi Benson looks back on 25 years of voicing the character of Ariel

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    It's often been said that good things come to those who wait. But no one knows that axiom better than voice actor Jodi Benson . Who had to wait a full year after handing in her " Little Mermaid " audition tape before Jodi then learned that she had won the role of a lifetime. The Lunt-Fontanne Theatre on the Fall of 1986 "Back in the Fall of 1986, I was appearing in ' Smile ,' a Broadway musical that Howard Ashman had written with Marvin Hamlisch . Given that Howard and...
  • Jim Hill

    Huffington Post -- Theme entertainment professionals "Go Go" to Orlando for IAAPA's Attractions Expo

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    So how exactly do theme park attractions get created? Well, if you're talking about the rides & shows found at the Disney Parks , those are mostly the work of Walt's fabled Imagineers. Or if you're talking about The Wizarding World of Harry Potter (which -- even as you read this -- is expanding beyond Islands of Adventure 's borders over into Universal Studios Florida ), that impressive project was shepherded by the small-but-mighty team at Universal Creative . But what about...
  • Jim Hill

    Remembering Diane Disney Miller (1933 - 2013)

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    If you're looking for someone to thank for two of Walt Disney's greatest triumphs -- Disneyland Park and " Mary Poppins " -- take a moment right now to think about the late Diane Disney Miller . Miller -- who passed away earlier today following complications from a fall -- played a key role in both of these projects. When quizzed about how the Happiest Place on Earth came into being, Walt was quick to share the story of how ... ... Disneyland really began when my two daughters were...
  • Jim Hill

    Huffington Post -- In honor of Mickey's 85th anniversary, check out this clip from Walt Disney Animation Studios newest short, "Get A Horse!"

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    Even though today is Mickey Mouse's 85th anniversary, this Disney icon looks like he hasn't aged a day. Especially if you watch this classic cartoon character capering in his newest ground-breaking theatrical short, " Get A Horse! " As you can see by the clip which accompanies today's article (which is a special anniversary present that Walt Disney Animation Studios is sharing with JHM & Huffington Post readers), the opening section of "Get A Horse!" deliberately...
  • Jim Hill

    Jingle Cruise is a bungle in the jungle, thanks -- in large part -- to the way this new holiday overlay has been promoted

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    So where exactly -- in the great holiday scheme of things -- does Disneyland Park 's latest attempt at a seasonal overlay fall? Is the Jingle Cruise that Xmas gift which you've always dreamed of getting or more of an itchy sweater? Changing a single letter makes a really big difference at this Adventureland attraction. Photo by Jim Hill To be blunt, this holiday overlay is kind of a half-baked fruitcake. By that I mean: The creative concept behind the Jingle Cruise itself is sound. And the...
  • Jim Hill

    Tim Gunn is having a royal ball voicing Baileywick on Disney Junior's hit series, "Sofia the First"

    • 1 Comments
    Given that Disney Junior 's " Sofia the First " is supposedly set in this fantasy world filled with costumed balls & formal ceremonies, it only made sense that Enchancia's newest princess (who -- prior to her mother marrying King Roland -- had just been a regular kid, the daughter of the kingdom's shoemaker) would really need some help when it came to deciding which gown to wear for what occasion. "And since there was always going to be this aspect of 'Sofia the...
  • Jim Hill

    "Jim Henson: The Biography" takes you behind-the-scenes during Disney's first attempt to acquire the Muppets

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    So when Jim Henson finally signed the Muppets over to The Walt Disney Company, where exactly did the deal go down? New York City? London? LA? Nope. According to Brian Jay Jones , the author of " Jim Henson: The Biography " ( Ballantine Books , September 2013), this fateful meeting actually happened in Lake Buena Vista, FL. on August 24, 1989. Where ... Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved ... just after dark, Jim and the three Disney chiefs headed to the Portobello Yacht...
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