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  • 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...
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    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...
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    "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...
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    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...
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    "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...
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    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...
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    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...
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    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...
  • Jim Hill

    "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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    On the heels of making his directorial debut on Disney XD's "Lab Rats," Hal Sparks talks about the serious side of making sitcoms

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    Since he's a relatively youthful 45 year-old, it's genuinely hard to think of Hal Sparks as an elder statesman of broadcasting. But then again, given that Sparks booked his first professional TV hosting gig while still in high school (At 18 years of age, Hal was the host of " Treasure Mall ," that short-lived syndicated game show), he's already got over a quarter-of-a-century of in-front-of-the-camera time under his belt. "And I've been in this business long enough...
  • Jim Hill

    Your favorite cartoon characters come back from the dead for Disney Television Animation's "Re-Animated: The Zombie Show"

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    Most companies -- when they're celebrating their 30th anniversary -- would hold a party. Maybe spring for a sheet cake and some punch. Photo by Rick Rowell . Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved But because Disney Television Animation will be commemorating this auspicious occasion next month right after Halloween, they decided to put a ghoulish spin on their 30th anniversary celebration. Which is why all of the talented artists, executives and staffers who work at TVA were invited...
  • Jim Hill

    Nana finally makes it to Never Land in "Battle for the Book!," a primetime "Jake and the Never Land Pirates" special

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    Let's be honest here. You kind of feel bad for Nana whenever you watch Disney's " Peter Pan ." Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved After all, everyone else gets to fly off to Never Land in this 1953 animated feature. But because Mr. Darling had tied this canine caretaker up in the backyard before he and Mrs. Darling then went out for the evening, even though Michael actually sprinkles Nana with pixie dust, she just wind up levitating at the end of her leash. Mind...
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    John Musker and Ron Clements chart an ambitious course for "Moana," Walt Disney Animation Studios' 2016 release

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    They've taken us under the sea with their charming reimagining of Hans Christian Andersen's " The Little Mermaid ." Not to mention soaring through the sky aboard a magic carpet in their wildly comic take on the 1001 Arabian Nights, " Aladdin ." So where will John Musker and Ron Clements be taking moviegoers next? To the South Seas. A remote spot on the map that these two Walt Disney Animation Studios veterans genuinely believe is the perfect setting for "Moana,"...
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    How Wilmer Valderrama helped make 'From Dusk Till Dawn' a featured attraction at this year's Universal Studios Halloween Horror Nights

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    If you're one of the tens of thousands of people who've already screamed your way through the "From Dusk Till Dawn" maze at this year's Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Studios Hollywood and the Universal Orlando Resort ... Well, you have Wilmer Valderrama to thank for those scares. And -- no -- that's not because Wilmer plays a key role in this hit TV series on the El Rey Network . But rather because Valderrama has been a longtime Halloween Horror Nights fan. "Seriously...
  • Jim Hill

    How Comic-Con helped create fans for Disney XD's "Star vs. The Forces of Evil" six months before its first episode airs

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    There's a way that things used to work in the television animation universe. First a new show would go on the air. Then viewers would sample a few episodes and decide if they actually liked a program. If that were the case, then the fan base for this new animated series would slowly build over time. Well, things move a lot faster these days. Take -- for example -- Disney XD's "Star vs. The Forces of Evil." The new animated series doesn't actually go on the air 'til January...
  • Jim Hill

    Pixar's "Lava" uses massive characters & settings to tell sweet little love story

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    The history of Hollywood is littered with stories of short leading men and all the tricks the studios had to use in order to make these diminutive actors seem larger-than-life. But what happens when you have the opposite problem? When your film is built around a performer who's so enormous that it's genuinely hard to fit them in the frame with anyone else? That's the challenge that James Ford Murphy faced with " Lava ," the brand-new short he just wrote & directed for Pixar...
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    Disney characters puts the fun in fundraising at annual CHOC "Walk in the Park" event

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    It's the fundraiser that Disney fans happily and willingly get out of bed at 3 a.m. to take part in. The one that people actually schedule their Southern California vacations around, with some participants flying in from as far away as Texas, Illinois and Connecticut. Which event am I talking about? The largest walk for pediatric care in the nation, Children's Hospital of Orange County 's annual "Walk in the Park." Or as this 5K is more fondly known to the thousands who participate...
  • Jim Hill

    "Big Hero 6" hopes to make a big splash in the Big Apple at this year's New York Comic-Con

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    To hear Don Hall tell this story, it was just weeks after The Walt Disney Company revealed that it would be acquiring Marvel Entertainment for $4.24 billion back in August of 2009 when he first came up with the idea of using a relatively obscure Marvel comic book series as the inspiration for a full-length animated feature. "I grew up loving Marvel comics. So imagine my excitement when those two crazy kids -- Marvel & Disney -- got together," The co-director of " Big Hero 6 "...
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