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Why For Zac Efron doesn't have more fans in Mouse House management?

Jim Hill

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Why For Zac Efron doesn't have more fans in Mouse House management?

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Mindy T. writes in to say:

I'm a big Beyoncé fan. So last week's story about how Disney was after her to star in the movie version of "Aida" really excited me. Is there any other new on this project?

Dear Mindy T.

Talk between Ms. Knowles and the Mouse are continuing. And though Beyoncé has yet to officially agree to appear in "Aida," the studio has already begun quietly talking with a few other performers about possibly doing this big screen musical. And among the people that Disney has reached out to is "High School Musical" co-star Corbin Bleu.

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Mouse House managers just l-o-o-o-ve Corbin Bleu. They honestly can not say enough nice things about this affable Afro-ed actor. They talk endlessly about personable & professional Corbin is; how Bleu tackles every assignment that the studio throws his way with energy & enthusiasm; and yet -- given how talented this 18-year-old kid is -- he's still very courteous to everyone he deals with Disney. That's why a lot of folks in Burbank think that Corbin is going to have a huge career. Thanks -- in large part -- to the great grounding that Bleu's father, veteran character actor David Reivers, has obviously given his son.

Now contrast this with what's being said on the Burbank lot about Zac Efron. According to studio insiders, this "High School Musical" star has ...

"... has been labeled one of the most difficult talent to ever work with the studio. More vain than the girls on Wisteria Lane, more greedy than Sir Elton, more fickle than Johnny Depp. Kid needs to get a clue."

Mind you, this is what's being said behind Efron's back. Given that the Disney Channel really needs Zac to be happy & cooperative as they begin doing publicity for "High School Musical 2," they're bending over backward right now to kiss this 19-year-old's butt. But once Mr. Efron is out of earshot, the tongues start wagging.

 Image courtesy of Buena Vista Home Entertainment.
Photo By Alberto Rodriguez. Berliner Studio / BEImages

And given that Walt Disney Pictures still has plans to move forward with production of "High School Musical 3" (Though now that Zac has just signed to star in the remake of "Footloose," the release date of the third installment of the "HSM" trilogy has been pushed from October of 2008 to the later winter / early spring of 2009), Mickey will continue to cave in to this male diva's demands. At least until that last scene is in the can. After that ... Well, Mr. Efron may then find out that it's not all that wise to start throwing your weight around. Particularly when your career is just getting started.

And speaking of just getting started, Peter W. wrote to me earlier this week, seeking my thoughts on WDI's new VP in charge of DCA.

Have you heard? Bob Weis is back at Walt Disney Imagineering! They brought him back to serve as the new Vice President in charge of Disney's California Adventure. He's the one who's going to be calling the shots on how that theme park gets overhauled from here on in. Is that great news or what?

Dear Peter W.

That is great news. For my money, Weis was one of the brightest guys to ever work at WDI. And it's a smart, smart move on Imagineering's part to bring Bob back and then put him in charge of fixing DCA.

After all, given how much of that theme park is a direct lift from Weis's original plans for Disney's America, the man's already got to feel right at home.

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What's that you say? You don't see any hint of Disney's America in California Adventure? Here, let me open your eyes a bit:

  • DCA's "Paradise Pier" district was clearly inspired from DA's "State Fair" territory, given that this part of that proposed theme park was to have featured (I'm quoting from the "Disney's America" informational brochure now) " ... nostalgic recreation(s) of such popular rides as a 60-foot Ferris Wheel and a classic wooden roller coaster."

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  • Meanwhile, over in DCA's "Golden State" district, that theme park's "Grizzly River Run" attraction clearly draws its inspiration from the "Lewis & Clark Expedition" white water raft ride that was supposed to have served as the centerpiece of DA's "Native America" territory.

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  • Speaking of borrowing ideas, California Adventure visitors would have probably found Disney's America's "Victory Field" section very familiar. Given that the whole 1940s era airfield motif that's used so effectively over in DCA's "Condor Flats" district was originally dreamed up by Weis's team for DA.

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  • And as for California Adventure's old "Bountiful Valley Farm" district, that whole part of that theme park was basically a xerox of Disney's America's "Family Farm" territory. Which (Again, I'm quoting from the informational brochure here) was to have offered " ... a cornucopia of pastoral delights and insights into their production ... Visitors will see how crops are harvested ..."

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And given that DCA's "Hollywood Pictures Backlot" is basically a Reader's Digest version of the first theme park that Bob designed for the Walt Disney Company (i.e. Disney-MGM Studios theme park) ... Well, perhaps you can now understand why Weis feels right at home in California Adventure.

Of course, now comes the hard part. Trying to find a way to pull together this hodge-podge of rides, shows and attractions. So that DCA first takes on a unified viewpoint and then begins to tell some sort of cohesive story.

But if anyone can actually pull that off, it's going to be Bob Weis. Honestly, his coming back to Glendale -- after all those years of having his own company, Island Design Associates -- is the best news that I've heard in a long time.

Mind you, not all of the news that's coming out of Glendale these days is great. Take -- for instance -- this note from Nate the Gnat:


Long time reader. Love your site. Keep the good work. Blah, blah, blah.

Okay. Now that that's out of the way, let me tell you that I work at Walt Disney Imagineering. I can't tell you where I work because I signed an NDA when I first started with the company and I don't want to lose my job now.

But what I can tell you is that I have friends who are working on the 'Toy Story Mania' attraction. And that project is an awful mess right now. They can't get the interactive 3D projection system to work to anyone's satisfaction. There's lots of issues with blurring and image resolution. Which is why there's been a lot of talk lately about pushing back the opening date of this attraction (Both the DCA AND the Disney-MGM version) by as much as six months. Just so that WDI will then have all of the time that it needs to work all the bugs out.

 Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Just thought that you would want to know.

Nate the Gnat

Dear Nate the Gnat,

Yeah, I'd been hearing similar things from other folks who work at WDI. Of course, given that "Toy Story Mania" is one of the key pieces of the Disney-MGM-becomes-Disney-Pixar-Studios name change project ... Management is not real happy to be hearing the Imagineer's pleas of "We need more time." They want this name-change to take place next year with lots of Pixar-related hoopla. But if this interactive dark ride isn't working correctly and/or is deemed to be less-than-impressive by the theme-park-going public (Shades of the "Monsters, Inc. Laugh Floor" !) ... Well, that could then give this newly renamed theme park a black eye before the Imagineers really get started with Pixarizing the place.

Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved

So the pressure's really on right now. The way I hear it, Imagineering management is throwing unlimited men, time and money at the "Toy Story Mania" attraction. Saying -- in essence -- that "I don't care what you do. Just make sure that this attraction is fully-functional and ready to open by the middle of 2008."

So it will be interesting to see how this all plays out next year. Whether WDI will be able to work out all of the kinks in time. Or will "Toy Story Mania" wind up just like "Laugh Floor" and have to push back its originally announced opening date by as much as six months.

Okay. That's enough for this week. You folks have a great weekend, okay? And we'll all see you again come Monday morning.

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  • Why didn't they just kill Zac Efron off in the 2nd one?  Kind of a Romeo & Juliet scene.  The second movie of the trilogies are typically the sad ones anyway right?  Then Corbin Bleu can come in and save the day and take his rightful place as the new king of the High School Musical empire.

    Hey, is that what happened with Hillary Duff?  I recall something about Duff and her mother giving Disney a hard time when they were doing Lizzie Macguire, and now it seems like Hillary hasn't gotten a decent acting job anywhere.  Did I read about this on this site?  I recall a similar article Jim wrote basically saying "Don't eff with Disney."

  • Gotta watch your back with those “studio insiders.” They wanna take Lasseter down a peg, and can’t wait to “humble” Efron. Maybe these studio insiders are ex-wrestlers from the WWE. I don’t know much about Sir Elton, but how greedy can a diva be that does as much charity and benefit work as he does each year?  

    I am (thankfully) not in the target market for HSM, but as I recall girls are drawn to guys that they agree are “hot”, not guys that are clean cut, personable, and professional. May not be fair, that’s just how it works. So Zac, make all the demands you want while you can – I’m pretty sure the studio insiders would make twice the demands if given the chance.

    I’ll trust the consensus on Weis, but it doesn’t sound automatically fantastic to me. His design credits include a ferris wheel, a wooden roller coaster, a raft ride, and a farm area. Um, ok. Was he designing while waiting on a bench at Knott’s Berry Farm? He also designed MGM Studios – a park that has had flow problems and a lack of attractions since day one. Since then he’s been freelancing designing museum attractions. So fingers crossed – hopefully he’s the guy for the job. Just odd that out of the tens of thousands employed by Disney Co, he’s the one that can fix DCA. At least I don’t have to worry – if Weis doesn’t fix DCA appropriately, I know “studio insiders” are waiting to power slam him to the mat.

  • Jim, this is the first articlein days that actually has some real truth to it (i am refering to the aweful trash about pixars ratatoouille you have written recently).

    I have friends that work for disney channel and they have commented on the problems with Zac and his diva attitude.  They have mentiioned that they had not seen such a problem with one of their actors since hilary Duff.  The difference is that with Hilary duff it was not her that was problematic.  The problem with Hilary duff was actually the constant rude behavior and demands of her Mother.  It was Hilary's mom that eventually caused them to have issues and eventually break away from their contract.  It was not a hard decision for disney at the time since they had a very succesful rising star with  Ravene Symone.

    This time around it is Zac which feels like disney owes him everything and has a big ego.

    As for Toy story Mania, i had also heard that WDI is not happy with the animation and was hoping to push back the opening.  What i had heard though is that only WDW would be the one that would had to push back the opening since it was already scheduled to open about 4 months before the one at DCA.  Construction in WDW is much more advanced because of the re-use of the Millionare building.

    I personally tought that it was being done on purpose to force WDW to open at a later date which would place it closer to DCA's opening since the attraction was originally DCA's original concpet and seemed unfair that WDW was pushing to beat Anaheim in debuting it

  • I'd love it if Corbin Bleu would be in "Aida"- I'm a huge fan of his.  I don't know much about the story, though- he wouldn't be playing Beyonce's love interest, would he?  Also, Jim mentioned that Corbin is African-American...but he's actually Jamaican/Italian- American...

    If HSM3 gets pushed until early 2009, what will they have in the meantime, between the 2nd and 3rd movies?  I know that there'll be an ice show and a stage show, but the HSM actors from the movies aren't in those.  Do you think there will be another HSM concert tour?  Disney will need something to keep people interested...some people will still be interested, but kids are fickle.

    Since you mentioned the Monsters, Inc. Laugh Floor, I think, if there's any way possible, that Disney should move that attraction to Disney-Pixar Studios.  It fits in there a lot better than it does in Tomorrowland.

  • I know I said this last time, but once again. High School Musical...I just don't care.

    I'd also be a little concerned about the guy who designed MGM, my least favorite park in Orlando.

  • I really dug Disney-MGM in its early days....I'm a sucker for the old idealist versions of a 30's-40's Hollywood.  The problem that quickly emerged at the Studios (And why not just call it the park Disney Studios or Disney's Hollywood Studios...anyways) the park is a hodge podge.  It felt like there was a master plan at the beginning but it got tossed out the window......

    Where can we stick an indoor rollercoaster.....hey plop it down right here and paint the giant building to look like a soundstage....that's Hollywood-ish right??....and toss a huge guitar out front..the people will love that.  

    Now where can a Playhouse Disney show go?  Eh just gut a restaurant and through it in there...new attraction...perfect....

    They people seem to like the giant guitar so lets add a giant hat at the end of the old Hollywood looking Blvd...it wont blend but it better than throwing a tarp over the Chinese Theater...hummmm what other random things can we toss in the park.......sigh

    Hopefully the Pixar Place will have a sense of cohesive theme and blend in with its surrounding neighbors....


  • If Zac Efron is really so vain, greedy, fickle, and making constant demands of Disney Management - why isn't he posting on JHM discussion boards with the rest of us?  ; )

  • -Zac Efron/Corbin Bleu: Don't care.

    -As for the imagineering thing:

    I went to Anaheim in 2003 (My first and only trip to the DL property so far), and I didn't think California Adventure was *AS* bad as it was made out to be. Now, I was only 15 at the time, but I went expecting it to be a complete worthless experience, and it wasn't. That being said, I can see how it needs an overhaul. How do you guys fell it should be revamped? I think the faux-MGM area should be totally redone, same with the Bug's Life farm. I actually like Paradise Pear's idea, but I wouldn't mind it changing.

    BTW, I've always enjoyed MGM, and while I don't like the hat, I've always thought  the Rock & Roller Coaster fit well...

  • I'm awaiting the return of the teenage fangirls who materialized the last time this story ran--the ones who called everyone here a bunch of jealous old fogeys or somesuch.

    I think they, however, would know the difference between "hot" and "whiney", and girls usually don't get all lathered up over guys doing their own version of Luke Skywalker wanting to go to Toschi Station to pick up some power converters.  But maybe Efron is pushing PAs around, demanding that they buy him beer and cigarettes--who knows?

    And though it might feel comforting to know that jerky behavior will bring about his downfall, look at how long the studios have put up with Ms. Lohan--another Disney diva. (What is it about that place?)  She's fading fast, however, and she lost out on a quality role by refusing to have Ms. Knightley as a chaperone.

  • I'm not getting why designing MGM and DCA is considered a credit on your resume.

    MGM?  Yeah, it had some charm at one time.  It was horribly underbuilt when it had that charm, but maybe that was out of Weiss's control.  But the layout was still bad and only got worse as it expanded to what is still an underbuilt park.

    DCA was a relative disaster when it opened and it still is.

    It's not that you can't have any fun there, it's just that being better than getting poked in the eye with a sharp stick isn't exactly what the Disney standard should be.  The design of Paradise Pier, Condor Flats and the Bountiful Farm are hardly highpoints in Imagineering history.

    Maybe Weiss will produce better results under different management... who knows?  But his history doesn't exactly warrant breaking out into "For he's a jolly good fellow..."

  • Maybe I'm missing something...

    What's wrong with the layout of MGM?

  • MINDERBINDER SAID - "Looking at your posts, you certainly come off as someone with an axe to grind and nothing useful to say."

    Wow, don't beat around the bush, there MB...gee, I'm sorry you feel I am so unworthy...I must not be a very good writer...have to work on that...maybe some night classes at the local JC...perhaps an online course, "How To Write Useful Posts."

    Now, as far as "an axe to grind" you couldn't be further from the truth...I enjoy playing around on this site (I thought that's what it was for).  In truth, I will tell you I am very fortunate to be in the entertainment industry...( working, not-bitter, much to be happy about, version). I absolutely do not have any dislike , or "axes" to grind with any studio, (they have all given me a terrific life), so, I feel I have a pretty good unbiased "take" on many things "Showbiz"...I think it's called perspective...But, I wish you well, as, per your request, I will now retire my "useless" musings... to people who pay me for them:)

  • Zac Efron - Seriously you guys, this kid has just let it go to his head. Disney is very smart, very very smart to keep up with the demands of this kid, I would.

    HIGH SCHOOL MUSICAL 3 - Seriously people, don't shrug this off as a fad, its not. It's amazing, I'm 16, about to be a senior, all of MY friends LOVE IT, my two sisters LOVE IT. They especially love Zac Efron, because ladies and gentleman, as we should all know, Zac Efron is like the Jack Sparrow of High School Musical, without him, there would be nothing. I personally wouldn't watch a High School Musical without him. neither would half of High School Musical's other fans, it would just stink.

    And if Efron's "Hairspray" fails at box office, then I would understand if Disney backed off. But as of right now, I'm fully confident in Hairspray, and I know that High School Musical 2 will definitely break some Disney Channel Ratings, like BIG TIME, the Number 1 CD for 2007? High School Musical 2 ladies and gentleman, I'm sure.

    Disney's California Adventure - I'd love to see lasseter fix it, which I'm sure he is going to have some kind of say in it. But yeah, just hope it gets to become an awesome park like Disneyland!

  • HSM isn't my thing- my little sister is big on Efron, looking forward to Hairspray and his signing in Times Square next week...  But isn't it basically the same type of thing the company's been doing since the Mickey Mouse Club?

  • MGM was originally intended as a sort of "half-park" like Typhoon Lagoon and Blizzard Beach.  THAT is why it has struggled with being under-sized and having fewer rides, it has nothing to do with the designer.  He did an amazing job with what he was given so I'm excited to see what he'll do at DCA.

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