Wednesday, September 2, 2009

What to See at D23 - Day Two

Robin WilliamsUpdating Day One, Disney has announced the honorees for this year's Disney Legends awards:

Robin Williams - Star of "Aladdin," "Flubber," "Good Morning, Vietnam" and "Dead Poets Society".
The Cast of "The Golden Girls" - Bea Arthur, Estelle Getty, Rue McClanahan and Betty White.
Leota Toombs Thomas - The WED Enterprises model builder Disney fans know best as the face of Madame Leota in the Haunted Mansion's seance room.
Tony Anselmo - The voice of Donald Duck since 1985.
Bill Farmer - The voice of Goofy since 1986
Harry Archinal - Former president of Buena Vista International, Disney's overseas film distributor.
Don Iwerks - Veteran film systems designer who did extensive work on "Mary Poppins" and Disney's "CircleVision 360" films. Don is the son of Ub Iwerks, Walt Disney's longtime friend and animator.

BTW, Disney has made very clear that cameras and recording devices will not be allowed during Bob Iger's opening keynote and the Disney Legends presentation. If you think they're kidding, just try them.

And now, the best of the D23 Expo's day two, which may have the strongest lineup of the four days. Lots of terrific sessions here, with more than a few scheduling conflicts to resolve. I believe Ursula put it best. "Life's full of tough choices, in'nit?"

Friday, 9/11/09

9:00 a.m. - Early Bird Books: 'Kingdom Keepers'/'Peter and the Starcatchers' with Authors Ridley Pearson and Dave Barry, Stage 23
I'll admit I haven't read "Peter and the Starcatchers" or any of the "Kingdom Keepers" books. But, I'll also admit I've been a big fan of Dave Barry from his many years as a nationally syndicated humor columnist with "The Miami Herald." The guy is flat-out funny, even if he'll only be at D23 via video feed. Pearson and Barry's new book "Peter and the Sword of Mercy" will be out in October.

11:00 a.m. - Disney Movie Magic: Inside the Walt Disney Studios, D23 Arena
Disney Studios honcho Dick Cook will screen clips from upcoming releases "Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time," "Alice in Wonderland," "A Christmas Carol" and "The Sorceror's Apprentice." In a perfect world, he'll also bring a few celebs with him. What say you Tim Burton? Johnny Depp? Helena Bonham Carter? Anne Hathaway? Jake Gyllenhaal? Jim Carrey? Robert Zemeckis? Nicolas Cage? Fans aren't coming to see suits. They'd like to see some star power. It could happen. Just sayin.'

12:30 p.m. - Author Jason Surrell Discusses the Haunted Mansion, Stage 23
Surrell has written two of the best theme park attraction histories with his "From the Magic Kingdom to the Movies" books on Pirates of the Caribbean and the Haunted Mansion. I'll remember him (and forever be grateful) for rescuing an abysmal webcast on the red carpet at Disneyland for the 2006 premiere of "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest." MSN's entertainment reporter, Dish Diva, was in over her head and unprepared for the 2 1/2-hour live show, but Surrell, along with fellow Disney historian Tim O'Day, saved the day with their insightful comments about POTC. Surrell knows his stuff and it will be a pleasure to see him in person.

1:00 p.m. - Screening of 'The Nightmare Before Christmas' in Disney Digital 3D, Walt Disney Studios Theater
I saw it during its original theatrical run. I own two DVD versions of it, plus the soundtrack. However, I've never seen Tim Burton's "The Nightmare Before Christmas" during any of its seasonal 3D runs. So what better time to see it than in a convention center full of Disney geeks? Also, Burton's early shorts "Frankenweenie" and "Vincent" will be shown with it. It makes me wonder if Burton himself might put in an appearance. Again, just sayin'.

2:00 p.m. - The Making of 'World of Color,' Storytellers Theater
Visitors to Disney's California Adventure during the past year have seen a lot of construction activity in the drained Paradise Pier lagoon. Find out what it's all about when Imagineer Steven Davis gives you a sneak preview of "World of Color," DCA's "water-and-fire" spectacular debuting next year.

4:00 p.m. - 'Tron' Presentation, Walt Disney Studios Theater
I can't recall ever seeing so many fanboys get so worked up over a sequel to a movie that sucked so bad. Seriously. OK, the 1982-era special effects in the original "Tron" were kinda nifty and the light cycle race was totally cool--but the rest of the movie was Sominex dull. Still, Disney is getting major buzz for the CG-intense "Tron Legacy" coming out in 2010, and this early trailer hasn't exactly hurt its prospects. The presentation will include a screening of the digitally-restored original and a conversation with director Steven Lisberger.

5:30 p.m. - Disney Rarities, Stage 23
An opportunity to see some of Walt Disney's earliest animation efforts as well as other rarely seen short cartoons. Producer/author Don Hahn and Disney animator Dave Bossert host a session that I hope will include footage from Walt's Laugh-O-Gram work in Kansas City in the early 1920s.

7:30 p.m. - 'Walt & El Grupo' Panel and Screening, Walt Disney Studios Theater
This one is a tad misleading, since the screening will be of "Saludos Amigos" and not the new documentary about Walt Disney and his staff's 1941 goodwill trip to South America. "Walt & El Grupo" will actually be playing up the street at the AMC Theatre in Downtown Disney. Still, this promises to be a fascinating look at Walt and a select group of artists during uncertain times caused by financial problems at the studio, a debilitating animators strike and an American nation on the verge of World War II.

I'm only half way through the D23 Expo schedule and there are still plenty of goodies to look forward to. Make sure to check back soon for my look at days three and four. The Expo is just a week away!

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