Sunday, January 26, 2014

MCL 01-26-2014 - More 'Saving Mr. Banks' and Disney History Made Difficult with Jim Korkis

Jim Korkis
Author and historian Jim Korkis is back in The Mouse Castle Lounge this week because sometimes an interview really clicks. In last week's show, Jim and I talked about his latest book, The Book of Mouse, a detailed and entertaining memoir of Disney's iconic rodent, Mickey. After that ground was covered and the episode was put to rest, Jim and I just kept talking--over an hour and a half--and it was great fun. So this week's show is a big chunk of our conversation after the conversation. We spent a lot of time talking about the true stories behind Saving Mr. Banks, what P.L. Travers was really like, what made Mary Poppins such a special film, and why it's not always easy being a Disney historian.

Jim is as knowledgeable a guy there is when it comes to Disney history. He's a tireless researcher and you're certain to learn something new at the turn of every page of his books. His Vault of Walt series is required reading for any Disney enthusiast and I also recommend Who's Afraid of the Song of the South? for Jim's balanced insight into what has become Walt Disney's most (unjustly) infamous film.

So, join me if you will as we delve into a little Disney history with Jim Korkis. Enjoy!


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For more information about The Book of Mouse, visit

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

'The Book of Mouse' and the Tinker Bell Half-Marathon in the MCL

Tinker Bell Half-Marathon
Only Tinker Bell could inspire me to get up before dawn to run 6.2 miles.

I'm back from a busy and fun weekend at Disneyland where I ran my first ever 10K race. What better time to do it than during the Tinker Bell Half-Marathon weekend? Over 30,000 runners took part in three days of races featuring a 5K, 10K and half-marathon. I had run a few 5Ks before, including the Disneyland 5K last August, but I wanted to take on a new challenge. So naturally, doubling the distance seemed like the thing to do. Weird, I know.

But, you know something, it wasn't that bad. I was up to the challenge and finished the race in 1:11:48, hardly a blistering pace, but respectable nonetheless. And even better when you consider that half of the race takes place in Disneyland and Disney California Adventure. Goodness knows there were plenty of distractions, costumed characters and sites to see along the way. Yes, I stopped every now and then to take pictures.

Pre-dawn It's a Small World
The Cove Bar. Can I get a Bloody Mary to go?
In The Mouse Castle Lounge this week, I talk with Darrell Fry from RunDisney, the organizers of the Tinker Bell Half-Marathon weekend and numerous other running events happening year-round at Disneyland and Walt Disney World. Darrell talks about what it takes to pull off a massive running event and the many hard-working people that make it happen.

The Book of Mouse
Also guesting in the Lounge is a man who's just mad about the Mouse, and I mean that in a good way. Jim Korkis is a Disney historian and a long-time columnist for MousePlanet who has written a number of books, notably the Vault of Walt series. His latest tome is a detailed memoir of the life and times of Mickey Mouse, The Book of Mouse. Jim and I chat at length about the evolution of Mickey from Plane Crazy and Steamboat Willie to this year's Oscar-nominated Get a Horse! We also explore the many mysteries of the mouse such as how tall Mickey really is and when exactly did he first put on the white gloves. We get to the heart of what actually happened on that fateful 1928 train trip Walt Disney took from New York to Los Angeles after he lost Oswald the Lucky Rabbit and was desperate to create a new starring character.

It's all in today's edition of The Mouse Castle Lounge. Oh boy!


Subscribe to The Mouse Castle Lounge on iTunes and Stitcher.

For more information about The Book of Mouse, visit

Thursday, January 16, 2014

'Saving Mr. Banks' Snubbed at Oscar Nominations

There is no surprise that American Hustle and 12 Years a Slave dominated this morning's Oscar nominations with ten and nine nods respectively. What is a surprise is that Saving Mr. Banks did so poorly, earning a lone nomination for Original Score. Emma Thompson was snubbed for her performance as P.L. Travers and was likely bumped in the Best Actress race by Meryl Streep, who received her 18th overall nomination for August: Osage County. Tom Hanks was also shut out of the Best Supporting Actor race for playing Walt Disney and, even more surprisingly, was not nominated for Best Actor in Captain Phillips.

Frozen, as expected, was nominated for Best Animated Feature Film and for Best Song ("Let it Go"). I was disappointed that Monsters University wasn't nominated for Animated Feature. I would've chosen it over nominees The Croods and Despicable Me 2. I don't think Frozen is a slam dunk to win in this category like it was at the Golden Globes. At the Oscars, it's up against The Wind Rises, Hayao Miyazaki's well regarded swan song which opens in U.S. theaters on February 21st.

Hooray for Mickey Mouse! He's back at the Oscars this year for Get a Horse!, Lauren MacMullan's and Dorothy McKim's inspired send-up of old and new animation. I love this short film and hope it wins.

Who knew The Lone Ranger would get more nominations than Saving Mr. Banks? Gore Verbinski's overblown western received nods for Makeup and Hairstyling and Visual Effects. In other news, it also got five Razzie nominations.

On the Marvel side, Iron Man 3 also picked up a nomination for Visual Effects.

The Oscars will be televised on ABC March 2nd and hosted by Ellen DeGeneres.

The major nominees for the 86th Academy Awards:

Best motion picture of the year:

“American Hustle” (Sony Pictures Releasing)
A Columbia Pictures and Annapurna Pictures Production
Charles Roven, Richard Suckle, Megan Ellison and Jonathan Gordon, Producers
“Captain Phillips” (Sony Pictures Releasing)
A Columbia Pictures Production
Scott Rudin, Dana Brunetti and Michael De Luca, Producers
“Dallas Buyers Club” (Focus Features)
A Voltage Pictures, R2 Films, Evolution Independent Production
Robbie Brenner and Rachel Winter, Producers
“Gravity” (Warner Bros.)
A Warner Bros. UK Services Limited Production
Alfonso Cuarón and David Heyman, Producers
“Her” (Warner Bros.)
An Annapurna Production
Megan Ellison, Spike Jonze and Vincent Landay, Producers
“Nebraska” (Paramount)
A Paramount Vantage Production
Albert Berger and Ron Yerxa, Producers
“Philomena” (The Weinstein Company)
A Pathé, BBC Films, BFI, Canal+, Cine+ and Baby Cow/Magnolia Mae Production
Gabrielle Tana, Steve Coogan and Tracey Seaward, Producers
“12 Years a Slave” (Fox Searchlight)
A River Road, Plan B, New Regency Production
Brad Pitt, Dede Gardner, Jeremy Kleiner, Steve McQueen and Anthony Katagas, Producers
“The Wolf of Wall Street” (Paramount)
A Red Granite Production
Nominees to be determined

Best animated feature film of the year:

“The Croods” (20th Century Fox), Chris Sanders, Kirk DeMicco and Kristine Belson
“Despicable Me 2” (Universal), Chris Renaud, Pierre Coffin and Chris Meledandri
“Ernest & Celestine” (GKIDS), Benjamin Renner and Didier Brunner
“Frozen” (Walt Disney), Chris Buck, Jennifer Lee and Peter Del Vecho
“The Wind Rises” (Walt Disney), Hayao Miyazaki and Toshio Suzuki

Performance by an actor in a leading role:

Christian Bale in “American Hustle” (Sony Pictures Releasing)
Bruce Dern in “Nebraska” (Paramount)
Leonardo DiCaprio in “The Wolf of Wall Street” (Paramount)
Chiwetel Ejiofor in “12 Years a Slave” (Fox Searchlight)
Matthew McConaughey in “Dallas Buyers Club” (Focus Features)

Performance by an actor in a supporting role:

Barkhad Abdi in “Captain Phillips” (Sony Pictures Releasing)
Bradley Cooper in “American Hustle” (Sony Pictures Releasing)
Michael Fassbender in “12 Years a Slave” (Fox Searchlight)
Jonah Hill in “The Wolf of Wall Street” (Paramount)
Jared Leto in “Dallas Buyers Club” (Focus Features)

Performance by an actress in a leading role:

Amy Adams in “American Hustle” (Sony Pictures Releasing)
Cate Blanchett in “Blue Jasmine” (Sony Pictures Classics)
Sandra Bullock in “Gravity” (Warner Bros.)
Judi Dench in “Philomena” (The Weinstein Company)
Meryl Streep in “August: Osage County” (The Weinstein Company)

Performance by an actress in a supporting role:

Sally Hawkins in “Blue Jasmine” (Sony Pictures Classics)
Jennifer Lawrence in “American Hustle” (Sony Pictures Releasing)
Lupita Nyong'o in “12 Years a Slave” (Fox Searchlight)
Julia Roberts in “August: Osage County” (The Weinstein Company)
June Squibb in “Nebraska” (Paramount)

Achievement in directing:

“American Hustle” (Sony Pictures Releasing), David O. Russell
“Gravity” (Warner Bros.), Alfonso Cuarón
“Nebraska” (Paramount), Alexander Payne
“12 Years a Slave” (Fox Searchlight), Steve McQueen
“The Wolf of Wall Street” (Paramount), Martin Scorsese

Achievement in music written for motion pictures (Original song):

“Alone Yet Not Alone” from "Alone Yet Not Alone” (Enthuse Entertainment), Bruce Broughton and Dennis Spiegel
“Happy” from "Despicable Me 2" (Universal), Pharrell Williams
“Let It Go" from "Frozen” (Walt Disney), Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez
“The Moon Song” from "Her" (Warner Bros.), Karen O and Spike Jonze
“Ordinary Love” from "Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom” (The Weinstein Company), Paul Hewson, Dave Evans, Adam Clayton and Larry

Adapted screenplay:

“Before Midnight” (Sony Pictures Classics), Written by Richard Linklater, Julie Delpy, Ethan Hawke
“Captain Phillips” (Sony Pictures Releasing), Screenplay by Billy Ray
“Philomena” (The Weinstein Company), Screenplay by Steve Coogan and Jeff Pope
“12 Years a Slave” (Fox Searchlight), Screenplay by John Ridley
“The Wolf of Wall Street” (Paramount), Screenplay by Terence Winter

Original screenplay:

“American Hustle” (Sony Pictures Releasing), Written by Eric Warren Singer and David O. Russell
“Blue Jasmine” (Sony Pictures Classics), Written by Woody Allen
“Dallas Buyers Club” (Focus Features), Written by Craig Borten & Melisa Wallack
“Her” (Warner Bros.), Written by Spike Jonze
“Nebraska” (Paramount), Written by Bob Nelson

For a complete list of nominees, visit

Monday, January 13, 2014

Didier, Meryl and Walt (Oh My!) in the MCL

Diane Disney Miller
In today's Mouse Castle Lounge, we pick up where we left off last week with author/historian Didier Ghez talking about his new book Disney's Grand Tour. Didier is a consummate researcher: curious, inquisitive and relentless in his quest for answers. Disney's Grand Tour grew from a simple question posed to Didier by Walt's daughter Diane Disney Miller. Did Didier have a picture of her father receiving a medal from the League of Nations in 1935? As Didier began searching, more questions were raised about Walt's two-month trip to Europe and more fascinating stories were revealed. By following leads and refusing to give up when a trail went cold, Didier not only unearthed all the details of how Walt and Roy spent their summer vacation, but also how the entire Disney company operated in Europe before World War II. Sometimes you have to dig through a lot of clues before you discover what the prize really is.

Also in the Lounge, I give you my take on the whole Meryl Streep/Walt Disney kerfuffle that erupted last week when Ms. Streep made some ignorant and careless comments perpetuating unfounded urban legends that Walt was racist, sexist and anti-Semitic. The Disney fan and history community was quick to respond with the facts. And while it's unlikely Ms. Streep will ever issue a retraction, it was gratifying to see those in the know circle the wagons in defense of Walt. Here are three of the most carefully researched and eloquently written responses:

Fact-Checking Meryl Streep’s Disney-Bashing Speech by Amid Amidi
In Defense of Walt Disney by The Walt Disney Family Museum

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Emma Thompson With a Martini

After Emma Thompson's glorious appearance at the Golden Globes tonight with shoes and martini in hand, I thought another cocktail toting shot (or two) of her was in order. I'll even throw in Mickey Rooney as a bonus.

What the heck, let's invite Richard Sherman too.

These pics were shot in November at a private party celebrating Saving Mr. Banks at the Beverly Hills Hotel's Polo Lounge.

I will go on record saying that while I adore Emma Thompson for her stellar accomplishments as an actress and a writer, her stock with me goes even higher for her choice of beverages. I just hope it's vodka and not gin.

Now, if I can only figure out how to get her to be my guest in The Mouse Castle Lounge.

Monday, January 6, 2014

'Disney's Grand Tour' with Didier Ghez in the MCL

Didier Ghez
Author Didier Ghez was perplexed and fascinated by questions he could not completely answer.

In 1935, did Walt Disney receive a medal from the League of Nations? Did he meet Italian dictator Benito Mussolini? Rumors and urban legends persisted, but the historical record wasn't clear. 

And so, Didier started digging. Gradually, he discovered a wealth of information about the pivotal trip Walt and Roy Disney took to Europe two years before the release of Snow White and the Seven DwarfsThe result is the compelling new book Disney's Grand Tour.

At the risk revealing spoilers, I won't give away any answers. Suffice it to say what Didier unearthed about this two-month trip is a detailed record of a journey that would influence the Disney Studios for decades to come. 

Disney's Grand Tour is full of rarely-seen photos and features a meticulous outline of how Walt Disney's company operated in Europe prior to World War II. 

Didier is my guest today in The Mouse Castle Lounge. In part one of our conversation, he reveals the frustrating but ultimately satisfying process he went through to bring Disney's Grand Tour to life.  Enjoy!


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For more about Disney's Grand Tour, visit

Related: Talking 'Walt's People' with Didier Ghez in 'The Mouse Castle Lounge'