Friday, July 31, 2015

The Mouse Castle Lounge 07-31-2015 - Snow White, Silly Symphonies and the Disney Music Group

By Tim Callaway

The D23 Expo is coming up August 14-16 at the Anaheim Convention Center. At a Disney fan gathering where the Walt Disney Studios and Disney Parks and Resorts typically get the lion's share of attention, the Disney Music Group this year will have a much higher profile. DMG oversees the various Disney recording labels like Walt Disney Records and Hollywood Records and also runs Disney Music Publishing. In addition, they manage a very cool website where you can purchase all manner of Disney collectible music items, the Disney Music Emporium.

The Silly Symphony Collection
At the D23 Expo, the Disney Music Group and the Disney Music Emporium will present a concert called Disney in Concert: A Silly Symphony Celebration. They’ll screen a selection of Walt Disney’s famous musical cartoons backed by a 32-piece live orchestra. How cool is that? The concert will tie in with the release of an epic musical boxed set—on vinyl—called The Silly Symphony Collection. Contained in the set will be remastered audio recordings of all 75 Silly Symphony cartoons released between 1929 and 1939. Expo attendees will be the first people able to pre-order the Silly Symphony set. After that, it can be ordered online at the Disney Music Emporium beginning on August 17. The set will list for $399.98 and will include a free digital download. If you pre-order it, you’ll also receive a 10” vinyl single with "The Skeleton Dance" on Side A and the "Three Little Pigs" on Side B.

The Snow White Master Score
Recently, I paid a visit to the Walt Disney Studios and sat down with Jon Heely, director of music publishing and concert licensing at the Disney Music Group. We talked about Silly Symphonies, of course, but we also talked about an amazing limited edition book release from the Disney Music Legacy Libraries. It’s the Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs Master Score. And by master score I mean a reproduction of every piece of sheet music from Snow White illustrating how the music synchronized with the film. The printed score even includes notations by numerous artists and technicians that helped bring the movie to life. Only 400 of these are being released. The first 200 are available now at the Disney Music Emporium. Another 200 will be available at the D23 Expo.

Jon Heely is my first guest in The Mouse Castle Lounge today. I also chat with Randy Thornton with the Disney Music Group and Kevin Augunas, Neil Schield and Jesse Obstbaum with Fairfax Recordings.

It's a great time to be a Disney music fan. Enjoy!

CORRECTION 8/5/15: When I originally posted this story, I indicated that the notations to the Master Score were made by Snow White's original composers, i.e., Frank Churchill, Leigh Harline and Paul Smith. That may be a possibility, but since this was a working document, the truth is a number of artists and sound technicians would also have made notations to the score to assist with the recording and audio synchronization including (possibly) studio engineer Bill Garity and director Wilfred Jackson. We can't be exactly sure who made what notations--but doesn't that make it even more interesting?


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Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Inside The Mouse Castle 07-27-2015 - D23 Expo, Marvel's 'Ant-Man' and Disney's 'Descendants'

By Tim Callaway

In this week's episode of Inside The Mouse Castle, Anthony has an existential crisis. We're attributing it to a cataclysmic combination of Neil deGrasse Tyson, sleep deprivation, Ant-Man shrinking down to a molecular level and the wretched "Be Our Guest" number from Disney's Descendants (debuting this Friday on the Disney Channel).

With Anthony curled up in a fetal position, he and I delve deeply into these thought-provoking topics guaranteed to make you feel insignificant against the infinite backdrop of space:
  • For the first time, the D23 Expo will split their traditional motion picture fan presentation into two separate events, one for animation and one for live action. We're hoping for big announcements (or at least some new trailers) for Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Captain America: Civil War and Finding Dory.
  • I finally saw Ant-Man and thoroughly enjoyed it. I left the theater totally perplexed, though. Why don't people stay all the way to the end of a Marvel movie to see the post credit-scenes? Have they not learned? The last scene in Ant-Man (and yes, it comes at the very end) is not to be missed. It does an epic job setting up (and raising a few questions about) Captain America: Civil War.
The Sword in the Stone
  • Annnd.....The Sword in the Stone is the latest Disney animated classic to go into development as a live-action film. We recap all we know about the full slate of upcoming Disney retreads.
  • There's a new trailer for Pixar's The Good Dinosaur. Despite our earlier concerns about production delays, recasting and a new director, we're encouraged by what we see. But, with all the (justified) attention Inside Out has received, will people take to a second Pixar film in the same year?
  • Avengers: Age of Ultron will be available on digital download September 8th. Want it in a disc in a box? That's available on October 2nd.
  • Michael Jackson as Jar Jar Binks? It almost happened. Well, Michael thought it would anyway.


Friday, July 24, 2015

The Mouse Castle Lounge 07-24-2015 - Disney, Dali and 'Destino' with Ted Nicolaou

By Tim Callaway

Salvador Dali and Walt Disney, 1957.
Photo courtesy Walt Disney Family Museum.
It was inevitable—call it destiny if you will--that the creative paths of Walt Disney and Salvador Dali would one day cross. Both men were born in the early 1900s, and although they were continents apart, they shared similar upbringings. Both had artistic ambitions, and both would eventually become the standard-bearers of their respective mediums: Walt in animation and visual storytelling, Dali in fine art and the surrealist movement.

Their personalities could not have been more different. Dali was the flamboyant eccentric, Walt the more reserved, but no-less driven, filmmaker. Each saw the other as a kindred spirit, though. And what began as a distant mutual admiration, evolved into a creative collaboration and later a lifetime friendship.

In the late 1940s, Dali would come to the Disney Studios to help craft Destino, a surreal short film intended to push the limits of animation and storytelling. It was not to be, however, What Dali called “a magical exposition of life in the labyrinth of time,” Walt called “a simple love story—boy meets girl.” It was there the two artists remained at odds. After less than a year’s work on the project, Destino was shelved. Decades later, the Walt Disney Studios would resurrect the film from more than 150 surviving story sketches by Dali and Disney artist John Hench. The resulting film would be released in 2003 to critical acclaim, winning numerous film festival awards and being nominated for an Academy Award.

Ted Nicolaou
The Walt Disney Family Museum in San Francisco is hosting an exhibition about the two friends and showmen. Disney and Dali: Architects of the Imagination explores the artistic collaboration between the two men, showcasing not only original works of Dali, but also that of Disney artists Mary Blair, John Hench, Eyvind Earle and Kay Nielsen. ,

Ted Nicolaou is curator of the exhibition. As a filmmaker, Ted has directed a number of horror films including cult favorites Terrorvision and Subspecies. He’s also created a number of DVD and Blu-ray bonus documentaries for Walt Disney Home Entertainment, most notably Dali & Disney: A Date with Destino, which was included on the 2010 Blu-ray release of Fantasia 2000

Ted Nicolaou is my guest today in The Mouse Castle Lounge. Enjoy!

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Inside The Mouse Castle 07-20-2015 - Disneyland's Diamond Celebration, Shanghai Disney Resort and New Disney Legends

By Tim Callaway

I'm back from a fun-filled weekend in Anaheim where I not only wished Disneyland Happy Birthday on Friday, but I also attended a benefit for the Walt Disney Birthplace where the guest of honor was none other than Bert the Chimney Sweep himself, Dick Van Dyke. Dick performed with his a capella group, the Vantastix. Here's a little taste of what they did:

Disneyland was unsurprisingly crowded for Friday's official Diamond Celebration, but it was totally worth it to get my "I was there" button and join thousands of guests to sing "Feed the Birds" and "Happy Birthday" with Richard Sherman and Ashley Brown. Michael Colglazier, hosted the rededication ceremony in front of Sleeping Beauty Castle. And while the Disneyland president hit all the proper notes as far as thanking guests, cast members and assorted Disney Legends, his delivery left a bit to be desired. Let's just say he's not personality plus delivering an overly-rehearsed, pre-written speech. He needed to inject a lot more excitement and spontaneity into the festivities. Thank goodness for Sherman, Brown and the welcome cast of costumed Disney characters.

Anthony and I polished our presentation skills for this week's episode of Inside The Mouse Castle. Here's what else is going on:
  • Bob Iger revealed some of what guests can expect when Shanghai Disney Resort opens in China next year.

  • Mickey's Halloween Party at Disneyland will be held on 17 different nights between September 11th and November 1st this year. Tickets to the late-night event will go on sale for annual passholders, DVC members and Disney Visa cardholders beginning July 22nd. The rest of the world can have at them on July 29th.
  • Marvel's Ant-Man opened at number one at the box office over the weekend, taking in $58 million in the U.S. Neither Anthony nor I have seen it yet. We offer our deepest apologies. What did you think of it?
  • Tilda Swinton has been cast as "The Ancient One" in Marvel's upcoming Doctor Strange. Apparently the white, middle-aged woman will play an elderly, Asian man.
  • Annnnnd......Aladdin is the latest winner in the Disney animation-to-live-action-movie lottery. A prequel is in the works on how the genie ended up in his bottle and got that horrible crick in his neck. 
The 2015 Disney Legends.
  • We approve of the newly-named Disney Legends who will be honored at this year's D23 Expo: Andreas Deja, Susan Lucci, Danny Elfman, Julie Reihm Casaletto, George Bodenheimer, Eyvind Earle, Carson Van Osten and George Lucas. They will all be officially inducted on August 14th at the D23 Expo.
  • Disney and Lucasfilm are not amused that GQ appropriated (without permission) a handful of Star Wars characters to join comedian Amy Schumer in a racy photo spread. We're not sure what annoyed them more, Schumer in bed with R2D2 and C3PO or Schumer drinking with the droids and Chewbacca at a biker bar. Regardless, we think all the pics are pretty freakin' funny.

BTW, this show marks the one-year anniversary of Inside The Mouse Castle. Hooray!

Friday, July 17, 2015

The Mouse Castle Lounge 07-17-2015 - Disney Historian Didier Ghez Talks About Disney Legend Eric Larson

By Tim Callaway

Eric Larson was truly one of the greats of Disney animation. He was one of Walt's Nine Old Men and was best known for animating Figaro in Pinocchio, Friend Owl in Bambi and Peg in Lady and the Tramp. He also worked on other classics including Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Fantasia, Cinderella, Alice in Wonderland, Peter Pan and Sleeping Beauty.

His greatest legacy, however, may be as the teacher and mentor to an entire generation of young animators that joined Disney in the 1970s and '80s. He had a passion for his art and a commitment to uphold the standards established by Walt Disney. Eric's memoir, 50 Years in the Mouse House, is a fascinating and heartfelt testament to that passion.

His book, however, was almost lost forever, and the story of Didier Ghez's search for the missing manuscript is nearly as compelling as Eric Larson's life itself.

Didier edited Eric Larson's original manuscript and combined it with material taken from interviews Larson gave and lectures he presented at the Walt Disney Studios. Didier adds 50 Years in the Mouse House to his impressive output of historical Disney works including all 16 volumes of Walt's People and his upcoming tribute to Disney concept artists, They Drew as They Pleased. Didier Ghez is my guest today in The Mouse Castle Lounge.


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Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Inside The Mouse Castle 07-13-2015 - Disneyland's 60th Birthday, 'Star Wars' at Comic-Con and 'Wreck-It Ralph 2'

By Tim Callaway

Disneyland Forever fireworks.
So, who's going to Disneyland Friday for the park's 60th birthday party? I am! I hope you are too.

Sadly, Anthony won't be joining us for the festivities, so let's try not to have too much fun in his absence.

Disneyland's Diamond Celebration will be a somewhat low-key event (especially for those of us who remember the 50th). Contrary to earlier rumors, Disneyland and DCA will not be open 24 hours like they were Memorial Day weekend. Disneyland will be open 8:00 a.m. to midnight, DCA from 8:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. As far as special events during the day, Disneyland Resort president Michael Colglazier will preside over a rededication ceremony in Town Square. The event will be streamed live on big screens set up throughout Disneyland, DCA and Downtown Disney. There will also be special late-night performances of World of Color and Paint the Night. Guests are also encouraged to dress in 1950s-style garb just like it was on Disneyland's opening day.

For a complete list of activities this Friday, visit

Other goings-on in this week's edition of Inside The Mouse Castle:

Carrie Fisher, Mark Hamill and Harrison Ford at Comic-Con.
  • Harrison Ford made a surprise appearance at Comic-Con last week. He joined J.J. Abrams and the cast of Star Wars: The Force Awakens on stage in Hall H to the delight of the packed audience. It was his first public appearance since March when he crashed landed a vintage airplane on a golf course in Southern California.
  • Christopher Miller and Phil Lord, the directing duo that helmed The Lego Movie, will direct a standalone Star Wars film that tells the backstory of Han Solo. Lawrence Kasdan is working on the script and the film is expected to be released on May 25, 2018.
Michael Douglas and Paul Rudd in Ant-Man.
  • Ant-Man is getting mostly favorable reviews (75% on Rotten Tomatoes as of this post). The latest tale in the Marvel Cinematic Universe stars Paul Rudd, Michael Douglas, Evangeline Lilly and Corey Stoll. It opens in U.S. theaters this Friday.
  • John C. Reilly has confirmed that there will be a Wreck-It Ralph 2 and he will again be voicing the title character. Expect there to be a bigger Nintendo tie-in like we talked about previously Inside The Mouse Castle.
  • Marisa Tomei will play Peter Parker's guardian Aunt May in the upcoming MCU Spider-Man films. Is it wrong to be hot for Aunt May?
  • Who says princesses get all the attention? Disney is developing a film centered around the life of Prince Charming. Personally, we think Prince should play the prince.
Disney Infinity 3.0
  • Disney Infinity 3.0 will hit stores (finally) on August 30, 2015. It will have Star Wars in it. That's all you need to know. Order it. Now.
  • By a 3-2 vote, the Anaheim City Council passed an ordinance extending a gate-tax ban for the Disneyland Resort for an additional 30 years. Anthony continues to be bored by this type of news.
  • Bill Cosby and the Confederate Flag can no longer be found at Walt Disney World. Anthony and I make inappropriate jokes about it.

Friday, July 10, 2015

The Mouse Castle Lounge 07-10-2015 - Ron Diamond and the Animation Show of Shows

By Tim Callaway

Ron Diamond
Ron Diamond is passionate about animation. He’s executive producer of Acme Filmworks, a commercial animation studio that utilizes the talents of gifted filmmakers and animators from both the U.S. and abroad. Ron’s pet project, though, is the Animation Show of Shows. For over 16 years, Ron and his show have had one purpose: to bring the best animated short films from around the world to the attention of major animation studios like Disney, Pixar and DreamWorks. It’s an opportunity for independent filmmakers, with otherwise limited reach, to have their work seen by respected and influential artists and industry leaders. The Animation Show of Shows has largely been a private enterprise over the years, limited to animation professionals and mostly unseen or heard of by the general public. That’s about to change.

Earlier this month, Ron completed a successful Kickstarter campaign, raising over $100,000 to fund the Animation Show of Shows and help it reach an even larger audience. The Animation Show of Shows is now a registered non-profit organization with the long-term goal of being seen by audiences around the world while still honoring its mission to showcase the best work of animators everywhere. Ron Diamond is my guest today in The Mouse Castle Lounge.

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Monday, July 6, 2015

Inside The Mouse Castle 07-06-2015 - Remembering Blaine Gibson, Changes at Disney's Hollywood Studios and New Exhibitions at the Walt Disney Family Museum

By Tim Callaway

The "Partners" statue created by Blaine Gibson.
In this week's episode on Inside The Mouse Castle, we pay tribute to the late Blaine Gibson, the animator, sculptor and Disney Legend who passed away Sunday at the age of 97.

Blaine began his career at Disney in 1939 as an in-betweener and assistant animator. His feature animation credits include Fantasia, Bambi, Song of the South, Alice in Wonderland, Peter Pan, Sleeping Beauty and 101 Dalmatians.

He considered himself an animator first, but he also had a gift for sculpting. Aware of Blaine's talent, Walt Disney assigned the artist to WED Enterprises (later Walt Disney Imagineering) to create character forms that would transform into Audio-Animatronics. Blaine made significant design contributions to Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln, Pirates of the Caribbean and the Haunted Mansion. Arguably, his most impressive accomplishment in Imagineering was overseeing the design of every president up to George W. Bush in the Magic Kingdom's Hall of Presidents.

Even though Blaine retired in 1983, he continued to consult on projects with Disney. The "Partners" statue that depicts Walt Disney and Mickey Mouse standing hand-in-hand at Disney theme parks remains one of Blaine's lasting creations.

All of us at The Mouse Castle send our condolences to Blaine Gibson's friends and family. Rest in peace.

Also in this week's episode:
  • Pixar's Inside Out and Universal's Jurassic World ended the July of 4th weekend box office battle in a virtual tie for first place. They were aided by poor debuts from Terminator: Genisys and Magic Mike XXL.
Inside Out.
  • Inside Out's solid performance helped Disney's stable of 2015 film releases (including Avengers: Age of Ultron and Cinderella) pass $3 billion in international box office. It's the sixth year in a row that Disney has passed the $3 billion mark.
  • Marvel's high-tech entertainment roadshow, The Marvel Experience, is closing up shop after finishing its stint in Philadelphia over the weekend. Upcoming appearances in Chicago, New York and St. Louis this summer have been cancelled and tickets are being refunded. Complaints about technical issues, overpriced tickets and poor crowd management have been rampant on Yelp and other social media sites for months.
Paul Rudd at the Ant-Man premiere.
  • Ant-Man premiered in Hollywood last week. I'm looking forward to seeing MCU's latest entry when it debuts on July 17th. Anthony has concerns after being unimpressed by the film's sneak preview at Disney California Adventure.
  • It's not just selfie sticks that have gone away at Walt Disney World. Poop candy has exited Animal Kingdom and DisneyQuest is closing at Downtown Disney to make way for the NBA Experience.
  • In business news (Anthony's least favorite kind of news), Christine McCarthy has been named the new Disney CFO, replacing the departing Jay Rasulo. Also, Disney Interactive and Disney Consumer Products, once independent divisions, will now operate under the same umbrella.
  • There are two new exhibitions getting ready to open at the Walt Disney Family Museum. Disney and Dali: Architects of the Imagination will open on July 10th and will feature an audio tour narrated by Sigourney Weaver. Tomorrowland: Walt's Vision for Today opens on July 22nd and will be curated by filmmaker Brad Bird.