Disney Headlines for September 4th, 2021
Over the past few days, Disney has made news for several reasons.
Frank Oz has claimed he’s not welcome in the Muppetverse. The Parent Trap Curse goes back a generation further than we thought.
Oh, and the company’s having problems with ABC News and ESPN news reporters alike! Also, political stuff…
Yup, it’s one of those weeks for Disney Headlines.
The Parent Trap Curse
Do you know what’s embarrassing for a presumed subject matter expert? It’s that moment when you say something that gets proven LOUD wrong.
For example, yours truly once did a CNN interview wherein I explained the success of a Disney child actress by saying her appeal came from her innocence.
In an age when many Hollywood celebrities stood out for the wrong reasons, this teen actress had gained respect for her professionalism and decency.
Yeah, I was talking about Lindsay Lohan. More than 15 years later, that one still stings. Lohan famously fell victim to the Disney Child Actor Curse.
In fact, for a time, we could have called it the Parent Trap Curse. What we didn’t know back then was that history had repeated itself.
You see, the star of the original Parent Trap, Hayley Mills, just opened up on her struggles. They oddly parallel Christy Carlson Romano’s that we discussed last week.
Mills also lost the money she made as a teen actress, which borders on incomprehensible for one of the most famous faces of her era.
In her autobiography, Forever Young: A Memoir, the actress pulls back the curtain on all of it, including her relationship with Walt Disney.
The shocker here is that Mills wanted to star in Lolita (!), but Uncle Walt understandably declined to let her perform in that role.
If you’re unfamiliar with the story, Lolita isn’t very Disney. Even worse, it’s precisely the wrong kind of connection Uncle Walt would have wanted for a teen actress.
Interestingly, Mills seems somewhat resentful that she didn’t get to take the role. I guess the appeal of working with Stanley Kubrick never went away.
Another Disgruntled Disney Celeb
I promise not to make a habit of these sorts of stories, but here’s the third one in two weeks.
Legendary performer Frank Oz, the man behind The Muppets and Yoda, isn’t a happy puppeteer.
According to Oz, he’s no longer a participant in The Muppets. In fact, the voice of Miss Piggy suggests that Disney wants him kept far away from the characters.
As a reminder, Frank Oz defined his career with work as Animal, Sam the Eagle, and Fozzie Bear, along with Miss Piggy.
Oz also claims a Sesame Street connection, as he performed the roles of Bert, Cookie Monster, and Grover on that series.
This man is one of the most influential performers in television history…and he gave life to Yoda, too. As a reminder, Yoda is a Disney character now.
Why doesn’t Disney want Oz involved with The Muppets or Star Wars? Well, please remember that we’re only going by what the performer says.
Oz claims that “They don’t want me because I won’t follow orders and I won’t do the kind of Muppets they believe in.”
Notably, in the same interview, Oz also indicates that Sesame Street hasn’t invited him back for ten years.
So, there’s reason to believe that companies other than Disney question Oz’s value as a performer.
Of course, Oz burned bridges in the interview as well. He stated: “The Disney deal is probably what killed Jim (Henson). It made him sick.”
I think it’s safe to assume that Frank Oz won’t be returning to The Muppets or Star Wars anytime soon.
Media Headaches for Disney
Ordinarily, Disney’s media divisions operate like a well-oiled machine. That has made this summer especially perplexing for outside observers.
First, an ESPN employee, Rachel Nichols, had private comments about a co-worker, rising star Maria Taylor, taken public.
This situation proved ethically challenging for many involved, as both Taylor and Nichols were well-regarded by their peers.
After the incident became public knowledge, Taylor completed her assignment as a broadcaster during the NBA Finals.
Afterward, she took a job with NBCUniversal and immediately appeared during Olympic coverage.
Meanwhile, nobody was quite sure what the fate would be for Nichols. The broadcaster has earned significant acclaim for her work.
To wit, Sports Illustrated once stated that she is “the country’s most impactful and prominent female sports journalist.”
Ostensibly, she’s a victim in the recording of one of her private broadcasts. Even so, ESPN has decided to pay her to go away.
Nichols will no longer appear on any programming despite having more than a year remaining on her contract. This decision has proven…unpopular with some.
Sports Illustrated’s Jimmy Traina went so far as to describe the situation as ESPN humiliating her on the way out.
Remarkably, this tricky conversation about sexual and racial politics in broadcasting isn’t even Disney’s worst black eye.
ABC News President Kim Godwin, who accepted the job earlier this year, has angered Disney. She refused to cover up an incident that has made recent headlines.
Instead, Godwin called for an independent investigation of the sexual assault allegations against former GMA head Michael Corn.
CNN cites sources as believing that Godwin upset multiple high-level executives by choosing transparency.
Disney will be really happy when the calendar turns to Fall, y’all.
I’ll leave you with two stories that at least tangentially involve Disney’s theme park empire.
Remember last year when Bob Iger flipped out at California’s Governor? Iger quit a committee he had joined as a favor to the Governor to make his point.
Well, we’ve got another instance of politics making strange bedfellows.
Apparently, Disney donated to the Governor’s reelection campaign. And that’s not all! The Governor is facing a recall vote.
In a move that genuinely surprised me, Disney donated to this fund as well.
Either Disney and California’s Governor made up at some point, or the company deems him the lesser of two evils.
This week’s headlines have been depressing. So, let’s finish with something happy!
According to Disney expert Ashley Carter, Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind is nearing completion!
I strongly suspect we’ll get this new roller coaster in 2022!