Archive for July, 2006

Cinderella tossed from the tower

Wednesday, July 19th, 2006

Huffington’s take on the recent firing of Nina Jacobson from Disney Production tries to seem less obvious by layering in some blustery apocalyptic themes, but it has little to do with gender roles in the long-term. The modern economy doesn’t look any further ahead than the next fiscal quarter; when compared with the immediate benefits a shakeup in Production can obtain, the restoration of patriarchal hegemony is at best a mere bonus in the minds of the stodigiest old white men in the company, of which the number is slowly dwindling.

The dismissal is probably most interesting in the long tail wake of the Pixar acquisition. It wouldn’t surprise me if the bulk of the pressure on Production is actually coming from Animation.

Something at Disney’s gotta change, and Pixar would be blind and stupid not to know it. They are, after all, part of the overhaul plan. Pixar was nominally acquired by a company with an existing online strategy akin to an abandoned train wreck, feature releases that hit it big only when they stumble into theaters and collapse into a receptive audience, and a handful of broadcast networks hitting whippits in the garage because their parents would totally freak out if they were caught watching something cool on TV. ESPN and BVPD are the only operations doing any good from what I can tell, and then only because they’re independent enough to make money outside the Magic Kingdom.

Meanwhile, Pixar is showing up to work in a sweet ride with a pimp phone and sharp clothes, ready to kick some ass, only to find that everything around them is as gray, flat, and empty as a ledger reeking of blackout. So what if they have another sure blockbuster about CGI anthropomorphized marshmallows? Damned Production is still trying to figure out why Pirates worked. It would well lead a sharp executive to wonder about the priorities of the company.

Dear Production: Your new Animation company is working on projects designed to succeed from the beginning. Your simple assignment is to crank out ten new Disney-branded films a year. There’s no time for you to reverse-engineer the recipe for Johnny Depp, especially not after trying to have him killed. Turning this into a battle of the sexes at this point is, at best, a puff of smoke to mask your stealthy escape.

I will concede that the timing is somewhat suspicious. After Narnia pulled in record audiences with its freeze-dried moralistic framework, and Pirates buckled its swash to even higher numbers, I suppose you have to be a particular kind of ridiculously successful multi-billionaire asshole to fire the woman responsible just as her newborn kid begins the first of several years’ worth of crying and pooping. I can’t even speculate why-now, except to attribute it to Disney’s ongoing managerial dry heaves.

But then again, why ever? Why not now? You’re at a major junction in your life, not unlike the company. It’s actually a pretty good stopping point. You’re going out with some good successes in your bag, and truly the company is in better shape than it was before. There’s just a great deal more to do. We’re going to need someone’s full attention, just as your child will need yours.

In the end, why does this have to be a problem? Couldn’t you have just sailed your golden ‘chute into your sprawling backyard to play with your kid?

Frankly, I’m disappointed in Disney’s recent efforts to refocus and revitalize. The boardroom coup was a real hit! This direct-to-video sequel is lame, just like all the others.

Nina should’ve hooked up with Eisner, secured the rights key Mouse properties, and ditched the castle to start a soon-to-be-failed company. There could’ve been a lengthy custody battle over Jungle Book, and Roy could’ve bought everything back in the end anyway.

Come on, guys, stir it up a little! I’m dyin for some action here.

Ha! Ha!

Saturday, July 15th, 2006