Hey there, kids, welcome to the Phile. How are you? How was your Christmas? I hope it was better than this story... A 34-year-old Colombus, South Carolina woman was arrested on Christmas Day for stabbing her fiancé as he attempted to leave the room after the two argued over the color-theme for their upcoming wedding. It's unknown whether the wedding is still on or not, but you can rest assured that his terrible color preferences will not be included. Or this one... An 18-year-old Massachusetts man was arrested after allegedly pulling a knife on his father after he was unable to find an iPhone 5s waiting for him beneath the tree on Christmas morning. His father was unhurt, but his brother somehow ended up in the hospital, which, if we're not mistaken, mirrors the plot of one of those old O. Henry stories. Have you heard about this thing called "The Knockout Game"? I just found out about it the other day. I'm always finding out about these things late. Anyway, here's a story about a Texas man who is as dumb as he is racist. A Houston-area white man was arrested and charged with a hate crime after bragging to an off-duty police officer about having punched a 79 year old black man in a "game" of Knockout. Twenty-seven year old Conrad Alvin Barrett supposedly even went so far as to proudly show the officer footage of the crime, which he kept on his cell phone along with a recorded statement about how the "plan is to see if I were to hit a black person, would this be nationally televised?" So, his experiment seems to be going according to plan? I say stop calling it "The Knockout Game" and start calling it "Boys Hitting People In The Face Because They Are So Mad About Their Super Tiny Penis". In the wake of the devastating blow to institutionalized bigotry that Utah suffered last week when a federal judge effectively legalized marriage equality in the home of the Mormon church, state officials have announced that they're planning to appeal to the Supreme Court to win back their right to discriminate against a subset of their citizens for reasons that have yet to be adaquately expressed in a court room. Dear Utah, sorry Santa didn't get you marriage inequality like you asked for, maybe don't be such a dick next year? Starting January 1st... and much to the chagrin of the kind of people who enjoy being chagrined over this kind of thing, 40-watt and 60-watt incandescent light bulbs will no longer be produced. Once the supply runs out in mid-2014, Americans will be forced to use the slightly-more-expressive, much-more-energy-efficient and longer-lasting new-fangled curvy bulbs that represent everything they hate in the world. Hey, I wonder what appeared over Thomas Edison's head the moment he came up with all those pre-light bulb inventions. In Melbourne, Florida, which is not that far from here, police have begun handing scratch-off lottery tickets, paid for out of their own pockets, to drivers whom they have pulled over for speeding. "We're just doing a little bit of a different technique" one officer said. A good way to get out of a speeding ticket is to confess to a murder. Christmas is over for another year, but I have to share this story I read about. When Jews and Chinese Restaurant owners come together on December 25th to celebrate food, family, and fellowship in the midst of what is otherwise an eerily abandoned ghost town. It's nice to see that this place really appreciates that relationship... even if they seem to be under the impression that chicken lo mein is mandated in the Torah.
This sign has been shared so often that it even got its own Snopes page to figure out whether it's real. Conclusion: Undertermined! Even if it wasn't posted by an actual restaurant, the sentiment is real and deeply felt. I thought it was funny, and it reminded me about the ending of one of the greatest Christmas movies ever... A Christmas Story. Speaking of, I was gonna make a A Christmas Story joke in the last entry, but discarded it as I had too many things, but I thought it was funny so I'll share it now. Ready? So, I was watching A Christmas Story and was surprised they updated it for the 30th Anniversary. Check it out...
What a great update. Aren't you glad I showed that now? Did you ever see in magazines where they show celebrities with and without their make-up? I think that's pretty popular, and people like that kinda thing, so once again, I thought I'd do the same.
Haha. That's so stupid. Have you see that new Ron Burgandy movie? I haven't yet, but I saw this picture that I thought was funny.
That man's job is to brush Ron Burgundy's mustache. Speaking of movies, that Saving Mr. Banks movie is doing so well, they announced a sequel. There's even a new movie poster.
Brilliant. All right, now let's see who ate it.
Nov 10, 1919 - Dec 23, 2013
The film based on reality is never real. For better or worse, it flatters its makers and serves the audience's demands for revised histories, since actual events never turn out as satisfyingly as we'd like. Loose ends, lingering resentments, outcomes that lack third act punch or a third act at all, that's how life works. Movies need... to steal a line from the Sherman Brothers, a spoonful of sugar. So here's a five pound bag to the rescue for this re-creation of that time when Mary Poppins author P.L. Travers refused to sell the rights to her book to Walt Disney. She gave in eventually, resulting in one of Disney's best-loved films. And like an oracle foretelling the liberties this film takes with Hollywood history, that singing, dancing, upbeat Mary Poppins resembled the original book's stern governess about as much as Harry resembles Prince Charles. Saving Mr. Banks adapts something somewhat related to P.L. Travers and turns it into a fantastical retelling of events. You cool with that? No? Sorry, cuteness has to win. Because because. It's an adorable, falsehood-based venture, one where Travers (Emma Thompson, impeccable from her tightly-coiled matron-hair to her sensible shoes) has unresolved daddy issues. She grew up in Australia with a father (Colin Farrell) who adored her, goofing off from work, and The Drink, not necessarily in that order. Naturally, this informs her writing but doesn’t heal her lingering emotional scars: she’s controlling, difficult, imperious and misanthropic, bad things that can find their only solace and rearrangement in the gentle, magic-making hands of Walt Disney (Tom Hanks, pouring on gallons of Best Dude Ever, something he can do in his sleep). The stubborn author resists everything like the always-on-guard child of an alcoholic she is. Casual Southern California social mores, the music of the Sherman Brothers, the gaudy charms of Disneyland, the endless trays of sweet treats brought into the rehearsal room on the Disney Studios lot, none of it will sway her into allowing her intensely personal creation the chance to sing and dance with cartoon penguins and Dick Van Dyke. But you know where this is going. There’s no other option in a Disney film about how great Disney is. And that’s… all right? Under normal circumstances no, of course not. When real people part company unhappily (as Disney and Travers did) it becomes impossible to make a movie about it, at least one with a warm-hearted resolution. So a new ending is needed, a legend where one never existed, something to match the comfort and joy millions of people have gotten from both Travers’ books and the Julie Andrews-starring adaptation, the ending that would have been if Disney had written it. As fiction, it’s still problematic. Walt, here (and possibly in person, as well, who knows) is a little too fond of mansplaining the power of art to a lady-artist, bullying a woman not fond of change or being told what to think. But this Walt and the fairy tale he’s part of do their jobs with increasingly powerful and therapeutic results (never happened), the new, improved, malleable Emma Thompson Travers finds herself weeping cathartic tears (nope), and you might reach for a tissue yourself as you give in to this tissue of lies. At one point in the action, Robert Sherman (B.J. Novak), exasperated by Travers’ blunt rejection of every planned plot detail and song note, asks, “Does it matter?” You’ll have to ask yourself the same thing and provide your own answer, based on your needs for accuracy or desires to dance with cartoon penguins. From 1 to 10, Saving Mr. Banks gets an 8.
I still can't wait to see Saving Mr. Banks II: Freezing Mr. Disney. Haha. Alright, it's Sunday, and you know what that means. This is the last week for the regular 2013 NFL season, so we need to talk football with my friends Jeff and Lori.
Me: Hey there, you two, welcome back. So, how was your Christmas?
Jeff: Once again it's always good to be back on the Phile. My Christmas was good. I got to spend it with Lori and my family. There is never a dull moment when my family is concerned. You can ask Lori. How was your Christmas?
Me: My Christmas was okay. Logan opened his presents in the morning and I worked. It was busy, but I had fun. Lori, so, how was Christmas?
Lori: Christmas was interesting! We're still celebrating, in fact. There are a lot more people to see when you're not stranded in Florida.
Me: That's true. This is the last week before the playoffs. Do you have a prediction on who will make it to the Super Bowl, Jeff?
Jeff: It's so hard to say who will be in the Super Bowl. There clearly is no favorite as we have seen the mighty teams fall short and we have seen some teams that shouldn't be as good as they are continue to win. I will say it will be an exciting last game of the season for a lot of teams as two division championships and a wild card spot are still up for grabs.
Me: It's at Giants Stadium... that's a dumb place to have it. It'll be cold there. Don't they normally have the Super Bowl in warm states?
Jeff: This year they wanted to put it in a cold weather place. I mean I suppose it could be worse. It could be in the frozen tundra of Lambeau Field.
Me: Would you ever want to go to a Super Bowl?
Jeff: Of course I would go to a Super Bowl, regardless of who is playing in it.
Me: Alright, so, what's the latest NFL news if there is any?
Jeff: The biggest news is who is in and who is out for the last week of the season. Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo is out after surgery on his back today while Aaron Rodgers returns for the Packers after missing over a month due to shoulder issues.
Me: Okay, so how did we do? What are our points? Lori with a hundred and me with less than thirty? LOL.
Jeff: It was a rare week that saw the Eagles, the Steelers and the Giants win. We all earned a point for that. You and I both went 1-1 this week while Lori went 2-0. Lori has officially won the season. We can't catch her and her 75 points. Her record is 22-10. I am in second place with a 16-16 with 55 points. Jason, it just wasn't your season. Your record stands at 8-24 with 29 points.
Me: Man, I got a whooping. Congrats, you officially won the season, Lori. Nice job.
Lori: Thank you! Maybe next season you should try to pick teams with winning records once in awhile. It might help you out of last place.
Me: Haha. Yeah, I guess so. But, maybe I let you two beat me... Nah. Who am I fooling? I sucked this year. Okay, this weeks picks... Packers by nine and Broncos by twelve. What do you two say?
Jeff: I tried to convince her she didn't need to make a pick this week. My picks for week 17 are Colts by seven points and Seattle by five points.
Lori: My picks are the Panthers by five points and the Patriots will win by seven points this week.
Me: Okay, I'll see you in 2014. Any plans for New Year's Eve?
Jeff: No big plans for New Year's Eve just yet. What about you?
Me: None yet, but we'll see. Happy New Year, you two.
Jeff: See you in 2014.
That's disgusting! What the hell was I thinking? Anyway, if you spot the Mindphuck email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. And now, from the home office in Port Jefferson, New York, here is...
Top Phive Startling Similarities Between Phil Robertson And Ron Burgundy
5. Has ludicrous and disturbing facial hair.
4. Surrounded by a group of sycophantic nimrods.
3. Endlessly quoted by idiot fans.
2. All his best lines are pre-scripted.
And the number one startling similarity between Phil and Ron...
1. Worldview is stubbornly stuck in the 1970s.
Today's pheatured guest is the first Phile Alum to have three books pheatured in the Phile's Book Club. His latest book "The Vault of Walt: Volume 2: Unofficial, Unauthorized, Uncensored Disney Stories Never Told" is the 29th book to be pheatured in the Club. Please welcome back to the Phile one of my favorite guests... Jim Korkis!
Me: Hello, Jim, welcome back to the Phile. How have you been?
Jim: Old, fat and broke. I was once reprimanded by my manager at Epcot for saying that in response to a friend who asked the same question. I pointed out that I was actually old, fat and broke but they felt it was derogatory to other groups.
Me: Well, I'm old, fat and broke as well then. As you know, your new book "The Vault of Walt Volume 2" is part of the Phile's Book Club. We'll get into that in a minute. Let's talk about some of the things happening around Disney and get your insight. First of, let's talk about this whole MyMagic+ deal. First of, explain what that is for the readers that won't know.
Jim: Basically, this is a way for guests to pre-schedule their Walt Disney World vacation trip in advance, sort of reserving rides and restaurants in advance. In addition, there is the opportunity to get some special promotions and discounts not offered to the general public. It is a way for the Disney Company to try and keep guests on property longer and not have them go visiting Harry Potter at Universal.
Me: Have you tried it yet?
Jim: No, I haven’t. I sort of enjoy being more spontaneous and also want some flexibility if I don’t feel well one day or it starts to rain or whatever but I still have to rush to my reservation.
Me: Do you have a Magic Band?
Jim: No, I don’t but I have friends who have used them. Some love them because of the convenience but others feel like they are being tracked about what they buy, where they eat, where they go and when.
Me: I don't have one yet either, and who knows if I'll get one. So, what do you think of this system?
Jim: I think the system was developed at a cost of over one billion dollars for the benefit of the Disney Company and not for the benefit of the guests. For instance, if the Disney Company sees that you haven’t booked Fastpasses for a day, they will assume that you are sneaking off somewhere else so will bombard you with special things like a discount at a restaurant but only on that day at a certain time frame to try to get you to stay. I think, even on a limited visit, guests should be encouraged to discover the parks, not make the experience another job where you have appointments you have to make and keep.
Me: Do you remember when they first bought Fast Passes in the early 2000s? I remember it.
Jim: Yes, I remember it and I think it has damaged the Disney parks. There is a lot of storytelling in the queue lines to set you up for the attraction and Fast Pass has guests avoiding that experience. Also, Fast Passes have generated a mentality that in order to get full value out of your admission price you need to rush to all the high end attractions and also try to repeat them that same day. Smaller attractions and experiences are ignored. I think many guests still don’t understand how Fast Pass works and just don’t do it. Standing in line is not the worst thing in the world, especially if everyone is doing it.
Me: When we first went to Disney World in '74 they had tickets like E and D tickets. Remember those? I betcha still have some?
Jim: Yep, I do still have some and I loved them. For one thing, since you had so many different tickets you tried to use up the lower priced A, B, C tickets and it spread people out more evenly throughout the park and introduced them to things like the horse-drawn trolley or the Main Street Cinema or whatever that you might never have thought of going to but now it became an attractive option.
Me: New at the Magic Kingdom this year is the Talking Mickey. I have not seen this yet, and I'm very scared to. Have you seen Mickey talk yet?
Jim: No, I have not seen the talking Mickey but friends who have told me that it is very natural and not creepy. I grew up with the pantomime Mickey in the park and that seemed to work well for everyone. One thing the Disney Company has forgotten is that guests from around the world have heard Mickey speak foreign languages perfectly. I wonder how a child from another country feels when they talk to Mickey and Mickey can only respond in English.
Me: That's a good point. Remember when Disney was selling those Pal Mickey plushes that gave you hints around the park? "Gosh, the parade is gonna start at 3." That didn't last long, did it? Did you have one of those?
Jim: Yep, I still have one of those Pal Mickeys. It was an interesting idea but again, it makes going to the park seem like work. It was interesting to me how quickly the Disney Company completely abandoned that experiment. I wonder if there were challenges we never knew? Disney is desperately trying to leverage new technology but just doesn’t seem to know how to do it properly. I think they have really fallen behind when it comes to utilizing social media. They just don’t seem to “get it”.
Me: This year they are selling Mouse Ears that light up during different shows. Did you get one of those hats?
Jim: I don’t have light-up ears yet but I do have a healthy collection of mouse ears, including a very battered one from my visits to Disneyland as a kid. It is not in mint condition but it has great sentimental value.
Me: There's rumors that Disney's Hollywood Studios where I work Star Wars Land is coming. I have not heard anything from Disney people about that. Do you think it's a good idea?
Jim: Yes, the rumor is that Echo Park will be torn down to create Mos Eisley, the spaceport in the original Star Wars film with the Backlot Express becoming the Cantina and American Idol becoming an indoor location for the Jedi Training Academy. All of this is still on the drawing boards and no final decisions have been made and probably won’t be until Pandora/Avatar Land is further along. To me, it breaks my heart. I am a big Star Wars fan and think that Disney should leverage that franchise to the max but I love old movies and am so sorry that the concept of the “Hollywood that never was but always will be” has been abandoned for DHS. I guess today’s audience isn’t interested in the Hollywood of the 1940s but I sure am. I will miss the Indiana Jones Stunt Show and Gertie the Dinosaur and the quiet alcove of Echo Park.
Me: What's definitely coming though is Avatar to the Animal Kingdom which you mentioned. Actually it's gonna be called Pandora I think. Great on-line radio station. LOL. What do you think about this expansion?
Jim: Me, personally, I cannot wait. I am excited that there will be a leisurely enclosed night time boat ride through the Pandora Jungle because that is something everyone can enjoy from grandkids to grandparents and that is very much in keeping with Walt’s philosophy. If Universal had built their Harry Potter ride to be friendly to all ages, the lines for the park would have reached to Disney. Everybody is not as excited about thrill rides as some people think. The other ride where you will be able to ride a flying Banshee worries me because it will probably be a motion control simulator ride. I can handle Star Tours but I couldn’t handle Body Wars even though it was the exact same technology and ride vehicle. That’s how subtle programming a motion control simulator can be. Basically, when I walked out of the original movie and couldn’t remember the names of the main characters and didn’t rush out to buy any merchandise, I figured it was a one-shot deal. It will be interesting to see what the next three films that Cameron is doing will do to get that same buy-in that people have with franchises like Star Wars, Twilight, Star Trek, Hunger Games and more.
Me: I have to ask you about this, Jim, as I am dying to get your opinion... Escape to Tomorrow. First of, explain to the readers what that is in case they don't know.
Jim: Esacpe to Tomorrow is an independent film shot at Disney theme parks using technology that is available to everyone. It was done secretly on property without Disney’s permission and tells the story of a father on vacation with his family at WDW and finds out he has been laid off but decides not to tell his family. As a result of the stress, he starts hallucinating all sorts of odd things at WDW.
Me: I'm dying to see it, Jim, as I am curious. Have you seen it?
Jim: I have not seen it but like most people I am very curious to see it.
Me: What do you think about it?
Jim: It's crazy they were able to film a movie in Disney without being noticed. They were very clever filming it. The script was on people’s iPhones so if they looked down it didn’t arouse suspicion. The director could be far away and then use his phone to cue the action to take place. They also removed all the songs in the background (to avoid copyright problems) from the attractions.
Me: Someone asked me at work do I think Disney will sue and I said no, unless the movie makes a lot of money. I don't see that happening though. Do you?
Jim: Disney’s game plan right now is not to bring any further attention to the film and it will just fade away and that has kind of happened. Even if they sued, what could they possibly get? It would cost them much more to pursue legal action than what they could ever recover. That’s the same approach Disney took when the magazine The National Lampoon had a cover of Minnie Mouse flashing her chest. They hoped Disney would sue so the magazine would get some attention. Disney ignored it and people today, probably even you, don’t even remember it ever happened. I think Disney will be instituting new restrictions and policies so this doesn’t happen again but it is a difficult thing because they encourage people to take pictures and videos in the park and many people post their videos on YouTube.
Me: There's a magazine cover with Minnie flashing her chest? What? I never knew about that. Has this kinda thing ever happened at Disney World before?
Jim: No, to the best of my knowledge, this thing has never happened at Walt Disney World or Disneyland before. There was an official non-Disney live action comedy film called 40 Pounds of Trouble starring Tony Curtis that was filmed at Disneyland in the 1960s. There is a good 20 minutes that takes place at Disneyland. Walt decided the filming took up too much time and negatively impacted the guest experience (because areas had to be closed off) so never allowed it again.
Me: Our mutual friend Rich leant me that movie. I liked it, and it was interesting to see Disneyland in the 60s. Okay, Jim, I love having you here as you know so much about Disney and write some fantastic books about the company. When did you first fall in love with Disney as a product?
Jim: Disney as a product? That is an interesting question. I feel in love with Disney characters and the idea of animation first. I guess when I started buying things like Marx playsets or souvenirs from Disneyland or Disney comic books was when that love transferred to products so basically when I was maybe eight or nine years old.
Me: What came first for you? Disney on TV, the books, characters, or the parks?
Jim: The first Disney in my life was watching the weekly Disney television show, especially the episodes devoted to animation or Disneyland. I had no patience for the "True Life Adventure" stuff… "The Cougar Who Thought He Was an Eagle" kind of thing with wild animals coming in and comically messing up somebody’s house while Rex Allen did the narration.
Me: You mentioned when you were here before you had a teacher in California that was married to one of Walt's brothers, am I right?
Jim: Yes, my first grade teacher was Mrs. Margaret Disney, who was the second wife of Herbert Disney (one of Walt’s older brothers) who spent most of his time as a mailman. I remember her being cranky but that was just the impression of a kid.
Me: Did you ever meet her husband or anybody else in the family?
Jim: I did meet Lillian Disney, Walt’s widow, briefly but she was so shy that wasn’t much of an encounter. I have met Diane Disney Miller who I admire greatly and Roy E. Disney who I felt was very nice.
Me: Speaking of Diane, she recently passed away, Jim. She wrote the foreword for your first "Vault of Walt" book. Would you like to share any thoughts about her passing?
Jim: Diane was an amazing woman and so full of life and with so many things left to do that it seems unreal that she is gone. I do not have the skill or the words to tell how much I will miss her as a person and as an active patron of Disney history. She was the last living connection to Walt Disney’s family and, in the last decade was an aggressive advocate for researching and preserving Disney history. She was very much like her father... both simple and complicated and sharing the same curiosity and stubbornness. I thought she would be around forever... she was healthy and her mind was sharp... and I am stunned that a simple accident robbed all of us of the many joys she still had to share.
Me: In 25 years at Disney I was happy to have met Eisner, Dick Nunis, Frank Wells, and I saw Bob Iger briefly... and I also saw Roy Disney Jr. Is there anybody in the company you would love to meet or anybody you did meet and thought, "I can't believe I am talking to so and so."
Jim: On Walt Disney World property, I met Eisner twice and both times he seemed distracted and rushed. I met Iger twice and both times he struck me as a man of integrity and genuine caring. Actually, I can’t think of one person working at the Disney Company today that I am dying to meet. Of course, in the old days, it would be Walt and Roy.
Me: Let's get into the new book, which is great. When did you start writing this book, Jim?
Jim: I started compiling some of the material while I was writing "The Revised Vault of Walt". When the book was released and did so well, I just really jumped into working on the sequel so it took roughly over a year to do the book.
Me: There's a million stories about Walt and the company you can tell, so how did you pick these stories for the book?
Jim: It was tough because so many people liked the first book that I had to find stories that were just as good or better. That really is tough. Once again, I wanted to balance it out so that there were stories just about Walt, about the theme parks, about the films and a section of oddball stories that didn’t fit anywhere else.I also wanted to record stories that don’t appear in all the other Disney books or are only mentioned in passing in a sentence or two.
Me: One of the stories in the book you talk about is the fight between Walt and P.L. Travers over Mary Poppins which is the plot line to the movie Saving Mr. Banks... did you write that chapter because of the movie coming out?
Jim: I wasn’t aware of the Saving Mr. Banks film but was aware that 2014 would be the 50th anniversary of the film Mary Poppins. Growing up in Los Angeles, I heard lots of tales of the making of the film from people who worked on it and the struggle between Travers and Walt was always entertaining and enlightening. You have two stubborn, creative people who have never given up control battling it out. I think the battle resulted in a better film than either of the two could have produced individually.
Me: It's an odd idea for a movie, and I'm not sure how many people have seen it. I know about 65,000 people in Florida saw it. Every Cast Member saw that film. When you first heard Disney was making this movie, what did you think?
Jim: It’s a great story to tell but I wondered how brutally honest the version will be. Also, I know Tom Hanks gets a lot of flak for portraying Walt Disney because we all know how Walt looked and sounded. It is interesting that Emma Thompson is not getting any flak for playing Travers even though she looks nothing like her. I am hoping the film will be fun and capture how difficult it is to make a film.
Me: Why was Walt so persistent in making a movie based on the Poppins book? Was the movie that successful when it came out?
Jim: The movie was the most successful film of the year when it was first released and the most Oscar nominated Disney film of all time. Walt had promised his daughters he would make the film so that influenced him. I think he also realized it was a great story and I think it was just he didn’t like being told “no” by Travers all the time so he fought for it harder than other films.
Me: Your last book was all about Song of the South. Maybe you can write a book all about Mary Poppins. Nah, dumb idea. Do you think they'll ever remake Mary Poppins?
Jim: Actually, I think writing a book about the film Mary Poppins would be a great idea but would take a lot of time. Fortunately, Brian Sibley has written a book covering the original book, the film and the stage musical. It’s called "Mary Poppins: Anything Can Happen If You Let It". I know he has a lot more to say on the subject, especially since in later years he worked with Travers on a sequel screenplay. They seem to remake everything these days, don’t they? And in my opinion these modern remakes even with all the new technology and fine acting never seem to capture the magic of the original. I dread the day someone decides to remake "Raiders of the Lost Ark".
Me: Also in your book you talk about The Shaggy Dog. Me, personally, I like the sequel better... The Shaggy D.A. Anyway, what is the story behind this film you talk about?
Jim: It’s important to remember that historically The Shaggy Dog is very significant in Disney history because its huge success opened the way for a string of family comedies like The Absent Minded Professor. It is a simple family friendly werewolf story inspired by the all the teenage monster movies that were having a huge box office at the time and was a way for Walt to utilize some of his young actors who were under contract to the studio at the time like Tommy Kirk. Also, this sparked Fred MacMurray’s career and led to him starring in "My Three Sons" television show… with another English sheepdog.
Me: There's a story in the book about Walt and Friz Freleng who created Bugs Bunny. Did these guys know each other well? They weren't friends, right?
Jim: Both Freleng and Disney held grudges against each other for the rest of their lives, unfortunately. Again, two strong willed people who just rubbed each other the wrong way all the time. Remember that Yosemite Sam was inspired by Freleng and his behavior.
Me: I always thought Bugs had more of a personality than Mickey. Do you agree?
Jim: I think that Mickey had a deeper, richer personality than Bugs. Mickey had a wide range of emotions and could realistically show sadness, something that Bugs only faked. Most people just think of Mickey as this “nice” guy and Bugs as this clever smart aleck. Actually, there were four significantly different personalities for Bugs depending upon whether he was being directed by Bob Clampett, Chuck Jones, Friz Freleng or Bob McKimson. Mickey always had the same consistent personality.
Me: The new book has a foreward by Lou Mongello. I have no idea who that is, Jim. Who is he?
Jim: Lou is a criminal mastermind wanted in at least six states. Lou is the host of the WDWRadio podcast and the author of several Walt Disney World trivia books. Just like Mickey Mouse, everybody loves Lou. He has been a good friend and I am honored he accepted my request to write the foreword. I keep asking when he is going to release HIS next book.
Me: I have to ask you about Marty Sklar who I am trying to get on the Phile. Do you know him?
Jim: I know Marty and in fact, he recently sent a very kind e-mail to the editor of Disney Files (the DVC member) magazine. He wrote that my article that appeared there on landscaper Bill Evans truly captured who Bill was. I thanked Marty in person at his recent book signing at Downtown Disney. Years ago, Marty was kind enough to autograph a copy of the Disneyland hardcover guidebook he wrote in 1964.
Me: I used to see him in Epcot all the time. Anyway, if I get to interview him, is there anything I should ask him?
Jim: Marty has so many great stories and didn’t use a quarter of them in his new book. I guess you could ask him about how difficult it was to write Walt’s official obituary on the day Walt died or what it was like directing Walt in the film where Walt talks about Epcot. Or ask him about how he and John Hench finally sold the idea of Space Mountain to RCA. All of those are great stories and Marty loves telling them.
Me: You talk about Epcot in the book, with the Fountain of Nations which I once jumped in, and Spaceship Earth. That ride has changed a little since it opened in '82, Jim.
Jim: That ride has changed A LOT since it opened and not necessarily for the better. It is one of the most ridden attractions at Walt Disney World because it is right in the front of the park so as people enter, they just immediately go up the ramp. Later in the day, when the crowds have dispersed is the better time to ride it. Each time the attraction has changed, Disney has “dumbed down” the narration. I guess that is a commentary on today’s audiences.
Me: Jim, I can ask you millions of questions but you are a busy man. I do have to ask you a random question thanks to Tabletopics... What would you most like to ask God? Man, what a question.
Jim: Like most people, I think I would ask God, “Why?” because we all want to know why things were they way they were, why we had to suffer through some things, what is the meaning of life, etc. I hope that I have grown enough as a person that instead of asking a question, I would have the good common sense to just say “Thanks”.
Me: Jim, thanks for being here on the Phile again. Tell the readers where they can get your books. And I have to ask, will there be a "Volume 3"?
Jim: People can get the book on Amazon or at a number of other booksellers. They should also check out themeparkpress.com for information on all my books. If enough people vote with their wallets and buy "Volume 2", then there will be a "Volume 3" next fall. I have already started compiling material. Always happy to chat. Please don’t hesitate to invite me again, especially since I have another brand new book available, "The Book of Mouse" covering everything you always wanted to know about Mickey Mouse.
Me: Yes, you will be back on the Phile when "The Book of Mouse" will be in the Phile's Book Club. Thanks again, and take care, sir.
Man, I love interviewing Jim. Anyway, that about does it for this entry of the Phile. Thanks to Jeff Trelewicz, Lori Sedlacek and of course Jim Korkis. The Phile will be back tomorrow with the last entry of 2013 pheaturing musician Mark Lassiter. Then next Sunday it's comedian Sammy Obeid and Monday it's Phile Alum Kevin Coehlo. So, spread the word, not the turd. Don't let snakes and alligators bite you. Bue, love you, bye.