Sunday, June 25, 2017

Pheaturing Phile Alum Jim Korkis

Hey, kids, welcome to the Phile for a Sunday. Summer. It's here! My favorite summer activity is staying inside when the a/c is going and laying on the couch. Don't expect me to much this summer.
It's summer, and you know what that means: the women's clothing police are out in full force, bravely protecting the public from... gasp!... the sight of uncovered female shoulders, upper chests and legs.
In one of the first recorded slut shaming incidents of the summer (wahoo!), a woman named Hannah Pewee from Grand Rapids, Michigan, says she was asked to leave a local mall a few weeks ago because of her "inappropriate" attire. This is the outfit she was wearing (CHILDREN, AVERT YOUR EYES!)...

Looks a lot like what most of us are probably wearing right now. Because it's summer. And those are summer clothes. What did they expect her to wear on a ninety degree day? A PARKA???
Pewee's post has been shared over 7,000 times, wracking up thousands of "angry" and "wow" emojis. And everyone seems to agree that this mall's behavior was wayyyyy out-of-line. She is wearing a DISNEY SHIRT, you guys. Literally. A Disney shirt. And it happens to be a Disney shirt with excellent advice for anyone dealing with B.S. (for example, getting kicked out of a mall for wearing SUMMER CLOTHES IN SUMMER).The advice is: just keep swimming. Pretty much. Just keep swimming, and by "swimming" we mean, of course, standing up against slut-shamers by wearing whatever the hell you feel comfortable wearing. As long as it's not crocs and socks. There's limits, people.
Starbucks baristas love to write whatever their hearts desire in place of the "name" on your coffee cup. And most customers just laugh it off. But when a customer named Kayla Hart walked into a Starbucks outside Charlotte, North Carolina, last week, she was not at all amused by the words scrawled on the side of her Venti Iced Green Tea. Hart was wearing a Donald Trump t-shirt when she entered the Starbucks, Fox46 reports, and claims she was "mocked" and "bullied" as a result. "They shouted out build a wall and shoved a drink at me and then all the baristas in the back started cracking up laughing," she told Fox46. "I just walked out because everyone was staring." A photo of her drink order was shared with Fox46, and this was the "name" written on the cup...

"Iced green tea for 'Build a Wall'? Any takers?" Hart contacted customer service to complain for the mistreatment. "I just found it really sad that I can't wear a t-shirt with our president without being made fun of," she said. "I don't know what politics has to do with getting a cup of coffee." (Umm, didn't she order a tea though? Everyone knows tea is super-political.) Regardless, Starbucks has since apologized for the incident in this statement to Fox 46, "We failed to meet this customer's expectations of us, and we have apologized and are working directly with her to make it right. This experience is not consistent with our standards or the welcoming and respectful experience we aim to provide every customer who visits our stores. We have spoken with our store partners about this situation and are using this as a coaching opportunity for the future." Don't worry, everyone. Starbucks is handling this situation. They have spoken with their store partners and there will most likely be company-wide meetings this week, in which this "incident" will be widely discussed and addressed, with absolutely no laughing or cheering or calling the barista who did this a "hero." Nope, none at all.
The Trump administration's relationship with the press has been iffy at best. Recently, the White House has been having a lot of off-camera press conferences, not allowing reporters to bring any sort of camera into the briefing. Well, one news organization has found a way around that. (Sort of.) On Friday, CNN tweeted that since cameras weren't allowed at some press briefings, they decided to go with a different approach. According to Mashable, CNN sent Bill Hennessy, its Supreme Court sketch artist, to capture the moment instead. We have to say, pencil really suits Sean Spicer.  Let's get a side-by-side.

Uncanny. While a few conservative members of the press dismissed Hennessy's presence as a stunt, CNN compared the briefing to a Supreme Court argument, where the proceedings are on the record but cameras are not allowed. So, they argue, it was actually beneficial to have Hennessy there. CNN also pointed out the significant changes in the press's access to the White House in recent months. While both Democratic and Republican presidents have regularly held on-camera press briefings for decades, the Trump administration has cut back on both the frequency and length of briefings on-camera. According to CNN, Press Secretary Sean Spicer and Deputy Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders have held just four on-camera briefings in the month of June. You have to credit CNN for their sneaky way of getting around the White House's rules. Let's hope these sketches end up in a museum one day.
At the U.K.'s Glastonbury Festival on Thursday, Johnny Depp asked a strange rhetorical question, in a strange rumbling voice, and got a strange reaction from the crowd. The Secret Service is already aware of Depp's comments, according to ABC News. "When was the last time an actor assassinated a president?" "Can we bring Trump in?" said Depp, to boos. "No, no, no. You misunderstand completely. I think he needs help." "It's just a question, I'm not insinuating anything. By the way this is going to be in the press... it'll be horrible," said Depp, calling his own shot. "But I like that you are all apart of it. When was the last time an actor assassinated a president?" Cue laughter and cheers from the audience. "Now I want to clarify, I'm not an actor. I lie for a living. However, it's been a while and maybe it's time." The answer to Depp's question is both "John Wilkes Booth in 1865," and "shut up you terrible idiot." Apparently, Johnny Depp is jealous of the attention Kathy Griffin from her decapitated Trump head photoshoot. You know, the type of attention that got every venue on her comedy tour to cancel her show and provided hours and hours of Fox News talk about violent liberals and "what Hollywood is saying." Depp was introducing his 2004 movie The Libertine to the Glastonbury crowed. Since he said he's "not an actor," this appears to be Depp's way of making that prophecy come true. We'll see how badly Disney wants him to come visit his Disneyland rides after this. At least we'll be spared his next press tour.
If there is anything that makes a less-than-impressive product an easy sell, it is by associating it with astronauts. For instance, Tang is gross and there is literally no way that so many of us would have been drinking it as children were it not... the drink of the astronauts. See also, freeze-dried ice cream. Which is actually kind of delicious but probably would not have been a thing if it were not made for astronauts to eat in space. Over at Gwyneth Paltrow's lifestyle blog/rich lady shop Goop, they are hocking a new kind of astronaut-related product: a pack of "Body Vibes" bio-frequency stickers, which will run you $120. Or at least they were, until an actual NASA scientist publicly laughed his ass off about it. Goop's initial post called "Wearable Stickers that Promote Healing Really!" (still available in cache) claimed that the stickers were made with the same technology as NASA space suits. "The concept: Human bodies operate at an ideal energetic frequency, but everyday stresses and anxiety can throw off our internal balance, depleting our energy reserves and weakening our immune systems. Body Vibes stickers (made with the same conductive carbon material NASA uses to line space suits so they can monitor an astronaut' vitals during wear) come pre-programmed to an ideal frequency, allowing them to target imbalances. While you're wearing them... close to your heart, on your left shoulder or arm... they'll fill in the deficiencies in your reserves, creating a calming effect, smoothing out both physical tension and anxiety. The founders, both aestheticians, also say they help clear skin by reducing inflammation and boosting cell turnover." If that sounds fishy to you, you are not alone. Goop's post has since been edited to remove all reference to astronauts following an article published at Gizmodo, in which they checked in on what Mark Shelhamer, former chief scientist at NASA’s human research division, had to say about the magic astronaut stickers, “Wow,” he told Gizmodo. “What a load of B.S. this is.” Shelhamer reiterated that space suits are not lined with carbon material, and that even if they were, it would be for adding strength to the suit... not for monitoring vital signs. “Not only is the whole premise like snake oil, the logic doesn’t even hold up,” he said. “If they promote healing, why do they leave marks on the skin when they are removed?” Goop removed all references to astronaut magic, but is still recommending the very expensive stickers, which claim to do things like cure your hangover, relieve pain and give you "unicorn skin" (???) using “Bio Energy Synthesis Technology.” Which Rae Paoletta at Gizmodo points out is not so much an actual science thing as it is the not-at-all-legit-seeming invention of a company called AlphaBioCentrix, which also markets "energetic products" magic pendants, energy cards and all manner of other snake-oily products. But hey! If you want to spend $60-$120 bucks on some stickers, whether or not they are infused with space-suit magic, I'm not gonna stop you. But if all you want is some unicorn skin, you can probably get those stickers for a lot cheaper from Lisa Frank.
Alright, kids, if you decide to go hiking this summer you might wanna watch out for bears. But if you do come across a bear this real sign might be able to help you...

Hahaha. So, did you know Disney, the greatest company to work for ever, is making a sequel to Moana already? No? Take a look...

Hey, it comes out on my birthday. Anyway, I haven't seen the original but I might go see this one. Did you guys see the new McDonald's slogan? I think it's very honest...

Yup. Okay, so, if you are thinking about cheating on your loved one let me show you something that might give you second thoughts...

Damn. So, I graduated from school in England and in England we don't do year books. I always wondered what my senior year book quote would be... but I bet it wouldn't be something like this...

Hmmm. It is true though. So, if you go to the beach this summer look out for this...

Oh, by the way, this is not me...

That's so stupid. That's as stupid as...

Hahahahaha. Now from the home office in Port Jefferson, New York, here is...

Top Phive Signs That It's Summer
5. People are begging to be dragged off of United flights because it's too hot to walk.
4. Bill Cosby is now mostly spiking frozen margaritas.
3. Daniel Day-Lewis just quit acting to focus on his Slip n' Slide.
2. Mitch McConnell showed up at the secret healthcare meetings in flip-flops and a man-thong.
And the number one sign that it's summer is...
1. Two words: Slurpee facials.

That's a really lame Mindphuck. Anyway, if you spot it let me know. Okay, so, my son and I were recently talking the other day how we used to watch "Sesame Street" together when he was little. Over the years, that show has changed quite a bit. You'll see why in a pheature called...

"We're not saying black lives don't matter. We're just saying they mattered more when they were property."

Okay, so, you might be having a bad week, but there's some people that just win at life. Like Alyssa Milano, who hilariously burned Ted Cruz. These are tough times, and everybody could use a hug. Especially, apparently, Senator Ted Cruz, who's been finding trying to rip healthcare away from the poor to finance a tax cut for the rich to be a lonely pursuit. That, and Zodiac killing. Yesterday, when "Charmed" actress Alyssa Milano called everyone in for a group hug, Cruz strangely got very excited, and Milano went viral making an exception.

It's not the first time Cruz has been rejected for an embrace.

Ha! Could that picture be anymore blurry? You get the idea though, right?

Sunglasses are a form of protective eyewear designed to protect the eyes from looking uncool.

Today's guest is a Phile Alum and the author of "Gremlin Trouble!: The Cursed Roald Dahl Film Disney Never Made," the 61st book to be pheatured in the Phile's Book Club. Please welcome back to the Phile... Jim Korkis.

Me: Jim! Welcome back to the Phile, sir. How are you doing?

Jim: It is always a pleasure to take a break and answer questions from you.

Me: I love it when you're here... like I said many times before you are one of my favorite guests I have on the Phile.

Jim: That’s very kind of you to say. As a writer, I spend most of my time working in seclusion so I don’t get much of a sense if people are enjoying what I am writing other than the fact that people keep asking me to write things.

Me: I have to ask you about a few things before we talk about Disney.

Jim: Sure. I am fortunate to have had an interesting life outside of Disney. I was a professional actor and magician. I wrote "Tiny Toons" comic books for Europe. I have done professional voice-over work including some jobs for Disney. I worked at the Los Angeles Zoo selling popcorn and driving a tour tram. I was a contestant on several game shows. Someone just posted on YouTube an excerpt of me on the game show "Origins" which was actually a game show pilot filmed at Filmation Studio (the animation studio responsible for shows like "Fat Albert," "Tarzan," etc. who were trying to get into live action) that never aired so I never got any of the money I won. I was a contestant on shows like "Camouflage" (where I won a red Cadillac), "Family Feud," "Dating Game" and even "The Gong Show." I was a member of AFTRA so I got paid “scale” (union minimum which at the time was several hundred dollars) as well as anything else I won. Many AFTRA actors did the shows because producers liked their professionalism and entertainment value and actors like me liked having a check to help pay the rent, car insurance, groceries and more. Actor Tom Selleck was on "The Dating Game" and didn’t get picked. Because of the game show scandals in the 1950s, there were restrictions in place so you could only appear on a certain number of game shows within a certain time period. They didn’t want “professional” contestants popping up all the time. Different networks had different restrictions or else I would have been on a lot more.

Me: How bloody cool! My dad and I used to watch "The Gong Show" together. He actually knew The Unknown Comic. Anyway, what was your act on that show, Jim?

Jim: I went on with my brother, who now works in entertainment management at Walt Disney World, as the Quasimodo Belairs, singing-dancing hunchbacks who also did corny jokes like: “Hey, Quasimodo, do you know who is going to win the race?” “No, but I have a hunch!” Believe it or not, we won. I still have the check stub somewhere. There was a guy from the I.R.S. backstage so you had to sign a paper that you won such and such an amount and had to claim it on your taxes. That happened at all the game shows. All those prizes you won like a year’s supply of root beer and turtle wax that I got on "The Dating Game" had to be claimed at their full retail value.

Me: What was Chuck Barris like? Do you believe the rumors that he worked for the CIA?

Jim: I guess anything is possible. I know in his autobiography he claimed that he used to be an assassin for the CIA but I find that hard to believe. He was really a sweet, kind, gentle man, not like the guy you saw on television. Did you ever notice he would sometimes wear a hat that hid his face and constantly looked down? That was because he was so shy. He really didn’t want to be on camera and he wasn’t on his other shows. The one thing that really stuck in my mind is that before taping he came into the Green Room where all the acts were waiting and he was so encouraging to everyone, specifically mentioning things he had seen in our rehearsals that he liked. He obviously was genuinely appreciative of people coming to perform, no matter how outrageous or lame they were. He didn’t consider it a freak show just common people who had a dream to perform. We were all treated very, very well. I had thought he was a clown taking advantage of people but I gained new respect for him.

Me: Do you remember who the judges were when you were on the show?

Jim: Jaye P. Morgan, Jamie Farr and Mort Sahl. Sahl got booed by the audience when he gave us a 9 while the other judges gave us a 10 and stood up and cheered. We still won. Also on the show were Gene Gene the Dancing Machine and the Unknown Comic.

Me: I looked for a clip on YouTube of you on the show but couldn't find it. It doesn't help that I don't know how to find it. I did find the other clip when you were on "Origins" though. I have to show a screen shot here...

Me: Is there a clip of your performance out there?

Jim: I do have videotape of me on the game shows. I guess I or someone else should post those eventually on YouTube. Are you interested?

Me: Sure. I don't have a VHS player, but w can get it transferred to DVD and then figure out a way to post it.

Jim: I’ll send you a copy. I didn’t have a copy of the "Origins" show since it never aired so I don’t know how someone found that one to post. Maybe people would be interested in just seeing examples of the shows rather than because I was on them. I cry when I see them because I was so young, thin, and had lots of hair!

Me: I did look at the Popsicle Twins a few times! Ha! Do you remember that act, Jim? I have to show a pic of them here...

Jim: The Popsicle Twins were two teenaged girls who sucked on popsicles in a suggestive manner. It is often cited as one of the reasons the show was eventually cancelled although the act did pass by Standards and Practices in rehearsal. Barris loved dancing on the edge of propriety and being outrageous but trust me, there was never any maliciousness on his part, just mischievousness. He really couldn’t believe the show was on the air or continued on the air both in prime time and syndication. He had to have roughly 65 acts each week! That’s why the Unknown Comic and other acts by Barris staff kept appearing with regularity.

Me: Can you believe they got away with that on TV back then? 

Jim: On that particular show, Barris seemed to love pushing the boundaries just to see how far he could go. I was recently teaching a class on Disney to a group of university students and the presenter mentioned that I was on "The Gong Show" and we had to spend almost ten minutes explaining to them what that was. They had no clue at all. Finally, they accepted that it was a lower class version of "America’s Got Talent."

Me: Okay, let's talk about some stuff that's Disney related. So, Pandora at Disney's Animal Kingdom is now open. Have you had a chance to visit it? 

Jim: I haven’t had a chance to visit Pandora – The World of Avatar yet but I have had several friends who have and they all seem to have the same reaction: it is beautiful but small. There is only one entrance/exit over a bridge, two attractions, a food and beverage location and a merchandise shop so not much to see and do. This was going to be the site for Beastly Kingdom where guests would have crossed a bridge and gone on a leisurely water ride with mythological creatures from Fantasia and then gone on an attraction where they flew on a roller coaster and encountered a dragon-like creature. There would have been one food and beverage location themed to the Loch Ness Monster and a merchandise shop. Wait a minute. Maybe we finally did get the Beastly Kingdom after all!

Me: I haven't seen it yet either, and don't really know what to think of this land. One thing that I will like about it is that's it is truly immersable... if that is a real word, like the Harry Potter land at Universal. This is Disney's first crack at something like that. I hope it stays that way. What do you think about that?

Jim: Since the first sequel to the movie is now scheduled for three years from now, the success of the new land will be despite the film franchise not because of it. Even after the first film, people didn’t remember the names of the characters or rushed out to get a plush Banshee. It was an interesting event in IMAX and 3D but not a memorable movie in terms of story or characters. From what preliminary things I have seen, Pandora is an immersive, other-worldly experience that is especially beautiful at night. That should appeal to guests as going into a strange fantasy environment. I don’t think there is anyone who is saying, “I love that movie as much as Harry Potter, Star Wars, or whatever and have to experience a place based on it!” However, I think there will be guests who say “Hey, this is cool! I have no idea what it is but it is cool.”

Me: I am not 100% sure that Pandora is suitable for the Animal Kingdom. There's no animals...

Jim: The concept that Disney is promoting is that the original film emphasized how important it is to live in harmony with your environment, that respecting and protecting the native flora and fauna is paramount. That is how they are tying it in to the conservation theme of Disney's Animal Kingdom. 

Me: Do you think the movie Avatar was that popular to have a whole land dedicated to it or do you think Disney already made the deal with James Cameron and invested way too much in it?

Jim: I think Disney wanted to get into business with James Cameron and maybe have him eventually do films for Disney that would rake in the outrageous sums some of his films have done in the past. I think Cameron loves the idea he has created a new world and so was enthused to have it translated into reality and now feels connected to Disney. In many ways, it is similar to the original deal with George Lucas decades ago. Basically, Disney is spending money to make a filmmaker happy so he will do other things with them.

Me: I see you writing a whole book on the creation of that land. Did I just give you an idea?

Jim: Actually, I do have some notes and research for a possible future book on Disney's Animal Kngdom. I think the park is misunderstood. Michael Eisner originally green-lit it not because of Walt’s love of nature and animals but to destroy Busch Gardens with its wild animals and roller coasters just as Eisner killed Church Street Station in downtown Orlando with the opening of Pleasure Island that also had themed nightclubs and shopping. I think Disney fans might appreciate Disney's Animal Kingdom more if they understood why some of the things are there. The park certainly made some big mistakes when it first opened and I don’t think it has fully recovered.

Me: At my park (Disney's Hollywood Studios) they are gonna open a Star Wars based land and a Toy Story based land in a few years. They are supposed to be immersive as well. What do you think of these ideas?

Jim: Disney’s Hollywood Studios was my very favorite Disney theme park in Florida. It was an intimate experience like Disneyland and it had this wonderful charm of the Hollywood of the 1930s/1940s. Today, visitors don’t know or care about that time period. They are clueless about the caricatures in the Brown Derby Restaurant. Even Eisner over two decades ago wanted to change those pictures out to contemporary actors like Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger. Even those guys are probably not on the radar of modern audiences. Disney is a business so it is good business to have a Star Wars Land and a Pixar Land but it seems to me that all of these franchises are chipping away at the unique Disney brand. While Eisner’s philosophy was to come up with something similar to knock out the competition (and some argue that Disney's Hollywood Studios was built to undercut Universal opening a movie park in Orlando), Robert Iger’s philosophy is to bring in franchises rather than create original intellectual property. Unfortunately, Disney still doesn’t know how to best leverage the Muppet franchise.

Me: Have you heard the rumors of a Star Wars theme hotel? If it happens I wanna work there, but I don't think it's gonna happen. 

Jim: Yes, there are always Disney rumors, aren’t there? And some of them are really appealing. Actually, the idea of a Star Wars theme hotel is a possibility since it would generate more than enough revenue to cover the expense of building and operating it and still generate obscene profits. Star Wars fans are truly fanatical. Did you see the coverage of the recent convention at the Orange County Convention Center? It was insane and that is just the tip of the iceberg. However, which version of Star Wars would the hotel be? Is it the time of the original trilogy with Darth Vader still alive? Is it the time of Rogue One and some of those new solo movies? Is the time of the newly made trilogy? Will Jar Jar Binks be working behind the check-in counter? Will Stormtroopers be marching by the pool? Are aspects from Star Tours included or from the various animated television shows and comic books? So while there MIGHT be a themed hotel, there are still plenty of questions to answer. Disney certainly already has themed resort hotels but this one would have to be exceptional.

Me: What about this gondola skyway like project taking Guests from certain resorts to the parks. That I am so excited for! What do you think of this? I am surprised they are going this way opposed to extending the monorail system. I take it this new system is cheaper.

Jim: My understanding is that a gondola system is cheaper to build and operate. I don’t know if it is safer especially if there are wind and weather issues. I certainly had concerns riding the Skyway at Disneyland and Walt Disney World but that never seemed to be much of an issue. Certainly WDW needs better transportation than the busses to get to some of the outlying locations. I would bet more people would go to Disney's Animal Kingdom if it was easier to get there.

Me: Alright, let's talk about the book "Gremlin Trouble!" I enjoyed this book a lot, Jim. How did you come up with the idea to write a book about this subject?

Jim: Ever since I first heard about an unmade Disney animated feature film I was intrigued. I am always interested in films that were never made just in general but the fact that it was a Disney film and Walt was directly involved just made it even more fascinating. I kept running across little snippets of artwork and information but I had so many unanswered questions. I finally decided I should just put everything I could find in one location and maybe that would help bring more information to light.

Me: To explain to the readers, in the 40s during World Wars II Disney and Roald Dahl were gonna make a movie together about gremlins. The gremlins story was Dahl's first book, right?

Jim: Yes, Dahl was a Flight Lieutenant with the Royal Air Force during World War II. He suffered injuries where he could no longer fly and was made an attaché in Washington, D.C. To take his mind off his injuries, he did some writing. He had written an autobiographical short story that had been printed in a magazine and that encouraged him to write a longer piece about the legend of gremlins, little creatures that sabotaged RAF aircraft.

Me: How much research and how long did it take you to put this book together?

Jim: Ever since I first read about the project in 1980, I began gathering research and information. I had a rough draft done in 1997 and Disney Legend Bill Justice who had worked on the film read it and agreed to do an introduction for the book. Little did either of us realize that it would take another twenty years for the book to be finished and his introduction to see print.

Me: Growing up were you a big Roald Dahl fan?

Jim: A: Not really. My first introduction to Dahl was the Gene Wilder movie Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. The art direction was done by Harper Goff who was the Disney Imagineer who did the Jungle Cruise among other credits. I liked the movie but felt it wasn’t imaginative enough and that Wilder’s character was pretty scary. Dahl didn’t care for the film because he felt it shifted focus away from Charlie. The story was inspired by Dahl’s time at a boarding school where they were allowed to taste test Cadbury chocolates and visit the factory. It wasn’t until I was an adult that I discovered Dahl’s books.

Me: I was... I liked his books and movies. So many of his books were turned into movies. Disney even released James and the Giant Peach which I loved. So, why was this gremlin movie so hard to make?

Jim: This was during World War II and most of the Disney resources were devoted to making films for the military, much of Disney’s staff had been drafted, and there wasn’t much money coming in. In addition, Dahl was manipulative and taking full advantage of the situation in an attempt to establish a reputation for himself as an author. He was less interested in the film being made than partying in Hollywood, making connections and sleeping with starlets. He was really vain and stubborn and slowed down work on the film.

Me: Dahl kinda blamed it on Disney, saying the story was to British. I wave the B.S. flag on that... most of Disney's movies take place in England or Europe. In your opinion why do you think the movie wasn’t made?

Jim: Disney seemed to handle British subjects quite well whether it was the animated Peter Pan or the live action Robin Hood in 1952. Walt was well aware of the differences between British humor and storytelling and American and counseled his artists on it when they were making Alice in Wonderland. There were many problems in getting the movie made but I think the primary one was that they just couldn’t come up with a story that worked. They struggled over several ideas and Dahl was no help. His original story was really just a short story and was more of an incident and an interesting concept.

Me: Reading your book, I kept thinking this could be the prequel to Saving Mr. Banks. The whole behind the scenes story can easily be made into a movie. I, of course, wanna play Dahl. Haha. Do you have the same thought that this could be a movie in itself, Jim?

Jim: Of course, you should play Dahl. He was six foot, six inches tall, movie-star handsome, and charming. Yes, there are a lot of similarities with Walt dealing with Dahl as with Walt dealing with P.L. Travers.

Me: Have you ever written a screenplay?

Jim: Yes, several. Two were filmed by independent movie companies in Los Angeles. Others were purchased but never filmed. Those are stories for another time. I did a film myself that I financed with my credit cards and lost every single penny and more.

Me: I was gonna ask if you believed in gremlins, but that would be a stupid question. Instead I'll ask do you believe the RAF pilots or anybody else actually believed in them?

Jim: I talked with a couple of pilots and they absolutely believe but are hesitant to talk about them with non-pilots. Personally, I keep an open mind about everything. I think there is the very real possibility of gremlins, Bigfoot and other cryptids. Some of that comes from the fact that I would like those creatures to exist although I wouldn’t necessarily like to meet them in person.

Me: I am glad you mentioned the 1984 Gremlins movie in the book... and the "Twilight Zone" episode. Apart from those things, gremlins haven't been used that much... I don't think. Am I wrong? 

Jim: Those are the two most recognizable appearances of gremlins in media but there have been a handful of others. In the 1940s, there were a lot of books about gremlins because they were so predominant during the war years and not so much today.

Me: So, Dark Horse comics reprinted the original book about 10 years ago and released a lot of merchandise to go with it. I don't remember any of this. Do you have anything gremlins related? What about the original book?

Jim: I have a very battered copy of the original book that I got in the 1980s that I thought was way too expensive but now it would have cost me over ten times as much. I do have a few gremlins items (including the Dell comic books) and as I wrote the book, I decided that if it sold well, I would purchase some of those Dark Horse PVC figures.

Me: Do you think this movie, or anything close to it, will be made?

Jim: Anything is possible. Look how long it took films like The Little Mermaid and Beauty and the Beast to get made. Walt worked on them for years without any success. Decades after he passed away they were finally made. I know people at Disney keep looking at the project because the character designs and concept are so appealing.

Me: What do you think about Gremlin Gus being in the "Epic Mickey" video game? I think I have a picture of him in the game...

Jim: I think it is great because he is now in the consciousness of a new generation. I don’t know if his current personality is the best one suitable for him but I am not complaining.

Me: One thing in the book I thought was interesting was the whole Clause 12 thing. Explain what that was, Jim.

Jim: Basically, it meant that at any point, ANY point, in the production of the film, the RAF could step in and say “no” or stop the entire project. That is a terrible burden to be under when you are investing time and money in making a film. The RAF did not want to be held up to embarrassment or misrepresented, something Walt would never have done even if there wasn’t that clause.

Me: I wouldn't be surprised if Disney doesn't put the gremlins into a new comic book. Have you read the Figment comics, or Haunted Mansion comic? I heard there's even a Tiki Birds comic. WTF?

Jim: I see the Jungle Cruise movie that was going to star Tom Hanks and Tim Allen is now back in development but this time with Dwayne Johnson. Not only was there a Figment and Haunted Mansion comic book but one on Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. I don’t consider any of these (or things like the Steve Gutenberg Tower of Terror and Eddie Murphy Haunted Mansion movies) as canonical. None of these projects seem to have entertained a big audience. I see no artistic reason to remake Disney animated features as live action movies but they certainly make a ton of money so expect many more to come in the future. Disney is a business so it is trying to leverage its assets.

Me: So, the gremlins movie didn't really have a name attached, even though they had a bunch of titles copyrighted such as... Gay Gremlins, Gremlin Lore, We've Got Gremlins, and Widgets Nest in Wings. I don't like any of those names. What one is your favorite?

Jim: I like Gremlin Trouble and named the book after that proposed title.

Me: Do you know of any other shelved Disney movies are out there?

Jim: I could write a book about all the Disney animated and live action movies that were in development and shelved over the years. In fact there was a book detailing just some of the unmade Disney animated shorts and features called "The Disney That Never Was" by Charles Solomon. One feature I wished they had made would have had Mickey, Donald and Goofy in search of pirate gold. It was later adapted as just a Donald Duck story in the first Donald Duck comic book for Dell “Pirate’s Gold” with his nephews taking the place of Mickey and Goofy. It was done by Carl Barks and Jack Hannah.

Me: Okay, you have another book out that I have to mention... "Secret Stories of Disneyland: Trivia Notes, Quotes and Anecdotes." You are from California originally, Jim... did you ever work at Disneyland?

Jim: No, I never worked at Disneyland. I had lots and lots of friends who did. I went to Disneyland as a kid, a teenager and an adult many, many times a year.

Me: Why not? You're such a big Disney fan I thought of sure you would have worked there. 

Jim: I didn’t work at Disneyland because I didn’t have a reliable car to get to Anaheim and back and I was involved in too many other things including appearing in theatrical plays (sometimes two or three at the same time but different theaters) and going to school. If I had lived in Anaheim, I probably would have still been working at Disneyland today.

Me: Ahhhh... that makes sense. So, how is this Disneyland book different from any others out there? 

Jim: I didn’t intend to write a book of Disneyland fun facts. Everyone considers themselves a Disneyland expert, and there are a ton of books, magazine articles and websites out there devoted to just everything Disneyland. My publisher challenged me to see if I could find different facts or a different perspective and I thought it might be fun to try. I never imagined I would succeed.

Me: Did you go out to California to research for the book?

Jim: The last time I was at Disneyland was about two years ago, when Disneyland flew me out and put me up at the Grand Californian to do two presentations for Cast Members on Asian-Pacific heritage. I offered the same presentation to Walt Disney World and without the cost of transportation, food and lodging but they weren’t interested. I took lots of notes and I already had lots of notes and interviews I accumulated over the decades. If I write a sequel, I will definitely have to go out and spend some time.

Me: So, what's the biggest secret you didn't know about before you worked on the book, Jim? 

Jim: That there are still so many secrets that others have not shared. Also in the book, the biggest secret I discovered was that a former Nazi high-ranking SS officer did so much distinctive mosaic work for Disneyland and Walt Disney World.

Me: Hey, so, Kurt Russell, who is in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 said in an interview something about Walt's last words? What were they and is this true?

Jim: Short answer: No. You can read the entire explanation I wrote at this link: and it is also in my book "Who’s Afraid of the Song of the South?" in a chapter entitled “The Myth of Walt’s Last Words”. He was thinking of Russell for a possible future movie project and wrote down his name but misspelled it as “Kirt” but also wrote down child actor Roger Mobley. However, it is such an appealing story it keeps getting retold.

Me: By the way, did you see the Guardians movie? Whatcha think?

Jim: I really liked the movie. I am a long time comic book fan and collector beginning in the late 1960s and was never a fan of "Guardians of the Galaxy" or its characters. The two films have made me a believer. I see Howard the Duck pops up again. I wonder if Disney is thinking of doing a movie with the character?

Me: I hope so! Speaking of urban legends... I get asked a lot over the years did anyone ever get decapitated on Space Mountain? I said that never happened. A teenager did lose his toe on Spaceship Earth once though... I was the custodian who had to clean the mess up.

Jim: To the best of my knowledge no one ever got decapitated on Space Mountain. However, you know as well as I do, that guests will do stupid, unsafe things and not just kids and teenagers. If someone had gotten decapitated, there would be public OSHA reports of investigations and more for people to find despite how Disney likes to keep things quiet.

Me: One more urban legend question, Jim, then I'll let you go... there's a spirit of a little boy lurking in the Haunted Mansion in Orlando? Have you heard that one? 

Jim: Yes, and there is supposed to be a ghost in Pirates as well. People over the years have tried dumping cremated ashes in the Haunted Mansion attraction but that action has been spotted and the ashes vacuumed up almost immediately. Disney is a story telling place and everyone, especially Cast Members, love telling stories. Yes, I believe in the possibility of ghosts as well. I once ran into one at UC Santa Cruz but that is another story for another time.

Me: Yeah, we have a lot to talk about next time you're here, my friend. Alright, so, what book are you working on now, Jim, that I can have you back on the Phile to talk about?

Jim: At the beginning of this summer, my latest book "Secret Stories of Walt Disney World Volume 3" should be released. "The Secret Stories of Disneyland" is more lighthearted and anecdotal which is why I put that sub-title. With the stories of Walt Disney World I take it more seriously to document the information because nobody really seems to write about Walt Disney World and its back stories. It is getting tougher and tougher to do that because Imagineering is no longer releasing the complete stories like for Disney Springs or is constantly changing the stories. Captain Mary Oceaneer started on the Disney Cruise Line ships so the Oceaneer Club and Lab is named for her and her parrot is named Salty. That was true for years. When the Imagineers put her into Miss Adventure Falls at Typhoon Lagoon they changed the name of the parrot to Duncan. I asked why they did that and nobody could give me an answer. Also, if things go well, expect in the fall, volume 6 of "The Vault of Walt" with some very interesting stories. I am in the middle of doing that book but I have hopes it will be finished by the fall.

Me: Great! I will gave you back soon when the Walt Disney World book comes out. Tell the readers where they can get your books, and mention whatever website you want. Take care, my friend, and I hope to have you back on the Phile soon. 

Jim: Readers can always keep up on what latest books were just released as well as other interesting Disney books by going to or to

Me: Cool. Gfeat job, Jim, I'll have you back on here soon.

That about does it for this entry of the Phile. Thanks to Jim for a great interview. The Phile will be back tomorrow with musician Paul Hefti from Hefti Plays Hefti. Then next Sunday it's the Phile's 1000th entry pheaturing musician Nick Lowe. I can't wait. Spread the word, not the turd. Don't let snakes and alligators bite you. Bye, love you, bye.

Not if it pleases me. No, you can't stop me, not if it pleases me. - Graham Parker

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