Friday, April 25, 2008

Disney and more Time Machine : Remembering the ZORRO tv series and Guy Williams

Any french who was a child in the 60's and the 70's will tell you how hugely popular the Zorro TV series were in France at that time. A huge TV success, really, and everybody still remember the main title song!

And when i was a child, me, too, i LOVED him, he was my hero! Now that i look back at those happy days and try to understand why we all loved the series so much, i think that one of the reason was the casting. Frankly, the casting was perfect. Whether it was Guy Williams in the Don Diego de la Vega/Zorro character...

Gene Sheldon playing Bernardo, Don Diego servant...

Henry Calvin playing Sergent Garcia, or even the villains, all were perfectly cast. Add to this good scripts and good directors, and you have a great tv series. Of course we must never forget the innocence of that era, something partly lost, now.

The Walt Disney Productions TV series premiered October 10, 1957 on ABC and The final network broadcast was June 2, 1959. Seventy-eight episodes were produced, and 4 hour-long specials were aired on the Walt Disney anthology series between October 30, 1960 and April 2, 1961. On this rare picture below, Walt is on the set, discussing with Guy Williams.

Walt himself introduced the first episode as he always did at that time with his tv series, and here is the video of this Zorro introduction.

The tv series were filmed in black and white, and the season 1 dvds in France were released with the orginal B&W. But Disney did a colorised version in the U.S, and below, here is the very first episode of Zorro, in a three part video, and in colour. Note that the director was Norman Foster, a good director who worked years before with Orson Welles.

Let's come back to Guy Williams - born Armand Joseph Catalano and former fashion model before he became actor. Not only he was full of charisma, but he had the most important: he was a perfect swashbuckler!

The Zorro series were a of course a hit in the U.S, and in the early days of Disneyland, if you were a child you could have the luck to sword fight with him in Frontierland!

The Zorro merchandise was incredibly successful during years and years - all the kids wanted the Zorro costume! Guy Williams himself did some promotional pictures as you can see below.

He also met the Musketeers as guest star in one of Walt's tv show.

After the phenomenal success of Zorro, Guy Williams played in another tv series: Lost in Space. During the casting, he did some screen tests, and you can watch them below in this rare video.

Guy Williams died April 30, 1989 of a brain aneurysm, but he now have his star on the Hollywood walk of fame, in California. And we still miss him.

Photos and videos : copyright Disney.
Editor's note : The videos of the new Hong Kong Disneyland It's a Small World attraction are below the Marc Davis article. Scroll down to watch them!

Walt Disney's Nine Old Men : A tribute to Marc Davis

After Ollie Johnston last week, here is a new tribute to one of Walt Disney's nine old men : Marc Davis.

Born March 30, 1913, Marc Davis was a prominent artist and animator for Walt Disney Studios. Some of the animated characters Davis mainly designed and animated are Thumper from Bambi (1942), Brer Rabbit from Song of the South (1946), Cinderella (1950), Alice of Alice in Wonderland (1951) ( picture below )...

But also Tinker Bell in Peter Pan (1953), Maleficent ( artwork below ) and Aurora in Sleeping Beauty (1959) ( picture above, top )...

...and Cruella De Vil of 101 Dalmatians (1961).

Of course, Disney theme parks fans will also remember him forever for the unforgettable characters he designed for many Disneyland rides and show animatronics: The Enchanted Tiki Room, Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln, Ford's Magic Skyway, Carousel of Progress, Pirates of the Caribbean, The Jungle Cruise, America Sings, Haunted Mansion, It's a Small World, Western River Expedition, and the Country Bear Jamboree.

Among these all-time favorites attractions that guests remember the most is indeed the Haunted Mansion...

And Pirates of Caribbean, probably the most emblematic of his work for Disneyland.

Nobody better than him could talk about his life, and here he is Marc below, in this wonderful three-part video.

Photos, artwork and video: copyright Disney Enterprises Inc.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

New Hong Kong Disneyland's It's a small world Videos !

Although the attraction is not officially open yet - it will be April 28 - the first videos of Hong Kong Disneyland's It's a Small World already appeared on youtube.

Here are some good videos below, but if you're planning to go to HKD soon, beware of spoilers!

At first view, i like this new version, specially because the colours and lighting looks very different than the DLP version. And there are many different scenes, too!
The new Disney characters are introduced for the first time, so it will help you to have an opinion about how it may look if Disney proceed to introduce them at Disneyland, Anaheim.

Enjoy the video, it's not every day that there is video of a new attraction!

Here is another video, this time divided in four parts.

And finally, a video of the outside and the clock show.

Youtube videos thanks to Mondaysmorning, Royal311 and hkdisneycrazy that i thanks a lot.

Photo: copyright Disney

Disney's Animal Kingdom 10th anniversary - Remembering the Grand Opening : It was the good old days...

Yesterday was the 10th anniversary of this wonderful park - one of my favorite - Disney's Animal Kingdom. I was invited for the Grand Opening, and was there for the dedication. I remember it very well, specially as it was organised not in the park, but on the parking lot!...probably to protect animals from the noise of the ceremony.

After Michael Eisner dedication speech a big show-ceremony happened with dancers and singers - picture above - but if i remember it so well, it's also because of a good laugh i had with another friend, journalist and invited like me at this opening.

Here is why: at that time, just some weeks before, Tim Burton's Mars Attacks was released, and in the movie there is a sequence where all officials are waiting for the arrival of the martians on a kind of...parking lot in the desert! Then, the U.S government representative is doing a welcome speech, after what the martians begin to kill everybody with their laser gun! So, to come back to Animal Kingdom dedication, there we were, all of the guests, on Animal Kingdom parking lot, and suddenly i began to think about this movie sequence and tell my friend: "Hmmm, didn't this ceremony remember you the arrival of the martians in Mars Attack?". As he immediately saw what i was talking about - the "parking lot" location coincidence - we had a big laugh as we imagined the martians ready to shoot everybody as soon as Eisner would have finished his speech! God, it was really funny...

Anyway, the dedication went fine, and then everybody rush to discover this beautiful park. I remember how i was stunned right from the entrance by the vegetation theming.
Then we went to Africa for the Kilimandjaro Safari ride, just like Roy Disney did.

And, talking about Roy, i found back these pictures. Released for the opening, it's typical corporate pictures, but when you think about what was going to happen some years later between the two men, the apparent harmony between them looks really funny.

Don't they look like the best pals in the world! Ah, it was the good old days!

I'm not trying to have fun out of Eisner and Roy, as i have respect for them - specially for Roy - but, frankly, i think these pictures are hilarious...

However, on this last picture shoot at the end of the opening show, the eagle flying above their heads looks like an omen for what will happen between them some years later. And if you look at their face they seems to have a strange feeling about it...

Come back soon for the beginning of a new article series in tribute to this great park!

All photos: copyright Disney

Aloha from Hawai !

Hello, i'll be back tonight with a long article, but in the meantime, for all of you working at your office and dreaming of exotic holidays, enjoy this wonderful 1952 Disney cartoon with Goofy in Hawai!

Video: copyright Disney

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

New WALL-E and the magnet video clip

Disney-Pixar have released a new short video clip of WALL-E having trouble with a magnet.

As usual, it's fun and done with intelligence. It's short, so it won't take you long time to watch it, so have a look at it below!

Video: copyright Disney-Pixar

Monday, April 21, 2008


Dick Cook announced today the creation of a new film label "Disney Nature" to produce nature documentaries. On a certain point of view, for those of you who remember the great True Life Adventures movies, it's the big comeback of the WDC in nature and animals documentaries.

I am really happy about that news because nature or animals documentaries can be wonderful when they are well done. Below is the full press release with the Disney Nature projects in production.

It's also interesting to note that this announcement is made on the day of the 10th anniversary of Disney's Animal Kingdom, Disney's most "nature" theme park.
Mmmmh, i'm wondering if they will organize the first nature documentary world premiere at Disney's Animal Kingdom? That could be a great idea!

Burbank, California – April 21, 2008 -- The Walt Disney Studios is launching Disneynature, a prestigious new production banner that will literally go to the ends of the earth to produce major big screen nature documentaries, Studios Chairman Dick Cook announced.

In the great tradition established by Walt Disney himself, Disneynature will offer spectacular entertainment about the world in which we live. The significance of the new banner goes beyond the studio, with The Walt Disney Company embracing this new initiative around the world through a number of its businesses, including publications, licensing, parks and educational outreach. Disney veteran Jean-Francois Camilleri, who has served as senior vice president and general manager for Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures France will head the new unit. Disneynature will be based in France, where Camilleri and his team will oversee the initiation, development and acquisition of high quality feature projects.

Among the first films to be released domestically under the new label will be Earth, from award-winning British producer/director Alastair Fothergill, whose credits include the landmark Planet Earth series for the BBC and The Discovery Channel and The Blue Planet. Earth, which is produced by BBC Worldwide and Greenlight Media and co-directed by Mark Linfield, will take us on a tour of our home planet as we’ve never seen it before. It will be narrated by renowned actor James Earl Jones and will premiere theatrically on Earth Day, April 22, 2009. The film will also be released under the Disneynature banner in Latin America.

“We love balancing heritage and innovation and Disneynature is a perfect example of this. We are placing the legacy of Disney’s ‘True-Life Adventures’ in the hands of great modern filmmakers using dazzling technology,” said Robert A. Iger, president and CEO, The Walt Disney Company. “Disneynature is a concept we look forward to building across the company and across the globe for years to come. And, we hope these films will contribute to a greater understanding and appreciation of the beauty and fragility of our natural world.”

Dick Cook added, “Our goal is for Disneynature to offer event films that will appeal to everyone who is captivated by the grandeur of nature and the wonder of great filmmaking. Thanks to today’s state-of-the-art creative tools, filmmakers have an unlimited ability to tell nature’s limitless stories. These stories are as engrossing as any works of fiction and are of a scale and scope that can only be fully appreciated on a big screen. At Disneynature, the sky is truly the limit.”

"Nature invents the most beautiful stories. Our role at Disneynature will be to tell these stories with passion and enthusiasm to the largest public possible around the world,” said Camilleri. “By working with the best wildlife directors, we will offer nature as never seen before, help the audience to discover the incredible beauty of our world but also understand the challenges for the future generations."

Alastair Fothergill added, “This is especially exciting because, thanks to the wide-ranging appeal of Disney, we can expect Earth, as well as Chimpanzee and Big Cats to be seen by the broadest possible audience. Disney has been an inspiration to wildlife documentarians for generations and it’s a genuine thrill to advance this extraordinary legacy under this new label.”

Among the other Disneynature projects currently in development or production are:

THE CRIMSON WING: Mystery of the Flamingos – Co-directed by Matthew Aeberhard and Leander Ward, and produced by Paul Webster (Kudos Pictures), this film will take viewers to the isolated shores of Lake Natron in northern Tanzania for a birds-eye view of the mysterious lives of flamingos. Worldwide roll-out begins December 2008

OCEANS -- Nearly three-quarters of the earth’s surface is covered by oceans. French co-directors Jacques Perrin and Jacques Cluzaud have set out to capture the full expanse of these waters that have played such a crucial and constant role in the history and sustenance of man. The deep and abundant oceans are places of great mysteries and dangers that this film will dare to explore. Domestic release 2010

ORANGUTANS: One Minute to Midnight – Directed by Charlie Hamilton James and produced by Frédéric Fougea, this film tells the true story of a six-year-old male orangutan and his little sister, who must take an incredible journey to find a home and a family. Worldwide release 2010

BIG CATS – Audiences will get to meet three mothers – a lioness, a leopard and a cheetah – as they explore their world on the great plains of Africa. Co-directed by Keith Scholey and Alastair Fothergill and produced by Alix Tidmarsh, this film will show how these magnificent animals survive on their power and their cunning, while they protect and teach their cubs the ways of the wild. Worldwide release 2011

NAKED BEAUTY: A Love Story that Feeds the Earth – In this film, nature is ready for its close-up … a very close-up, as exacting macro photography takes us to the realm of flowers and their pollinators. Acclaimed filmmaker Louie Schwartzberg introduces us to a bat, a hummingbird, a butterfly and a bumblebee, demonstrating their intricate interdependence and how life on earth depends on the success of these determined, diminutive creatures. Naked Beauty is produced by Blacklight Films and Alix Tidmarsh. Worldwide release 2011

CHIMPANZEE -- Alastair Fothergill and Mark Linfield co-direct this intimate look at the world of chimpanzees, with Christophe Boesch, head of the Wild Chimpanzee Foundation, serving as principal consultant and Alix Tidmarsh as producer. To be shot over three years in the tropical jungles of the Ivory Coast and Uganda, Chimpanzee will help us better understand this exceptionally intelligent species. Worldwide release 2012
About Jean-François Camilleri:

After beginning his career working in France with Warner Bros. International, which at the time distributed Disney films overseas, Camilleri came to Los Angeles in 1990 to work for Disney’s Buena Vista International (BVI). When Disney took over its own overseas distribution, he returned to Paris to help develop BVI’s offices in Europe. He then became in 1997 Vice President and general Manager for Gaumont BVI France. In 2004, BVI opened an office dedicated solely to the French market, with Camilleri as senior vice president and general manager. In this position, he also developed local co-productions and acquisitions, including The March Of The Penguins, which became the most successful French film ever in the US and won the Academy Award for Best Documentary. He will be serving as executive vice president and general manager of Disneynature.

About the filmmakers (in order of films):

Alastair Fothergill joined the BBC’s esteemed Natural History Unit in 1983, where, among many projects, he produced films with Sir David Attenborough. He served as head of the Natural History Unit from 1992-1998, when he chose to step down to work full-time on the award-winning Blue Planet. From 2002-2006, Fothergill was series producer of the landmark Planet Earth. He has entered a multi-picture deal with Disneynature.

Mark Linfield has had a prolific career, producing and directing many award-winning films, including The Battles of Braveheart, Orangutans: The High Society, The Temple Troop and The Life of Mammals with Sir David Attenborough. His most recent work has been the multi-award award winning Capuchins: The Monkey Puzzle and two episodes of Planet Earth, including the opening show, Pole to Pole, which won several Emmys.

Matthew Aeberhard worked with famed naturalist and filmmaker Hugo van Lawick on the feature films The Leopard Son and Serengeti Symphony before helming his own films on such subjects as golden jackals and baboons for National Geographic.

Leander Ward first encountered flamingos while filming in Mexico. He was cameraman on the BBC documentary Cape Buffalo: The African Boss, where he met Matthew Aeberhard and the two began developing the film that will become The Crimson Wing.

Academy Award nominee, Jacques Perrin, is a prolific French actor, director and producer. In 1968, he produced at age 27, the landmark film, 'Z'. In 2003, he produced the acclaimed film LES CHORISTES: both films were nominated for Best Foreign Film Academy Award. He also produced two of the most important natural history films ever made: MICROCOSMOS in 1996 and THE WINGED MIGRATION in 2001 which he also directed. Both received numerous awards around the world. Since 2005, he has been producing and co-directing Oceans.

Jacques Cluzaud is one of the leading French filmmakers working with innovative new cinematic technologies. In addition to traditional productions, he has created films for such formats as IMAX, water screens and a giant wall consisting of 850 monitors. While co-directing Oceans, he is also developing new technologies for sea and underwater shooting.

Charlie Hamilton James began his career as a wildlife filmmaker at age 16, working on David Attenborough's Trails of Life. He went on to serve as a cameraman working on such prestigious BBC productions as Life of Mammals, Wildlife on One, Andes to Amazon, Big Cat Diary and Planet Earth. At 26, James produced his first film with his wife Philippa Forrester – My Halcyon River – which won numerous international awards and elicited more requests for repeats than any other film in the BBC's history.

Frédéric Fougea is a nature documentarian and producer who has received more than 100 awards, including an International Emmy Award, Best Film at the European Nature Film Festival and the Gold Medal at the New York Film Festival. Among his provocative films are The Rise of Man, A Species Odyssey, The Fabulous Adventure of Man and Animal and Yeti, The Call of the Snowman.

Keith Scholey was born in Tanzania and raised in East Africa until his teens. He has returned to Africa to make a wide range of films, including Leopard: A Darkness in the Grass, The Great Rift and Big Cat Diary. He succeeded Alastair Fothergill as head of the BBC’s Natural History Unit from 1998 until 2003, being responsible for a wide range of award-winning films, including two David Attenborough productions and The Blue Planet. He is currently the Controller of Factual Production, responsible for all the BBC’s factual productions.

Louie Schwartzberg, as a director and cinematographer, has created some of the most iconic and memorable film moments of our time. His time-lapse, nature and aerial photography has brought audiences images never captured before. He has directed award-winning documentaries for National Geographic, The Hallmark Channel, The Discovery Channel and PBS, and his work has been featured in theatrical films ranging from War of the Worlds and Crash to American Beauty and E.T. In 2004, he produced and directed the award-winning Walt Disney Pictures release, America’s Heart & Soul.

For more updates on the newest production banner of The Walt Disney Studios, go to (domestic) and (international

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Indiana Jones and the Temple of peril : The mystery of the second temple

One of my Disney and more reader - Jim - who own my book and have a good eye sent me this question: On page 138 of your book the rendering of the Temple of péril on the top of the page seems to show TWO temples instead of one. Do you have any idea if this means that WDI originally envisioned to build two temples instead of one only?

Well, Jim, it's for sure a good question, as indeed two temples are clearly visible on that rendering. And, of course, if a WDI artist painted it, it's because the imagineers did envisioned another temple.

However, it seems that it is only after the first temple was built that they began to really work on a new temple addition. Why? because the first temple was an instant hit at DLP's Adventureland but had one little problem: the hour capacity. And of course, the best to resolve this problem would have been to build...a second temple!

So, in Glendale, imagineers not only thought seriously - as they always do - about this new temple, but a model was built. And what can we saw on this model? Well, the two temples, of course, with the new one joining the first temple at a 90 degrees angle - imagine a "L" letter upside down, the vertical part of the letter being the first temple and the horizontal part being the new temple. However, there was no link between the two coaster tracks. Instead, the imagineers designed two totally different rides for both temples, with the possibility for the guests to board either at the first or at the second temple.

Another interesting point in this never built concept was that imagineers were not sacrifying the space to eventually build Indiana Jones Aventure in the future. In fact, if my memory is right, one of the "towers" of the second temple would have serve as the entrance for a future IJA attraction.

Now, as we know, this second temple was never built, and the main reason, as usual with DLP was - guess what? - money! At the end of the 1990's Disneyland Paris was in serious trouble financially speaking, and the park's management choose the option to add capacity with more seats for each train. They also choose to have the ride going "backward" , and indeed it was much cheaper to turn each train than to build a brand new temple!

Is there any chance that we see this other temple build in the future? Frankly, i wouldn't count on it, but who knows, as they say at WDI, "a good idea never die". That's right, but sometime a BETTER idea can replace another one!
Anyway, i think we can say that this "mystery of the second temple" is now resolved!

Artwork: copyright Disney Enterprises Inc

A new Indiana Jones 4 featurette and Harrison Ford trapped at the Nickelodeon kids choice award !

Two short videos for this sunday. The first one is a short featurette released by Lucas Film, and showing Shia LaBeouf - who play Indiana Jones son - on location, during the filming of the movie. Harrison Ford is there too, so, warning, possible spoilers!

Being a superstar movie can be full of surprises. Look to what happened to Harrison Ford at the Nickelodeon 2008 kids choice award, in a ceremony inspired by a famous sequence of Raiders of the lost ark!

And, finally, the picture on the top is a wallpaper picture, for those interested.

Video: copyright Lucas Film Ltd