At first glance, the type of attraction proposed in Disney’s patent application #20110312428, titled ‘Telescoping-Arm Round Ride for Amusement Parks,’ should look strongly familiar to anyone who’s ever visited a Disney theme park. Demonstrating with airplane-themed vehicles instead of elephants, this invention by Edward A. Nemeth and David W. Crawford has a couple of tricks up its sleeve.
While Dumbo allows guests to adjust the height of their vehicle as they ride in circles and attractions such as Aladdin’s Magic Carpet allows guests to adjust pitch in addition to height, the new attraction design allows guests to move in a completely different way in addition to vertically: horizontally. Using one of a couple of proposed systems, a guest would be able to control the radius of his vehicle, weaving back and forth during the ride. In addition, the patent application also calls for the potential of varying speeds during the cycle, referring to the traditional slow, constant speeds as a hindrance for those seeking a more thrilling experience. The application also maintains that the design easily allows to upgrade an existing Dumbo-type attraction by offering a more thrilling, varied experience using the exact same footprint.
Our ‘daily’ research has unveiled a couple of recent moves by The Walt Disney Company and while we don’t know enough about them to provide any additional information beyond the registrations themselves, we felt they were interesting enough to warrant an empty mention (i.e., this space intentionally left blank for future information).
Our first item of note is something known as the ‘Disney Xperience’ which comes to us via domain recent name registrations. Although the domain names themselves can’t be tied directly to Disney, we believe them to be legitimate as the company sometimes attempts to disguise registrations. In any case, the Disney Xperience will someday be found online at sites such as DISNEYXPERIENCE.COM, DISNEYXPERIENCE.NET, MYDISNEYXPERIENCE.COM and MYDISNEYXPERIENCE.NET. For preventative measure, MYDISNEYEXPERIENCE.COM and MYDISNEYEXPERIENCE.NET have also been registered. MYMAGICPLUS.COM and MYMAGICPLUS.NET have also recently been registered but we’re not positive if they’re related, or even Disney, although it seems likely based on the circumstantial.
Your guess is better than ours as to what it may mean but given that the latter domain names seem to point to an online service and the X factor, we’re leaning towards something to do with the reportedly upcoming Disney Parks XPass service which will allow select guests to essentially schedule virtually everything (including breakdowns) months in advance.
In related news, Disney recently filed a few trademark applications for ‘Unlock the Magic.’ Most of them are for the usual, humdrum items such as clothing, keychains, jewelry, stationery, books and the like, but one is for ‘education and entertainment services; fan club services; providing information via global computer networks in the field of entertainment and history.’ Although Disney’s legal department is ‘of size,’ we can generally ascertain which business unit the trademark application is for based on who files for it. The rub here, however, is that the individual who filed the applications seems to be new to the process, so there’s no previous history to guess whether whose venture this will be.
Arguably a theme park will need a lot of available land, or an expansion of sorts, to implement the type of attraction demonstrated in the recently published patent application titled ‘Amusement Park Ride with Cable-Suspended Vehicles’ (patent application US 20110300957).
As demonstrated here by what appears to be some sort of cable-car themed vehicle cruising through the streets of a metropolis, the vehicle, as invented by David W. Crawford and Edward A. Nemeth, uses multiple cables to control various aspects and positions of the vehicle itself.
Specifically, the vehicle is intended to fully simulate flight while moving in a physical space. In addition to the ability of the attraction being able to physically control the pitch, roll and yaw of the vehicle, it also allows for the guest to control certain elements such as altitude.
The patent application even goes further in its exploration of what it considers the next generation of motion simulators. For example, multiple physical flightpaths could be possible while guests aboard the vehicle may have such control that they could alter the path/storyline and ‘thrill level.’
With the Avatar area slated to open at Disney’s Animal Kingdom in Walt Disney World, it’s quite possible that this type of vehicle could be used in an attraction featuring mountain banshees. An excellent implementation of this may be a very plussed version of ‘Pteranodon Flyer’ found in the Jurassic Park section of Universal Studio Orlando’s Islands of Adventure where guests could tour the Avatar landscape above it all. Camouflaging the cables may require another patent altogether however.
The Disney/ABC Television Group today announced the formation of Times Square Studios, an integrated current entertainment programming and development division, following the announcement that Brian Frons, president, Daytime, Disney/ABC Television Group, will depart the Company at the end of his contract in January 2012. Through that date Mr. Frons will assist in transitioning to the new structure and will be available to provide counsel to the management team.
The new integrated Times Square Studios division will have oversight of current entertainment programming and the development of new programming focused primarily in the areas of non-scripted lifestyle and health for Daytime and Syndication. The current programming that will be part of this structure going forward includes “The View,” “General Hospital,” “The Chew,” “The Revolution,” “Katie” and “Who Wants To Be A Millionaire.” “LIVE! with Kelly” remains part of the ABC Owned Television Stations Group division.
Vicki Dummer, senior vice president, Current Series & Specials, ABC Entertainment Group, will be promoted to executive vice president, Times Square Studios, Current Series & Specials, adding oversight of this new programming and development area to her existing programming responsibilities. She will continue to report to Paul Lee, president, ABC Entertainment Group, who, with this announcement, adds Times Square Studios to his portfolio.
Abra Potkin, respected former CBS News and entertainment development executive, has been hired as senior vice president, East Coast Programming & Development, Times Square Studios; and ABC Daytime veteran Ann Lewis Roberts has been named senior vice president, West Coast Current Programming & Development, Times Square Studios. Both will report to Ms. Dummer.
In commenting on the announcement, Anne Sweeney, co-chair, Disney Media Networks and president, Disney/ABC Television Group, said: “Brian Frons has been the driving force in our successful Daytime division since joining us in 2002, and while we understand his decision to leave at the end of his contract, we’re sad to see him go.” She continued, “We took this opportunity to rethink our business, and the result was the creation of Times Square Studios. Having it be part of the ABC Entertainment Group, under the supervision of proven executives Vicki Dummer and Paul Lee, provides us the opportunity to bring greater creative resources, development strength and operational flexibility to this key area of our business.”
Mr. Frons said: “While my decision to try something new was not arrived at easily, nine years is a long time in television terms. I’m proud of the performance of ABC Daytime over that time, and of all of the accomplishments that our team achieved along the way. I’m especially pleased by the early results for ‘The Chew’ and excited for the launch of ‘The Revolution,’ which will be one more positive step in transforming ABC Daytime for our viewers. I’ll miss my colleagues and the wonderful talent that makes our shows, but know they are in very capable hands with Vicki going forward.”
“I am honored, humbled and thrilled to have been entrusted with this new opportunity,” Ms. Dummer stated. “Brian built an amazing team, and I’m looking forward to jumping into this new role and working with Abra, Ann and everyone in the group to make Times Square Studios a vibrant addition to our division.”
Mr. Lee added, “I’m really excited by the possibilities of Times Square Studios, and I think Vicki’s broad experience across reality and scripted makes her the perfect person to lead the charge.”
Brian Scott Frons was named president, Daytime, Disney/ABC Television Group in May 2006, where he oversaw the creation, production and delivery of all programming on ABC Daytime, SOAPnet and ABC Media Productions. He joined the Company in 2002 as president, ABC Daytime. Prior to that, he worked for the London-based SBS Broadcasting, S.A., where he most recently served as senior vice president of Programming, overseeing all programming, promotion and research operations for 12 SBS-owned and operated channels reaching about 125 million European viewers. Earlier in his career he was president, Creative Affairs, for New World Entertainment in Hollywood, where he directed program development and production for network, first-run syndication and international co-production. Mr. Frons has also been vice president, Creative Affairs, for NBC Productions.
In the Daytime Programming field, Mr. Frons has held various executive positions, including vice president, Daytime Programming, for NBC Entertainment, and director, Daytime Programming, for CBS Entertainment. In addition to developing, promoting or overseeing numerous series, Mr. Frons was also instrumental to the launch of The Soap Opera Digest Awards.
Mr. Frons began his television career in 1978 as one of three program management trainees chosen during a national search by CBS Entertainment. He holds a Master of Science degree in communications from Syracuse University and a Bachelor of Arts degree in history from the State University of New York at Fredonia.
Vicki Dummer was named senior vice president, Current Series & Specials, ABC Entertainment, in June 2011. In this role Ms. Dummer oversees all current series and special programming for ABC’s primetime block. She reports to Paul Lee, president, ABC Entertainment Group.
Previously Ms. Dummer was senior vice president, Alternative Series, Specials & Late-Night, ABC Entertainment, since June 2009. In that position she was responsible for the development and oversight of numerous programs, including “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition,” “Supernanny”,” “Secret Millionaire” and “Wipeout.” Prior to joining the Alternative Series & Specials department, she honed her skills in the arts and entertainment industry.
Ms. Dummer began her career at ABC in October 1996 in the Comedy Series Programming department. She worked on several of ABC’s most popular series, including “8 Simple Rules,” “According to Jim,” “Dharma & Greg,” “The Drew Carey Show,” “Less Than Perfect,” “Whose Line Is It Anyway?” and “Who Wants To Be A Millionaire.”
Prior to joining ABC, she was a senior program specialist at the National Endowment for the Arts in Washington, DC. She has also held posts as executive director of a statewide service organization for dancers and performance artists, and was manager of a modern dance company.
Ms. Dummer received a Bachelor of Arts in arts administration from Ohio State University.
Abra Potkin joins Times Square Studios as senior vice president, East Coast Programming & Development, from CBS Television Distribution, where she served as senior vice president, Talent, Development & Programming since 2006. During her tenure there, she worked on such shows as “Dr. Phil,” “Entertainment Tonight” and “The Insider.” Prior to that, Ms. Potkin spent eight years as director of production, West Coast Bureau, for CBS News / “48 Hours.”
From 1995-1999, she served as a producer for CBS News / “Before Your Eyes,” a division created to develop two-hour real-life stories, called “news-movies,” that would air as movies of the week. She was one of the key people responsible for turning the division into an award-winning, highly rated and critically acclaimed franchise.
She began her career at CBS News / “48 Hours” as an associate producer, where she produced hundreds of hours of television.
Ms. Potkin is the recipient of three Edward R. Murrow Awards, three Emmy Gabriel Awards, a Nancy Susan Reynolds Award and a “Women in TV” Award. She received a Bachelor of Arts in journalism from New York University.
The Walt Disney Company (NYSE: DIS) board today declared an annual cash dividend of $0.60 per share, up 50 percent, or $0.20 per share, from the previous year. The dividend is payable on January 18, 2012 to shareholders of record at the close of business on December 16, 2011. The January dividend payment represents the 56th consecutive year of dividend payments to shareholders.
“We are pleased to be able to raise our shareholder dividend by 50 percent while continuing to invest for future growth.”
“The Walt Disney Company had a great creative, strategic and financial year in fiscal 2011 with record revenue, net income and earnings per share,” said Robert A. Iger, president and CEO, The Walt Disney Company. “We are pleased to be able to raise our shareholder dividend by 50 percent while continuing to invest for future growth.”
The Company also announced that it has scheduled its annual shareholders’ meeting for Tuesday, March 13, 2012, in Kansas City, Missouri.
ABC Family is joining forces with DonorsChoose.org on the “Bright Student, Big Ideas!” campaign, www.ABCFamily.com/BrightStudents. For the first time ever, public school students in grades 9-12 will be able to work with their teachers to submit a project for funding. ABC Family will “Double Your Impact,” providing 50 percent of the project funding (up to $100,000 in total funding).
“ABC Family believes that every student can have a Big Idea, and we want to be a part of making those ideas a reality,” said Michael Riley, president ABC Family. “DonorsChoose.org, with its innovative micro-financing model, is the perfect platform to help us support students in the pursuit of the ideas that are most important to them. It is powerful to conceive an idea, work to make it happen and then see it come to fruition, and we want to be a part of empowering students to turn their Big Ideas into action.”
“Our partnership with ABC Family will help bring hundreds of innovative and inspiring ideas to life,” said Charles Best, founder and CEO of DonorsChoose.org, “As a former teacher, I understand the importance of keeping students engaged and encouraging leadership development, the impact of which will be felt by the benefitting schools and communities for years to come.”
Whether supplying 15 copies of To Kill a Mockingbird for an 8th grade class in the Bronx, microscopes for a 7th grade science experiment in Detroit, or a field trip for a Baltimore history class to visit the Supreme Court in session, DonorsChoose.org visitors have helped fund – largely through micro-donations of $5, $15 and $20 – more than 200,000 teacher projects that served over 5 million students throughout the U.S., mostly in poverty stricken areas.
Now, with “Bright Students, Big Ideas” campaign on ABCFamily.com, students can take on a more active role. Here’s how it works:
Step One: The student shares an idea for his/her school with a teacher (teacher must be a full-time public school teacher). Students can be as creative as they like, as long as the initiative enriches the class, school or his/or her development. For instance, projects could range from creating an anti-bullying video to hosting a mock trial on an important issue facing students or even a beach clean-up or the creation of an organic garden to help the environment.
Step Two: Teacher submits the idea on the DonorsChoose.org website. Submissions will describe how student(s) came up with the idea for the project, how many students are involved, a request for project materials ranging from $100 to $1,300, and a description of how the teacher will work with them to develop it. All submissions have to include the keyword “ABC Family” in the title field in order to qualify for funding from ABC Family.
Step Three: Once the project request meets the necessary requirements, ABC Family automatically donates 50 percent of the total amount needed (up to $100,000).
Step Four: Once the project is fully funded, DonorsChoose.org will send the teacher and student all of the materials they need to bring the idea to life.
Step Five: Together the student and the teacher put the student’s idea into action. Photos and thank you notes are then sent to the donors who helped make it a reality.
As a teen, she dropped out of high school to join the convent. For decades, she has devoted her life to the Lord, taking her preaching out into the streets of Harlem, New York, reaching out to drug dealers, addicts, prostitutes and gangsters. She sparked an ‘intimate’ friendship with noted Harlem mob boss Bumpy Johnson. She was elected into the office of unofficial mayor of Harlem and sworn in by former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, as well as named the community mayor. She has even been profiled in the New York Times. But perhaps the part she is most well known for, if she has it her way, is the inspiration behind Whoopi Goldberg’s character of Deloris Van Carter in the hit musical comedy, Sister Act, as well as its sequel — Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit — and, most recently, the Broadway musical of the same name. Her name is Delois Blakely and she has recently filed a lawsuit in the United States District Court in New York against Walt Disney Studios (as Walt Disney Motion Pictures Group, Inc.), musical producer Stage Entertainment, Sony Pictures Entertaiment, producer Scott Rudin and original screenwriter Paul Rudnick for stealing her story and bringing it to the silver screen and Broadway stage.
It’s no coincidence that the film’s main character is named Deloris and she Delois, she notes in her claim. Nor is it a coincidence that in the film, Deloris is known as Sister Mary, while she herself was known as Sister Marie. Other similarities are noted such as Deloris’ association with a gangster and how Deloris became choir director in the film (Blakely had only gone as far as to train for the same position). The similarities begin to wane, but not so much the inspiration, as Blakley points out that while Deloris hid in the convent to escape the wrath of gangsters, she had taken Bumpy Johnson into the convent to protect him from other gangsters. She also points out philosophical beliefs between the character and herself, namely that her belief that the Church should move to unconventional means and take their teachings out in the streets, a technique she employed, ultimately causing her to leave the convent after ten years, but not her aspirations and faith.
According to Blakely, Hollywood learned of her life after she brought an autobiography titled The Harlem Street Nun to literary agent Bertha Klausner in 1989. Although the manuscript appears to never have been published, its existence is confirmed by the custodian of Klausner’s collection, the University of Wyoming, although it attributes the manuscript to Frank Harris III.
Blakely says the manuscript was well received by TriStar Pictures who were interested in the project, enough so that they conducted a personal follow-up call with Blakely (essentially a fact-finding mission) and seemed eager to develop the deal, but warned that an impending merger with Columbia Pictures may slow the process. As nothing ever came of it, Blakely eventually learned of the film, produced by Disney’s Touchstone Pictures, and its subject matter, and worked for years to piece the story together as to how her story made it to the big screen.
The common denominator, according to Blakely, was noted film producer Scott Rudin. According to industry articles she had found online, Rudin, who had the story at TriStar was banned from the lot by Columbia (following a previous altercation) and he instead took the project, mentioned in the article by name, to Disney. Blakely asked Disney to investigate the matter and they did, determining that Sister Act was an original title, not based on any pre-existing material. For their part, Sony simply could only confirm that there was never a deal in place and could not find any mention of Blakely’s manuscript on file.
Blakely is actively pursuing a trial by jury and is seeking ‘damages and injunctive relief arising from defendants’ breach of contract, breach of confidential relationship, misappropriation and unjust enrichment, unfair competition, false representation, violation of right of publicity and other wrongs.’
ADDED: Interestingly enough, this is not the first time Disney has been sued over the Sister Act film. A copyright claim filed against Walt Disney Studios in the mid-90s by plaintiffs Donna Douglas and Curt Wilson cited dozens of similarities between the final product and a script they had submitted to the Studio. In that particular case, the presiding judge ruled that there wasn’t enough evidence to prove the case and ruled in Disney’s favor.
Whether Sister Act is determined to be based on Blakely’s own memoirs remains to be seen, but she has — without dispute — lived a remarkable life and perhaps the greatest chapter has yet to be written as she has elected to forgo a legal team and is representing herself.
A nun turned lawyer — if that doesn’t scream Disney live action, what does?
Disney Consumer Products (DCP) today celebrates Pamela Lifford, executive vice president, Global Fashion & Home at DCP who was named one of the fashion leaders honored at Fashion Delivers™ 6th Annual Gala yesterday Tuesday, November 8, 2011 at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City. Fashion Delivers recognized three outstanding honorees who personify the belief that the fashion industry has a heart including: Pamela Lifford; Tom P. Johnson, CEO of Aéropostale; and Andy Hilfiger, Creative Director, Andrew Charles.
Former Disney Consumer Products Chairman, Andy Mooney presented the award to Lifford during the award ceremony. Along with entertainment and fashion celebrities, Disney’s leading lady Minnie Mouse joined the gala wearing a Vivienne Tam dress designed just for her fun loving personality and fashionable style.
Lifford has led the transformation of Disney’s identity in the fashion marketplace. This transformation, which includes a focus on design, quality, and product innovation, has improved consumer and critical perceptions of Disney as a home furnishings and lifestyle brand. During her tenure DCP’s apparel team positioned Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse as global fashion icons and executed new business models, now known as direct-to-retail licensing, which provide retailers with customized solutions for offering compelling and differentiated products to their shoppers.
Since 2002, Disney has collaborated with leading designers from Dolce & Gabbana to Jean Charles de Castelbajac and Stella McCartney to make classic characters like Snow White, Mickey Mouse, Alice In Wonderland and others forever fashionable. Today, Disney ranks as the world’s 15th largest apparel brand and is consistently recognized among the top 100 fashion brands by Women’s Wear Daily. Prior to joining Disney, Lifford had over 20 years of apparel industry experience, including product development roles at Road Runner Sports and Nike.
“Since our founding six years ago, Fashion Delivers has helped millions of people both here and abroad to reclaim their lives with the simple gift of new apparel or home items,” said Allan Ellinger, Chairman, Fashion Delivers. “We couldn’t do the work we do without the support of our donors and our industry — many of whom we honor at the gala. This year, we are privileged to count Pam as one of our three honorees.”
As a strong supporter of The Village Family Services in North Hollywood, Lifford participates in their annual fund raising events, and also had the fashion and home team “adopt” the charity last year. They provided funds from sample sales, donated books and services, and organized and funded their annual Christmas party for 1500 families. Lifford has supported the Los Angeles Mission’s food services and mentoring programs, has helped community-based programs for children and the elderly through Disney VoluntEARSs and volunteers for Breast Cancer Foundation events in Los Angeles.
The mission of Fashion Delivers Charitable Foundation, Inc. is to unify the men’s and women’s apparel and home industries to donate new product in order to aid victims of disasters and individuals in need throughout the year. This year Fashion Delivers is focusing on giving back to those in need on our shores with a commitment to providing apparel, home goods and personal care items to members of the military and their families who are trying to adjust to civilian life. The organization has donated over $5 million worth of product since the beginning of the year. In total, Fashion Delivers has distributed over $55 million in product donations since 2005.
Disney Interactive and YouTube are joining forces to bring family-friendly video entertainment to the web. The alliance will bring together the leading provider of family-friendly entertainment with the Internet’s most popular destination for video programming.
Complementary online video destinations tailored to Disney audiences will be made available on both Disney.com and YouTube in early 2012, furthering Disney Interactive’s strategy to deliver the most relevant and immersive online experiences to its guests wherever they are.
Disney Interactive will produce and program the co-branded video destinations for both Disney.com and YouTube, providing a family-friendly experience for viewers across both platforms. Programming will include video drawn from relevant family-friendly content currently available across YouTube, original video produced by Disney, as well as a blend of current Disney Interactive original series, select Disney Channel programming and Disney user created content. An original video series based on Disney’s hit mobile game “Where’s My Water?” and its main character Swampy will be the first project to launch in February and will be followed by other similarly short-form, family-oriented programming.
“With online video consumption exploding and YouTube at the center of that trend, we see an opportunity for Disney Interactive and YouTube to bring Disney’s legacy of storytelling to a new generation of families and Disney enthusiasts on the platforms they prefer,” said Jimmy Pitaro, Co-President of Disney Interactive. “As we prepare to re-launch Disney.com in fall 2012, the Disney/YouTube destination will play a critical part in our next generation platform.”
“Disney has established itself as one of the world’s most loved brands,” said Robert Kyncl, Global Head of Content Partnerships at YouTube. “We are thrilled to work with them to bring amazing new, family-friendly entertainment to YouTube’s audience of 800 million users worldwide.”
Boys & Girls Clubs of America (BGCA) will honor The Walt Disney Company with the Champion of Youth Award at its annual Great Futures Gala, October 20, 2011, at JW Marriott Los Angeles at L.A. Live. Extra host Mario Lopez, BGCA Fitness Ambassador and Alumni Hall of Fame member, will serve as Master of Ceremonies and BGCA National Trustees Alfred Multari, Vice President, Sales Operations and Customer Development, Nestle USA and Eric Shanks, President of FOX Sports will Co-Chair. A highlight of the evening will be the presentation of the inaugural Nestle/Magic Johnson Entrepreneur Award by BGCA Alumni Hall of Fame member Earvin “Magic” Johnson.
The Walt Disney Company brings happiness and well-being to children and families, inspiring them to make a lasting, positive change in the world. It’s what has made the connection between The Walt Disney Company and the Boys & Girls Clubs of America so strong for more than 50 years, dating back to when Walt Disney himself became an honorary member of the BGCA Board of Directors. Today, that commitment continues to flourish. In 2011 alone, Disney helped raise more than $1.75 million dollars for BGCA. Jay Rasulo, Senior Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer of The Walt Disney Company will accept the Champion of Youth Award on behalf of Disney.
Magic Johnson will present this year’s inaugural Nestle/Magic Johnson Entrepreneur Award to Shomari Patterson and Genesis Mena, members of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Oxnard and Port Hueneme, CA.
For more than 100 years, Boys & Girls Clubs of America (www.bgca.org) has enabled young people, especially those who need Clubs most, to reach their full potential as productive, caring, responsible citizens. Today, some 4,000 Boys & Girls Clubs serve more than 4 million young people through Club membership and community outreach. Clubs can be found throughout the country and on U.S. military installations worldwide, providing young people 6-18 years old with guidance-oriented character development programs conducted by trained, professional staff. Key programs emphasize leadership development; education and career exploration; community service; technology training; financial literacy; health and life skills; the arts; sports, fitness and recreation; and family outreach. For information, visit http://lagala.bgca.org.