Wednesday, February 16, 2005

If I Had Michael Eisner's Ear

There's no doubt about it, the Walt Disney Company is in danger. How did this happen? Michael Eisner, the very man who saved the company from ruin in the eighties, is now presiding over a quagmire that threatens to sick the company to the depths it knew in the lower seventies. If I were an advisor to Michael Eisner, I would tell him to do a few things for the company this year, that might lead to more profits in 2006.

1. Re-hire Roy E. Disney and put him back in charge of feature animation. Patch things up, it can be done -- animation is the soul of the business. Reconstitute the hand-drawn studio, but stagger the releases so that time can be had to build up quality. Walt once dreamed of artistic experiments -- revive that by making deals with Eric Goldberg, Sylvain Chomet, Richard Williams, and Hayao Miyazaki.

2. Step up the release of Herbie: Fully Loaded to late April. Trust me, Lindsay Lohan is going to be having a very public crash soon, and it's only going to drag down the chances of a film starring her and marketed at kids. You don't want Herbie to be her first post-rehab release.

3. Buy more book properties for kids. Holes was a genuine success, and Charlotte's Web is certainly promising. Buy Bunnicula, I loved that as a kid. The successes of Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings show that people are into fantasy series right now, so buy one of them and start making high-quality films.

4. Shut down Hollywood Pictures (if it hasn't already), and limit Touchstone to just ten releases a year. Build up the quality of these movies with great talent, low budgets, and top notch scripts. Eisner did it at Paramount for years, he can do it again.

5. Admit mistakes were made and sell off Disneyland Paris. Bring the nicer rides back to the US and stick them in Disney's California Adventure (and rename that something like Disneyland Northwest). Sell the land in Paris and get out, stop bleeding money.

6. Re-establish a deal with Hilary Duff. Not only does Disney need her, she needs them. Right now, she's floating, and her biggest success since leaving Disney has been her music career (on Disney's Hollywood Records). One day, Hilary will realize her mother is holding her back from success and move on. Be patient. In the meantime, she has the potential to be a huge teen star, bigger than she already is.

7. Re-establish the Muppets as what they once were: "More fun than humanly possible." Put them back in the public eye and start another television series, a la Muppets Tonight, in a kid-freindly time slot.

8. It's gonna hurt, but take the cut that Pixar wants. 10% of $200 million is still a lot of money, and Pixar stays under the Disney brand and in the theme parks. This is a cash cow that you are letting walk over the side of the hill because of pride and greed. Plus, taking the cut makes you look fair and honest, and encourages others to make Disney deals.

9. Create an imprint of Hollywood Records to nourish harder-edged artists, and hire Chuck D to run it. Consider also a music channel...

10. Buy out the NFL and put it on ESPN instead of networks, and watch ad revenue go through the roof.

11. Dump the Weinsteins, both of them, and let them have their Fellowship Adventure Group (FAG?), and return Miramax to a company that produces less films per year than it acquires. It was madness for Miramax to get so heavily into production, producing far too many expensive films. Introduce a more restrictive price cap on what Miramax can spend. Put Katy Conrad in charge of it, too.

12. Get someone on quality control for Dimension Films, or else just sell them to the Sci Fi Channel. Most of their films are embarrassing, despite the money they (occasionally) bring in. While we're on the subject, buy the Sci Fi Channel and put Paul T. Riddell in charge of it. I just think someone should...

13. Marvel Comics movies are about to start sucking like mad. Fantastic Four will be an embarrassment. Once Spider-Man 3 is over with, Marvel Entertainment will start doing badly. Buy it then and watch toy revenue increase.

14. Close most of the Disney Stores. Make it something nice, a little upscale, that people have to drive to find. Fill them with things people really want to buy; cater a little to Disneyana collectors, show you have some respect for them (and not contempt, which is what they feel right now). More stores just means less revenue for each one.

15. Get rid of ABC. It's too much to manage, and it's going to become a problem.

16. Foster relationships with real composers, not populist hacks like Elton John, and make real musicals again.

17. Find more Disney films to turn into Broadway shows. Excellent job being done there.

18. Fantasia 2010!

Sunday, February 13, 2005

All I do is whine about VH1...

Anyone else watch the Top 20 Countdown this week on VH1? Charisma-challenged Bradford How hung out with Keane at a bowling alley, and magically, Keane was somehow returned to the countdown this week. They were off last week, and this week they were number 18, and no mention was made of this strange return. How much money has Keane's record company spent on having VH1 promote their unique blend of shitty Coldplay rip off music? Seriously, there's no way that Keane could have been on the countdown, seemingly forever, unless someone paid VH1 a lot of money. The VH1 countdown has everything to do with promotion, and nothing to do with actual musical taste.

Seriously, do you know anyone who bought the Keane album? And if they did, were they actually under 40? Male? Do they have taste? I can't imagine the sad person who likes Keane, the lead singer flop sweating over the microphone in an ill-fitting jacket like a terrible Will Forte character on Saturday Night Live, while someone plinks the same two notes into a kiddie piano over and over again. Remember when you used to have to be talented to get recognition? Yeah, me neither.

Anyway, I here they're changing the name of the Top 20 Countdown to the Keane Countdown. Bradford How is apparantly changing his name to Bradford Keane. Tune in and see next week, on VH-Keane.