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FESS PARKER WITH ANOTHER OF MY ALL-TIME HEROES
Blog
Posted on Mar 20 2010 by Greg

This is me with Fess Parker and my dad, Harold Ehrbar. It was taken several years ago at Disney's Contemporary Resort during the Disneyana Convention.



Dad loved westerns, action movies and it was a great thrill for both of us to meet the great Mr. Parker. A few years later, I was able to interview the Disney Legend for Mouse Tracks and he was candid, cordial and delighted especially to discuss his singing career. Music was a big part of his life and he even welcomed me to his home for the weekly sing-alongs he held when I was in the area. Sadly, I was never in the area and will always regret it.

Tim Hollis and I are grateful for his participation in the book and the fact that we were able to document a rarely examined aspect of his life and career.

The three of us in this picture all shared a love of music. I was delighted to be able to provide a copy of the book for Mr. Parker, but Dad passed before it was published. Still he is with me every day and even appears in most of my dreams, usually in a supporting role. But that was Dad, always supporting. He was that kind of hero.







DON'T MENTION THE WAR!
Blog
Posted on Mar 13 2010 by Greg

John Cleese offers a complete audio commentary on every episode in the most recent Fawlty Towers DVD set. This may seem overstated, by it's like Chaplin or Keaton doing a commentary on their work for you. In great detail, Cleese analyzes his performances, the scripts, the cast, everything. It's a fine comedy education by a master.



Just a few things I learned -- virtually every supporting role was cast by Cleese or Connie Booth with people they knew from other projects or close friends they trusted; Prunella Scales' brilliant interpretation of Sybil Fawlty was different than Cleese and Booth had envisioned, which first unnerved then delighted them, the line "you might as well have asked the cat" came from Cleese's mother, whose phobias are also chronicled in one of Sybil's scripted lines; Connie Booth is now a licensed therapist; and much much more.







"PONYO, PONYO, FISHIE IN THE SEA!"
Blog, Movies
Posted on Mar 12 2010 by Greg
Be warned, the theme song of this fanciful epic by the renowned Hayao Miyazaki, who won an Best Animated Film Oscar for Spirited Away (reportedly, even the directors of Lilo and Stitch voted for that film even though their film was in the same competition.



Ponyo, a.k.a. Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea, is perhaps the most innocent and wondrous of Miyazaki's films. It's said to be loosely based on The Little Mermaid (even the DVD package suggest this) but it really only bears a passing resemblance to either the Andersen or Disney versions. Like other Miyazaki films, it tells its own story by its own rules and requires that you allow yourself "into" an almost alternate universe that coexists with a realistic world. Sorry to be so pithy, but it's hard to describe these films adequately. They need to be experienced.

Big name stars perform the dubbed English version and most of them agreed because of their love for the director's previous work.

Among these is Liam Neeson, who appears on camera on one of the bonus features on the two disc set. Tina Fey says she was channeling the movie moms she grew up with. We see the cherished Betty White in recording sessions (she plays one of three ladies in a nursing facility, the other two voiced by Lily Tomlin and Cloris Leachman). Especially remarkable are the performances of young Noah Cyrus (Miley's sister) and Frankie Jonas (the Jonas Brothers' little brother) as the two leads. It's difficult enough to match the voices in an overdubbed foreign language film, it's quite another to add emotion and depth.

My children loved this film. It was their first introduction to Miyazaki, which can be an acquired taste for some. If you enjoy and admire the work of Pixar, you can't deny the extreme (and eagerly credited) influence of Miyazaki on Pixar character development and storytelling in particular.

The two DVD discs also include a storyboarded version of the film and lots of short features about the music, voices, characters and setting of Ponyo.

My only question -- where was the U.S released soundtrack album, including the Cyrus/Jonas version of the song?







WILL MAGIC KINGDOM SURVIVE 'LITTLE TIMMY??"
Blog
Posted on Mar 03 2010 by Greg
FYI, we just produced an original video for the Walt Disney World website, and I thought you might enjoy it.



"Little Timmy's Tours: Magic Kingdom" is based on a video I worked on years ago for internal use, and it's finally come to fruition as an online video.

The wonderful and talented Sheila Smith-Ward and Dennis Marsico star as the parents. "Timmy" himself is up to your imagination.

This is a project I've been hoping to get onto disneyworld.com for years -- something funny (I hope)!

You may have to register at disneyworld.com to access
it, but there are some other exclusive articles there to read, too...









LOOK OUT AVATAR! HERE COME THE STOOGES!
Blog
Posted on Feb 20 2010 by Greg
James Cameron may have pushed motion capture to the next level in Avatar, but take a look at 1962's The Three Stooges in Orbit -- Moe, Larry and Curly Joe are painted white and wear special suits so an inventor can feed their images into a machine to create a "new kind of cartoon." Ultimately the result the threesome are animated with the then-decades-old rotoscope process, but the parallel is still pretty neat.



When the Stooges get into the sky for the big finale, they keep a explosive weapon from destroying Disneyland as they fly over it. Whew -- what a relief!









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