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Monthly Archives: August 2012

August 31

August 31, 1998 – The Disney Channel Original Series Hercules: The Animated Series Premieres in Syndication

Image credit: Disneywiki

“Now the boy’s in school, he’s in training.”

On August 31, 1998, the Disney Channel Original Series Hercules: The Animated Series premiered with its first episode, “Hercules and the Apollo Mission.” The series was based on the 1997 film Hercules, and tells the story of a teenaged Hercules attending school. Most of the cast members from the original film reprised their roles in the series, with new characters Cassandra (Sandra Bernhard) and Icarus (French Stewart) playing the parts of Hercules’ school friends. Tate Donovan voiced Hercules, James Woods voiced Hades, and Robert Costanzo voiced Philoctetes. The show’s timeline makes it a midquel, with the events neither preceding nor following the timeline of the film. However, as many of the events of the series contradict events from the film, the show is not considered canon. It aired for 65 episodes, and finished its run on March 1, 1999.

The first episode, “Hercules and the Apollo Mission,” finds Hercules and his friends participating in an intern week at their school. Hercules is the only student not happy with his job, as he has to work at a fast food restaurant. He asks his father, Zeus, for help getting a better job, and Zeus grants him the job of driving Apollo’s chariot across the sky. Unfortunately, Pain and Panic are on hand to carry out Hades’ scheme to bring down Hercules, which includes unchaining the sun from the chariot. Hercules and Icarus must work together to bring the sun back into the sky before Hades is crowned the new king of Olympus.


August 30

August 30, 1946 – The Donald Duck Short Film Dumb Bell of the Yukon Premieres in Theaters

“Dear Donald, in the winter, a young girl’s fancy turns to FUR COATS. Daisy.”

On August 30, 1946, the Donald Duck short Dumb Bell of the Yukon was released in theaters. The short was directed by Jack King, with story by Harry Reeves and Homer Brightman, and Donald Duck voiced by Clarence Nash.

Donald is walking through the snow of the Yukon, reading a postcard from Daisy. She lets him know that she really wants a fur coat, and he searches for a bear to trap. Hearing the sounds of snoring from a nearby cave, he peeks in to see a mother bear snoozing with her cub resting on her stomach. Seeing the cub as the perfect specimen to turn into a fur coat, Donald lures the cub out with the “essence of honey.” Unfortunately, just as he traps the bear, the mother begins searching for her cub in her sleep, grabbing Donald instead.

Donald is so distracted with the idea of pleasing Daisy, he imagines that the bear cub is her in a new fur coat

Donald carefully sneaks away, using a rock in the place of the cub, and takes the cub back to his cabin. The cub gives Donald a smile, but Donald is too distracted with the idea of Daisy in a fur coat. He decides that the best way of killing the bear for its fur is to hang it, but the plan goes awry, with Donald getting caught in the noose instead. Meanwhile, back in the cave, the mother wakes up and notices tracks leading to Donald’s cabin. She breaks down the door and searches for her cub.

Donald, who has been chasing the cub around the cabin, thinks he’s caught the cub by the foot, when he’s actually been dragging around the mother bear, who is ready to attack. When the mother chases after Donald, Donald disguises himself as the cub, only to be popped out of his costume when the mother hugs him just a little too tightly. He manages to sneak back in, but at this point, the mother has become suspicious. The real cub sneaks back into the cabin, revealing Donald’s ruse and kicking him into the cupboard, where a jar of honey falls and lands on Donald’s head. The short ends with mother and baby licking the honey off of Donald, much to his chagrin.

August 29

August 29, 1998 – The Disney Channel Original Movie Brink! Premieres

Image credit: wikipedia

“We skate for fun. We’re soul skaters.”

On August 29, 1998, the Disney Channel Original Movie Brink! premiered. The film is considered a loose, modern adaptation of the 1962 made-for-television Disney film Hans Brinker or The Silver Skates, although the backdrop is inline skating in California rather than ice skating in Holland. The film was directed by Greg Beeman, produced by Bernadette Caulfield, and written by Jeff Schechter. It starred Erik von Detten as Brink, Sam Horrigan as Val, and Christina Vidal as Gabriella.

Andy Brinker, known by others as “Brink,” and his friends Peter, Jordy, and Gabriella, call themselves “Soul Skaters” – those who skate for fun rather than make a profit. Their free-skating attitude clashes with a sponsored team known as the X-Bladz, led by their classmate Val. Although it goes against what Brink believes, he decides to join the X-Bladz once he finds his family is in financial difficulty, hoping to earn enough money to help. His friends don’t realize what Brink has done, but when they do, they feel betrayed, and challenge the X-Bladz to a downhill race.

The X-Bladz win, thanks to Val cheating and causing Gabriella to fall and wind up seriously hurt. The Soul Skaters disown Brink, calling him a sell-out. After seeing his son work so hard to help his family, including working at a dog-grooming store called “Pup’N Suds,” Brink’s father decides to help his son and the Soul Skaters prepare for a local competition and revenge against the X-Bladz. The Soul Skaters accept Brink back in, and end up sponsored by the dog-grooming store. At the competition, it comes down to Brink and Val, with Val again trying to cheat. Brink wins, and Val is kicked out of the X-Bladz for cheating. Although Brink is offered the chance to become the captain of the X-Bladz, he turns it down to go back to his friends and their attitude of skating for fun, not profit.

August 28

August 28, 1989 – CEO Michael Eisner and Jim Henson Announce Disney’s Plan to Acquire Henson Associates

Image credit: MuppetWiki

“I think hooking up with the Disney company creates such a wonderful force.” – Jim Henson.

On August 28, 1989, Disney CEO Michael Eisner and Jim Henson announced a deal for Disney’s acquisition of Henson Associates. The deal included all characters owned by Henson Associates, excluding the characters from Sesame Street (owned then by the Children’s Television Workshop, now owned by Sesame Workshop). Although the purchase price was not disclosed to the public, it was estimated that the price was about $150 million. The news was announced on an episode of ABC’s Good Morning America by both Eisner and Henson, which was then followed by a news conference at Disney-MGM Studios. The acquisition plan included Henson producing movies, television shows, Disney Channel specials featuring the characters, and attractions for the theme parks. Disney would not only acquire the Henson library, including all Muppet films and special films such as Labyrinth, but would also have exclusive rights to merchandising, publishing, and anything else related to the Muppet characters.

Unfortunately, the plans fell through after Henson’s death in 1990, with Disney and the Henson family clashing over terms. Although the Jim Henson Company was sold to a German corporation called EM.TV, the company bought itself back in 2003, and a new set of negotiations with Disney was opened in 2004. In February of that year, Disney successfully purchased the Muppets and characters of The Bear in the Big Blue House.

August 27

August 27, 1964 – The Live-Action and Animated Film Mary Poppins Premieres at Grauman’s Chinese Theater

“We’re looking forward to this [film], because it’s a fine combination when you can get Walt Disney and Julie Andrews and Dick Van Dyke together. I think it should be a lot of fun.” – Actor James Franciscus.

On August 27, 1964, the film Mary Poppins had its Hollywood premiere at Grauman’s Chinese Theater in Los Angeles, California. The premiere was broadcast live on Los Angeles television, with a separate radio broadcast of the festivities. The premiere guests were interviewed at the two separate stations. Guests included Maureen O’Hara, James Franciscus, Celeste Holm, Walter Slezack, the cast of the Dick Van Dyke Show, Agnes Moorehead, Annette Funicello and her fiancé Jack Gilardi, Roddy McDowall, Suzanne Pleshette, Carol Lynley, Buddy Ebsen, Kathryn Grayson, Ann Miller, and Brian Keith, among others. Members of the cast and crew of the film also attended, including director Robert Stevenson, who gave a tribute to CalArts (which had opened a mere three years prior), Reta Shaw (the cook, Mrs. Brill), and co-writer and co-producer Bill Walsh.

The festivities included characters dressed as familiar Disney characters, such as Goofy, the Big Bad Wolf, and the Seven Dwarves. Costumed characters of the penguins, as well as a band of pearlies, were also part of the entertainment, with the penguins dancing with Dick Van Dyke on his arrival. When asked about the film, Van Dyke said, “It’s my third motion picture, but the best one I’ve ever been in, the best one I ever will be in, if I live to be 150 years old. To me, this is the greatest family classic of all time…I’m so proud to be in this picture, I can’t stand it.” Van Dyke, along with Julie Andrews and Walt Disney, were interviewed together near the end of the broadcast, with all three proud of the film and looking forward to premiere.

Dick Van Dyke (L), Julie Andrews, and Walt Disney being interviewed right before the premiere of the film

After the premiere, Technicolor hosted a party for the guests at the parking lot next door to the theater. A radio broadcast was also provided, with every guest interviewed raving about the film, calling it a classic, and stating that the premiere was very reminiscent of the Hollywood premieres of old. Andrews and Van Dyke were proclaimed to be the greatest two new stars of the time.

August 26

August 26, 1949 – The Goofy Short Film Tennis Racquet is Released to Theaters

“Well, good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. This is your sportscaster bringing today’s match to you [through] the courtesy of the BBB and BB Ball Company, which we will see in use today on this magnificently kept court, whose grassy lawn lies outspread before my very eyes.”

On August 26, 1949, the Goofy short film Tennis Racquet was released to theaters. It was directed by Jack Kinney, with the story by Dick Kinney.

The sportscaster begins his broadcast before the tennis match starts, as the court is being prepared for the match. As he comments on how many people are waiting to watch the match, the camera pans to the road leading to the tennis club, which is completely packed with cars. Unfortunately for the tennis club, however, everyone seems to want to go to the nearby flower show instead. We see audience members crowding into their seats, but only in one small section of the bleachers in front of the sportscaster’s booth.

One of the competitors, Little Joe, uses his tactic of protecting himself to play the game

The contestants Little Joe and Big Ben come out to the field, and when the match starts, the sportscaster goes crazy with the descriptions, while the crowd’s heads follow the ball. The two have different styles of playing the game, the sportscaster notes, with Big Ben delivering hard and fast serves, while Little Joe tries to avoid getting hit by the ball. Little Joe wins the first game, and Big Ben wins the second. After a bit, the crowd cheers, blocking the sportscaster’s view of the game, and he has to ask a spectator for the score. While the two competitors play, a gardener continues to take care of the court, planting trees and spreading out grass seed.

The game’s pace quickens, so the sportscaster decides it’s time to view it in slow motion, with many comical side effects. Moving it back to real time, the game really heats up between the two, until the crowd cheers. The sportscaster is all ready to crown the champ, when he realizes he doesn’t know who the champ is, and has to ask the spectator again. Big Ben is the winner of the match, and Little Joe does not take this news well; however, the short ends with the two shaking hands, while the gardener hauls off the trophy and the contestants in his wheelbarrow.

August 25

August 25, 1931 – Disney Legend Regis Philbin is Born

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“I got to say, it really is quite an honor. I don’t even know I deserve this.” – Philbin on being named a Disney Legend

On August 25, 1931, media personality Regis Philbin was born in New York City. After high school, he graduated from the University of Notre Dame in 1953 with a degree in sociology. After serving in the United States Navy, Philbin began his career in television, working as a page, stagehand, sports newswriter, and a substitute anchor. Philbin got his big break on ABC’s The Joey Bishop Show in 1967, and stayed on until 1969. He began to work with Kathie Lee Gifford on WABC-TV’s The Morning Show, which was picked up for national syndication by Buena Vista Television and renamed Live with Regis and Kathie Lee.

Philbin is best known for being the host of the 1999 breakout hit Who Wants to Be a Millionaire, with his popular catchphrase “Is that your final answer?” He was awarded an Emmy for Outstanding Game Show Host in 2001 for his work on the show. Along with his work with the Disney-owned ABC network, Philbin has also hosted the Disney Christmas Parade. In 2011, Philbin was honored as a Disney Legend.

August 24

August 24, 1945 – The Pluto Short Film The Legend of Coyote Rock is Released to Theaters

“Now this here hombre had one weakness: lamb chop[s].”

On August 24, 1945, the Pluto short film The Legend of Coyote Rock was released to theaters. It was directed by Charles Nichols, with the story by Eric Gurney.

The short is set in the Old West, with a narrator introducing the legends of the rocks in the area, including a rock shaped like a coyote. The coyote in question was one named Bent Tail, who had a voice that “would turn an opera star green with envy.” Bent Tail’s one weakness, however, was lamp chops. He spies a farm with sheep guarded by none other than Pluto, who tends to fall asleep as he counts the sheep. One little black lamb likes to cause mischief, but Pluto warns him that there’s a coyote out there who loves to eat little lambs, and scares him back into the pen.

Bent Tail sneaks up on Pluto, tricking him into leaving his post, leaving the sheep vulnerable to attack

The coyote travels around the desert, hiding behind cacti and various other desert vegetation so he can get close to the sheep. He sneaks up on Pluto, who tries to chase the coyote away, although the coyote has many tricks up sleeve to fool the dog. Pluto is chased out into the desert, and when he realizes he’s left the lambs alone with the coyote, he hightails it back as fast as he can. Unfortunately, Bent Tail is already there, and tricks the lambs out of the pen by calling them out with a “baa” noise. He sends them traveling all the way to his hideout, but the black lamb is able to get free.

Pluto intercepts the coyote chasing the little black lamb, and chases the coyote all over the desert, causing many of the rock formations to collapse, and create Coyote Rock. Pluto falls from a perch and lands on the rock guarding Bent Tail’s hideout, freeing the lambs and they all run back to the pen at the farm, safe and sound once more.

August 23

August 23, 1986 – The U.S. Senate Passes Public Law 99-391, Designating December 5th as Walt Disney Recognition Day

“Now, Therefore, I, Ronald Reagan, president of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim December 5, 1986, as Walt Disney Recognition Day. I call upon all Americans to recognize this very special day in the spirit in which Walt Disney entertained young and older Americans.”

On August 23, 1986, the United States Senate passed Public Law 99-391, which designates December 5th, 1986, as “Walt Disney Recognition Day,” and requested that President Reagan issue a proclamation that observes this event. The joint resolution was introduced on September 9th, 1985, in the House of Representatives, sponsored by Republican Representative from California Robert K. Dornan. There were 221 cosponsors for this resolution, and, after signing it as public law on August 23, 1986, President Ronald Reagan gave an official proclamation on December 5th, 1986.

August 22

August 22, 1929 – The First Silly Symphony, The Skeleton Dance, is Released to Theaters

On August 22, 1929, the first Silly Symphony, The Skeleton Dance, was released to theaters. After the success of Steamboat Willie, musical director Carl W. Stalling suggested that Walt work on a cartoon series with an accent on music, rather than character. The short was drawn mostly by Ub Iwerks.

On a dark, windy night in a graveyard, the bells toll midnight. Two cats argue as they stand perched on graves, only to be scared out of their wits when a skeleton appears. The skeleton looks around, then begins to skip merrily around the graveyard, only to be scared by the hoot of an owl. He throws his head at the bird, and it bounces back to his hiding place behind a gravestone.

The skeletons come out from the ground for a night of dancing

More skeletons come out to join him, and the four begin to dance as a merry tune is played in the background. One skeleton uses another as a xylophone, playing eerie music on the skeleton’s vertebrae. Another uses a cat’s tail as a sort of cello. After a bit of musical celebration, the rooster crows, signaling that the party is over. The skeletons frantically look around and crash into each other as they dive back into their grave.