Woke Disney is Risky Business

New York Stock Exchange Disney CEO Iger, USA - 27 Nov 2017

Entertainment behemoth Walt Disney Company, which as a business startup had a focus on child-oriented product, now has a CEO who has taken an anti-child stance on a significant societal issue.

In a Reuters interview that took place prior to the dedication of Disneyland’s newest land, “Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge,” Disney head Bob Iger was asked whether or not the company would continue to use the state of Georgia as a location for the filming of its projects.

The reason the question was posed to Iger is because Georgia recently passed a state law that bans abortion procedures after a fetal heartbeat can be detected (approximately six weeks of gestation). Iger was letting the world know which side Disney is on in the culture war that continues to surround abortion.

The CEO stated that it would be “very difficult” for Disney to continue to engage in its on-location production activities in Georgia if the new law were to take effect.

Georgia is a preferred locale for many of Hollywood’s film and television projects, due to a 20 percent base transferable tax credit. The Peach State brought in $2.7 billion in revenue from such projects in 2018.

“Well, I think if it becomes law, it’ll be very difficult to produce there,” Iger told Reuters. “I rather doubt we will. I think many people who work for us will not want to work there and we’ll have to heed their wishes in that regard.”

Iger continued, “I think it’s also likely to be challenged in the courts and that could delay it. …But if it becomes law, I don’t see how it’s practical for us to continue to shoot there.”

A sizable amount of The Mouse House’s production has been based in Georgia locales, including that of its blockbusters “Black Panther” and “Avengers: Endgame.”

A number of aptly termed “heartbeat bills” have already been passed, and/or are in the process of moving forward in states that include Louisiana, Kentucky, Mississippi, and Ohio, using legitimate legislative processes that express the will of the people and allow citizens to exercise their right of self-governance in each respective state.

By choosing to weigh in on one of society’s most controversial concerns, Iger may have inflicted harm on his company’s well-honed brand by slighting a significant segment of Disney’s customer base.

The company recently acquired 21st Century Fox’s entertainment assets and is planning to launch its new Disney+ streaming service this year, which will reportedly be loaded with family friendly content. Disney also plans to capitalize on its collection of beloved characters from its “Star Wars,” Marvel, and Pixar catalogs.

Interestingly, at the same time Disney’s CEO is talking about pulling out of Georgia, the company he heads is operating a theme park and distributing movies in China, a country that is known for banning parts of the web, depriving people of their liberties, and engaging in human rights abuses.

Disney recently filmed a live-action adaptation of its 1998 animated film “Mulan” in China. Marvel, a Disney subsidiary, has actually been criticized for caving to censors in China by changing a character’s ethnicity from Tibetan to Celtic.

Iger recently discussed with the Saudi crown prince the prospect of having an amusement park in Saudi Arabia, a place where women are forced to endure second class status.

The comments of Iger followed those of Netflix’s chief content officer Ted Sarandos, who not only said that Netflix’s production would be exiting Georgia, but also indicated that the streaming company would support legal efforts to overturn the democratically passed heartbeat law.

Netflix filmed its hit series “Stranger Things” in Georgia as well as the upcoming sci-fi show “Raising Dion.”

Sarandos told Variety, “We have many women working on productions in Georgia, whose rights, along with millions of others, will be severely restricted by this law… Should it ever come into effect, we’d rethink our entire investment in Georgia.”

However, Netflix does not seem particularly concerned with women’s rights, or even human rights for that matter. The company pulled an episode of “Patriot Act with Hasan Minhaj,” which criticized Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. This was purportedly done so that it would be unable to be viewed by Saudis following a “take down request” from the Saudi Arabian government. Netflix additionally shot “Marco Polo” in Malaysia, a place in which Sharia law is imposed.

Shortly after Disney and Netflix weighed in on Georgia, other Hollywood companies saw fit to jump on the virtue-signaling bandwagon as well, including WarnerMedia, NBCUniversal, AMC, CBS, Viacom, and Sony, indicating that each may also withdraw from using Georgia production sites.

The Georgia law also prompted a group of Hollywood celebrities to speak out, which included Kristen Wiig, Jason Bateman, and Alyssa Milano. Directors J.J. Abrams, Jordan Peele, and Ron Howard for the moment are filming there but have plans to donate money to the American Civil Liberties Union and other groups opposing Georgia’s duly passed legislation.

Not all left-wingers are united on ways in which to handle the Georgia law, though. Former Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams is seeking to avoid a boycott over concerns that the citizens of Georgia could be hurt. And more than 3,300 women have signed a “We Work Here” Change.org petition, initiated by The Women of Film in Georgia, expressing opposition to any boycott of the state.

Tim Allen: Liberals Have a ‘Very Small Window of Sense of Humor’

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In a recent interview with IndieWire, film and television star Tim Allen reacted to the astounding success of his current TV sitcom “Last Man Standing.”

During the interview, the actor provided some insight into his approach to comedy writing and delivery, particularly his use of humor directed at left-of-center ideology.

“I think it’s funny to make fun of people that are full of themselves. Liberals have a very small window of sense of humor about themselves, so I love poking at it,” Allen said.

Allen brought up a current practice in which many liberals routinely engage; that is, the avoidance of rational debate via the mallet of identity politics.

“[R]ight now liberals, particularly progressives, hide behind large concepts,” Allen noted. “If you don’t agree with them, if you don’t agree with that position, then you hate women, and you hate gay people, and you hate pro-choice people…”

Revealing a bit about the motivation behind his style of humor, Allen said, “I like p***ing people off,” adding that “…there’s nothing, especially in this area, that p***es people off more than a very funny conservative.”

“A smart, funny conservative that takes shots and is certainly self-effacing. The left-wing point of view is so pervasive that they don’t even realize it’s a point of view,” Allen said.

Allen’s show is in its seventh season, having enjoyed six successful seasons, until ABC inexplicably canceled it and Fox brought it back. The Fox network picked up “Last Man Standing” and has been running away with it in the ratings. The actor has rightly questioned whether ABC chose to get rid of the successful sitcom because of Allen’s personal political positions, an explanation that is certainly within the realm of possibility.

“When we knew Tim was up for doing it, we jumped at the chance,” Fox Entertainment President Michael Thorn said. “He’s obviously a huge TV star, and we felt the show could resonate for our audience.”

Helping with the decision was the huge ratings success of the reboot “Roseanne.” It was certainly not lost on the Fox executives that both shows were family-oriented comedies, with lead characters that possess conservative political views.

Ironically, “Roseanne” was also canceled by ABC. And ABC Entertainment President Channing Dungey, who terminated sitcom star Roseanne Barr, is now on her way out amid ABC corporate parent Disney’s pending acquisition of 21st Century Fox and the planned reorganization of Disney television.

Adding to ABC’s headaches is the fact that the replacement series for “Roseanne,” “The Conners,” is tanking in the ratings. The network has committed to only one additional episode, sparking rumors that the show may be canceled. Additionally, it has been reported that two of the shows stars, John Goodman and Laurie Metcalf, have been asked to take a pay cut.

Meanwhile with “Last Man Standing” Fox is basking in the sunlight of sitcom success. The show’s Sept. 28 debut was Fox’s most-watched Friday telecast in 18 years, with a whopping 2.7 rating among adults 18-49 and 12.4 million multi-platform viewers. Fox has been at the top in the difficult Friday night lineup for six weeks, its longest streak in more than seven years.

“I certainly bumped into a number of people who had never seen the show when it was on ABC, that had found it in syndication. So I was hoping it would get maybe a little bit of boost. I did not expect that number,” Allen said.

Reportedly, Fox plans to place “WWE Smackdown” on Fridays next year, so “Last Man Standing” will likely move to a mid-week spot next season. Until then you can still catch it on Fridays at 8 p.m. on Fox.

In an age of cord cutting and streaming entertainment, Allen still sees advantages in traditional broadcasting. The actor loves the ability of traditional broadcast television to be capable of incorporating current events and issues into the programming. He refers to this attribute as “fresh television.”

“I think eventually, you come back to broadcast television,” Allen said. “This isn’t streaming. Streaming to me is processed food. You don’t know when that was made, you don’t know, there’s no expiration date on it. This stuff was made recently. You get ABC, CBS, NBC, FOX, and to all of us on broadcast, we’re doing this right now. This is fresh television.”

Roseanne Is Back with an Unfiltered Internet Show

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Samantha Bee used a terribly profane pejorative to describe the president’s daughter, and Whoopi Goldberg treated an established legal professional and Fox News host in a reprehensible manner.

Neither television personality suffered any real fallout for their inappropriate and offensive behavior.

In stark contrast, as a result of a single tweet posted during personal non-working hours, Roseanne Barr had her television series taken away from her.

As a testament to her resilience, Roseanne has decided not to abandon her audience or surrender the opportunity to speak her mind.

The comedic actress is coming back, and she has a brand new way to reach out to her fans. She is working on a new talk show with son Jake Pentland, who told Radar Online, “We are doing our own stuff for now.”

Pentland has his own production studio where he has been filming interviews with mom-host Roseanne.

For the time being, Rosanne’s guests consist of family and friends, but she plans to bring in a variety of interesting people to discuss certain eclectic topics about which she herself is passionate.

In early July, Barr revealed that she had been given offers for new television projects. With the record ratings that her show had achieved and the prominent name recognition she enjoys, it makes sense that entertainment companies would be interested in featuring her in some sort of TV project.

“Inside every bad thing is a good thing waiting to happen,” Roseanne said in an interview on a podcast hosted by Rabbi Shmuley Boteach.

“I feel very excited because I’ve already been offered so many things and I almost already accepted one really good offer to go back on TV, and I might do it,” she added.

ABC recently greenlighted a spinoff titled “The Conners,” which is essentially the “Roseanne” reboot without the show’s headliner.

Roseanne told Boteach that she gave up her contractual rights to the show to ABC and, in an unusual move for a Hollywood personality, did not ask for any money as compensation.

“I thought signing off of my own life’s work and asking for nothing in return, I thought that was a penance,” Roseanne said.

Wanting to keep the cast and crew working, she essentially sacrificed her own interests to do so. She had previously canceled what was to be a television interview during which she intended to discuss the loss of her show.

“After a lot of thought, I decided that I won’t be doing any TV interviews, too stressful & untrustworthy 4 me & my fans,” Roseanne tweeted.

“I’m going to film it myself & post it on my youtube channel in the next week-the entire explanation of what happened & why! I love you all-sign up & get ready,” she added.

Roseanne wrote that she was planning to post video footage, which would explain “what happened and why,” and how a single tweet caused Disney/ABC to cancel her highly successful reboot.

She also hinted that her show would be free of the usual entertainment company bureaucracy that filters out controversial content.

“I’d like to speak directly to you, the people, and cut out any middlemen who use for clickbait/ad revenue while seeking to divide rather than unite,” Roseanne wrote, asking her fans to email questions to be answered by her on her YouTube channel.

She is now posting videos on her revived channel, filmed in a facility that she refers to as “my own studio, where I’m able to speak for myself to my fellow and sister Americans without the filter of the biased media.”

In one of her recent video posts, she speaks about the tweet that led to her losing her show, ranting during the footage, “I’m trying to talk about Iran! I’m trying to talk about Valerie Jarrett about the Iran deal. That’s what my tweet was about.”

Indicating that she thought Jarrett “was white,” Roseanne used a common hip hop term for a woman in reference to the former White House aide under President Obama. After repeating the statement, Roseanne ends the segment by defiantly smoking a cigarette.

Roseanne follows this up with another video in which she explains what she believes is the real reason that she was fired by Disney/ABC. She indicated that she made an offer to the ABC brass that she would appear on daytime TV shows such as “The View” to explain her tweet.

According to Roseanne, within about 40 minutes her “show was canceled before even one advertiser pulled out” and she “was labeled a racist.” Consequently, she was denied the chance to publicly apologize.

Roseanne proceeded to reveal what tens of millions of people already knew, but still needed to hear.

“Why, you ask? Well, the answer is simple. It’s because I voted for Donald Trump and that is not allowed in Hollywood,” Roseanne said.

‘Roseanne’ without Roseanne Barr?

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After Disney and ABC gave Roseanne Barr the severest of penalties for her ill-fated tweet by canceling her television show “Roseanne,” sources indicate that the ABC brass are now looking into the idea of continuing the sitcom in some fashion without Barr.

TMZ first reported the following: “The powers that be at ABC are exploring the possibility of re-branding the show and focusing on the character Darlene instead of Roseanne.”

A pitch meeting is set to take place between the producers of “Roseanne” and Disney ABC executives on June 4 to explore a revival of the “Roseanne” reboot with a new name minus the show’s namesake.

The key individuals that have been pursuing the continuation of the sitcom include co-star and executive producer Sara Gilbert, showrunner and executive producer Bruce Helford, and executive producer Tom Werner.

Gilbert was the driving force behind the initial “Roseanne” reboot. Helford was the co-creator and executive producer of “The Drew Carey Show” as well as the executive producer and writer for the original “Roseanne” during season five of the series. Werner co-founded the Carsey-Werner Company and was executive producer of the original “Roseanne,” along with “The Cosby Show,” “A Different World,” “3rd Rock from the Sun,” and “That 70s Show.”

Even if ABC greenlights a revival of a reboot, financial and legal obstacles may end up thwarting its plans. Carsey-Werner owns the lion’s share of the rights to “Roseanne.” However, Barr was the co-creator and executive producer of the show and has contractual financial interests in the series.

ABC is aware of the fact that a competing network faced a similar problem when it removed the lead actor from a top sitcom. Charlie Sheen was fired from “Two and a Half Men” in 2011, and Ashton Kutcher became the star of the show. Sheen also possessed contractual financial interests in the show and filed a $100 million lawsuit to pursue those interests, which concluded with a settlement of $25 million.

Barr has indicated via her Twitter account that she is thinking about fighting back against the cancellation of her reboot. Depending on the provisions in her contract, she may be able to legally challenge the attempt to create a spinoff that has the same characters and similar plotlines.

Disney ABC attorneys could even find themselves working overtime to negotiate a buyout of Roseanne’s rights in order to move forward with a project without her.

Another significant challenge involves the cast. Key members may not wish to be associated with the show or may have conflicting projects. Actors need to know that a project is real so that they can reserve time on their calendars.

It would be crucial for the producer to secure co-stars John Goodman and Laurie Metcalf for the new project. Goodman is a sought after character actor, and Metcalf just snagged an Oscar nomination for “Lady Bird” and is additionally doing well on Broadway. The aforementioned Gilbert has her continuing spot on CBS’s “The Talk” to protect.

The writing staff would have to be contracted as well. Ironically, on the very same day that ABC cancelled “Roseanne,” the writers had gathered at the studio lot to begin work on the upcoming season.

Despite the cancellation, ABC and Carsey-Werner reportedly have a contractual obligation to pay key cast members and writers for the upcoming season on a 10-episode guarantee, which provides an incentive to revive the series reboot.

There are other shows that have continued on following the departure of their lead actors. Current streaming programs “House of Cards” and “Transparent” have both made the transition following the removal of their respective stars Kevin Spacey and Jeffrey Tambor.

An example often cited by industry experts is one from the 1980s. A successful sitcom, “Valerie,” starred Valerie Harper as a career mother, who along with a somewhat invisible airline pilot husband is raising her three sons. After Harper had a dispute with the show’s producers, she was written out of the series. Sandy Duncan joined the cast as the boys’ aunt, who moved in and became their de facto parent. The series was renamed “Valerie’s Family: The Hogans,” which was later shortened to “The Hogan Family.”

However, the unprecedented success of the “Roseanne” reboot differs from the run-of-the-mill television project. Barr had built a sizable reservoir of conventional fandom during her syndication run of 25 years. What gave the reboot such exceptional impetus was the bond that she shares with millions of people, many of whom voted for President Trump, who were chiefly responsible for the phenomenal ratings of the show and who managed to transform a television debut into a cultural event.

A “Roseanne” series without Roseanne may initially draw the curious. But without the show’s comedic and cultural core cast member, it would likely end up as a shadow of its former self.

Disney Stunned as ‘Solo’ Stumbles at the Box Office

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The “Star Wars” franchise has been a sure winner for Disney, well worth the $4 billion the studio paid for Lucasfilm in 2012.

When a “Star Wars” movie is released, it is nothing short of a spectacular event accompanied by an interstellar performance at the box office, but not this time.

Box-office proceeds of the latest “Star Wars” installment, “Solo: A Star Wars Story,” has hit Disney executives hard, with a lower than expected three-day opening of $84.7 million and a projected four-day opening of $103 million; all this while the movie carried a production budget of over $250 million.

The “Solo” results were 46 percent lower than the previous “Star Wars” release, “Rogue One,” causing

Lucasfilm and Disney to reexamine the management of the “Star Wars” asset.

The overseas performance thus far for “Solo” has been an abysmal $65 million, including a tepid take of $10.1 million in box-office receipts in China. Since foreign box office can be up to 70 percent of a studio release’s overall gross revenue, “Solo” will likely bring in a far lower proportion of overseas money, so Disney has to be concerned that the film will not come close to the more than $1 billion in global gross that “Rogue One” delivered.

“Solo” tells the story of the younger days of iconic character Hans Solo, from the original “Star Wars” movie. The lead character was so deeply defined into the cultural memory by Harrison Ford that it posed an extremely difficult casting job.

Alden Ehrenreich has some very big shoes to fill, and it is safe to say that no actor could recreate the roguish character that the world came to love in the original “Star Wars” trilogy.

Movie experts cite a number of reasons for the latest “Star Wars” film’s lack of box-office energy, including politically correct plotlines, weak directing, poor casting, and “Star Wars” weariness.

As to the fatigue factor, it does not help that “Solo” was released a mere five months after another “Star Wars” movie, “The Last Jedi.”

Disney seems to have learned its lesson on the timing of releases and will probably avoid premiering “Star Wars” sequels, reboots, or spin-offs more than once per year.

The Mouse House is run by some of the most effective business people in the entertainment world. Last year the studio changed the release date of the upcoming “Star Wars” installment, “Episode IX,” from Memorial Day to December of 2019.

When it comes to the “Star Wars” series, year-end releases have been very good for the studio. “Force Awakens,” “Rogue One,” and “The Last Jedi” were all released during the Christmas season. Each movie brought in revenue in the $1 billion range and ended up being the top box-office performers during the year in which the movie release took place.

Disney execs also wisely brought back J.J. Abrams, who directed 2015’s “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” to co-write and direct the upcoming “Star Wars: Episode IX.”

Ron Howard had been tapped by the studio at the production’s halfway point to direct “Solo” after Christopher Miller and Phil Lord left the project.

As an enterprise, Disney has so many other film irons in the fire that it will easily weather the “Solo” disappointment. The company’s Marvel franchise offering, “Avengers: Infinity War,” has at the time of this writing accumulated a box-office bonanza of $622 million domestically and $1.9 billion worldwide.

The family friendly “Incredibles 2” will be released June 15, 2018, and is projected to open in the $130 million range.

Most importantly for “Star Wars” fans, the next scheduled release of a “Star Wars” movie is not until December of 2019.

Like the proverbial football coach at the half, Disney will have the time to determine what went wrong with “Solo” and make the necessary adjustments to its strategic thinking regarding its revered “Star Wars” franchise.