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“It Ain't Over Yet!”

Roy E. Disney, still smarting from being unceremoniously kicked off the board of directors of the company his father and uncle had founded, makes a surprise appearance at The Animation Guild's holiday party and makes a rabble-rousing speech. Also, some snapshots of the festivities.

Roy Disney at 2003 Animation Guild 2003 Holiday Open-House Party
Roy E. Disney just after making his entrance at The Animation Guild's Holiday Open-House Party.

It was at a lunch meeting yesterday that I heard the rumor that Roy E. Disney would make an appearance at The Animation Guild's Holiday Open-House Party. And sure enough, when I arrived at the Pickwick Gardens, in Burbank, that evening, I encountered former Guild president, Karen Storr waiting at the entrance waiting for Disney to arrive. She had the idea for inviting Walt's nephew, who had just become something of a martyr when Michael Eisner had him unceremoniously kicked off the Walt Disney Co.'s board of directors. Karen said it was her idea to invite Roy Disney and, after asking around, finally tracked down his email address.

Inside, Steve Hulett, the Guild's business representative had some doubts that Roy Disney would show up, but it seemed too good an opportunity for the embattled Disney scion to pass up. And sure enough, his entrance was greeted with thunderous applause.

Tom Sito, the Guild's president emeritus, purportedly told him, “Art Babbitt and your uncle are rolling over in their graves!” Sito was referring, of course, to the legendary animator's role in leading the bitterly fought Disney strike on behalf of the old Screen Cartoonists Guild back in 1941.

Walt's bitterness towards the Screen Cartoonists Guild led him to assist the IATSE's Roy Brewer, who ran the Hollywood Blacklist during the McCarthy era, in replacing the SCG with the what is now The Animation Guild. Still, one couldn't help revel in the the irony of the whole situation. But Guild members, who have watched with horror as the Walt Disney Co. has systematically decimated its feature animation staff, gladly welcomed the Roy's rather public embrace.

With Stan Gold, Roy Disney had just established a website, Save Disney.com, “devoted to those concerned about the welfare of The Walt Disney Company and its future direction.” Specifically, he is seeking support for his mission “to restore the magic and wonder to The Walt Disney Company.”

This theme was implicit in his brief but impassioned speech to the assembled crowd. After thanking everyone present for helping to fulfill his dream of reviving Disney animation, he concluded with a rousing “exit line,” that “It ain't over yet!” The reception was nothing short of thunderous.

While one cannot doubt Roy Disney's passionate advocacy, I could not help feel that he will end up forming his own independent animation studio, rather than deposing Eisner. In any case, it looks like the local animation community is in for a bumpy ride.

-- Harvey Deneroff
December 13, 2003

2003 by Harvey Deneroff


 

 

 

 

 

     

The Animation Guild's Holiday Open-House Party: A Photo GalleryKevin Koch
Kevin Koch, president of The Animation Guild, formally introducing Roy Disney.

Tom Sito
Story artist and director Tom Sito, who is The Animation Guild's President Emeritus.

Floyd NormanVeteran Disney animation artist and storyman Floyd Norman.

Jim Hillin
Jim Hillin apparently told a disbelieving Tom Sito back in 1985 that computers were the coming thing in animation. Hillin later went on to become CGI artistic supervisor on Disney's Beauty and the Beast.

Frank GladstoneFrank Gladstone, head of recruiting and training at DreamWorks Animation, is heading up an effort to build an nonprofit animation center in Glendale.

Heather Kenyon, Sarah Baisley and Harvey Deneroff
Heather Kenyon, Sarah Baisley and yours truly, the past and current editors of AWN.com in a rare group portrait.