Engaging Culture

A Fascinating Meeting Between the NRB and Walt Disney Studios

Last night in Burbank, I had the opportunity to introduce a delegation from the National Religious Broadcasters to the folks at Walt Disney Studios. Dr. Frank Wright led the group from the NRB, and we met with Disney Chairman Dick Cook; also the President of the Motion Picture Group Mark Zoradi; legendary animator Glen Keane (Little Mermaid, The Beast, Pocahontas); and Jody Dryer, Disney’s point person to the faith based community.

It was really an incredible evening. After a tour of the studios and Disney archives, we met with Dick Cook and Mark Zoradi to see a preview of upcoming Disney projects like “Prince Caspian,” the next of the Narnia series of epic movies; the new “National Treasure” installment, and latest Pixar venture “Wall-E,” and others. One of the highlights of the evening was a 4 minute segment of rough scenes from the new Prince Caspian project – which showed just how epic and grand this latest episode will be. Shot on location in New Zealand and the Czech Republic, it promises to be a beautiful movie.

Then, we screened their upcoming Thanksgiving release “Enchanted.” I have to admit, after raising two daughters in the prime of the “Little Mermaid,” “Beauty and the Beast,” “Pocahontas,” princess era of Disney, this was an incredible experience. Mixing live action with state of the art animation, it’s a brilliant take off on all the princess movies ever made. Kathleen and I laughed for 90 straight minutes. Don’t miss this remarkable new musical – and definitely take your kids.

The most fascinating part of the night was hearing from Cook, Zoradi, and Keane discussing Disney’s new commitment to Walt’s founding principles of family entertainment. They’ve reduced their output to only 10 films per year, and with the acquisition of Pixar, at least 2 will be animated. Their goal is pure family entertainment – great storytelling without adult language, sexual situations, or gratuitous violence. They still will push the edge of action and adventure, and are focused on epic stories, but their goal is to reach an audience from 8 to 80 years old.

Interesting stuff. I found Dick Cook to be the real thing, and I’ve known Mark Zoradi for years. Our kids went to the same schools, and he’s proven to be a truly stand up guy, with great integrity. I’ve also known Glen Keane for a long time as well. In fact, years ago, just off “The Little Mermaid” juggernaut, he penciled a sketch of Ariel for our daughters that still hangs in a frame in the hall between their bedrooms. It’s one of their most prized possessions. Glen’s currently directing “Repunzel” – the fully animated fairy tale that will be ready for 2008. Don’t miss it.

Give Disney a hearing this year. Hopefully, the NRB members in the meeting will share this through the radio and TV outlets they own, and let people know that the ship is turning, and remarkable things are happening.

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  1. That's great to hear. And I enjoyed hearing about Glen Keane's involvement. I recently came across his "Adam Raccoon" books and love reading them to my 2 year old.

  2. Last week, I had the pleasure of attending a faith-based rally for a well-known ministry – the attendees were 10,000 strong, the message was powerful, the music was happening – and on and on.

    I later went to lunch with one of the producers of this ministry, and as a scriptwriter, I wanted to know not only what their immediate needs were – but where they were headed. And it prompts the question:

    Where are ALL the ministries headed? Where will the Joel Osteens, the Joyce Meyers, the Robert A. Schullers and more – be 5, 10, 15, even 20 years from now?

    The inevitable reply I hear is…world ministry. Indeed, it has already happened with ministries like Billy Graham, Oral Roberts, and much more – what we have, then is a wealth of giving and generous resources for almost any country and any population you desire… Want to help Ukrainian orphans? Contact Orphan’s Promise… Concerned about refugees in Darfur? Then give to Operation Blessing. How about the lost boys of Uganda…the adopted children of Romania…the outreach in Africa, South America, Thailand and so much more.

    There is nothing wrong with this approach, and God bless the people and the organizations helping them… But I have to ask… What about helping America? What about reaching out to the poor in our inner cities, the abused in our shelters, the homeless on our streets, our soldiers in Iraq, and the health-insurance deprived? We have problems right here that need attention…and yet I don’t see any ministry turning their attention to the US.

    America is in trouble. Despite the fact that we are the richest nation on earth, 48 million Americans have no health insurance…37 million live officially below the poverty level…the foreclosure crisis is getting worse and worse…and the list goes on and on. And yet who is helping – United Way, Red Cross…who else?

    They are ministries or off-shoots of such who wage a war on our soils against homosexuality, on gay marriage, on abortion and more…how about waging a war to help the hungry, the homeless, those without access to education, and more?

    I have a non-profit for battered women and their children – and every 45 days, there is a new crop of women and kids to feed, clothe and help find work and apartments. We have only 45 days to get these family on their feet, escaping unfathomable living conditions, hoping against hope that they can turn their lives around.

    I think I know why these ministries are looking to help those around the world – yes, their plight is almost certainly worse than ours…but more importantly, many of them remain unconverted to Christianity, and represent new opportunities to extend their ministries far and wide. I liken it to the subscribers of DirecTV – if you’re new to DirecTV, you get all kinds of free incentives to sign up – but if you’re a faithful customer? Nada – zilch, nothing, zippo – unless of course you do as I recently did, and cancel service – only to have them lure me back with promises of free equipment, free installation – and free premium services.

    Let’s stop and look around and see what we can do to help ourselves…our neighbors, our community…before we tackle our world.

  3. Only the Prince of Peace on His return can rectify the fallen sinful human condition of man – Of the increase of His government and peace There will be no end, Upon the throne of David and over His kingdom, To order it and establish it with judgment and justice From that time forward, even forever. We must do the big and small projects alike as the Lord has given each one of us certain things to do while we are here in this world for the extremely short time we have left of it. As long as the focus is not on money. Today many people (believers and unbelievers alike) are doing careers because of the financial gain attached to it not because it is their lifecalling or purpose. When children are taught solely in schools of learning that they are too choose careers based on the amount of money they can make as opposed to doing what is they were made for – it creates voids in society for those gifts eventually. No wonder so many people are unfulfilled and depressed in the world today.Ironically it is when we discover our purpose in life and develop the necessary skills needed to accomplish it that we are the most satisfied, fulfilled and prosperous people on earth especially when you have a real loving relationship and fellowship with our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ fueled and fed on a daily basis – in season and out of season.

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