Are you playing, Disney’s Star Wars: Commander mobile game? No? You might soon be in the minority. According to Disney Interactive, the game has now been downloaded five million times since it launched on August 21. To celebrate this milestone, they created the rather cool infographic below to give you a look at what percentage of gamers choose to play as the evil Empire versus the Rebel Alliance and how that varies country to country.
Here are some fun facts about the game play so far:
- Five million players have now joined the war (downloaded Star Wars: Commander since its launch on August 21st).
- With more than 57% of its players representing the Empire, Russia is one of the strongest Empire strongholds. Other nations that have fallen to the Emperor include Austria, Germany, Finland and the Ukraine.
- India stands out as a strong member of the Rebel Alliance, as are most countries across South America and Africa.
- The United States is nearly unanimous in its following of the Dark Side, with the single exception of North Dakota. The force is strong in North Dakota.
- Half a billion troops have been deployed across both factions.
Star Wars: Commander is a free-to-play combat strategy game where fans will join either the Rebel Alliance or the Galactic Empire to recruit and lead an unstoppable force across the Star Wars galaxy.
Star Wars: Commander features the full array of vehicles, weapons and technology from the Star Wars universe. Players who rally to the Rebellion will call upon iconic heroes such as Han Solo, Chewbacca and Princess Leia to support missions for justice and freedom, while leaders of the Imperial forces will command AT-ATs, TIE fighters and Stormtroopers to gain control of the galaxy. Star Wars: Commander also offers an original Star Wars storyline set within the Galactic Civil War of Episodes IV VI, where commanders determine if it’s the Empire’s strength and relentlessness or the Rebellion’s heroism and resourcefulness that will win the war.
The game is free to download on iPhone and iPad.
Source: John Frost, Disney’s Star Wars: Commander mobile game spreads across the galaxy, The Disney Blog, September 12, 2014, http://thedisneyblog.com/2014/09/12/disneys-star-wars-commander-mobile-game-spreads-across-the-galaxy/.
Out of this world: (from left) director/writer J.J. Abrams, builders Lee Towersey
and Oliver Steeples, and Lucasfilm boss Kathleen Kennedy.
Photo: Twitter: bad_robot
The first installment of the third trilogy of Star Wars films will start shooting in London in May, Disney has announced.
Production on the highly anticipated Star Wars sequel – presently known only as Star Wars, Episode VII – will kick off in May.
Disney chief Bob Iger revealed the shooting date at the company’s annual shareholder meeting in Portland, Oregon.
Although his audience was composed primarily of shareholders, very few of whom are likely to be declared Star Wars geeks, he also threw a few more choice morsels their way.
The film, Iger revealed, would pick up the story 30 years after the events depicted in Episode VI: Return of the Jedi.
In that film, which was released in 1983, the rebel alliance destroyed the second Death Star space station and, with the death of Emperor Palpatine, effectively toppled the Galactic Empire.
In the fourth, fifth and sixth chapters of the film, A New Hope (1977), The Empire Strike Back (1980) and Return of the Jedi (1983), producer George Lucas chronicled the struggle between the rebel alliance, led by Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill), Han Solo (Harrison Ford) and Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher), and the tyrannical Empire.
Lucas subsequently produced the early history of the saga, the so-called “prequels”, The Phantom Menace (1999), Attack of the Clones (2002) and Revenge of the Sith (2005), which examined the collapse of the Galactic Republic, the fall of the Jedi Knights and the rise of the Galactic Empire.
Iger said the seventh chapter would feature “familiar faces including a trio of young leads” but noted that the only official cast member is the “astromech droid” R2-D2.
Lucas has previously said the only characters he wanted to span across the trilogies were R2-D2 and his counterpart, the “protocol droid” C3-P0.
There is intense speculation, however, that the three stars of the original trilogy – Hamill, Ford and Fisher – will reprise their characters in the new film.
Iger told shareholders that the movie “really looks amazing,” though presumably he was referring to pre-production material as principal photography has not yet commenced.
The film will be directed by J.J. Abrams and written by Abrams and Lawrence Kasdan.
Kasdan was co-writer of The Empire Strikes Back, Return of the Jedi and the much-loved George Lucas/Steven Spielberg collaboration Raiders of the Lost Ark.
Disney purchased LucasFilm, which owns the Star Wars saga, in 2012 for $US4.05 ($4.48) billion. One of the most anticipated projects to come out of the acquisition is the prospect of a new Star Wars trilogy.
Lucas had, in the saga’s early life, flagged the possibility of a nine chapter story, but had later pared it back to six.
Star Wars: Episode VII is slated to open on December 18, 2015.
Source: Michael Idato, Star Wars 7 details emerge from Disney meeting, The Sydney Morning Herald, March 20, 2014, http://www.smh.com.au/entertainment/movies/star-wars-7-details-emerge-from-disney-meeting-20140320-353ob.htm.
Disney Legends Awards Ceremony
America’s Funniest Home Videos host Tom Bergeron and Disney CEO Bob Iger hosted the awards ceremony which began by honoring Imagineer Tony Baxter. Bob Iger introduced Baxter by mentioning he was the creator of EPCOT Center’s Dreamfinder and Figment characters, noting that Disney “learned the hard way” just how loved the characters are by fans.
Baxter’s acceptance speech centered on a discussion about his keys to success, recapping his early fascination with Disneyland, to his pursuit of a career with the company and how he achieved the things he did over his very rich history with Disney.
As well as the late Steve Jobs, who was largely responsible for Pixar Animation Studios being alive today. Pixar head John Lasseter, a close friend of Steve Jobs, accepted the award on his behalf with a very emotional speech.
Richard M. Sherman and Alan Menken: The Disney Songbook
Richard Sherman took to the piano first, sharing stories behind his classic Disney songs and performing a variety of hits from “Winnie the Pooh” to “Mary Poppins” to Disneyland’s “Enchanted Tiki Room” and beyond.
Alan Menken performed songs spanning his incredible career with Disney, from “The Little Mermaid” and “Aladdin” to “Newsies” and “Tangled.”
The concert ended with an amazing duet of “It’s a Small World.”
On Friday, Disney Imagineer (and new Legend) Tony Baxter joined Imagineer Josh Shipley with an amazing presentation of rare color footage of Disneyland from its early years. Unfortunately, I missed this presentation but our friends at Disneyland Live have video that every Disneyland fan should see of Tony Baxter and Josh Shipley showing rare video of Disneyland’s Mine Train Thru Nature’s Wonderland.
The presentation also included an announcement from Disney Parks head Tom Staggs that Disney will honor Tony Baxter with a window on Disneyland’s Main Street. Baxter later spoke with the LA Times’ Hero Complex blog about his career working at Imagineering.
The Art and Artistry of Aulani
Rohde and Lomboy discussed in-depth the design choices made for the new resort, which all go back to celebrating the people and culture of Hawaii. The Imagineering team went to great lengths to get the Hawaiian people involved with the development of the hotel, ranging from calling on local Hawaiians to create art for the property, to having local musicians create the background music for the resort, to having native Hawaiian spiritual guides help with the planning of the resort.
Broadcasts from Buena Vista Street
On Saturday, voice actors that make up the cast of the radio programs you can overhear on Buena Vista Street in Disney California Adventure joined together and performed one of the programs you can listen to in its entirety live for the audience. It was a remarkably entertaining experience and afterward the cast talked about their careers and experiences working on Disney projects.
Sounds Delightful! An Illustrated Audio Adventure
On Sunday, Disney artist and historian Stacia Martin led a fantastic discussion on early Disney records, which included audio samples from rare recordings including early songs recorded about Mickey Mouse, to records from Mickey Mouse Club star Annette Funicello.
Stacia also treated the audience to demo recordings made for Walt Disney of songs from the never-completed “Rainbow Road to Oz” film. Stacia played demos of the songs that were made for the film and walked the audience through the movie’s story, explaining where the songs would have fit in. The songs had never been heard by the general public until this presentation.
Walt Disney Imagineering 60th: Craft of Creativity
The Imagineers talked about their history with the company (Kathy Mangum started out as a store clerk at the Adventureland Bazaar) and sharing their thoughts on what makes a good Imagineer (Joe Rohde: “To be an Imagineer, “you have to be the kind of person who wants to share.”)
Walt Disney Imagineering 60th: Leading a Legacy
Sunday also included a discussion between Imagineers Marty Sklar (former head of Walt Disney Imagineering) and Bruce Vaughn (current head of Imagineering) on leading Walt Disney Imagineering.
Thoughts on D23 Expo 2013
The 2013 D23 Expo has come and gone and proved to be a big success for Disney, with Friday and Saturday both selling out. The success of this year’s event prompted CEO Bob Iger to announce Saturday that the next Expo will take place in 2015.
Despite its success, not everyone in attendance was wowed by what Disney had to offer at this year’s event, with the main issue being the lack of big announcements and breaking news. It’s true that each Expo continues to grow in size and success for Disney, but how long can that success be sustained if Disney continues to pull back on its major announcements? The first Expo in 2009 set a precedent for the D23 Expo to be a major platform for Disney to showcase its future with unexpected announcements and in-depth previews of what was new and what was next. This year, however, Disney seemingly threw all of that out. Instead, major movie studio presentations mostly just expanded on projects that everybody was aware of, keeping the lid on things that would keep fans and the media talking for weeks. No new theme park announcements, no major movie announcements and hardly a peep on the recently acquired Lucasfilm or upcoming Star Wars sequel.
It would be one thing if Disney had never used the D23 Expo as a platform for major announcements, but the first two Expos were just that – the place for Disney to proudly show off its new toys and get people excited with big announcements on major new productions. Despite Disney announcing before the Expo that no new announcements would be made, the lack of information still stung fans and burned the blogosphere. Entertainment magazines and film blogs aren’t being shy about openly discussing the disappointment of Saturday’s live action presentation; Variety opens an article on the subject with “The disappointment was palpable at D23 Expo as Walt Disney Studios promoted 11 movies that it will release through the end of 2015.” Obviously, the biggest letdown from the studio was the lack of Star Wars announcements but that disappointment bleeds through to just about every other major division of Disney, including Walt Disney Parks and Resorts.
Are fans asking for too much? If Disney wants to host its own version of Comic Con then it needs to deliver something. You can’t buy up Lucasfilm, Marvel and Pixar and run the world’s premier vacation destinations without fans expecting you to make new announcements at your huge, biennial conventions. Aside from cosplaying and surprise celebrity appearances, major announcements are what conventions like this are known for. Instead, the 2013 D23 Expo just spent three days sharing information that had mostly been released already and celebrating the company’s history, rather than previewing the future. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with celebrating the company’s history, and D23 (a product of the Walt Disney Archives) does quite well at producing events that do just that. Still, those events are much smaller than the Expo and cater to a niche market. There’s certainly a place for Disney history at the Expo, but can the Expo really support company history as its primary draw? It’s a question that Disney is now going to have to weigh when they start planning the next Expo. It isn’t just the vocal Disney fan community voicing disappointment anymore – with Disney now owning Lucasfilm and Marvel, there’s more at stake than ever. Hopefully Disney will plan accordingly for the 2015 D23 Expo and bring their best game like they did in 2009 with major new announcements.
Despite the lack of breaking news or exciting new announcements, the D23 Expo improved greatly in other areas from the last convention in 2011. The most impressive improvements were increased capacity and better handling of crowds. Disney obviously listened to complaints and concerns from 2011 where attendees waited for hours to get into popular panel discussions only to be told there was no space left. Both Stage 23 and Stage 28 were significantly expanded with bigger seating and viewing areas and I had no issues getting into any of the presentations that I attended. Similarly, the D23 Arena included an overflow viewing area with screens for those who were unable to make it into the huge arena.
The new D23 Expo StagePass service was also a success, allowing attendees to secure seats for popular presentations in Stage 23 and Stage 28. I heard some frustrations from Expo attendees about waiting in long lines for StagePass, but I think it would be foolish to expect a first-year service like this to not have some kinks to work out. Hopefully StagePass returns in 2015 with improvements to the system, but its debut year seems to have been successful. I heard numerous attendees talking about how it allowed them to see more than they otherwise would have been able to, which is great.
Also worth noting is the continued growth of the D23 Expo’s show floor offerings. The trend here points toward bigger pavilions with more varied offerings and that’s great to see. The show floor in 2009 had a lot of potential for growth and it’s great to see Disney taking note of this and growing the show floor. There was always something happening – whether it be live performances, celebrity appearances, signings, demonstrations or giveaways. It’ll be interesting to see how the show floor continues to grow in the coming years.
So what the D23 Expo lacked in content this year, it made up for in production value, crowd management and event planning. From what I could tell, this was the easiest Expo to date for attendees thanks to smart scheduling, great planning and efficient crowd control. Congrats to the D23 Expo team for a successful event. Here’s to 2015!
Treasures of the Walt Disney Archives
Unfortunately, the exhibit wasn’t as large or as strong as the display put together for the 2011 D23 Expo. What was great was planned overflow queue and smart handling of crowds lining up for the exhibit. Inexplicably, however, crowds coming to see the impressive displays of Disney history were greeted with a series of designer gowns based on Disney princesses.
The exhibit picked up steam with its extensive display on Disney’s varied Oz efforts over the years. A great collection of art and artifacts from the canceled “Rainbow Road to Oz” production that Walt Disney worked on was on display.
The big success of the Treasures of the Walt Disney Archives exhibit was the huge “Mary Poppins” display. With the film approaching its 50th anniversary and the upcoming release of “Saving Mr. Banks,” the exhibit was a fitting tribute to the legacy of Walt Disney’s classic film.
Art and Imagination: Animation at the Walt Disney Studios
On Friday, the D23 Arena hosted its big presentation on Disney Animation, giving the audience a look inside what the teams at Pixar, Walt Disney Animation Studios and DisneyToon Studios are working on. The audience was introduced to new characters and some of the voice actors made special appearances including Judy Greer, Bill Hader and Lucas Neff from “The Good Dinosaur” (2014) as well as Bill Hader (again) and Phyllis Smith from Pixar’s 2015 release, “Inside Out.” Pixar also teased the upcoming “Finding Dory” movie.
Walt Disney Animation Studios gave an in-depth look at “Frozen,” which will hit theaters this winter. Actor Josh Gad, the voice of Olaf the snowman, made an appearance and talked about his character and working with Disney.
Disney also treated guests to a screening of the new animated Mickey Mouse cartoon, “Get A Horse!” The new short will debut for the general public in front of “Frozen” this winter. The new short is unique in many ways, but perhaps most notably because it features Walt Disney’s voice as Mickey Mouse using audio pulled and stitched together from Walt Disney’s previous performances of Mickey. The effect is seamless and it’s really special to hear Walt Disney as Mickey Mouse again in a new cartoon.
Also teased were Disney’s upcoming film “Zootopia” (2016) which takes us into a world of anthropomorphic animals without humans as well as the Marvel-inspired animated film “Big Hero 6″
Let the Adventures Begin: Live Action at the Walt Disney Studios
One of the biggest events at the Expo was the big Disney live action presentation in the D23 Arena. Fans had high expectations for the show, many with the hopes that Disney would make a big announcement for the upcoming Star Wars sequel. Despite fan hopes, Disney stayed true to their promise that no Star Wars news would come out of the Expo but fans were treated to presentations from Disney’s live action studio as well as Marvel Entertainment which featured sneak peeks, celebrity appearances and more.
Marvel brought out stars from Thor: The Dark World, Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Guardians of the Galaxy
“Maleficent” (2014) starring Angelina Jolie
As well as the upcoming “Saving Mr. Banks”
…and the upcoming “Tomorrowland” movie.
Tomorrow: Part 4
Walt Disney Parks & Resorts Pavillon Journey Into Imagineering
The big draw on the show floor was, of course, the Walt Disney Parks and Resorts Pavilion. By entering through a facade evoking the Imagineering headquarters in Glendale, California; guests of the pavilion, put together by Walt Disney Imagineering, took a “Journey Into Imagineering.”
As the sign above the door stated, “Journey Into Imagineering” was largely an “open house” for Walt Disney Imagineering and the main point of the pavilion this year was the ability for guests to be able to talk with Imagineers and learn more about what each of them do. The first room allowed guests to meet with Imagineers working on new projects at Walt Disney World, from the Disney Springs project (a major overhaul of Walt Disney World’s Downtown Disney) to the Avatar project that is still being planned for Disney’s Animal Kingdom as well as a hint at new Star Wars attractions for Walt Disney World.
With Disney not quite ready to announce details for the upcoming Avatar Land expansion, Imagineers working this booth managed keep straight faces when talking about taking a research trip to the fictional planet of Pandora to learn as much as they could about the Na’vi and the planet so they could properly recreate Pandora at Disney’s Animal Kingdom.
A Na’vi-sized backpack.
Plenty to look at here but not really much to see.
Nearby, a stack of crates with various Star Wars references hinted at an upcoming Star Wars-themed project for Walt Disney World. Much like at the Avatar display, Imagineers here were tight-lipped and stuck to their script which said these crates were delivered to Imagineering but wouldn’t be able to find out what’s inside until they them get back to Glendale.
Also represented in the pavilion was the new MyMagic+ program coming to Walt Disney World. The RFID-based technology is expected to transform the guest experience at Walt Disney World and Disney says it will make vacations easier for guests. The display showcased a lot of MyMagic+ wristbands and hardware in a very clean, contemporary space.
Aside from these three previews at what’s new and what’s next, the rest of the pavilion largely focused on the history and legacy of Walt Disney Imagineering. Historical displays of attraction art and models and displays showing various departments of Imagineering allowed guests to learn more about the folks creating Disney’s theme parks and delve into the history of Disney theme parks. Below, a portion of the scale model for Walt Disney World’s never-built Western River Expedition:
This would have been an incredible ride.
A concept model for EPCOT’s Space Pavilion.
My personal highlight of the Parks and Resorts pavilion was the Imagineering Art Library walk-through experience. The walk-through showcased several pieces of iconic Disneyland artwork, including the original pencil drawing of Disneyland by Herb Ryman that Walt Disney took to the bankers to get funding for Disneyland. Also on display was the original black light painting of Disneyland by Peter Ellenshaw that Walt Disney showed off on television when announcing Disneyland to the public. I got chills when the black lights were turned on and Peter Ellenshaw’s nighttime vision of the park came alive. It was a truly incredible experience to see this art in person and a big thanks goes out to the folks in the Walt Disney Imagineering Art Library for putting this together. Unfortunately (but understandably), no video or photography was allowed.
Destini, interactive Audio-Animatronic.
Imagineers wouldn’t say if the Hat Box Ghost would return to the Haunted Mansion anytime soon, but were quick to note that the figure was built specifically for the D23 Expo using a model of Audio Animatronic that Disneyland fans might normally know as the Auctioneer in Pirates of the Caribbean or President Lincoln in “Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln.”
The Imagineering pavilion also gave guests the opportunity to meet Marvel’s Captain America, who will be appearing in a new meet-and-greet and interactive kids show called “Avengers Academy” aboard the Disney Cruise Line’s Disney Magic ship.
Imagineers sculpted live while talking to guests.
The original marble Snow White Grotto statues that were sculpted in Italy under the supervision of Leonida Parma and given to Walt Disney in 1958 were on display. The originals were removed from Disneyland in 1982 and replaced with replicas.
Tomorrow – Part 3
Welcome to D23 Expo
|D23 Expo Show Floor|
The D23 Expo show floor featured booths and pavilions from just about every corner of the Walt Disney Company. Here are a few photos from around the show floor.
The new “Get A Horse!” short was shown in its entirety for Expo attendees during the Disney Animation arena presentation and it was a delight. It will be shown before “Frozen” in theaters this winter.
Tomorrow: Part 2
Annette Funicello was discovered by Walt Disney himself while attending an amateur program at the Starlight Bowl in Burbank when she was just 13 years old. That single meeting led to one of the most enduring associations in show business history.
Earlier today, Disney chairman and CEO Bob Iger said, “Annette was and always will be a cherished member of the Disney family, synonymous with the word Mouseketeer, and a true Disney Legend. She will forever hold a place in our hearts as one of Walt Disney’s brightest stars, delighting an entire generation of baby boomers with her jubilant personality and endless talent. Annette was well-known for being as beautiful inside as she was on the outside, and she faced her physical challenges with dignity, bravery and grace. All of us at Disney join with family, friends, and fans around the world in celebrating her extraordinary life.”
The Mickey Mouse Club made its television debut on the opening day of Disneyland park, July 17, 1955. During countless appearances in the years that followed, Annette, now a television star, also became a familiar face at Disneyland park. In fact, some of the earliest pictures in our photo archive are of her.
Here are some favorite photos of Annette through the years and we are pleased to share them with you as we remember this very special lady who was so dear to so many. [SOURCE]
Where it all began, July 17, 1955, at Disneyland park.
In 1958, Annette welcomed Princess Sophia from Greece.
That same year, this publicity photo for a new record was taken at Disneyland park.
Here is another publicity photo, taken perhaps for “Tall Paul.”
Annette always had time for her fans.
Annette has a “Date Nite” at Disneyland park in November 1959.
Annette channels Peter Pan at Skull Rock in 1961.
This very rare photo of Annette in Town Square at Disneyland park was taken to promote a potential TV special, which was unfortunately never produced.
In 1968, Annette reunited with her fellow Mouseketeers for a special appearance at Disneyland park.
Annette returned with her family in the 1970s.
Annette met two Disney Princesses during her 1993 visit.
The final photo of Annette in our archive was taken in 1996 alongside her longtime co-star, Frankie Avalon, during a special cavalcade on Main Street, U.S.A.
Every photo of this Disney Legend seems to capture her grace, her talent, her warmth and her kindness – all the qualities which make it easy to understand what caught the eye of Walt Disney during that amateur program nearly six decades ago.
Source: The Walt Disney Family Museum
The Walt Disney Family Museum celebrates the 2013 Academy Awards season with recently compiled fun facts about the legendary Oscars® and Walt Disney. Twenty-six of these famed Awards are on view at the Museum including the celebrated Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs Oscar which is on exhibit through April 14, 2013 in the special exhibition, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs: The Creation of a Classic.
- Between 1931 and 1968, Walt Disney won 32 Academy Awards and still holds the record for most individual Academy Awards won. This number includes special and technical awards.
- Twenty-six of Walt’s Academy Awards—including the Honorary Award for Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs—are on display at The Walt Disney Family Museum.
Shirley Temple presents Walt Disney with the special Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs Academy Award®. Courtesy Walt Disney Family Foundation ©Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences
- Walt’s first Oscar was the first ever Academy Award for Animated Short Subjects, his Silly Symphony “Flowers and Trees.” That same Academy Award Ceremony in 1932, Walt was also given an Honorary Award, which was presented to him for the creation of Mickey Mouse.
- In 1939, Walt received a custom-made Oscar statuette for Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. The Honorary Award consisted of one standard Oscar statuette, standing above seven other miniature ones—representing each of the Dwarfs, placed on a stepped, 20- inch long base. Shirley Temple presented this second Honorary Award (he won a total of four in his lifetime)—this by far was the most distinctive award in Academy history.
- The first ever nature documentary Academy Award was awarded to Walt in 1948 for Seal Island.
- In the 1960s, Walt purchased 20 miniature Oscar charms, each engraved with the name of the work for which it was awarded. He created a beautiful charm necklace and gifted it to his wife Lilian, who then converted it into a charm bracelet, which is on view at The Walt Disney Family Museum.
Lillian’s Oscar charm bracelet. Photo by Jim Smith, courtesy The Walt Disney Family Museum.
- Academy Award host Bob Hope is rumored to have said (in tribute to Walt’s many wins), ‘if we have any of these statues left over, we’ll just send them to Walt Disney.’
- Walt also holds the record for the most Academy Award nominations with 59 nods.
Source: The Hollywood Reporter, 9:00 AM PST 2/20/2013 by Seth Abramovitch
Actress Eileen Bowman breaks her silence on the surreal tale of how she became part of Oscars infamy.
This story first appeared in the March 1 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.
By all accounts, a global debut on ABC’s telecast of the 61st Academy Awards should have been an auspicious launching pad. Instead, playing Snow White alongside Rob Lowe in a musical debacle, she instantly found a place in Oscar infamy.
The campy live number, arranged and conducted by Marvin Hamlisch, was as over-the-top as the man who masterminded it, Grease producer Allan Carr, a bombastic Hollywood oddball famed for wearing caftans and hosting debauched parties at his disco-equipped house in Benedict Canyon. (That residence, Hilhaven Lodge, is the current home of Brett Ratner, leading some to joke that the place is cursed, at least where producing the Oscars is concerned.)
As a costume-clad Bowman made her way through the Shrine Auditorium, chirping a high-pitched take on “I Only Have Eyes for You” and greeting such mortified stars in the audience as Tom Hanks, Dustin Hoffman, Michelle Pfeiffer and Sigourney Weaver, it quickly became obvious that Carr had laid a dinosaur-size egg.
“She had a look on her face, if I remember correctly, of pain,” Martin Landau tells THR. Nominated that year for best supporting actor for Tucker: The Man and His Dream, Landau, now 84, was one of the few who gave Bowman a warm reception. “It wasn’t her fault,” recalls Landau. “I empathized with her. Poor Snow White. She didn’t have the dwarves to support her.”
As the sketch bombed on for 15 agonizing minutes, dancing tables wackily re-created the post-Prohibition Cocoanut Grove nightclub, Merv Griffin performed his 1950 hit “I’ve Got a Lovely Bunch of Coconuts,” and a befuddled parade of decrepit screen stars emerged before Lowe took the stage as Snow White’s “date.”
The actor, then 24, would soon be working overtime to rehabilitate his image after a sex-tape scandal derailed his career several months later. But when the Academy approached him to play Prince Charming, Lowe later explained, “I was a good soldier and did it.” A shower-caliber singer at best, he struggled to stay on key as he duetted with Bowman on an extended “Proud Mary,” its lyrics changed to, “Keep the cameras rollin’, rollin’, rollin’.” By the time a kick line of movie theater ushers sang, “Whenever you’re down in the dumps, try putting on Judy’s red pumps,” the audience had endured all they could take. As the camera panned the room, Robert Downey Jr.‘s look of disgust summed up the reaction.
In its review, The New York Times declared the show had earned “a permanent place in the annals of Oscar embarrassments.” Carr was uniformly shunned at industry canteen Morton’s the following day. Disney, which then had no stake in ABC, was furious over the unauthorized use of its copyrighted version of Snow White and filed a lawsuit against the Academy. And 17 Hollywood heavyweights — among them Paul Newman, Gregory Peck, Julie Andrews and Billy Wilder — signed an open letter deriding the telecast as “an embarrassment to both the Academy and the entire motion picture industry.”
Carr, hurting from back-to-back flops Can’t Stop the Music and Grease 2, never worked in Hollywood again. After years of declining health and alcohol and drug abuse, he died in 1999 of liver cancer at his home in Beverly Hills.
In a THR exclusive, Bowman, now 46, relates in her own words the tale of how she became Snow White for one bizarre night, about which the Academy now maintains a sense of humor. When approached for comment, COO Ric Robertson said: “We’re pleased to join The Hollywood Reporter in saluting the ‘Snow White Incident’ on its 24th anniversary. This important piece of Hollywood history should never be forgotten.”
I’ve never spoken publicly at length about this. I basically fell off the turnip truck from San Diego and landed in L.A. I went for what I thought was an audition for Beach Blanket Babylon at the Beverly Hills Hotel; they gave me 15 pages of music to learn. I auditioned, and [director Steve Silver] said, “We want to see if you fit into the dress.” There was a Snow White outfit and a hairstylist and makeup person. I got dressed and made up, and they said, “Now we’re going to go somewhere.” There was another girl there, too. So you have a Mercedes with two Snow Whites in the back, and we were told, “Close your eyes, you can’t see where we’re going.”
Our first stop was Allan Carr’s house. I remember his swimming pool had pink water in it. He had a 30-foot Oscar outside his door and auditioned us in a robe. The other girl and I looked at each other thinking, “What is happening?”
Our next stop was Marvin Hamlisch’s office. We were told to hold hands and walk down the street so people would go, “Ooooh.” We auditioned and were whisked back to the hotel. In the elevator, Steve Silver asked me, “How are you with famous people?” I thought, “Well, they’re like anybody else.” He said, “You got the job.” I said, “Oh, great!” He said, “Do you know what this is for?” I said, “Beach Blanket Babylon!” And he said: “No, honey. This is for the Oscars.”
I rehearsed for a week-and-a-half. It was my first AFTRA job, and I was paid scale, $350 a week. They brought Rob Lowe in to be my Prince Charming. He was wonderful. He could see where things were headed at the dress rehearsal and took me aside and warned: “You need to be careful. There are sharks in the water, and you have to be really careful who you work with after this.” He had never sung before and was kind of insecure about that, so we bonded.
Our rehearsals were on the Fox lot, and they were closed. I mean, like Fort Knox. And the producers knew exactly what they had in me. I wasn’t asking questions. They came up to me daily and said, “You should be paying us for this.”
I remember Bob Mackie said, “Why am I making a Snow White outfit?” I fainted once during a fitting because I hadn’t eaten. I woke up, and Bob was going, “Honey, are you all right?” He gave me juice. My dress was bought for $23,000 by someone involved with the production who was buried in it. It was a man. I’m leaving it at that.
The show itself looked like a gay bar mitzvah. Middle America must have been like: “What is going on? There are dancing tables, there’s Snow White singing with Rob Lowe, there’s Merv Griffin with people with coconuts on their head!”
I was told not to go to Robin Williams in the audience because God knows what he would do. But running down that aisle, all I could see were the back of heads, and I was thinking, “I’ll just go to Kevin Kline!” But they were sitting one row apart, and I accidentally went up to Robin. I was like: “Abort! Abort!” Martin Landau grabbed my hand with both of his, and he just looked at me; he was precious. Tom Hanks was wonderful. But all these poor people were like, “What the hell are you doing?” That number was 15 minutes long from start to end, and I remember looking at Rob Lowe, going, “It’s finally over!”
Backstage, my bodyguard whisked me to my room. I ran into Glenn Close. She said, “Well, hi, Snow White.” I went: “I can die now. I just ran into Glenn Close’s bust.”
I was immediately told that they wanted me to go as Snow White to the Governors Ball with Rob Lowe. That’s when I put my foot down. I said: “I’m not going to be your little doll dressed as Snow White at the Governors Ball.” I went to my dressing table and was taking my costume off, and there was Olivia Newton-John using my blush — which I still have. She was my idol, and she turned to me and said: “How did you ever do that? How did you ever get out there in front of that many people and do that?”
After that, I showed up at my sister’s in L.A. to say goodbye, and she was like: “You’re crazy. Do you know how many people would pay for this opportunity?” I said, “Let ’em.” I went home to my own bed in San Diego and woke up to a lawyer at my door at 8 o’clock in the morning with a folder full of papers that I had to sign. One of those was the gag order. I thought I had done something wrong, so I was scared not to do what they asked of me. I signed a piece of paper saying 13 years — I don’t know why that was the number they chose. [An Academy lawyer doesn’t remember any such action.]
I remember sitting in my condo after being served the papers, watching the news — and the Snow White number was all that was on the news. I had no idea. My phone never stopped ringing. It was awful. All I can say is what Rob Lowe said, “Never trust a man in a caftan.”
Bowman still lives in San Diego with her husband. She stars in the long-running Pete ‘n’ Keely at the Lamb’s Players Theatre on Coronado Island.