2019 New York Comic Con: ‘Lord of the Rings’ stars, ‘Angel’ stars, Disney Princess actresses set to make appearances

July 2, 2019

by Carla Hay

Lord of the Rings
Pictured from left to right: Sean Astin, Dominic Monaghan and Billy Boyd in “The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring” (Photos courtesy of New Line Cinema)

Stars of “The Lord of the Rings” movies, the “Angel” TV series, and Disney Princess movies are set to make appearances at the 14th annual New York Comic Con, which will take place October 3 to October 6, 2019 in New York City. The Jacob K. Javits Convention Center is the main hub of the event, but several event activities will take place at other venues in the city.

Sean Astin, Dominic Monaghan and Billy Boyd, who starred as hobbits in “The Lord of the Rings” movie trilogy, will be at the event. There will also be a reunion of “Angel” stars James Marsters, Charisma Carpenter, J. August Richards, Amy Acker and Alexis Denisof. In addition, Disney princess voice actresses Anika Noni Rose (“The Princess and the Frog”), Jodi Benson (“The Little Mermaid”) and Paige O’Hara (“Beauty and the Beast”) will be there to greet fans.

Other celebrities announced for the event so far include “The Empire Strike Back” co-star Billy Dee Williams; original “Star Trek” series co-star Nichelle Nichols; Paul Reubens (also known as Pee Wee Herman); and “SpongeBob SquarePants” creator/voice star Tom Kenny. Also confirmed are “Deadly Class” TV series co-stars Benedict Wong, Maria Gabriela De Faria and Benjamin Wadsworth.

All of these announced stars will be signing autographs at the event.

A complete schedule of 2019 New York Comic Con panels, activities and other celebrity appearances will be announced in the coming weeks.

New York Comic Con, which is produced by ReedPOP, was attended by a record-setting 250,000 people in 2018, according to ReedPop. The event is now the highest-attended comic-book/pop-culture fan convention in North America. Movies and TV programs that were showcased at the 2018 New York Comic Con included “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse,” “How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World,” “Dragon Ball Z Super: Broly,” “The Walking Dead,” “Doctor Who,”  “Good Omens,” “Riverdale,” “The Umbrella Academy” and “The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina.”

2019 D23 Expo announces animation programming: ‘Frozen 2,’ ‘Onward,’ ‘The Simpsons’ and more

June 25, 2019
D23 Expo

"The Simpsons" “The Simpsons” (Image courtesy of 20th Century Fox Television)

The following is a combination of press releases from  D23:

Pixar Animation Studios and Walt Disney Animation Studios (WDAS) are gearing up for an exciting weekend of announcements and presentations—sharing never-before-seen footage—plus interactive displays, artist autograph signings, sharable photo opportunities, and giveaways for 2019’s D23 Expo in Anaheim, California.

This year, Pixar and WDAS will join forces with Disney’s live-action team, creating a thrilling Walt Disney Studios slate presentation that promises to wow Disney fans in Hall D23 with new announcements, surprise talent appearances, and sneak peeks of select scenes from the films.

GO BEHIND THE SCENES WITH THE WALT DISNEY STUDIOS
Saturday, August 24, 10 a.m., Hall D23

As a part of The Walt Disney Studios presentation, Walt Disney Animation Studios’ Chief Creative Officer Jennifer Lee and Pixar Animation Studios’ Chief Creative Officer Pete Docter will present never-before-seen footage, surprise announcements, musical performances, and appearances by all-star voice talent from the studios’ upcoming slate of animated films. Fans will get new looks at WDAS’ highly anticipated follow-up to 2013’s Oscar®-winning feature film Frozen when directors Chris Buck, Lee, and producer Peter Del Vecho reveal new details about Frozen 2. Director Dan Scanlon and producer Kori Rae will introduce fans to the characters in Pixar’s upcoming original feature film Onward, while Docter and producer Dana Murray share details about next summer’s original feature Soul. Cell phones, cameras, and all recording devices will be checked for this presentation.

SHOW FLOOR
August 23–25, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily

On the show floor, the two studios will once again team up for an immersive animation experience at D23 Expo. The studios’ upcoming slate of films, which include WDAS’ much-anticipated Frozen 2 and Pixar’s brand-new original feature film Onward, will be highlighted, including opportunities to meet the teams behind the movies and autograph signings of exclusive art and promotional item giveaways.

Pixar Animation Studios will also introduce fans to a real-life version of Guinevere, the van from their upcoming film Onward. Decked out with crescent moon windows and a “Pegacorn” (part Pegasus, part unicorn) painted on her sides, Guinevere will offer guests a taste of the adventure that two teenage elf brothers will embark upon in the movie.

ANIMATION PANELS

Sunday, August 25, 10 a.m., D23 Expo Arena.
The Little Mermaid: The 30th Anniversary Celebration! – Presented by H2O+
Fans of the classic film are invited to celebrate the 30th Anniversary of The Little Mermaid, recognized around the world as one of the greatest animated films of all time. Hosted by the voice of Ariel herself, Jodi Benson, it will be an unforgettable “Under the Sea” celebration.

Sunday, August 25, 12 p.m., Walt Disney Archives Stage
Hidden Gems of the Walt Disney Animation Research Library: Preserving and Inspiring the Disney Legacy
Fans will discover what it’s like to hold Disney history in their hands in this informative panel. The talented team at Walt Disney Animation Research Library (ARL) preserves millions of pieces of original Disney Animation art from Steamboat Willie to the films of today. Attendees will learn how the ARL shares these hidden gems, inspiring artists and audiences alike.

Sunday, August 25, 4 p.m., Stage 28.
World Premiere: Walt Disney Animation Studios Presents Short Circuit
In this exciting panel, Walt Disney Animation Studios will debut Short Circuit, an experimental short film program that will debut in Spring 2020 on Disney+. Talented artists and filmmakers will share their films for the first time anywhere and give behind-the-scenes insights.

The longest-running primetime scripted show in television history, “The Simpsons,” makes its first appearance at D23 Expo. Get insight on the upcoming all-new season in a lively panel Saturday, August 24 at 10 a.m. in the D23 Expo Arena with Creator Matt Groening, Executive Producer Al Jean, Executive Producer Matt Selman, Supervising Director Mike B. Anderson, and stars Nancy Cartwright and Yeardley Smith. Expect lots of surprises, including an exclusive Simpsons collectible item for everyone in attendance.

“The Simpsons” exploded into a cultural phenomenon in 1990 and has remained one of the most groundbreaking and innovative entertainment franchises, recognizable throughout the world. Recently finishing its historic 30th season, “The Simpsons” has won 33 Emmy® Awards, 34 Annie Awards, 9 Environmental Media Awards, 7 People’s Choice Awards and 12 Writers Guild of America Awards including the 2019 Outstanding Writing in an Animated Program Award.   It was the first animated series to win a Peabody Award and was nominated for an Academy Award® in 2012 for the theatrical short “The Longest Daycare.” The Simpsons Movie was a hit feature film, the mega-attraction The Simpsons Ride at Universal Studios has received historic expansion updates with the addition of “Springfield,” and the show was honored with a Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2000. It has been named the “Best Show of the 20th Century” by Time magazine and called the “Best TV Show Ever” by Vulture in 2016.

During the D23 Expo, “The Simpsons” fans will have the opportunity to get up close and personal with Bart, Lisa, and the rest of The Simpsons family on the convention floor. A few lucky fans will even get a once-in-a-lifetime chance to meet Matt Groening and the rest of the panelists during a one-hour autograph signing session of an exclusive “The Simpsons” mini-poster following the panel.

About “The Simpsons”

“The Simpsons” is a Gracie Films Production in association with 20th Century Fox Television. James L. Brooks, Matt Groening, and Al Jean are the executive producers. The Gracie Films Worldwide Brand Division develops and produces the licensed content for the series. Visit “The Simpsons” website at SimpsonsWorld.com. “Like” the series on Facebook at facebook.com/TheSimpsons, and follow Homer Simpson @HomerJSimpson and @TheSimpsons on Twitter. Join the conversation using #thesimpsons and follow The Simpsons on Instagram @TheSimpsons.

About Walt Disney Animation Studios

Combining masterful artistry and storytelling with groundbreaking technology, Walt Disney Animation Studios (WDAS) is a filmmaker-driven animation studio responsible for creating some of the most beloved films ever made. Located in Burbank, WDAS continues to build on its rich legacy of innovation and creativity, from the first fully animated feature film, 1937’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, to 2013’s Academy Award®-winning Frozen, the biggest animated film of all time. Among the studio’s timeless creations are Pinocchio, Sleeping Beauty, The Jungle Book, The Little Mermaid, The Lion King, Big Hero 6, Zootopia, Moana, and the upcoming Frozen 2, which opens in U.S. theaters on November 22, 2019.

About Pixar Animation Studios

Pixar Animation Studios, a wholly owned subsidiary of The Walt Disney Company, is an Academy Award®-winning film studio with world-renowned technical, creative, and production capabilities in the art of computer animation. The Northern California studio has created some of the most successful and beloved animated films of all time, including Toy Story, Monsters, Inc., Cars, The Incredibles, Ratatouille, WALL•E, Up, Toy Story 3, Brave, Inside Out, Coco, Incredibles 2, and this summer’s must-see feature film Toy Story 4. Its movies have won 36 Academy Awards® and have grossed more than $14 billion at the worldwide box office to date. Onward, Pixar’s 22nd feature, will open in theaters on March 6, 2020.

About D23 Expo 2019

D23 Expo—The Ultimate Disney Fan Event—brings together all the worlds of Disney under one roof for three packed days of presentations, pavilions, experiences, concerts, sneak peeks, shopping, and more. The event provides fans with unprecedented access to Disney films, television, games, theme parks, and celebrities. For the latest D23 Expo 2019 news, visit D23expo.com. Presentations, talent, and schedule subject to change. To join the D23 Expo conversation, be sure to follow DisneyD23 on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube, and use the hashtag #D23Expo.

About D23

The name “D23” pays homage to the exciting journey that began in 1923 when Walt Disney opened his first studio in Hollywood. D23 is the first official club for fans in Disney’s 90-plus-year history. It gives its members a greater connection to the entire world of Disney by placing them in the middle of the magic through its quarterly publication, Disney twenty-three; a rich website at D23.com with members-only content; member-exclusive discounts; and special events for D23 Members throughout the year.

Fans can join D23 at Gold Membership ($99.99), Gold Family Membership ($129.99), and General Membership (complimentary) levels at D23.com. To keep up with all the latest D23 news and events, follow DisneyD23 on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube.

2019 D23 Expo: Disney Legends ceremony to honor Robert Downey Jr., James Earl Jones, Bette Midler, Diane Sawyer, Jon Favreau, Robin Roberts, and more

May 16, 2019

The following is a press release from D23:

Robert Downey Jr. and Bette Midler, along with such luminaries as Wing Chao, Jon Favreau, James Earl Jones, Kenny Ortega, Barnette Ricci, Robin Roberts, Diane Sawyer, Ming-Na Wen, and Hans Zimmer, will be honored as official Disney Legends during D23 Expo 2019 for their remarkable contributions to the Disney legacy. Hosted by Disney Chairman and CEO Bob Iger, the Disney Legends Awards ceremony will be held at 10:30 a.m. on Friday, August 23, in Hall D23 of the Anaheim Convention Center.

“The Disney Legends Award is the highest honor we can bestow; it’s a recognition of talent, a celebration of achievement, and an expression of profound gratitude to the remarkable men and women who have made an indelible mark on our company and our creative legacy,” said Iger, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, The Walt Disney Company. “This year’s honorees have earned a place in our hearts and our history for their significant contributions in film, television, and our theme parks around the world.”

The Disney Legends Awards program is a 32-year tradition of The Walt Disney Company, and the first Disney Legend was Fred MacMurray (The Shaggy Dog, The Absent-Minded Professor, The Happiest Millionaire), who was honored in 1987. The awards ceremony is just one of the dozens of spectacular events that Disney fans can enjoy during the threeday D23 Expo.

The 2019 Disney Legends Award honorees (listed alphabetically) are:

WING CHAO For 37 years at Disney, Wing T. Chao played a vital role in designing and developing exceptional and inspirational projects, worth over $12 billion dollars, at Disney parks and resorts worldwide. Wing served as vice chairman of Walt Disney Parks and Resorts for Asia Pacific Development as well as executive vice president of Walt Disney Imagineering where he oversaw master planning, architecture, and design.  Wing directed development teams consisting of Disney Imagineers and many of the world’s most renowned architects and designers, developed and built projects including resort hotels, parks, cruise ships, entertainment venues, water attractions, convention & exhibition centers, sports stadiums, restaurants, retail spaces, recreational complexes, office spaces, and two new-town communities at The Walt Disney Company’s
properties in California, Florida, Hawaii, Tokyo, Paris, Hong Kong, Shanghai, and other locations worldwide.

ROBERT DOWNEY JR. is a two-time Academy Award® nominee and Golden Globe® winner who has appeared in more than 80 films. Considered one of the industry’s most talented and respected actors, Downey has embraced both dramatic and comedic roles, including his Disney debut in the 2006 remake of The Shaggy Dog. After numerous standout performances, Downey then went on to help launch Marvel Studios with his celebrated performance as Tony Stark as Iron Man. His role has spearheaded the iconic blockbuster franchises Iron Man and Avengers, for which he’s starred in three Iron Man films, The Incredible Hulk (2008), Captain America: Civil War (2016), and Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017); and four Avengers films, including the most recent, Avengers: Endgame (2019), which shattered box office records and became the largest ever film debut, bringing in $1.2 billion worldwide in its opening weekend. Downey will next star in the title role in 2020’s The Voyage of Doctor Dolittle and is in pre-production on the third installment of the successful Sherlock Holmes franchise.

JON FAVREAU Jon Favreau started his career with appearances in film and television and has since become one of Hollywood’s most successful producers and directors. Jon’s first roles included appearances on TV shows such as Seinfeld and Friends, but his big break came with the Miramax indie film Swingers (1996), for which he wrote the screenplay, starred, and co-produced. His directing credits include Iron Man (2008), Iron Man 2 (2010), the live-action remake of The Jungle Book (2016), and this year’s reimagining of The Lion King. Jon also made appearances in several Marvel Cinematic Universe films as Tony Stark’s loyal bodyguard, Happy Hogan. As an executive producer for the Marvel Studios, John holds credits on such films as Iron Man (2008), Iron Man 2 (2010), Iron Man 3 (2013), Marvel’s The Avengers (2012), Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015), and Avengers: Infinity War (2018). He has also voiced characters for Disney television shows and feature films, including Hercules (TV, 1999), Buzz Lightyear of Star Command (TV, 2000), G-Force (2009), Star Wars: The Clone Wars (TV, 2010–13), and Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018). Jon is writing and executive producing the live-action Star Wars series The Mandalorian for Disney+, which will premiere this November.

JAMES EARL JONES James Earl Jones started his acting career with television and film roles, including appearances in As the World Turns (1966) and Dr. Strangelove (1964). But the Oscar®, Emmy®, and Tony® Award-winning actor is well known for his iconic voice acting, beginning with the role of Darth Vader in Star Wars: A New Hope (1977). This villainous vocal performance was reprised in subsequent Star Wars films, including most recently in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (2016) and TV shows like Star Wars Rebels (2014–18). His voice can also be heard in Disney Parks around the globe, including recurring vocal performances as Darth Vader for Star Tours: The Adventures Continue. Other Disney credits include ABC’s Recess in 1998 as the voice of Santa Claus, narrator for the Disneynature film Earth (2009), segment host for Fantasia/2000 (2000), and as the celebrity narrator for the Candlelight Ceremony at Disneyland. Audiences also recognize the actor’s basso profundo as that of Mufasa in The Lion King (1994), a role James would return to in The Lion King 2: Simba’s Pride (1998), The Lion Guard: Return of the Roar (2015), and this summer’s reimagining of The Lion King.

BETTE MIDLER When the Disney studio set out to expand the breadth of its film production with Touchstone Pictures, it was Emmy®, Grammy®, Golden Globe®, and Tony® winner Bette Midler who helped lead the way to box office success for the new division. She appeared in a string of hit comedies including Down and Out in Beverly Hills (1986), Ruthless People (1986), Outrageous Fortune (1987), and Big Business (1988). Touchstone’s 1988 drama Beaches not only proved to be a smash with audiences, but it also included Bette’s platinum-selling rendition of “Wind Beneath My Wings.” Other Disney films followed, including Stella (1990) and Scenes from a Mall (1991), as well as a memorable vocal performance as the spoiled poodle Georgette in Oliver & Company (1988). Bette is well known to Disney audiences for her role as the witchy Winifred in the perennial Halloween classic Hocus Pocus (1993). She also starred in The Lottery (1989), a short film produced for the Disney-MGM Studios Theme Park (now Disney’s Hollywood Studios) in Florida for guests of the park’s Backstage Studio Tour.

KENNY ORTEGA is a multi-award-winning director, choreographer, and producer. His first work with Disney was choreographing the TV special Disney’s Totally Minnie (1988), followed by Mickey’s 60th Birthday the same year, and he would go on to direct three episodes of Touchstone Television’s Hull High in 1990. In 1992, Kenny directed his first feature film, the beloved Disney musical Newsies, which was followed, in 1993, by the perennial Halloween favorite Hocus Pocus. In 2006, he helmed the Disney Channel smash hit High School Musical, and the success of the first film would bring him back to direct—and choreograph—the sequels High School Musical 2 (2007) and High School Musical 3: Senior Year (2008). Ortega also produced and staged the High School Musical Concert Tours, as well as the Miley Cyrus and Jonas Brothers Best of Both Worlds Tour. His other Disney credits include directing the 2014 short The Making of Frozen, The Cheetah Girls 2 (2006), and most recently the international phenomenon Descendants (2015), Descendants 2 (2017), and Descendants 3, which will be released this summer.

BARNETTE RICCI Barnette Ricci started her career with The Walt Disney Company as a choreographer at Disneyland. In the late 1960s, Barnette created and directed Kids of the Kingdom before going on to choreograph and direct many parades, including Christmas parades, America on Parade, and the Main Street Electrical Parade. She worked on the grand openings of Walt Disney World, EPCOT Center, and Tokyo Disneyland and directed popular stage shows such as Golden Horseshoe Revue at Disneyland and the Diamond Horseshoe Revue in the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World Resort. Perhaps her biggest project to date is the creation of Fantasmic! Debuting at Disneyland in 1992, the production combines state-of-the-art special effects with live performers along the Rivers of America. The show continues a successful run at Disneyland, Disney’s Hollywood Studios at Walt Disney World, and now Tokyo DisneySea. Following Fantasmic!, Barnette moved to The Walt Disney Studios as the vice president/show director of Special Events. After more than 40 years with The Walt Disney Company, Barnette retired in 2013.

ROBIN ROBERTS In 1990, Robin Roberts joined ESPN and would quickly become a frequent contributor to the network’s programming. In her 15 years at ESPN, she contributed to NFL Primetime and hosted SportsCenter and In the Game with Robin Roberts. Robin began making appearances on ABC’s Good Morning America (GMA) in
1995, and in 2005 left ESPN to join the show full-time as co-anchor. Since joining GMA, the show has won four Emmys® for Outstanding Morning Program. For ABC, Robin has hosted In the Spotlight with Robin Roberts: All Access Nashville, as well as ABC’s red carpet coverage of the Academy Awards®, and has created original broadcast and digital programming for the network through her production company, Rock’n Robin Productions. In 2007, Hyperion publishing released Robin’s first book, From the Heart: 7 Rules to Live By. Among Robin’s many awards are the Walter Cronkite Award for Excellence in Journalism, membership in the Broadcasting & Cable Hall of Fame, and being named one of Glamour’s Women of the Year.

DIANE SAWYER Diane Sawyer is an ABC News anchor, tackling some of the biggest issues of our time with original reporting, primetime specials, long-form interviews, and in-depth investigations. One of the most respected journalists in the world, she has traveled the globe delivering breaking news reports, and has conducted interviews with almost every major newsmaker of our time. Her primetime documentaries have won critical acclaim for shedding light on difficult and previously under-reported topics, including her reporting on the realities of poverty in America. Sawyer’s reporting has been recognized with numerous awards, including duPonts; Emmys®; Peabodys; the grand prize of the premier Investigative Reporters and Editors Association, an IRTS Lifetime Achievement Award; and the USC Distinguished Achievement in Journalism Award. In 1997 she was inducted into the Television Academy Hall of Fame. After more than a decade in television news, Sawyer joined ABC News in February 1989 as coanchor of Primetime. She was named co-anchor of Good Morning America in January 1999, and held the post until taking over the World News anchor chair in December 2009.

MING-NA WEN can currently be found saving the day as Agent Melinda May, aka “The Cavalry,” on the ABC series Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Ming is also known for her seven years playing Jing-Mei Chen on ER. Ming-Na Wen found success on the big screen when she appeared in the acclaimed Hollywood Pictures adaptation of Amy Tan’s The Joy Luck Club. Five years later, she would find animation immortality as the title star of the Disney classic Mulan, a role for which she would receive an Annie Award. Ming-Na returned to the role of heroic Fa Mulan in a slew of projects, including an animated sequel, videogames Kingdom Hearts II and Disney Infinity, on television’s House of Mouse and Sofia the First, and in the Walt Disney Animation Studios film Ralph Breaks the Internet (2018). Ming-Na has been well known to audiences for her television projects, including her voice work in Disney Channel’s Phineas and Ferb, Disney XD’s Guardians of the Galaxy and Milo Murphy’s Law, the upcoming six-part digital short Marvel Rising: Secret Warriors, and a recurring role in ABC’s Fresh Off the Boat.

HANS ZIMMER has scored more than 160 projects which, combined, have grossed over $28 billion worldwide. Zimmer has been honored with an Academy Award®, two Golden Globes®, three Grammys®, an American Music Award, and a Tony® Award. In addition to his long list of credits, including notable projects such as Gladiator and The Dark Knight trilogy, Hans has had a great history with The Walt Disney Company. His early work for them includes additional music for White Fang (1991) and co-writing music for Cool Runnings (1993). His groundbreaking, Academy Award®-winning instrumental score for The Lion King (1994) was followed by many memorable projects,
including Crimson Tide (1995), Muppet Treasure Island (1996), The Rock (1996), Pearl Harbor (2001), King Arthur (2004), and Iron Man (2008). Hans is the guiding force behind the music of the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise, serving in various composing, editing, and producing capacities for The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003), Dead Man’s Chest (2006), At World’s End (2007), and On Stranger Tides (2011). Hans composed the music for this summer’s reimagining of The Lion King.

Honorees receive a two-foot-tall bronze Disney Legends sculpture that signifies the imagination, creativity, and magic they have brought to the Company. Disney Legends Award recipients will also participate in a handprint ceremony at the end of the event, and their bronzed prints will be displayed in the Disney Legends Plaza at the Company’s Burbank headquarters.

Admission to the ceremony will be on a first-come, first-served basis and is included in the price of a ticket to D23 Expo 2019.

Including this year’s honorees, a total of 288 Disney Legends have been named. Past Disney Legends include Tim Allen, Julie Andrews, Beatrice Arthur, Howard Ashman, Annette Funicello, Whoopi Goldberg, Peter Jennings, Sir Elton John, Angela Lansbury, George Lucas, Steve Martin, Alan Menken, Hayley Mills, Fess Parker, Regis Philbin, Marty Sklar, Dick Van Dyke, Barbara Walters, Betty White, and Robin Williams. Beginning with the inaugural D23 Expo in 2009, thousands of Disney fans have been able to enjoy the Disney Legends Awards ceremony live.

Tickets for D23 Expo 2019 are available for $89 for one-day adult admission and $69 for children 3–9. Gold Members of D23: The Official Disney Fan Club can purchase tickets for $77 for a one-day adult admission and $59 for children 3–9. For more information on tickets and D23 Expo 2019, visit D23Expo.com.

About D23 Expo 2019 D23 Expo—The Ultimate Disney Fan Event—brings together all the worlds of Disney under one roof for three packed days of presentations, pavilions, experiences, concerts, sneak peeks, shopping, and more. The event provides fans with unprecedented access to Disney films, television, games, theme parks, and celebrities. For the latest D23 Expo 2019 news, visit D23expo.com. Presentations, talent, and schedule subject to change. To join the D23 Expo conversation, be sure to follow DisneyD23 on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube, and use the hashtag #D23Expo.

About D23 The name “D23” pays homage to the exciting journey that began in 1923 when Walt Disney opened his first studio in Hollywood. D23 is the first official club for fans in Disney’s 90-plus-year history. It gives its members a greater connection to the entire world of Disney by placing them in the middle of the magic through its quarterly publication, Disney twenty-three; a rich website at D23.com with members-only content; member-exclusive discounts; and special events for D23 Members throughout the year.

Fans can join D23 at Gold Membership ($99.99), Gold Family Membership ($129.99), and General Membership (complimentary) levels at D23.com. To keep up with all the latest D23 news and events, follow DisneyD23 on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube.

2019 ARDYs: A Radio Disney Music Celebration is rebrand of Radio Disney Music Awards; Sofia Carson is first ARDYs host

April 19, 2019

Sofia Carson
Sofia Carson (Photo by Kurt Iswarienko/Freeform)

The following is a press release from Disney Channel:

Radio Disney is throwing a real-time live party for its most passionate fans, evolving music’s biggest event for families to the newly rebranded “ARDYs: A Radio Disney Music Celebration” (for the past six years known as the “Radio Disney Music Awards”). Actress, singer, songwriter, Hollywood Records and Republic Records recording artist Sofia Carson (Disney Channel’s “Descendants,” Freeform’s “Pretty Little Liars: The Perfectionists”) is set to host the exciting music and star-filled event. For the first time, it will be a live telecast, originating from Los Angeles, on Sunday, June 16  (8:00 p.m. EDT/re-airing at 8:00 p.m. PDT), on Disney Channel and in DisneyNOW, with a simulcast on Radio Disney. Multiple Emmy(R) and Producers Guild Award nominee Casey Patterson Entertainment (“Lip Sync Battle” and “MTV Movie Awards”) will executive produce the show.

The ARDYs will celebrate the biggest and rising stars in music, television and movies and create an event designed to inspire and entertain today’s families. Beginning May 20, and during the live ARDYs show, fans will be invited to be part of the planning for the live telecast. By visiting the DisneyNOW app, the Radio Disney app or online (Disney.com/ARDYs), fans can participate in polls that will help determine certain elements of the show.

Returning sponsors of the 2019 ARDYs include Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid, Kraft Macaroni and Cheese Shapes, Nintendo’s Super Mario Maker 2 video game on the Nintendo Switch system and The Walt Disney Studios.
“We’re creating a next-level celebration of music to entertain and inspire families and over the next many weeks, we’ll bring our fans into the celebration planning, getting their opinions during pre-production and bring it all to life, live, during the show,” said Phil Guerini, vice president, Music Strategy, Disney Channels Worldwide and general manager, Radio Disney Network.

Casey Patterson is a six-time Emmy and three-time PGA Award-nominated executive producer who has created a wide array of groundbreaking programming. Patterson recently produced and directed legendary country singer-songwriter Loretta Lynn’s star-studded tribute celebration in Nashville. Patterson’s credits include “Lip Sync Battle,” “MTV Movie & TV Awards,” Dwayne Johnson’s “Rock The Troops,” Bill Murray’s “A Very Murray Christmas” on Netflix, “One Night Only: Alec Baldwin,” “Time and Punishment: A Town Hall Discussion With Jay Z,” “The Concert of the Century” at the White House, “The Concert for New York City,” “Saturday Night Live 25th Anniversary Special” and “Between Two Ferns with Zach Galifianakis: A Fairytale of New York.”

Disney+ reveals plans for non-fiction programs; spinoff shows for Marvel, ‘Star Wars,’ ‘Monsters Inc.’ also in the works

April 10, 2019

by Carla Hay

Jeremy Renner and Elizabeth Olsen in "Captain America: Civil War" (Photo courtesy of Marvel Studios)
Jeremy Renner and Elizabeth Olsen in “Captain America: Civil War” (Photo courtesy of Marvel Studios)

Disney+, the streaming service that will launch before the end of 2019, has finally revealed some shows that will be part of the Disney+ lineup. The launch date for Disney+ and the premieres for these shows are still to be announced.*

And although it hasn’t been official announced yet, several media outlets (including Variety) have reported that Disney+ will have several spinoff series about Marvel characters played by the same actors who played the characters in the Marvel movies. Loki (played by Tom Hiddleston), Hawkeye (played by Jeremy Renner), Falcon (played by Anthony Mackie), Winter Soldier (played by Sebastian Stan), Scarlet Witch (played by Elizabeth Olsen) and Vision (played by Paul Bettany) will all have their own limited series.

There will also be spinoff shows for “Star Wars” and the animated film “Monsters Inc.” Disney owns Lucasfilm (the company behind the “Star Wars” franchise) and Pixar, the company behind several award-winning animated films such as “Monsters Inc.”

A scene from “The Mandalorian” (Photo courtesy of Lucasfilm)

“The Jungle Book” and “The Lion King” live-action director Jon Favreau is writing and directing the Disney+ “Star Wars” spinoff series, which is called “The Mandalorian.” In October 2018, Lucasfilm and StarsWars.com revealed this synopsis for “The Mandalorian”: “After the stories of Jango and Boba Fett, another warrior emerges in the ‘Star Wars’ universe. ‘The Mandalorian’ is set after the fall of the Empire and before the emergence of the First Order. We follow the travails of a lone gunfighter in the outer reaches of the galaxy far from the authority of the New Republic.” Directors for “The Mandalorian” include Dave Filoni, Deborah Chow,  Rick Famuyiwa, Bryce Dallas Howard and Taika Waititi.

According to a press release, the Disney+ series “Monsters at Work” reunites the original voice cast of “Monsters Inc.” (John Goodman, Billy Crystal, Jennifer Tilly, John Ratzenberger and Bob Peterson), who will be joined by new cast members.  The press release announces that the new characters are “Tylor Tuskmon (voiced by Ben Feldman), an eager and talented young mechanic on the Monsters, Inc. Facilities Team (MIFT) who dreams of working his way up to the factory Laugh Floor to become a Jokester alongside his idols Mike and Sulley. Starring alongside Feldman is Kelly Marie Tran as Val Little, Tylor’s lifelong friend and confidante; Henry Winkler as Fritz, the scatterbrained boss; Lucas Neff as Duncan, an opportunistic plumber; Alanna Ubach as Cutter, the officious rule follower; and Stephen Stanton as Smitty and Needleman, the bumbling custodial team. Aisha Tyler (“Archer”) voices Tylor’s mom, Millie Tuskmon.” “Monsters at Work” is produced by Disney Television Animation, and the series was developed and is executive produced by Disney animation veteran Bobs Gannaway with Ferrell Barron serving as producer. Kat Good and Rob Gibbs are directors.

A scene from “Monsters Inc.” (Image courtesy of Pixar/Disney)

Disney’s acquisition of several Fox entertainment assets (including Fox Studios, Fox Searchlight Pictures, Fox 21 Television Studios, FX Networks and National Geographic Partners) means that Disney+ is also expected to have Fox-related content. There has also been speculation about what will happen to the Marvel series that were canceled by Netflix (“Daredevil,” “Jessica Jones,” “Luke Cage” “The Punisher” and “The Defenders”), although the explicit content of those Marvel shows (which would get an R rating if they were movies) might prohibit them from being on the family-oriented Disney+ streaming service. Since Disney now owns a majority stake in Hulu, the more adult-oriented Disney content could end up on Hulu.

According to Variety, Disney has signed a two-year deal with production group Supper Club, whose credits include the non-fiction projects “Chef’s Table” series on Netflix and the documentary films “Jiro Dreams of Sushi” and “13th.” Under the deal, Supper Club co-founders Brian McGinn, David Gelb and Jason Sterman will develop and executive produce non-fiction programs for Disney+ and other Disney-owned properties.

Kristen Bell (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

Disney+ has announced these non-fiction shows, according to Variety:

  • “Be Our Chef,” hosted by Angela Kinsey, a cooking competition that pits diverse groups of families against each other for culinary showdowns at Walt Disney World. The show is produced by Eric Day and Mark Koops of INE Entertainment.
  • “Earthkeepers” (working title), a wildlife conservation show produced by Supper Club.
  • “Encore!,” hosted by Kristen Bell, a reality show that reunites cast members of high-school musicals. Jason Cohen created the show, whose executive producers are Cohen,  Bell, Alycia Rossiter, Will Gluck, Richard Schwartz, Jim Roush and Chris Wagner.
  • “Cinema Relics: Iconic Art of the Movies” (working title), a documentary series that examines the costumes and props of famous Disney films, including “Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl,” “Mary Poppins,” “The Muppet Movie,” “Who Framed Roger Rabbit?” and “Tron.” The show is produced by ABC Studios and executive produced by Jason Henry and Dan Lanigan.
  • “Marvel’s 616″ (working title), a pop-culture show produced by Supper Club and Marvel Digital.
  • “(Re)Connect,” a reality show that aims to reunite families who have been divided over a serious issue. The show’s executive producers are Mark Consuelos, Kelly Ripa and Albert Bianchini of Milojo Productions, and Julian P. Hobbs and Elli Hakami of Talos Films.
  • “Rogue Trip,” a non-fiction travel show that explores places off the beaten path from predictable tourist spots. Bob Woodruff and his son Mack Woodruff are show’s hosts, and will executive produce “Rogue Trip” with Jeanmarie Condon for Lincoln Square Productions.
  • “Shop Class” (working title), a reality competition where students of a shop class are tasked with making new inventions. The show’s executive producers are John Stevens and Spike Feresten of Hangar 56 Media and Richard Rawlings of Production Monkey
  • Walt Disney Imagineering documentary series (title to be announced), produced by Iwerks & Co. and directed by Leslie Iwerks.

*April 11, 2019 UPDATE: Disney+ has announced that its launch date is on Tuesday, November 12, 2019. The subscription rate is $6.99 (U.S. dollars) per month.

Disney completes acquisition of Fox entertainment assets

March 20, 2019

by Carla Hay

Walt Disney Company 21st Century Fox logos

The Walt Disney Company has completed its $71 billion acquisition of 21st Century Fox’s entertainment assets, which include movie studio 20th Century Fox, production company Fox 21 Television Studios, movie studio Fox Searchlight, FX Networks, National Geographic Partners and Blue Sky Studios. The acquisition now makes Disney the world’s largest entertainment company. Disney also owns Marvel Studios, Pixar, Lucasfilm and ABC. The deal was first announced in December 2017.

News Corp., which sold off most of its Fox entertainment assets, is still retaining ownership of Fox News, the Fox Broadcasting Company, Fox-owned local TV stations, Fox Sports, the Wall Street Journal and the New York Post. As a result of the acquisition, News Corp. has changed its name to Fox Corp., and the Fox Broadcasting Company (whose TV shows include “The Simpsons,” “Empire,” “Hell’s Kitchen” and “The Masked Singer”) will be operated by the newly formed Fox Entertainment.

Disney’s acquisition of 21st Century Fox means that Disney now owns movie assets such as the “X-Men” series, the “Deadpool” series, the “Fantastic Four” series and the “Avatar” series. Fox’s other blockbuster movie hits in recent decades include “Titanic” (jointly owned with Paramount Pictures), “Bohemian Rhapsody,” the “Planet of the Apes” series, the “Ice Age” series, the “Alien” series and the “Predator” series.

A merger of this magnitude will result in new leadership and thousands of employee layoffs. Most of the job cuts are expected to be at the Fox companies that were acquired by Disney.

So what does this Disney/Fox mega-merger mean for consumers?

Disney will now have even more content for its streaming service Disney+, which is expected to launch before the end of 2019. Disney+ has not yet announced its content, but the Disney+ service is poised to become the biggest threat to Netflix, since Disney can exercise exclusive rights to have Disney content on its own streaming service. That means it’s only a matter of time before Netflix will lose Disney-owned blockbuster films such as Marvel superhero movies, the “Star Wars” series, the “Pirates of Caribbean” series and Pixar films, such as “The Incredibles” and “Toy Story.” Netflix has already canceled its original Marvel superhero series “Daredevil,” “The Punisher,” “Luke Cage,” “The Defenders,” “Iron Fist” and “Jessica Jones.” Disney has already announced that Disney+ will have exclusive streaming rights to Disney-owned films released in 2019 and beyond. These films include “Captain Marvel,” “Avengers: Endgame,” “Toy Story 4,” “Star Wars Episode IX” and the live-action remakes of “Dumbo,”  “Aladdin” and “The Lion King.”

Logan, Deadpool, Iron Man, Black Panther, Disney, Marvel, 21st Century Fox
(Image courtesy of Marvel Entertainment)

As for TV series that originally aired on other networks, Disney-owned series such as “Grey’s Anatomy” and FX series such as “American Horror Story” might no longer be available on Netflix once Netflix’s licensing agreements expire with those shows.

Because of the Disney/Fox merger, Disney now owns 60 percent of Hulu, which could mean that Hulu will get much of the Disney/Fox content that Netflix currently has. It’s unclear how much longer Hulu will exist, now that Disney+ is going to launch. It’s possible that the Disney+ service will be a more family-oriented brand, allowing Hulu to have Fox content that is edgier and more adult-oriented.

Unlike Disney, Fox releases numerous R-rated movies, and that is not expected to change. It’s unknown at this point what the fate will be for Fox Searchlight, which is a boutique studio that has a stellar track record of releasing Oscar-caliber films, including Best Picture winners “The Shape of Water” and “12 Years a Slave.”

Fox 21 Television Studios’ current TV series are mostly on the FX network (“American Horror Story,” “American Crime Story,” “Feud,” “Pose,” “Mayans M.C.”), while a few are on Showtime (“Homeland,” “The Chi”) and other networks, such as National Geographic’s “Genius,” USA Network’s “Queen of the South” and Netflix’s “The Politician.”

Disney’s theme parks will also be affected by the Fox acquisition. Don’t be surprised if attractions related to “X-Men,” “Ice Age” and/or “Planet of the Apes” are added. In 2017, Disney added an “Avatar” attraction at Disney World in Florida.

Although critics of the Disney/Fox deal say that less competition is not good for consumers, this type of corporate consolidation is a reality that is here to stay. (The Disney/Fox merger comes on the heels of AT&T’s 2018 acquisition of several former Time Warner entertainment assets, including Warner Bros. Pictures, Warner Bros. Television Studios and Turner.) There may be more entertainment content than ever before, but the number of corporations owning the content has gotten much smaller.

March 21, 2019 UPDATE: As a result of Disney’s acquisition of several Fox entertainment companies, Fox 2000 Pictures (a sibling company of 20th Century Fox) will be shut down, according to Variety. Some of Fox 2000’s releases included “The Hate U Give,” “Love, Simon,” “Hidden Figures,” “The Fault in Our Stars,” “The Life of Pi,” “Diary of a Wimpy Kid” and “The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader.” Two of the last movies to be released under the Fox 2000 banner is the faith-based drama “Breakthrough” ( due out on April 17, 2019) and the family drama “The Art of Racing in the Rain,” which is scheduled for release on September 27, 2019.

James Gunn re-hired to direct ‘Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3’

March 15, 2019

by Colleen McGregor

James Gunn
James Gunn (Photo courtesy of Marvel Studios)

Nearly a year after Disney (the parent company of Marvel Studios) fired writer/director James Gunn from “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3” for past jokes he made about rape and pedophilia, Disney has re-hired him to direct the film. According to Deadline, which broke the news, production for “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3” will begin after Gunn finishes “Suicide Squad 2” for Warner Bros. Pictures.

Gunn had already written the “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3” screenplay at the time he was fired in July 2018, for jokes he made on Twitter nearly 10 years before. He issued an apology and said he wasn’t the same person that he was when he made those jokes. The timing of Gunn’s firing was particularly awkward because it came one day before he was scheduled to be on a Comic-Con panel in San Diego promote a then-untitled horror movie that he was producing for Sony Pictures. His Comic-Con appearance was cancelled, and the news of his firing had a divisive reactions from the movie industry and the general public.

Dave Bautista, Michael Rooker, Pom Klementieff, James Gunn, Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Elizabeth Debicki, Kurt Russell and Karen Gillan from “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” at Comic-Con International in San Diego on July 23, 2016. (Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images for Disney)

While some people praised Disney for firing Gunn, others said the firing was unjust and demanded that Disney reinstate Gunn. Thousands of people signed a petition to have Gunn rehired, and the stars of “Guardians of the Galaxy” also signed an open letter saying that Gunn should be reinstated. After the firing, Gunn was hired to write and direct “Suicide Squad 2,” which is due out in 2021.

Gunn wrote and directed the first two “Guardians of the Galaxy” movies. The first “Guardians of the Galaxy” film, released in 2014, grossed more than $773 million in ticket sales worldwide, according to Box Office Mojo. The 2017 sequel “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” was an even bigger hit, grossing $863 million in ticket sales worldwide.

After Deadline revealed that Gunn had been rehired, he posted this statement on Twitter:  “I am tremendously grateful to every person out there who has supported me over the past few months. I am always learning and will continue to work at being the best human being I can be. I deeply appreciate Disney’s decision and I am excited about making films that investigate the ties of love that bind us all. I have been and continue to be incredibly humbled by your love and support. From the bottom of heart, thank you. Love to you all.”

Gunn’s first movie to be released since his firing scandal is “Brightburn,” the horror flick that he was scheduled to promote at Comic-Con before his appearance was canceled. “Brightburn,” starring Elizabeth Banks and directed by David Yarovevsky, is set for release by Sony’s Screen Gems on May 24, 2019.

James Gunn scandal: ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ director fired over controversial tweets; ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ stars react

July 23, 2018

by Colleen McGregor

James Gunn
James Gunn (Photo courtesy of Marvel Studios)

James Gunn, the writer and director of the first two of Marvel Studios’ “Guardians of the Galaxy” films, was abruptly fired by Marvel parent company Walt Disney Studios on July 20, 2018, after tweets that he made from 2008 to 2011 in which he made crude jokes about rape and pedophilia were brought to the public’s attention on social media. After he was fired, Gunn made a public apology, saying in part that “when I made these shocking jokes, I wasn’t living them out.” Reactions from Hollywood celebrities have been mostly sympathetic to Gunn. Actor/comedian Bobcat Goldthwait and actress Selma Blair have publicly defended Gunn and demanded that Disney hire him back. Meanwhile, several “Guardians of the Galaxy” stars have publicly stated directly or indirectly that they support Gunn, with Dave Bautista being the most vocal by expressing his outrage over Gunn’s firing.

Bautista tweeted: “I will have more to say but for right now all I will say is this. @James Gunn is one of the most loving, caring, good natured people I have ever met. He’s gentle and kind and cares deeply for people and animals. He’s made mistakes. We all have. Im NOT ok with what’s happening to him.”

He later added, in reference to Gunn’s tweets being exposed by politically conservative pundits: “What happened here is so much bigger then G3 @JamesGunn, myself, @Disney etc. This was a #cybernazi attack that succeeded. Unless we start to unite together against this crap, whether people are offended are not! …it’s going to get much worse. And it can happen to anyone.”

Blair has advocated for people to sign a Change.org petition for Gunn to be re-hired by Disney. By July 23, the petition had nearly 170,000 signatures.

Goldthwait went as far as asking Disney to remove his voice from an upcoming Disney attraction. Goldthwait posted on Instagram on July 23: “I love James Gunn. He’s a loyal friend, super talented, passionate and kind. I wanted to say something, here it is: Dear Disney, I would hate for you to come off as hypocritical, so I’m suggesting that you remove my voice from an attraction that’s coming to your park. It’s called WORLD OF COLOR – VILLAINOUS, and I reprise the tole of Pain, a role I played in Hercules.”

Dave Bautista, Michael Rooker, Pom Klementieff, James Gunn,  Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Elizabeth Debicki, Kurt Russell and Karen Gillan from “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” at Comic-Con International in San Diego on July 23, 2016. (Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images for Disney)

“Guardians of the Galaxy” stars Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Karen Gillan, Pom Klementieff and Michael Rooker made comments on Twitter that did not ask Gunn to be rehired, but seemed to imply sympathy for him.

Pratt tweeted: “‘Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters. Let every person be quick to listen, slow to speak, slow to anger.’ JAMES 1:19.”

Saldana tweeted: “It’s been a challenging weekend I’m not gonna lie. I’m pausing myself to take everything in before I speak out of [turn]. I just want everyone to know I love ALL members of my GOTG family. Always will.”

Gillan tweeted: “Love to every single member of my GOTG family.”

Klementieff, who joined the “Guardians of the Galaxy” cast for the second film in the series, tweeted: “We are Groot. We are a family. We stand together.”

Rooker tweeted: “This account will be inactive after today. We’re very tired & upset over the ongoing BULLS–T… neither I nor my rep will use Twitter again. Twitter sucks and I want nothing to do with it.  Thank you to all who gave kind words & support. See you on Instagram.”

“Guardians of the Galaxy” co-stars Bradley Cooper and Vin Diesel (who voice animated characters in the films) have not yet commented on the controversy. Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige has also made no comment yet about Gunn’s dismissal.

Most of Gunn’s controversial tweets talked about pedophilia, rape and other sexual abuse of children. Disney’s firing of Gunn wasn’t the first time he got in trouble over remarks he made on Twitter. In 2012, he issued a public apology for homophobic and sexist tweets he made in 2011, when he speculated on what it would be like to have sex with fictional superheroes.

Walt Disney Studios chairman Alan Horn issued this statement on July 20, 2018: “The offensive attitudes and statements discovered on James’ Twitter feed are indefensible and inconsistent with our studio’s values, and we have severed our business relationship with him.”

Gunn then made this statement: “In the past, I have apologized for humor of mine that hurt people. I truly felt sorry and meant every word of my apologies. For the record, when I made these shocking jokes, I wasn’t living them out. I know this is a weird statement to make, and seems obvious, but, still, here I am, saying it.

“Regardless of how much time has passed, I understand and accept the business decisions taken today. Even these many years later, I take full responsibility for the way I conducted myself then. All I can do now, beyond offering my sincere and heartfelt regret, is to be the best human being I can be: accepting, understanding, committed to equality, and far more thoughtful about my public statements and my obligations to our public discourse. To everyone inside my industry and beyond, I again offer my deepest apologies. Love to all.”

Gunn was a relatively unknown director of independent films such as 2006’s “Slither” and 2010’s “Super” before he was hired to write and direct “Guardians of the Galaxy.” The first “Guardians of the Galaxy” film, released in in 2014, made $775 million at the box office worldwide, according to Marvel. “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2,” released in 2017, made $860 million at the box office worldwide.

Before he was fired, Gunn had been set to write and direct “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3,” which is expected to be released sometime in 2020. Gunn’s replacement for that film has not yet been announced.

On July 20, Gunn had been scheduled to be on a Comic-Con International panel in San Diego to promote a still-untitled horror film starring Elizabeth Banks that he is producing for Sony Pictures. His Comic-Con appearance was canceled, and Sony has not commented on the controversy or if Gunn is still involved in the movie or not. David Yarovesky will direct the movie, which will be written by Brian Gunn (James Gunn’s brother) and Mark Gunn (James Gunn’s cousin). The H Collective will fully finance the movie and produce it with James Gunn’s company Troll Court Entertainment. During the Comic-Con panel, James Gunn was not mentioned at all.

In a lengthy post on Twitter and Instagram, James Gunn’s younger brother Sean Gunn ( a “Gilmore Girls” actor who had small roles in the first two “Guardians of the Galaxy” movies) commented that being part of the Disney/Marvel world had changed James Gunn: “I saw that he was more open-hearted than the guy who needed to get a rise out of people by making nasty or offensive jokes … So I guess my hope is that fans continue to watch and appreciate the Guardians movies, not despite the fact that the filmmaker used to be kind of a jackass, but because of it. They are, after all, movies about discovering your best self. Working on those movies made my brother a better person, and they made me one too. I’m proud of that. Peace.”

July 30, 2018 UPDATE: As of this writing, nearly 350,000 people have signed the Change.org petition for Disney/Marvel to re-hire James Gunn. “Guardians of the Galaxy” stars Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Bradley Cooper, Vin Diesel, Karen Gillan, Pom Klementieff, Michael Rooker and Sean Gunn have all signed a group statement that has been posted on social media accounts and various other Internet outlets. The statement has called for James Gunn to be re-instated as the writer/director of “Guardians of the Galaxy” movie franchise. Here is the complete statement:

“We fully support James Gunn. We were all shocked by his abrupt firing last week and have intentionally waited these ten days to respond in order to think, pray, listen, and discuss. In that time, we’ve been encouraged by the outpouring of support from fans and members of the media who wish to see James reinstated as director of Volume 3 as well as discouraged by those so easily duped into believing the many outlandish conspiracy theories surrounding him.

“Being in the “Guardians of the Galaxy” movies has been a great honor in each of our lives. We cannot let this moment pass without expressing our love, support, and gratitude for James. We are not here to defend his jokes of many years ago but rather to share our experience having spent many years together on set making Guardians of the Galaxy 1 and 2. The character he has shown in the wake of his firing is consistent with the man he was every day on set, and his apology, now and from years ago when first addressing these remarks, we believe is from the heart, a heart we all know, trust, and love. In casting each of us to help him tell the story of misfits who find redemption, he changed our lives forever. We believe the theme of redemption has never been more relevant than now.

“Each of us looks forward to working with our friend James again in the future. His story isn’t over — not by a long shot.

“There is little due process in the court of public opinion. James is likely not the last good person to be put on trial. Given the growing political divide in this country, it’s safe to say instances like this will continue, although we hope Americans from across the political spectrum can ease up on the character assassinations and stop weaponizing mob mentality.

“It is our hope that what has transpired can serve as an example for all of us to realize the enormous responsibility we have to ourselves and to each other regarding the use of our written words when we etch them in digital stone; that we as a society may learn from this experience and in the future will think twice before we decide what we want to express; and in so learning perhaps can harness this capability to help and heal instead of hurting each other. Thank you for taking the time to read our words.”

Walt Disney World Resort in Florida unveils attractions at Toy Story Land

May 2, 2018

Little green aliens in the Alien Swirling Saucers attraction at Toy Story Land
Alien Swirling Saucers at Toy Story Land (Photo by Matt Stroshane)

The following is a press release from Walt Disney World Resort:

As fans continue the countdown to the opening of Toy Story Land on June 30, more “toy-riffic” news is emerging as anticipation builds for the colorful new land coming to life at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.

Guests will “shrink” to the size of a toy as they enter into this land full of everyone’s favorite toys, building blocks and game pieces. Across eleven fun-filled acres designed to recreate Andy’s toy-filled backyard from the Disney•Pixar “Toy Story” films, guests will be fully engaged in the wonderful world where Woody, Buzz, Jessie and all their pals come out to play. Attractions and experiences straight from Andy’s imagination will treat park-goers to the best playtime ever – even after the Tinker Toy lights come on.

Sarge and the Green Army Men at Toy Story Land (Photo by Matt Stroshane)
Sarge and the Green Army Men at Toy Story Land (Photo by Matt Stroshane)
Wheezy at Toy Story Land (Photo by Matt Stroshane)

Here’s some freshly unwrapped news:

  • Alien Swirling Saucers. Designed as a playset Andy won at the Pizza Planet restaurant, this all-new attraction is out-of-this-world fun. “Toy Story” green aliens have powered up their flying saucers and earthbound guests get to play along. In rocket ship toys, guests swirl and whirl among toy planets and space stations as part of the game while “The Claw” hangs overhead. This space adventure is bathed in multi-color lighting and sound effects from throughout the galaxies. NEW: Disney has released the first-ever images of the new attraction, showing the toy spaceships being piloted by everyone’s favorite aliens.
  • Ten-hut! Just announced, Sarge and the Green Army Man Drum Corps will be marching several times a day through Toy Story Land. As the Drum Corps marches on, everyone’s invited to follow another contingent of Green Army Men to their fun and interactive boot camp, where they’ll “toy” with guests using giant Pixar balls, oversized crayons and a game of SARGE SAYS (their own spin on Simon Says). Will guests have what it takes to become official recruits in Andy’s backyard?
  • Wheezy, the squeaky toy penguin from the “Toy Story” films, will do more than bring smiles to the faces of guests riding Slinky Dog Dash, the family-style coaster coming to Toy Story Land. The all-new Audio-Animatronics figure will appear in the last scene of the coaster singing “You’ve Got a Friend in Me” in that great (and unexpected) voice of his.  Wheezy will be accompanied by his toy friends: Mike the tape recorder, who’s provided him with a microphone, and Mr. Spell, who “texts” funny commentary.
  • After a day of play in Andy’s backyard, guests can relive their memories with fun merchandise created especially for Toy Story Land.  Just announced – headbands are crowned by three-eyed space aliens or Slinky Dog. Slinky Dog also inspires a toy with light-up rings; he can even strrreetch around the waist or shoulders and double as a fashion accessory. Kids get bragging rights with commemorative “I Played There” t-shirts that let the world know they were among the first guests to Toy Story Land. These and other playful items will be available in merchandise locations found in Toy Story Land and at select shops in Disney’s Hollywood Studios.

To learn more about Toy Story Land, visit DisneyWorld.com or call (407) 934-7639.

Walt Disney World Resort in Florida reveals menu for Toy Story Land

April 9, 2018

Toy Story Land at Walt Disney World Resort in Florida (Photo courtesy of Walt Disney World Resort)
Toy Story Land at Walt Disney World Resort in Florida (Photo courtesy of Walt Disney World Resort)

The following is a press release from Walt Disney World Resort:

In the new Toy Story Land that opens June 30, 2018 at Walt Disney World Resort in Florida, the fun extends to food, and meal time comes with a heavy helping of nostalgia. Woody’s Lunch Box will serve up classic on-the-go menu items with a creative twist.