Welcome to DisneyBizJournal.com - News, Analysis and Reviews of the Disney Entertainment Business!

Brought to fans, investors, entrepreneurs, executives, teachers, professors, and students by columnist, economist, novelist, reviewer, podcaster, business reporter and speaker Ray Keating

Saturday, January 25, 2020

Livestream Broadway at Disney World Tonight!

by Ray Keating
News
DisneyBizJournal.com
January 25, 2020

So, what’s on your Saturday (January 25) night schedule? Well, at just before eight o’clock EST, you could tune in to the Disney Parks Blog to catch the livestream of a “Disney on Broadway” concert direct from Walt Disney World.


Tonight’s concert will feature Broadway performers Alton Fitzgerald White and Kissy Simmons from “The Lion King,” Heidi Blickenstaff from “The Little Mermaid.” and Gavin Lee from “Mary Poppins.”

The “Disney on Broadway” concert series is a big hit as part of the “2020 Epcot International Festival of the Arts.”


Ray Keating is the editor, publisher and economist for DisneyBizJournal.com, and author of The Disney Planner 2020: The TO DO List Solution and the Pastor Stephen Grant novels. He can be contacted at  raykeating@keatingreports.com.

Friday, January 24, 2020

Disney’s Ongoing Star Wars Woes Show Need for New Leadership at LucasFilm

by Ray Keating
Commentary
DisneyBizJournal.com
January 24, 2020

As news and speculation spread across the internet about the Disney+ Obi-Wan Kenobi show being put on hold in an effort to get new writers and scripts, one has to wonder: What the heck is Kathleen Kennedy doing at Disney’s LucasFilm?


After all, this type of development is not exactly new during the Kennedy/Disney reign over Star Wars. During filming, Rogue One was re-written and re-shot. Solo: A Star Wars Story got a completely new director in the middle of production.

For good measure, while I certainly enjoyed Star Wars: The Force Awakens and Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, one has to admit that the two movies suffer from a certain lack of originality. And then there’s Star Wars: The Last Jedi, which amounted to a train wreck from story, character and Star Wars lore perspectives.

At the same time, though, there is a tradition of these kinds of challenges at LucasFilm, such as the long delays in getting the Star Wars prequels trilogy made, not to mention (to be generous) the uneven storytelling in those movies, as well as long delays in getting Indiana Jones movies made.

One has to wonder if Jon Favreau made the wonderful first season of The Mandalorian on Disney+ in spite of LucasFilm.

It’s kind of interesting in that the one thing you might have expected when Disney bought LucasFilm was that Star Wars, as well as Indiana Jones, would get a kind of kick in the pants. After all, Disney has a long history of producing good stories. You know, a big chunk of their business is making movies. Yet, here we are. 

The reign of Kathleen Kennedy at LucasFilm arguably has been one of delays, journeying off course and trying to get back on track, missed opportunities, and successes that, arguably, should have been bigger. It’s time for a new person or team to lead Disney’s LucasFilm – that understands both the business and creative sides of making movies and television shows. 

Maybe it’s time for Bob Iger to get Mr. Favreau on the line.

Ray Keating is the editor, publisher and economist for DisneyBizJournal.com, and author of The Disney Planner 2020: The TO DO List Solution and the Pastor Stephen Grant novels. He can be contacted at  raykeating@keatingreports.com.


Thursday, January 23, 2020

“Joker” vs. “Avengers: Endgame”

by Ray Keating
Commentary
DisneyBizJournal.com
January 23, 2020

Joker is the Oscars’ kind of superhero movie. How so? Well, it’s not really a superhero film.


At the Academy Awards on the evening of February 9th, we’ll find out how well Joker performs in terms of what trophies it takes home. But with 11 nominations, including one for best picture, Joker already ranks as the biggest winner for a ... well ... superhero-related movie.

The problem is that Joker takes arguably the most well-known comic-book super-villain – the Joker – and makes him barely related to the DC universe. The movie itself is a strangely engrossing – though a convoluted story with lots of holes and a lack of originality – and dark take of one man’s descent into mental illness, violence and evil. But there’s nothing that really ties in with the superhero genre, nor is the character formidable in any way that super-villains tend to be, or even must be – including, well, the Joker.

Meanwhile, Avengers: Endgame, which hit theaters in April, served as a capstone for the first 22 movies in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The movie provided nearly everything one might want from such a film (though it had its shortcomings as well), and it earned high praise from both critics and moviegoers. (See our review here.)

The audience not only was treated to the best of superheroes in Endgame, such as courage, sacrifice, loyalty, and compassion, but also to powerful resolutions for key characters, as well as to one of the most formidable villains in the history of superhero movies in Thanos. (See our take on Thanos here in our Infinity War review.)

In June, I wrote about Endgame and the Oscars, comparing it to the Lord of the Rings film trilogy, with The Return of the King winning best picture, best director (Peter Jackson), and a total of 11 Academy Awards at the 2004 Oscars. I concluded: “Endgame and the entire MCU truly rank as a monumental achievement in cinematic history – one that deserves recognition by the Academy. And that recognition should come not just in the form of a best picture nomination for Avengers: Endgame, but in the actual awarding of the best picture Oscar. It made sense for The Return of the King and it does for Avengers: Endgame.”

Nonetheless, Endgame only earned one nomination for visual effects.

Am I surprised that the Academy disagreed? Not at all. But I am disappointed. Meanwhile, I would argue that Black Panther (2018) remains as the lone superhero movie to be nominated for best picture – with Joker being, again, something other than a superhero movie. So, in reality, the Oscar bias against superhero films persists.

Ray Keating is the editor, publisher and economist for DisneyBizJournal.com, and author of The Disney Planner 2020: The TO DO List Solution and the Pastor Stephen Grant novels. He can be contacted at  raykeating@keatingreports.com.

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Bob Iger’s Pay Cut

by Ray Keating
Analysis
DisneyBizJournal.com
January 22, 2020

It was reported last week that Disney CEO Bob Iger took a pay cut in the fiscal year that ended this past September. Of course, Bob will muddle through. Iger’s compensation package declined from $65.6 million in 2018 to $43.9 million in 2019.


So, was the Board disgusted with Iger’s performance? Hardly.

Iger’s 2018 compensation was given a big boost due to an incentive plan for him pushing off retirement and staying at the helm of the Walt Disney Company.

According to the Hollywood Reporter, Iger had earned $43.9 million in 2016 and $36.3 million in 2017.

Since becoming CEO in 2005, Iger has led Disney during a period of incredible growth on all fronts, including IP acquisitions, theme park expansion, successful films, launching online streaming, and substantial stock price growth.

Iger remains on schedule to retire at the end of 2021. Whoever his successor might be – and at this point, we’re betting on Kevin Mayer, who currently heads up Disney’s direct-to-consumer and international division – that person will have big shoes to fill. Though at least starting out, Disney might be able to save a bit on CEO compensation.

Ray Keating is the editor, publisher and economist for DisneyBizJournal.com, and author of The Disney Planner 2020: The TO DO List Solution and the Pastor Stephen Grant novels. He can be contacted at  raykeating@keatingreports.com.


Tuesday, January 21, 2020

National Treasure 3: Why the Wait?

by Ray Keating
Analysis
DisneyBizJournal.com
January 21, 2020

The National Treasure movies fall into my “guilty pleasures” basket. That basket houses an assortment of movie franchises, such as the Fast & Furious films and the Gerard Butler “Fallen” movies.

So, I actually was pleased to hear last week that Disney and Jerry Bruckheimer are moving forward to bring Ben Gates (yes, played by Nichols Cage) back to break codes, track down treasure and toy with historical facts.


But should people be surprised? 

Well, National Treasure (2004) raked in $348 million on a $100 million production budget, and then National Treasure: Book of Secrets (2007) pulled in $457 million on a production budget of $130 million. That makes the first two movies in the series quite profitable.

So, the real surprise here is that it’s taken Disney and Bruckheimer more than a dozen years to get moving on National Treasure 3. Perhaps we’ll finally figure out what’s on page 47.

Ray Keating is the editor, publisher and economist for DisneyBizJournal.com, and author of The Disney Planner 2020: The TO DO List Solutionand the Pastor Stephen Grant novels. He can be contacted at  raykeating@keatingreports.com.


Monday, January 20, 2020

Disney Dropping “Fox” Name: Business of Branding, Not Politics

by Ray Keating
Analysis
DisneyBizJournal.com
January 20, 2020

No one should be surprised that the Walt Disney Company has officially removed the name “Fox” from two movie studios it acquired in the $71.3 billion deal for the Fox entertainment assets. So, 20thCentury Fox is now 20thCentury Studios, and Fox Searchlight is Searchlight Pictures.


Disney reportedly has merely confirmed the new names, and said nothing else.

That, of course, doesn’t stop all kinds of speculation regarding this decision, with it being particular popular to peg the name change to the politics of Fox News. The theory goes that since Fox News is so controversial in Hollywood that Disney didn’t want any potential confusion.

In reality, the politics of Fox News doesn’t matter. While I’m sure that few in the Disney Company hierarchy are big Fox News watchers, this was a straightforward branding decision by Disney. 

The name “Fox” continues to exist with Rupert Murdoch’s Fox Corporation, which owns Fox News, local Fox stations and other assets. Given that reality, Disney was smart to make sure that no confusion exists from a business and branding perspective. Therefore, “Fox” was destined for elimination with Disney-owned assets. Indeed, this move on the naming of two movie studios follows a decision three months ago to fold 20thCentury Fox Television into a unit called Disney Television Studios.

While one is free to read politics into Disney’s decision to strip the “Fox” name out of its movie studio names, that doesn’t mean such assertions have merit. Once more, this is about branding, and Disney is very good when it comes to branding.

Ray Keating is the editor, publisher and economist for DisneyBizJournal.com, and author of The Disney Planner 2020: The TO DO List Solutionand the Pastor Stephen Grant novels. He can be contacted at  raykeating@keatingreports.com.

Saturday, January 18, 2020

January 19th is National Popcorn Day… Bring on the Refills!

by Beth Keating
Review/News
DisneyBizJournal.com
January 18, 2020

Prepare yourself. January 19this National Popcorn Day!

Without a doubt, popcorn is a quintessential theme park treat, and no one does it better than Disney. There is something magical about the scent of the fresh popped grains floating by as you stroll down Main Street and approach Cinderella Castle, and the salty goodness of the first bit of crunch is an experience all its own. 


Popcorn buckets are available at every park at Disney World in a myriad of different designs and sizes, and the selection changes often.  There are specialty buckets at the holiday parties, and designs for new movies, as well as the gourmet and traditional options at AMC Movies at Disney Springs 24, and even shaped buckets in the form of Mickey ears or hitch-hiking ghosts.  

Make a stop at the Popcorn in Canada kiosk at Epcot to sample the uniquely delicious Maple popcorn ($6.25). 

If you go off world to Galaxy’s Edge, Kat Saka’s Kettle offers its multi-colored, sweet and spicy popcorn ($6.49).  

There are also the pre-bagged types at places like Goofy’s Candy Company and Main Street Confectionary. 

Single serve boxes are usually a Disney dining plan snack credit, but family size serving bags are also available.  Pre-bagged varieties can have a wide variety of flavors from the typical cheddar or caramel, to more unusual varieties like sriracha, toffee or churro.  

Currently, many popcorn buckets hover anywhere from the $12.00 mark to upwards of $20.00 for the limited edition options.  It’s a little pricey for popcorn, but you are essentially getting the popcorn as a bonus.  The container is the real souvenir.  We’ve collected several fun buckets in recent trips.  While the $12.00 price tag initially sounds high (it’s Disney pricing, so we’ve sort of come to expect it), the real plus is that, for most buckets, refills for the length of your stay are just $2.00 more (as low as $1.89 in Animal Kingdom at Mahindi).  If you don’t mind hauling your bucket along each morning, and haven’t gotten sick of eating popcorn by day four, have at it!  This is a great way for a larger family to snack their way through the day. A $2.00 refill sure beats adding up five or six Dole Whips or Mickey Bars. If you just want to purchase popcorn without the souvenir bucket, the prices are in the $5.25 - $6.25 range – no cheap refills, though! Specialty buckets like the party specific buckets are not always included in the refill prices, however.

The most recent addition to the popcorn bucket fun is also one of the most sought after.  Sadly, you’ll have to head to California to get it. The Millennium Falcon Bucket is HUGE, lights up, and comes with your choice of fries or popcorn. The French fry option is only available at the Galactic Grill, while other locations serve popcorn. As they have often done for us with their beverage sippers, providing the beverage in a separate paper cup, cast members will kindly package your fries or popcorn in a bag on the side as well so you don’t have to squeeze your container under a restroom sink to wash it out when you are done eating. The Millennium Falcon bucket at the Galactic Grill has a price tag of $24.99 in galactic credits. (They also take American currency should you find yourself running short on galactic coinage.) Incidentally, the Galactic Grill also has Star Wars stainless steel tumblers for the same price, as well as Kylo Ren Premium Mugs filled with either French fries or a beverage at $19.49 and $18.49 respectively.   

Hopefully, the Millennium Falcon popcorn bucket will be available at Disney World before long as well, maybe in time for National Popcorn Day? One can hope. Until then, there’s always the popcorn carts.

Beth Keating is a regular contributor to DisneyBizJournal.


Thursday, January 16, 2020

Book Excerpt: Read the Introduction to THE DISNEY PLANNER 2020: THE TO DO LIST SOLUTION

by Ray Keating
Book Excerpt
DisneyBizJournal.com
January 16, 2020 (originally posted on December 10, 2019)

My favorite quote from Walt Disney is: “I always like to look on the optimistic side of life, but I am realistic enough to know that life is a complex matter.” That quote captures my own outlook on much of life, and it served as an impetus for me to put together a to-do list system to help my own productivity and to help others. The following is the Introduction to The Disney Planner 2020: The TO DO List Solution. In this Introduction, I explain why I wrote a Disney planner, and what “The TO DO List Solution” is, how it has helped me and can make a difference for you as well. So, check out the Intro, and I hope you can use and enjoy The Disney Planner 2020.



Introduction: Why Day-to-Day with Disney?

by Ray Keating

The purpose of a planner is to get organized, to make sure things are accomplished, and to set, work toward and achieve goals. In the essay following this one, I’ll make the case as to why the TO DO List Solution is a simple, but ideal tool for making all of this and more happen. But for now, let’s consider another question: Why does it make sense to work with The Disney Planner 2020: The TO DO List Solution – emphasis on the word “Disney”?

First, and most obvious, The Disney Planner 2020 is ideal for the Disney fan. And today, that covers a big chunk of our popular culture, and it’s not surprising given that Disney ranks as one of the largest entertainment companies on the planet. 

So, being a Disney fan can cover a rather breathtaking sweep of entertainment, including Mickey and Minnie Mouse, and such friends as Donald and Daisy Duck, Goofy and Pluto. But it also includes animated feature films ranging from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs in 1937 to Frozen II in 2019. On television, Disney’s television shows have covered, for example, The Mickey Mouse Club, premiering in 1955, to ABC’s Once Upon a Time, running from 2011 to 2018, to The Mandalorian, with its November 2019 debut on the Disney+ streaming service.

Naturally, there are fans of the many Disney princesses, including Snow White, Cinderella and Aurora in early Disney movies, to more recent additions like Rapunzel, Merida and Tiana.

Of course, a major reason to be a Disney fan for millions of people are the theme parks around the world. There are six major locations in the Disney family – Walt Disney World in Florida (featuring the Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Hollywood Studios and Animal Kingdom), Disneyland in California (featuring Disneyland and California Adventure), Tokyo Disney (featuring Tokyo Disneyland and Tokyo DisneySea), Disneyland Paris (featuring Disneyland Paris and Walt Disney Studios Park), Hong Kong Disneyland, and Shanghai Disneyland. And within each are lands or events that provide further focus for fans, such as Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge in both Hollywood Studios and Disneyland, annual festivals (including the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival), Toy Story Land in Hollywood Studios, Pandora – The World of Avatar in Animal Kingdom, Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party, Oogie Boogie Bash in Disney California Adventure, and so much more.

Along with the theme parks come assorted hotel resorts that rank as destinations in themselves. In Walt Disney World, for example, such lodgings range from Disney’s Contemporary Resort opened in October 1971, to the currently under construction Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser (The Halcyon), which will offer two-night immersive experiences.

Don’t forget the multiple cruise ships, including the soon-to-launch Disney Wish, and various worldwide excursions through Adventures by Disney. Looking for an island oasis? Try Hawaii’s Aulani Resort.

But wait, there’s still more. If you’re a fan of the Star Wars movies, then you’re a Disney fan (see above and, yes, you must check out Galaxy’s Edge!). If you’re a fan of Indiana Jones, then you’re included as a Disney fan. If you enjoyed Avatar, then you’re a Disney fan. And most notably in recent years given the enormous financial success and pop culture impact, if you are a fan of Marvel movies, comics, video games and/or television shows, then you’re a Disney fan.

For good measure, though we don’t delve into it in the following pages, if you’re a sports fan who enjoys ESPN, well then, you’re technically a Disney fan.

So, you get the idea. There are many ways to be a Disney fan, and if you love all things Disney, or significant parts of the Disney universe, then The Disney Planner 2020 is a fun way to be reminded of and motivated by such fandom each day.

Second, throughout the long and expanding history of all things Disney, the storytelling that lies at the center of this entertainment enterprise serves up characters, tales, quotes and moments that offer inspiration, insights, and humor. Indeed, many people love Disney for this very reason. Therefore, each day in The Disney Planner 2020, you are presented with a Disney character quote and a Disney fact that will, hopefully, provide a moment to reflect, to smile, to laugh, to get focused, to learn, and/or to be encouraged.

Third, The Walt Disney Company started in 1923, and has been a leader in the entertainment industry throughout much of its history. As the company approaches its 100th birthday, there’s a heck of a lot to learn from this enterprise, and from the people who started and ran it, who have worked at Disney, who have studied it, and who are Disney customers. The lessons offered are wide-ranging, including how to start up and run a business; how to improve your career and work experience; how to deal with problems and seize on opportunities that crop up in all aspects of life, from family to career; how to treat others, including customers, employees, and co-workers; and more.

That learning process, of course, starts with Walt Disney, who was a unique entrepreneur in that he excelled at not just starting up and running the Disney Company in its earliest stages, but was at the helm to guide it to becoming a global leader in entertainment. He did so in an assortment of sectors, including film, television, and theme parks. That’s unique in that many entrepreneurs who start up businesses and lead them to a certain point of success, do not necessarily possess the skills to productively guide the firm after it’s reached a certain level of development. Since Walt was able to do so, there’s much people can learn from him no matter where they might be in life, business and career. 

In addition, Walt was a complete human being. I certainly don’t mean that he was perfect or without faults. None of us are. Instead, for all that he achieved in business, it’s clear from much of what he said and did, that Walt Disney understood that life was not just about business, but instead, also very much about family, faith and fun.

So, each day in The Disney Planner 2020 serves up a valuable comment from Walt, other Disney leaders like Bob Iger and Michael Eisner, creators such as Marvel’s Stan Lee and Star Wars’ George Lucas, or assorted people influenced by Disney.

Spending each day during the year using The Disney Planner 2020: The TO DO List Solution makes sense if you’re a Disney fan, if you want to enjoy valuable and fun quotes and facts from the Disney universe, and if you’re looking for a daily takeaway that will make at least a small difference in your outlook, your work, and your life.


The Case for “The TO DO List Solution”

After establishing why a Disney planner is for you, a question that comes up is: How can the Disney fan get organized in order to make things happen? 

Life seems increasingly hectic, whether one is running a business, advancing a career, building a family, teaching others, juggling multiple tasks, managing retirement, or simply organizing a vacation to Walt Disney World, Disneyland or some other magical destination. It’s a challenge to get everything done on a daily basis, never mind making sure that you’re progressing toward your bigger goals.

Technology, of course, has been a tremendous benefit, but at times it takes something simple to be added to the mix to make a real difference. For me, that was the TO DO list. So, I now offer a helpful planner/tool called “The TO DO List Solution.”

Think for a moment about all of the roles you play in life, or perhaps a better way to put it, the many vocations or callings you have. For example, in no particular order, I’m a husband, father, son, economist, novelist, columnist, publisher/editor of a website, podcaster, reader, nonfiction author, golfer, moviegoer, active Lutheran, teacher, business owner, policy analyst, and marketer. I also would like to do more, including travel, moving, taking up some new hobbies, losing weight, and writing new books. No doubt, you have your own long list. So, how can we better manage the assorted undertakings in life – from the daily routine to special or out-of-the-ordinary endeavors? That is, how do you make it happen?

I’ve become far better organized – though far from perfect – with the TO DO list becoming my main planning, organizing and execution tool. “The TO DO List Solution” provides confidence that everything that needs to happen will be remembered; most (though not necessarily all!) will be accomplished; changes can be factored in (just add the item to the list); and life will be more organized. 

In addition, the act of using “The TO DO List Solution” requires reflection on goals; forces prioritization; allows for being more realistic about time management; and generates serious thought on how to best get things done (for example, such as breaking down projects into manageable steps, and checking each off along the way). And as one checks off each completed item, your sense of success and accomplishment is enhanced, with hope and confidence growing. 

By the way, it also helps to put everything on one TO DO list. That is, while one can limit the use of “The TO DO List Solution” to certain aspects of life – most think of it for “work” – it pays to include much of life in “The TO DO List Solution.” After all, your daily life and long-run goals have work, family and other endeavors and responsibilities intertwined and overlapping to various degrees. “The TO DO List Solution” covers most of life.

Along the way, using TO DO lists led me to think about a more effective TO DO list. For quite some time, my TO DO list process involved periodically making a big TO DO list covering longer term goals; drawing up a weekly TO DO list usually on a Sunday night or early Monday morning; and then breaking that down into daily TO DO lists. I used all kinds of means for making this happen, including the usual planners/datebooks, notebooks, smartphones, et al. While this process proved to be a tremendous benefit, it led me to realize that having the right tool to create and utilize my TO DO lists would be a major plus.

Hence, I created “The TO DO List Solution.” It was driven by meeting a need in my own life, and it followed with the realization that if I benefit from this, others might as well. I hope this becomes a handy tool in your efforts to set and achieve all sorts of goals.


Ways to Use The Disney Planner 2020: The TO DO List Solution

The Disney Planner 2020: The TO DO List Solution can help Disney fans become more productive.

The following are my thoughts on why I organized The Disney Planner 2020: The TO DO List Solution the way I did, and how to best use it:

• First, the arrival of the New Year serves as an excellent moment to assess one’s goals, and to adjust, subtract and add to them, accordingly. So, this book starts out with the annual, big TO DO list. This calendar also is set up so that this big TO DO list can be updated at or near the start of each subsequent month, from checking off accomplishments (Wooo!) to adjusting goals to adding new efforts.

• Second, a TO DO list is established at the start of each week throughout the year. This naturally feeds off of the big, annual TO DO list, as well as encompassing other regular and irregular matters that must be done. Since I argue that most of life’s undertakings – from the smallest to the largest, from work to family life, from daily routine to Disney vacation planning, and so on – be included, the weekly TO DO list is quite lengthy. I offer 55 boxes (with an extra one for whatever else you might need to toss into the mix). To fit on one page, these boxes might be seen as being relatively small. But I find in making my weekly TO DO lists, I tend to abbreviate, and by doing so, it limits my weekly list from being pages long and allows for a helpful one-page review. When each item on this list is accomplished, I put a slash mark through it, and with each slash, a moment of accomplishment is recognized.

• Third, soon after I started using TO DO lists, I came to realize that the weekly list needed to be further broken down into daily lists. Again, I’ve done this here, with each individual day allowing for TO DO items. The left-hand column allows for either numbering the items or assigning times for each. There are days when my TO DO list merely requires a list that I get done in no particular order, while other days require some exact times. This book allows for either option, or a mix. The right hand column allows for checking items off as accomplished – again, always a positive during the day. In addition, a “Key Reminders/Thoughts” box is included for each day to highlight the most important points, needs or objectives.

• Fourth, I appreciate a good thought or quote each day that adds some value to my thinking and outlook. As we’ve already noted, with The Disney Planner 2020: The TO DO List Solution, those quotes and thoughts come from the Disney universe – which adds some extra fun into the daily mix.

Finally, the fact that you set goals, think about how to achieve those goals, and choose to seek out and use tools like The Disney Planner 2020: The TO DO List Solution says something very positive about your outlook on work and life. If I might say, I think Walt would approve.

Ray Keating is the editor, publisher and economist for DisneyBizJournal.com, and author of The Disney Planner 2020: The TO DO List Solution and the Pastor Stephen Grant novels. He can be contacted at  raykeating@keatingreports.com.




Wednesday, January 15, 2020

BREAKING BOOK NEWS: Second Edition of ROOT OF ALL EVIL? A PASTOR STEPHEN GRANT NOVEL – with a New Author Introduction by Ray Keating – Coming Soon!

Pre-Order the Kindle Edition and Signed Copies at a Special Price!



Do God, politics and money mix? In ROOT OF ALL EVIL? A PASTOR STEPHEN GRANT NOVEL by Ray Keating (publisher, editor and columnist at DisneyBizJournal.com), the combination can turn out quite deadly. Keating introduced readers to Stephen Grant, a former CIA operative and current parish pastor, in the fun and highly praised WARRIOR MONK. Grant returns in ROOT OF ALL EVIL? – a breathtaking thriller involving drug traffickers, politicians, the CIA and FBI, a shadowy foreign regime, the Church, and money. Charity, envy and greed are on display, with the action running high. 

In this second edition of ROOT OF ALL EVIL? A PASTOR STEPHEN GRANT NOVEL, Ray Keating has written an author introduction focused on some of the challenges of penning a political thriller, including maintaining an edge-of-your-seat feel while not annoying the reader with the petty real world of politics. Keating also talks about how some key characters fit into ROOT OF ALL EVIL?, as well as how his own experiences fed into the story.

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Disney Cashes in on Fox Acquisition at Oscars

by Ray Keating
News/Analysis
DisneyBizJournal.com
January 14, 2020

The Walt Disney Company has cashed in nicely on its Fox acquisition in terms of Oscar nominations.

The battle between Hollywood titans – new and long established – was on display with the announcement of Oscar nominations, as Netflix – the new in Hollywood – garnered 24 nominations, and Disney – the long-established in Hollywood – came in number two with 23 nominations. One gets the feeling that the Netflix-vs.-Disney battle will be playing out in all kinds of ways for years to come, from the number of streaming subscribers to the luring of talent to the number of award nominations and wins. Although innovation and technology offer no guarantees to either Netflix or Disney.


As for Disney’s nominations, key big ones were thanks to Fox. For example, Disney’s two Best Picture nominees were both Fox products – Ford v Ferrari and JoJo Rabbit. (Check out our review of Ford v Ferrari in which we concluded: “Perhaps there will be some nominations at Oscar time that will give this worthy movie an extra boost at the box office.”) Scarlett Johansson also earned one of her two actress nominations for Jojo Rabbit

In total, Ford v Ferrari earned four nominations, and Jojo Rabbit came in with six. Toss in a nomination for sound mixing for Ad Astra (see our review of this solid film), and one for original song for Breakthrough, and 12 of the Disney nominations came thanks to Fox.

Among other notables, John Williams’ score for Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker received a nomination, and Toy Story 4was nominated for best animated feature (see our review for a different take on Toy Story 4). For good measure, Avengers EndgameStar Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, and The Lion King were all nominated for best visual effects.

Stay tuned. We’ll have more to say on Endgame in the next DisneyBizJournal piece on the Oscars.

The Oscars will be awarded on Sunday evening, February 9th.

Ray Keating is the editor, publisher and economist for DisneyBizJournal.com, and author of The Disney Planner 2020: The TO DO List Solution and the Pastor Stephen Grant novels. He can be contacted at  raykeating@keatingreports.com.

Monday, January 13, 2020

Disney Boosts Free College Tuition Offerings

by Ray Keating
News
DisneyBizJournal.com
January 13, 2020

Last week, The Walt Disney Company announced that it was adding two more institutions to its Disney Aspire program that offers 100-percent-paid college tuition for employees and cast members.


Purdue University Global and Southern New Hampshire University were added to the network of schools. Through Disney Aspire, the Disney company covers full tuition costs up front, as well as covering books and fees. That’s quite different from other tuition programs whereby employees are reimbursed for tuition costs after course completion, often with the level of reimbursement tied to the grade earned. For good measure, there is no requirement for employees to stay with Disney after completing a degree.

The number of programs in Disney Aspire, which was launched in August 2018, now tops 300, and according to Disney, the other colleges in the 13-school network include University of Arizona, University of Central Florida, Valencia College, Brandman University, University of Florida Online, University of Denver, Wilmington University and Bellevue University.

Disney has committed $125 million to the program over its first five year, adding $25 million each year thereafter.

As noted by MarketWatch.com in September 2019, “‘Companies, now that the labor market is tight, are trying to figure out what’s a smart way to attract and, especially, retain employees,’ said Peter Cappelli, the director of Wharton’s Center for Human Resources at the University of Pennsylvania. And these programs tend to work in that regard, according to a study conducted by Cappelli. He found that offering tuition assistance allows companies to hire better quality and more productive employees, making the cost worth it.”

So, in the end, this is a win-win, with benefits to both the employees and the company.

Ray Keating is the editor, publisher and economist for DisneyBizJournal.com, and author of The Disney Planner 2020: The TO DO List Solutionand the Pastor Stephen Grant novels. He can be contacted at  raykeating@keatingreports.com.


Wednesday, January 8, 2020

A Disney Gig – Work, Play or Both?

by Ray Keating
News
DisneyBizJournal.com
January 8, 2020

Some of us have had a job that we’ve been so passionate about that we’ve said, “I would do this even if I wasn’t being paid.” (As a novelist, I get it!) The Walt Disney Company counts on that when it comes to its Disney Parks Moms Panel, which just added 14 new members today.

Courtesy of the Disney Parks Moms Panel

The Disney Parks Moms Panel serves up personal vacation advice. As Disney put it: “Chosen from thousands of applicants from around the world, the newest members of the Disney Parks Moms Panel will join 28 returning moms, dads, grandparents and other in-the-know family members as an online resource to assist with planning a visit to Walt Disney World Resort, Disneyland Resort, a Disney Vacation Club property or sailing aboard Disney Cruise Line. Panelists provide heartfelt and relatable one-on-one advice based on their own real-life experiences.”

Along with the new members also comes an updated Disney Parks Moms Panel content hub.

And, no, members of the Disney parks Moms Panel are not paid. As The New York Times noted:

Every week for the next year, each panelist will answer about 15 questions from eager travelers seeking advice on where to stay, which rides to go on, where to eat and how to activate wristbands, among other questions. In most cases the panelists will pull from their own Disney experiences and also do some research to see if there is new information available. Some questions may take 10 minutes to answer, others 30 — it all depends...

The panelist position, while a Disney contractor role with an intensive application process, is not paid. In exchange for answering these questions every week, the panelists get a free stay at a Disney park or vacation club of their choice for five nights and can bring three people along.

So, yes, these folks do it out of a love for Disney, not for the pay.

But hey, there seems to be at least one job out there offering a small salary to visit Disney and other Florida-based theme parks. ABCActionNews.com reported that Ocean Florida, which is a United Kingdom travel agency, has a three-week gig in April and May to be a Theme Park Tester. The person will be paid $3,900, along with all travel costs covered and a daily budget, to test, experience and fully document via social media and videos visits to theme parks like Disney World.

Of course, entrepreneurial opportunities also exist surrounding Disney, as so many writers, podcasters, and vloggers can tell you. 

If you’re a Disney fan, any of these gigs turn out to be a mix between work and play.

Ray Keating is the editor, publisher and economist for DisneyBizJournal.com, and author of The Disney Planner 2020: The TO DO List Solution and the Pastor Stephen Grant novels. He can be contacted at  raykeating@keatingreports.com.