LASSEDAMMERUNG! DISNEY’S LAW OF THE JUNGLE CRUISE

The moment of decision approaches on the Fate of John Lasseter. At stake is more than the management of one animation division. This is the precedent-setting crossroads: On the line here is whether Me Too remains on the march or starts to be swept under the red carpet. Not to mention, incidentally, the fates of two or three studios.

After an initially blasé reaction, the battle has been raging over the past week with increasing volume inside and out, as a social media Stop John movement has gained traction.  Over the past few days, the #LoseLasseter hashtag has been catching fire on Twitter; contributors include people from across the animation industry and even, shockingly for a company that brooks no public dissent, some Disney employees sprinkled in among the protesters. (I’ll let you find them yourself rather than draw undo attention to them.)

And now, because of one obscure pebble in the galaxy of Disney merchandise–a grain of sand amidst the dunes of Tatooine if you will—a decision must be made at the worst possible moment for Disney.

How much of history hangs on accidents of timing. It’s a cruel irony that the fate of empires should hang on something as frivolous as a tribute album to Disneyland’s Jungle Cruise ride, and more to the point, the accompanying CD tribute to the unscripted banter of the Cruise tour guides. But such is the tragedy of empires.

The album in question is due out in just one month, on July 3. Here is a description of its contents according to its Amazon page:

Enjoy the pun-omenal jokes written by the Walt Disney Imagineers and the Jungle Cruise skippers from the world-famous Jungle Cruise attraction. Guests board a boat and travel with a witty and experienced skipper to exotic rivers of the world, and leave smiling with memories of their vibrant voyage.

In this book, Erwin Madrid’s original illustrations accompany the jokes of the classic attraction, and together they steer readers deeper and deeper into lush lands filled with adventures, animals, and laughs. The included CD, featuring narration by John Lasseter, invites people to relive the rollicking journey or experience the magic for the very first time as they read.

Ah, yes. That John Lasseter.

According to an Ankler Friend on the inside, when the Lasseter news broke last November, most of the album and the art around it had already been completed. But as more and more came out, some people involved in the project began to feel uneasy about the notion that the executive with such unsavory stories now circulating about him should be fronting a children’s storybook and record.

People involved in the project created new art that removed his face from the package. When higher-ups learned about that the overhaul, fireworks broke out between the senior Lasseter loyalists at the top and those working on the album project.

Now with the release date a month away, just as the Harvey Weinstein indictment came along and put Me Too back front and center and reminded the world what this had all been about, a decision looms.

So as to the question – who gives a damn about a damn Jungle Cruise tribute album?  Why not bury the project under a mountain of Elsa and Anna diapers and move on?

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