Roundtable Contributors: Princess Fee (DF'82), Estelle Hallick (This Happy Place Blog), Alan Mize, Blake Taylor (BlakeOnline.com), and yours truly.
Estelle Hallick (This Happy Place Blog)
There's not really much to say when someone so instrumental in the foundation of something you hold so dear passes on. This week, news popped up in my Twitter timeline about the death of Jane Henson, wife to Jim (though they separated a few years before his death) and co-creator of the Muppets.
Jim and Jane met in college in a puppetry class; he was so taken with her skill he asked her to join in on an afternoon show he was working on. Later, Jane helped to run and create puppets for Sam + Friends, even taking over the show when Jim left the states for Europe for awhile. When he returned, they started dating and soon got married. Though she gave up puppeteering full-time (two people were hired to replace her including Frank Oz), she remained an important part of the Muppet family and founded The Jim Henson Legacy as a way to keep the world educated by her husband's work.
I think it says a lot that Jane continued to channel her love of puppetry and the arts in all she did, after her time working exclusively with the Muppets, Jim's death, and even beyond. It certainly is a sad time for Muppet fans everywhere.
Princess Fee (DF'82)
Disneyland Paris has really been celebrating their 20th anniversary, with special events in the parks and adding a new Castle show, that I wasn't sure what else they could do. Well, they have gone above and beyond by teaming up Minnie Mouse with one of the top fashion houses, Lanvin. Lanvi artistic director, Alber Elbaz, designed a beautiful blue dress, complete with gold decorations, to give Minnie Mouse something to wear to celebrate the 20th Anniversary for even longer! At the launch of the dress, during a catwalk show at Disneyland Paris last week, Elbaz told the press: "It was a great challenge and responsibility to do. I just wanted her to shine... I wanted to give her a crown in red, and the dress in blue, (a signature) for Lanvin." Next stop for Minnie? The cover of Vogue, surely?!
If there is one thing that almost all Disney fans can agree on, that's the fact that there are a lot of great restaurants at Walt Disney World. There is something for every appetite. Do you want Italian food? Try Mama Melrose's or Tutto Italia. In the mood for food with a French flair? Try Les Chefs de France or the new Be Our Guest. There is one restaurant though that stands out above all others and that's Victoria & Albert's at the Grand Floridian Resort and Spa. This is fine dining at its best and this week it received yet another deserved accolade. The Zagat Guide recently named Victoria & Albert's as the quintessential dining restaurant in Orlando for "embodying the essence of its city." Having been lucky enough to dine here for the first time just two weeks ago, I can say that every accolade that Victoria & Albert's receives is well earned. The main dining room offers a seven course meal that starts off amazing and gets better with every course. It is the most unique and exquisite dining experience that I have ever had, and while it is obviously an expensive meal, it was worth the money that we paid and we look forward to trying this award winning restaurant again in the future.
Blake Taylor (BlakeOnline.com)
Did you watch the video of Ellen giddily announcing the film on her talk show?
There have been rumblings of a Finding Nemo sequel since the summer, but it wasn't until Tuesday that the world got the treat they've been waiting for in official confirmation from Disney: November 25, 2015, Finding Dory will release in theaters. [Insert exclamatory exclamation trumping any possible exclamation already known to mankind.] Director Andrew Stanton returns to helm the sequel, while voice talent Ellen DeGeneres as Dory and Albert Brooks as Marlin are also back. The story, still vaguely defined, will take place on the California coastline and involves Dory's family.
I could not smiling all day Tuesday, and on Wednesday there wasn't a single conversation I had that didn't lead to Finding Dory discussion, and nearly all of those stirrings were not prompted by me. People are genuinely excited to spend more time with these characters. I understand how some are apprehensive to get excited, claiming Pixar's recent sequel spree, but I really think there's nothing to fear. Pixar is not about to take one of its most revered films known for its emotional resonance and completely kerplunk it off the deep end just to make a few bucks. If that was the case, they would have started on a sequel long before now. They know what Nemo means to audiences. I really do believe that Finding Dory would not be in production unless filmmakers felt they had a worthy successor to the original story. And, as evidenced with Toy Story 3, they do know how to make a killer follow-up.
Ryan P. Wilson (Main Street Gazette)
I'm not an avid gamer. I don't chase after the massively successful games, or the games that have a dedicated social following. When I do pick up a game it is because it is a part of a story or property that I have dedicated time to in other media. Games including Batman, LEGOs, Star Wars, Doctor Who, and a litany of others are always the games that I am going to gravitate to.
The announcement yesterday that LucasArts has been shuttered reached back to my days with Dark Forces and tugged at my heartstrings. While there were several games in development at LucasArts, including the highly anticipated 1313, my real concern is that the 150 employees find new homes in game building quickly. The developers that called LucasArts home had a deft hand at creating story driven content, and I think it would be a travesty for them not to land with a top-tier game company.
There will still be licenses for Star Wars games, which may mean an even broader scope of games will be available in the future, but all of that is on hold at the moment. In approaching the new Star Wars trilogy we have already seen Star Wars - The Clone Wars face restructuring, as well as other television projects shelved, in an effort to put the best foot forward for Episodes VII - IX. I suspect the move at LucasArts is more of the same. While it may hurt now, I am cautiously optimistic that it will make for a brighter universe tomorrow.