Greetings everyone and welcome to a very Disney edition of “The Outsiders Guide to the Inside of Hollywood”. This blog is about my experiences covering three very different kind of Disney events. The first one was Walt Disney Films trip to the land of Oz. The two other events were sponsored by Disney On Ice and Field Entertainment. One of them was a special book reading for students of Fred T. Korematsu Discovery Academy in Oakland, with Olympic Medallist and children’s author, Kristi Yamaguchi. The children also received free tickets to, Disney On Ice: Dare To Dream ice show at the Oracle Arena in Oakland. I also attended the show which was my first ice show in 30 years.
“Oz The Great And Powerful” Los Angeles Premiere – El Capitan Theatre 2-13/13
Ever since hearing James Franco, was going to be playing The Wizard in Disney’s take on “The Wizard of Oz franchise “Oz The Great and Powerful”, I had wanted to cover this premiere. The films director Sam Raimi, who worked with James on the original “Spiderman” films take us on a different journey to the land of Oz. The film is inspired by L. Frank Baum’s 1900 novel The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, and is the prequel to the 1939 film The Wizard of Oz. in James Franco in the film are Mila Kunis as Theodora, Michelle Williams as Glinda, and Rachel Weisz as Evanora.
I had photographed Mila for the first time unofficially (fan area) at the “Extract” Premiere and professionally(on the carpet) in New York City at the “Friends with Benefits” premiere. I had wanted to photograph Michelle Williams for several years. I admit, I had a big crush on her back in the Dawson Creek Days (only reason I watched the show) and loved seeing her career evolve. As for Mr. Franco we had crossed paths before unofficially. Back in 2010 I met James and photographed him in the rain where he met loyal fans waiting for him to arrive at a film festival reception event and later just before a screening of his film “127 Hours”. James who took time to pose with fans (including s surprised particular blogger) before heading into a private event. James really seems to be a down to earth guy. If you couldn’t tell how much he loves his fans then, you sure could a few months later at the Santa Barbra Film Festival, where James signed autograph, books and took pictures with fans that waited hours outside the theater for his arrival.
I arrived early expecting it to be a madhouse. The first thing I saw as usual Disney had Hollywood Boulevard shut down. As I made my across the street to the media check in area I saw a huge hot air balloon from the movie being blown up. We were given strict instructions by the studio not to take any pictures until the start of the carpet and of the balloon until it was in the air. Disney had created a yellow brick road carpet stretched out down the boulevard. As we started to be checked in I was expecting my usual number at the end of the list. I could tell by looking at the amount of photographers, and the space we had, I knew it would be tight. I was just hoping not to be stuck in the third row. Then to my surprise my number was in the top 25, which got me a front row spot at the end of the photographer area. One of the photographers who is always in an A list spot showed up late and as usual got into a argument with another photographer. This wasn’t the first time I witnessed a temper tantrum by this same photographer. She set up in back of me and kept reaching and getting her hands in my shots. Deciding it wasn’t worth causing an argument when the carpet had open I just worked around her.
The films co-star Zach Braff (Scrubs) walked the carpet with his girlfriend Taylor Bagley. James Franco showed up next wearing a purple suit. He quickly made his way down the carpet and caused a flash frenzy when he stopped briefly in my area. I knew from attending Q & A’s with James that this part of the business was not his favorite. Michelle Williams who plays Glinda (the good witch) looked beautiful. I must admit I like her better with long hair but she still looked amazing and graceful. Mila Kunis (who arrived with out Ashton Kutcher who was on the press list) arrived right after Michelle looking absolutely stunning. She was very accommodating to the photographers even coming back after already walking once already. The last of the main stars to arrive was Rachel Weisz who just had a Hollywood old school classic look that night. After walking the carpet she shared some personal time with Mila. The films director Sam Rami was the final arrival as he quickly made it down the press line. This ended up being a really good premiere, my only regret was I had to wait a few weeks to see the film.
Oz The Great And Powerful – Film
When I saw this film this past weekend I must admit I was expecting it to be good. I was glad they chose the actors they did for the film, but I was wonder how the story would be. I myself have ties to “The Wizard of Oz”. I was in the play “The Wiz” at Sara Lawrence College when I was a child. So that magical story always was close to my heart. The film opened in black and white and introduced us to Mr. Franco,as a traveling circus con man magician who slept around. The character James plays does not have to many redeeming qualities. I found James really believable. The film does an amazing job of showing us how the story of Oz was a set up to the “Wizard Of Oz”. All the women’s performances were a amazing. I found Mila’s character was the most challenging. Playing two very different women in the same film. Michelle shinned and I loved Rachel’s performance. Sam Rami did a phenomenal job of directing. This film really must be experienced on the big screen. I believe this was the best prequel I’ve seen. For tickets and showtimes go here: http://tinyurl.com/bx7cltb
Kristi Yamaguchi “Dream Big Little Pig” Book Reading or students of Fred T. Korematsu Discovery Academy in Oakland
The next two events are types of jobs I usually wouldn’t do. Especially at 9:30 in the morning. However this shoot was for a good cause to promote children reading at a young age. In an age where book stores are going out of business while video game sales and stores are rising, it’s important now more than ever that kids expand their minds by reading. The Bay Area’s own Skating Olympic Medallist and Children’s Author, Kristi Yamaguchi, sponsored an event with Disney On Ice. 70 students from Oakland’s Fred T. Korematsu Discovery Academy got to hear Kristi read her book “Dream Big Little Pig” and get a free book and tickets to Disney On Ice: Dare To Dream show in Oakland.
The event stated at a community center where the children were at tables doing arts & crafts making masks, while Kristi watched and helped out. The schools staff were excited to get photos with the staking star. After the arts and crafts the kids got into a line and marched into a gym while waving to the press who were there to cover the event. One of my favorite things about this event, was being able to cover it with two individuals who I have been contributing photography to their magazine and website. Some of you know Denise Berry, from http://livingdeelife.com/ from my past blogs. She did an amazing interview with Kristi Yamaguchi that you can see here: http://livingdeelife.com/kristi-yamaguchi-interview-fashion/
Back in the fall at the Mill Valley Film Festival I met Cindy Maram, who runs her own online/print magazine, Dig In Magazine: www.DigInMag.com. Shortly after that I began to work as a contributing photographer for some of the celebrity events I covered. Check out here footage here: http://www.diginmag.com/2013/02/27/olympic-gold-medalist-kristi-yamaguchi-gives-back-dare-to-dream/
The book reading was sponsored by Kristi Yamaguchi’s charity “Always Dream Foundation” http://www.alwaysdream.org/, which promotes children reading at an early age. After hearing Kristi read her book “Dream Big Little Pig”, the students received another surprise visit. Princess Tiana, arrived to the excitement of the children. The Disney On Ice star took pictures with the children and were told they also would be receiving free tickets to Disney On Ice: Dare To Dream show in Oakland.
Disney On Ice: Dare To Dream – Oracle Arena
I ended up by attending the ice show too. My only other experience attending an ice show was about 30 years ago in Madison Square Garden with my younger sister. As I get out of my car and walked to the arena I saw kids dressed up in Disney character costumes. The majority of the kids were girls dressed as princess. I found the media check and had an escort to take me to the photo area. Only problem there was no photo area. I saw I had a great seat but when I suggested I shoot there the escort though it was too low. I only was aloud to photograph the show for the first 15 minutes. I finally ended up in an allele on the side about 35 rows up. People kept on getting in my way and I knew at this point the pictures would not be good enough to submit to my agency. I decided to stay and watch the show so I could blog on it.
The show was to my surprise really enjoyable and would be a great event for families to share together. The Ice show was broken into two acts. The skaters were dressed up as Disney characters. The show opened and ended with Mickey, Donald and friends. The shows main focus and storyline empathizes on Disney Princess. Tiana (from “The Princess and the Frog”), Cinderella, and Rapunzel (from “Tangled”) The staking was spectacular. The most impressive Cirque de Soleil like stunts included aerial acrobatics in the “Tangled” portion were breathtaking and stole the show.
Obviously the show was targeting girls but I did see many brothers faces light up too. I highly recommend this as a great family event for families to experience together. The show is currently at in Detroit The Palace of Auburn Hills till the 17th. To find out if the show is coming to your town or to buy tickets go to: www.DisneyOnIce.com