Disney archivist Justin Arthur and D23's Billy Staneck talk about D23's Fanniversary 2013

D23, the official fan club of the Walt Disney Company, stopped in Newark on Saturday for Fanniversary 2013. The Fanniversary is a presentation touring ten cities in the US celebrating the milestones of all things Disney that will occur in 2013. This year’s show highlights included rarely seen concept art from unproduced short “Mickey’s Toothache” as well as bringing along a pumpkin used in the production of Tim Burton classic The Nightmare Before Christmas (which is turning twenty this year.)

As well as discussing the anniversaries reached of major properties such as Peter Pan turning sixty, the show shined a light on some more obscure Disney features and attractions. For example, the D23 audience was shown concept art from Norway attraction, Maelstrom, which is turning thirty this year having opened in Orlando’s Epcot theme park in 1983. Given the scope of the company, it was up to a small team of Disney archivists to narrow down what makes it into this ninety minute show.

Enthusiastic hosts Justin Arthur, a Disney archivist, and Billy Staneck, web editor for D23.com and writer for the

D23 Magazine talked with MediaMikes after the presentation about what goes into making the show as well as the work of the Disney archives.

BILLY STANECK: “I love the Fanniversaries because we get to celebrate all these great shows and attractions that we don’t normally get to really talk about, you know? And that also gives us the opportunity to go into the archives and open up boxes that were stowed away back in the 1970s or 1980s or even you know, just a couple years ago. We’ll open them up and start going through them and looking for things that we think our fans might like. And so that’s where we come up with these old clips and concept art…Like the concept art for Mickey’s Toothache that you today.”

MediaMikes: Was there anything that had to get cut out of today’s show?
STANECK: “We had so much content for this presentation that we had to cut and cut and cut because there’s only so much we can do– we do about a ninety minute presentation, because it is a touring show that you know, we can’t do eight hours in each city. We have enough content to do that but we had to end up cutting quite a bit. We actually had some Pirates [of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl, celebrating it’s tenth anniversary in 2013] stuff in there.”

MM: Was there anything that you thought must be kept in the show?
JUSTIN ARTHUR: “One thing we didn’t have in the original show was Maelstrom, the Norway attraction, and I think it is the most bizarre, wonderful ride. I originally said ‘We need to have everybody quote it!’ but the people on the west coast may not know it…That was one I was very adamant about. I know Billy and I were both very adamant both Roger Rabbit [turning twenty-five in 2013] and Nightmare Before Christmas having plenty of stuff to show people. Because those were two of our very very near and dear favorites. And sometimes too it depends on what we have that’s cool to show. Something might be a great movie or attraction and we may not have a great clip or a really great artwork to accompany it. So it kind of depends on what we have and what we want to get out there and show.”

MM: Besides D23 presentations, what is a day-to-day task of the Disney Archives?
STANECK: “Whatever movie they’re working on at the studio, the archives is there to help them make sure that information is accurate. Like Saving Mr Banks that they’re doing with Tom Hanks as Walt Disney that’s coming out for Christmas, they all came into the archives to do research with an archivist. So stuff like that. Disney Epic Mickey [for Nintendo Wii] they went into the archives, they did a lot of research…We also have a massive photo library where people are constantly requesting images from.”

MM: With Disney’s acquisition of Star Wars & Marvel does the archive suddenly get annexed?
ARTHUR: “It kind of depends. The films as they come along, we do take in more of those things, they are our films at this point. As far as the research side of it, the book side of it…we collect everything, it just adds on to all of things that we’re looking out for…I’m a huge geek of all those things, so for that I’m very thankful!”

MM: Important fan question, what is your favorite Disney ride or attraction?
STANECK: “I love Roger Rabbit’s cartoon spin at Disneyland, it’s one of my favorite attractions, it’s unique to Disneyland and it’s just such a cool, fun ride. I love that movie.”
ARTHUR: “Oh that’s a tough one, there’s so many! Um…I love the Indiana Jones Adventure.”

MM: Another Disneyland one!
ARTHUR: “I grew up on the east coast so let me pick a Florida one too! I love Expedition Everest. I think it’s one of the coolest rides ever. It’s terrifying, it’s beautiful, it’s just kind of the perfect attraction.”

D23’s Fanniversary has two stops remaining in its tour: Seattle on Friday April 5th and San Francisco on Sunday April 7th. For more information check out D23’s official website.

President of Edgar Rice Burroughs Inc, James J. Sullos Jr. & Archivist Cathy Wilbanks talk about the film “John Carter”

James J. Sullos Jr. is the President of Edgar Rice Burroughs, Inc. and Cathy Wilbanks is the Archivist of Edgar Rice Burroughs, Inc. They took out some time to chat with Media Mikes to discuss Edgar Rice Burroughs’ classic novel “A Princess of Mars” – the first novel in Burroughs’ Barsoom series and Disney’s film “John Carter”. Both James & Cathy also helped create the bonus feature on the “John Carter” Blu-ray called “100 Years In The Making.”

Mike Gencarelli: What`s the best part of working on Mr. Burroughs’s Legacy?
Jim Sullos: Mr. Burroughs wrote over 70 novels and 40 short stories. There is no end to the literary content that he created. I continually read material that has not been published for quite a few years and yet the storyline are still exciting. That why his legacy is never ending.
Cathy Wilbanks: I really enjoy working with the archives because every day is an opportunity to find treasures. The archives are filled with amazing artifacts from the past and I have the pleasure of discovering each and every one.

MG: What do you think Burroughs would have thought of this adaptation of “John Carter”?
JS: Burroughs would have been pleased that the movie accurately portrayed much of what was in his first novel “A Princess of Mars”. And he would have been amazed that current technology could finally do justice to his vivid imagination which was not possible until CGI was developed.

MG: What scene did you most enjoy in “John Carter”?
JS: It is very difficult to select just one scene that I most enjoyed because the whole movie was an incredible joy to see. Andrew Stanton was a genius in bringing visualization to the entire storyline that had never been seen before. As I watched the movie I could feel the passion he devoted to each segment of the film. Picking one scene would not be fair to so many successful portrayals of this timeless story.
CW: My favorite scene in the movie would have to be when John Carter saves Dejah during the marriage ceremony. My favorite character would have to be John Carter, but Woola is a close second!

MG: This big adaption of “John Carter” was 100 Years In The Making, what was the biggest challenge to get it right?
CW: The biggest challenge was finding an actor to portray Edgar Rice Burroughs. We were able to talk John Burroughs, ERB’s grandson, into taking on the part. When I saw the film for the first time, I was amazed to watch John interact in the background because he resembles ERB so much. It was like ERB was back with us again.

MG: How do you feel that the film “John Carter” interpreted the novel “A Princess of Mars?
JS: I think Andrew Stanton, the fabulous Director, who read all of the 11 Mars books as a youngster gave Dejah Thoris an added dimension as both a scientist and an accomplished fighter, greatly expanding her role with positive effects.

MG: What do you think makes the book “A Princess of Mars” so unique?
JS: At the time this book was written in 1911-1912, the scientific knowledge of planet Mars was limited and scientists had to guess as to the makeup of the surface of the planet. Mr. Burroughs novel gave a vivid description in detail of Mars that persisted for decades as the imaginary life that might exist on any planet in the universe.

MG: What were Burroughs’ sentiments toward filming his works in general?
CW: Edgar Rice Burroughs moved from Chicago to the San Fernando Valley in 1919 so he could be closer to the Hollywood scene. He was very excited and realized that he wanted to move in that direction. However, once filming started, he realized that he had to give up some of the control of how his characters were portrayed. Burroughs was mostly frustrated with the portrayal of Tarzan. He wanted his TARZAN to be portrayed as an intelligent, insightful heroand did not like the line “Me Tarzan, You Jane.”

MG: Can you give us some examples of the artifacts you worked with in the treasure trove of ERB material?
CW: The archives at Edgar Rice Burroughs, Inc. are filled with historical treasures. I have had the pleasure of holding in my hands many first edition books, a huge variety of comic books, toys, merchandise from around the world, movie props like a pterodactyl, and of course, original art. But some of the most meaningful artifacts include the handwritten TARZAN Of THE APES manuscript as well as the A PRINCESS OF MARS manuscript and personal letters signed by Edgar Rice Burroughs himself.

MG: Despite being a hundred years old, the characters of ‘John Carter’ and the Barsoom series are still relevant and don’t feel the least bit dated. Why do you think that is?
CW: Edgar Rice Burroughs wrote the story focusing on human conditions such as love and conflict. He understood that to have a successful story, he must include factors that would have a wide appeal. The ‘John Carter’ character was developed with characteristics like humor, intelligence, emotion and strength. John Carter (Taylor Kitch) is very ‘relate-able’ which makes the story current in today’s world.

MG: We wouldn’t have Star Wars if it wasn’t for Princess of Mars, do you think pop culture gives Burroughs the credit he deserves for being such an influence?
CW: No, I don’t believe pop culture gives Edgar Rice Burroughs enough credit. He was a gifted, prolific writer and unfortunately has not been recognized for his contributions.

MG: Do you think there should be a sequel to John Carter movie? If you had to choose another adaption of Burroughs to be made into a feature, which would it be?
JS: I definitely think a sequel should follow. First, I would hope that the planned sequels will be produced because they will show the path that John Carter took to become the “Warlord of Mars”. There are 11 ‘Mars’ books that can be drawn on to create several more exciting movies. But in addition Mr. Burroughs wrote many other science fiction novels and particularly intriguing is the Venus series which portrays the hero Carson Napier who planned to fly his spaceship to Mars but miscalibrated and ended up on Venus to discover an unknown world.

MG: Will there other movies on the books of Edgar Rice Burroughs?
JS: At the present time Warner Bros. has in development a Tarzan live-action. And Constantin films will release its first Tarzan 3D animated film in 2013. We are currently in discussion with several producers who are looking at other Burroughs novels for potential new films.