You can read the original article here. (It's actually a two-part report, so you can get the follow-up linked at the end.)
It's all so bizarre, on so many levels. First of all, it's a really good article, wonderfully researched and...although it has criticisms, it's fair and even-handed, as I said (or so it at least seems to me). But more to the point, it's just incredibly odd to not only bar a paper's critics, but...all critics from the freaking Los Angeles Times??!! The leading paper in the second-biggest city in the U.S., and the movie capital of the world?? AND the article doesn't even have anything to do with the movie production side of the company, but is basically at heart a real estate issue with the theme park. Seriously, Disney doesn't want the Los Angeles freaking Times to review their movies??? (And not just because the review would be read by people living in the second biggest city in the United States, a city where movies are the life-blood -- but also, a good review from the L.A. Times, the respected "paper of record" in the movie capital of the world, can be used in TV ads all over the country.) And...Disney hasn't figured out that the paper can do something Really Clever like buy a ticket on opening day and just have the review published the next day?!!!
It's hard to see much upside to this. I can imagine a scenario where a studio would want to ban a paper's critics from early screenings. Some rare and seriously egregious act that perhaps broke with some agreement and crossed a line of impropriety somewhere, whether real or perceived. But THIS? And for this paper?? Someone at Disney is really asleep at the wheel. The only way this end well for them is if they agree to bring the Main Street Electrical Parade back permanently as penance...
But then, this is Disney. The studio known as "Mousewitz."
Many years back, during my dark days of when I did P.R., I got a call for an interview at Disney about the unit publicity job for the movie, Sister Act 2. The interview went well, and then they asked what my weekly rate was. I told them -- it was a little more than the basic minimum in the Publicist Guild contract, but definitely less than some long-time top publicists. They said that they only pay a certain figure that was just $100 a week more. Good, I thought, we were on the same page, so they'll meet my fee. But -- no, they wouldn't come up that paltry $100 a week, which clearly meant a whole lot more to me than it did Disney. And they were adamant about it. Disney would not come up $100. Final word. (I did not get the job. But I don't believe it was for that reason, since my recollection is that I agreed to take the $100 less. God love 'em...)
But even more than that, I'm reminded of a story when there was a WGA town hall meeting during a contract negotiation. The studios had made a "last and final offer" that wasn't considered especially good, though it was a "last and final" one. And therein was the debate.
The meeting was held at the Writers Guild Theater, and at one point, someone on the panel sitting on the stage said that since this was a "last and final offer," the members had to take it very seriously. An opposing debater on the paper responded by saying, "Look, we've all been through contract negotiations. When was the last time a studio came back to you with a next offer that was worse than the previous one?"
It seemed on the surface like a good point. But then, from the back of the theater, a voice called out, "Disney!!"
Since it was in the back, and the fellow's voice wasn't loud, not everyone initially heard him. So, people a few rows in front of him heard the laughs and turned to ask those behind what he had said. When told, they in turn laughed -- and those a few rows in from heard the laughter and then they turned to ask what it was about. And so, they then laughed and...on and on it went, almost like a wave, the laughter rolling down from the back of the theater towards the front.
All the while, the poor guy on the stage and no idea why the theater was laughing at what he had said. He hadn't been making a joke, after all. Finally, as the laughter hit the first row of the theater, he -- and indeed all the the people on the panel -- leaned over to ask someone in the front what on earth the laughter was about. You could see a big smile break out across his face, and he sat back up and turned to the microphone.
"Okay," he said, "I'll grant you that one exception." And the room exploded in roars.
Is that a studio with a reputation or what?