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That Darn Katzenberg

August 07, 1994

As a reasonably obsessive movie fan, one who collects movie memories (as opposed to memorabilia), I had a bit of a brainstorm upon reading Claudia Eller and Alan Citron's story " Angst at Disney's World" (July 24), and I began to flip through my list of movies I've seen since childhood.

Michael Eisner and Jeffrey Katzenberg's problem is simply megalomania. Every big, stupid live-action film they do at Disney has to be bigger and stupider than the last. When I was a kid, you would have had to drag me kicking and screaming to see "Newsies."

But when was the last time these marketing geniuses (and creative novices) gave us something as sweet and simple as "That Darn Cat"? Or "The Ugly Dachshund"? Or "The Shaggy Dog," "The Absent-Minded Professor," "Mary Poppins," "Bedknobs and Broomsticks," "Freaky Friday," "The Million Dollar Duck," "The Shaggy D.A.," "The Love Bug" or "Song of the South"? We gladly stood in line to see these movies 20 years ago and more.

While it may be true that kids today are smarter and more sophisticated, maybe it's because they have no choice. Their parents are dragging them to "Schindler's List" to show them the harsh realities of the real world, but they never get a chance to escape to Witch Mountain. The solution is not "high concepts." It is a return to the same innocence about which we're all so cynical, the innocence that's currently making adults and children alike fall in love with a flatulent wart hog who doesn't like to worry.

As for Eisner, if my figures are correct, he made as much last year as the average hard-working career man or woman makes in 82 lifetimes. And four weeks ago he had to have four bypasses? My advice is get out now and enjoy what you've got.

SCOTT ARONOWITZ

Bell Canyon

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