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Alan Dean Foster vs. Disney

Alan Dean Foster

Alan Dean Foster in fight with Disney to get them to pay royalties owed, and the general collapsing of the Mouse House's reputation

It is probably hard for any adult under the age of say, fifty, who has kept tabs on the activities of the Disney Company, to not be aware of the incredible slide of the company in reputation. At one time Disney stood out as an entertainment entity with a very shiny reputation and considered by most of us who paid attention to such things as in a special category all its own.

Even if its kid-fare product wasn't what we wanted because we outgrew it, those of us in the creative world had positive feelings for the talent of its animators and artists and for how the company was able to keep a stable of popular characters going, decade after decade.

The scope of the company was special, too. At one time Disney was defined as a couple of theme parks and a film studio, trusted by parents who bought the Disney-branded kid books, comic books, watched the TV shows and treated the name of "Walt Disney" as a genuine seal of quality. If you've ever looked at Hollywood history and how, for example, M-G-M was considered the "gold-standard" film studio for prestige movie-making, that is what Disney was for kids entertainment. Like M-G-M, Disney was the company other companies tried to compete with because the Disney standard was higher and because the back catalog of feature-length and short films was deep with money-making quality, and the Disney company was admired for its success at being accepted by the core target audience, i.e., kids themselves, with minimal complaint. An important aspect of a kid's world was fending off kid-products that were boring or too sanctimonious about inflicting the kid with the adult worlds phobias. No child entertainment is completely free of that, but Disney hit an equilibrium that competitors like Warners' Looney Tunes only halfheartedly reached for (because it was part of their charter somehow to insert adult-based jokes and allusions to things kids not only didn't know much about, but could care less about).

But then Disney changed. No longer run by the Disney family (especially Walt himself), it struggled with itself and then became an enormous corporation shielded by its past reputation and engaged in expansion at all costs. This meant buying up other successful corporations, and then altering them – Pixar became imitation Disney; Star Wars became imitation Star Wars; and Marvel Comics, larded with success from mining the basic plot lines of the Stan Lee-Kirby era, is now in the transition state where a Sony product licensed from Marvel (Venom) is more Marvel-like than the official Marvel stuff itself. Disney still enjoys success, and still has a powerful presence as a giant of kids entertainment, but the complaints are mounting and the icky feeling for what has been lost may be a contagion that if it ever reaches the core audience, young kids themselves, will end generation-to-generation loyalty.

At its worst, Disney is become a cartoon stereotype Wall Street villain from a 1980s movie, with slicked-back hair, a sharply-creased business suit, a smile like a shark, followed by a staff of attorneys with hungry eyes and barely-legal schemes. The shift of the company image from the (disappearing into the past) happy little mouse with the white gloves into today's wererat isn't complete, but it is progressing like a predictable plotline in a movie.

Which brings us to this public milestone:

Alan Dean Foster

This news story has gone out (November 2020) across the internet bringing attention to Foster's effort to get Disney to pay on the contract they bought when they took over George Lucas' Star Wars property years ago. Apparently they've been stiffing him on money owed ever since they closed the deal with Lucas, and now they're using a weasel defense to describe how they're trying to work with Foster while he is claiming in return that they refuse to respond to him unless he first signs an NDA which would forbid him from talking in public about his plight.

What makes the situation even darker than just Disney not honoring their contracts is that both Foster and his wife are claiming serious medical issues and thus they obviously need the money that is owed to them in order to care for themselves.

Is this the 21st century Disney Co., that people will support long term?

Some internet news on this:

"#DisneyMustPay Alan Dean Foster – A message from SFWA’s President, Mary Robinette Kowal - Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America

‘Star Wars’ author says Disney is stiffing him on royalties - New York Post

Iconic Star Wars Book Author Claims Disney Owes Him 4 Years of Overdue Royalties - Movie Web

'Star Wars' Novelist Alan Dean Foster Demands Royalties From Disney - MSN News

Disney Attempts to Withhold Royalty Payments from Veteran Star Wars Author Alan Dean Foster As SFWA Sparks Hashtag #DisneyMustPay - Bounding Into Comics

November 18, 2020

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Original Page November 30, 2020 | Updated Feb 2021