View Full Version : At Disney, just who are CM's?

Peter Pirate
04-06-2003, 10:57 AM
Thanks to those of you welcoming me back. I probably won't be as active as before as my situation is different, but I hope my view (different as it may be) is still welcome.

Anyway, I've been mulling a topic that begs to be discussed but I have a few obsticles, the first of which is this question:
For those of you who may know, who does Disney denote as CM's (& which subsidiaries gladly accept this monniker?...Or better yet are there some that disdain it?). We know Resort, Store & Theme Park employees are. I believe the studios as well...But what about the other entities? Are Miramax employees considered CM's? How about ABC? Or maybe the Disney Channel...Are Hilary Duff (Lizzie McGuire) or Christy Romano (Ren Stevens & Kim Possible) considered CM's?

If anyone knows, please pass along the answers...

04-06-2003, 01:15 PM
You're right about the parks, stores, resorts being CM's, as well as Disney Channel employees. ABC, Miramax, and all the other subsidiaries are not. As a general rule, any part of Disney that is actually called Disney employs "cast members."

Peter Pirate
04-06-2003, 02:02 PM
Does this make the "talent" at Disney Channel (as I mentioned Hilary Duff, etc.) CM's as well? Further, is the performing talent at WDW & DL considered to be CM's as well? Are they treated the same and as accepting of the Disney philosophy as to what being a CM is or are they regading themselves as talent and accepting the CM role 'just because'?

Another Voice
04-06-2003, 02:12 PM
The term "cast member" is used only for those employees working in division with direct access to the paying public: theme parks/resorts, The Disney Store and the cruise line. The concept started at Disneyland way back to reinforce the concept that the park was a stage presentation (so you get onstage, backstage, etc.). Everyone behind the scenes is simply an employee.

In theory the name tags and "first name basis" are supposed to be company wide, but adherence is very sporadic. Generally, the more "Disney" an area is, and the less the influence of outside management, the more the rules are followed. WDI is by far the most "Disney" division outside of the parks. But Live Action Films, filled with people who move around all the Hollywood studios, is the least. The only people you'll find wearing a name tag (and only on occasion) are the orcs from Human Resources/Disney University. In fact "Disney" in terms of the characters and Walt and all the rest is considered rather tacky.

Of course "Disney attitude" varies with the individual, but most of the rest of Disney is composed of professionals. Loyalty to The Company is about what you'd find at any company. There will be some that live and breathe it; some are there only for a paycheck. Working in Accounts Payable is still just paying bills even if the checks do have Mickey Mouse on them.

In terms of the company pecking order, Parks & Resorts are right at the bottom. In Burbank they are generally considered to be staffed with nothing but unskilled, minimum wage, teenage labor. The parks themselves are filled with throngs of low class tourists the story that goes around the Studio after the failure of California Adventure is that Eisner blames the disaster on the "Wal Mart shoppers" who make up the majority of the paying public. Hollywood in general has an amazingly low opinion of the public, since Disney has become a more mainstream Hollywood studio this attitude has greatly infused the company as well.

Actors working on productions at The Disney Channel probably consider themselves simply to be actors working on a production that happens to be financed by Disney. There is little, if any, conncetion to "Disney philosophy". I doubt that Eddie Murphy feels anything "Disney" even though he's filming 'Haunted Mansion'. Entertainment at the parks are probably much, much closer to Disney simply because they are employees at the park. Some are no doubt happy to be a "cast member", but most are probably just really, really, really happy to be paid for singing.

P.S. And welcome back too, Mr. Pirate.

Peter Pirate
04-06-2003, 04:45 PM
Thank you Voice for the 'welcome' and the very specific response. I was hoping you'd be reading...

Another Voice
04-06-2003, 05:58 PM
Your welcome, sir.

What exactly is the topic you've been mulling?

04-06-2003, 06:49 PM
What exactly is the topic you've been mulling?
Looks like we'll have to wait untill the good Pirate has it properly formed. I can't wait until that time comes........................I'm sure it will be good (I like how the guy thinks, and he always asks good questions ;)).

Bob O
04-06-2003, 10:21 PM
Welcome back Pirate!!!!!

Peter Pirate
04-06-2003, 10:39 PM
Thanks Mr. Kidds & Bob.

AV, how do you see Disney Channel stars in their CM realm? I mentioned Lizzie McGuire (Hilary Duff). She is VERY BIG with the kids right now. Is she an actor/singer (ala Britney & Christina & their MM Club gigs) or a Disney backing CM at heart? Also, how much of these kids careers do they (Disney) own?

Also, if you would please expound on your knowledge of Walt in relation to the CM's. Was there geniune respect for the quality issue at DL or was he, by this time, the business oreinted, self indulgent Walt? In this realm I'll bring up the mustache issue in which he himself would never shave his but forbad his employees to wear them...

04-07-2003, 07:15 AM
or was he, by this time, the business oreinted, self indulgent Walt?

Interesting - thank you.

In terms of the company pecking order, Parks & Resorts are right at the bottom.

AV thank you for this as well. Do you know how well this division is run and whether the theme park R&D is incorporated within your pecking order here?

Another Voice
04-07-2003, 10:55 PM
I do not know anything about Ms. Duff's personal situation. But in general I would think that any actor on any show sees it as a job. Movies and television both work on a "freelance" basis; there is no obligation or tie except what's specified in a contract. It's true for everyone from stars, producers, directors all the way down to the guy who drives the catering truck to the set. Working at the park as a "cast member" is a regular job. In show business you're lucky just to get a job and its length is usually measured in weeks.

Britney, Justin and many of the current pop stars all got their start on the Mouse Club when it was on The Disney Channel. I've even heard that the members of one of the boy bands go their start in the Ninja Turtle show at Disney/MGM. They were there as a job, Disney doesn't own any piece of their career afterwards, and I'm sure they feel they don't owe Disney anything either.

At Disneyland there is a club for employees who have been working at the park since it opened in 1955. All of its members are retired now, of course, but back when I was there plenty of people were still in the park. All of them had stories to tell, many of them about Walt. To a person they all respected and admired him. Naturally this was a self-selected group; you're not going to stay working at an amusement park for decades unless you really want to.

It also was very clear that the show was everything. Walt had very specific ideas about what he wanted to present and he made sure those ideas were communicated down to the cast (and enforced). It was always the "old timers" who complained the loudest about any bad show and this was before Eisner took over. Initial Disney orientation in those days was two or three days. The entire first day was spent in a classroom learning the basics of show, standards and history.

The mustache was part of the show. Walt set-up everything at Disneyland as a performance, and set-up had a purpose. Back in 1955 amusement parks had a very horrible reputation; Walt wanted his show to be different. So he cast the park differently. Instead of the carnies found at state fairs of ill repute, he cast his show with the sparkling, youth, clean-cut All American glean of mid-50's purity. That meant no mustaches, short hair and limited make-up and jewelry. It wasn't because Walt was on some sort of crusade to ban facial hair; he just wanted his show to project a certain image.

Different shows placed different needs on their casts: there was never any "no mustache" rule for corporate or film employees. Someone once told me they thought that Walt himself felt trapped by his own mustache. He didn't really care about them one way or the other. But after the television show he had really become a well know and popular character. Since he was now "Uncle Walt", he had no choice but to continue the image, and the mustache. The Disneyland appearance code was never an issue until the late 1960's when everything "establishment" was being attacked. Walt's mustache and Disneyland's policy was held up as hypocrisy and just another example of how The Man was "keeping us down, man". It wasn't either, but the accusation still gets thrown around today.

Lastly, "business oriented" and "self indulgent" are not two phrase ever associated with Walt Disney. Arguable the two most "business" moves he made was 'Dumbo' and the original Disneyland television show. The first movie was a quick inexpensive film he needed to generate cash at the start of WWII. He was being pressured to make a sequel to 'Snow White' a smarter business move but he insisted that originality and quality would serve the company better in the long run. He was right. The Disneyland TV show can after being pestered for years by the networks. Walt held out for control; neither CBS nor NBC would give him that. He held out until the upstart ABC agreed to his demands; then Walt talked them into footing 1/3 of the bill for Disneyland. And then spent the next year hyping the park. Not a bad business move, and one that certainly vastly better synergy than hosting 100 hours of cheerleader competition from the 'Indiana Jones Stunt Show' stage (which is all the current management seems capable of).

As for self indulgent he sold his vacation home and cashed in his life insurance policy to fund Disneyland (and, buy the way, he also set up WED Enterprises with his own money as well). Once again, Mr. Pirate, why must you insist on these silly little word games that try to give false impressions? It is perfectly possible to enjoy WDW today without having to tear down past accomplishments.

Peter Pirate
04-08-2003, 08:06 AM
Thanks for the wonderful explanation on the Company despite your disagrement on Walt with me. Also, it wasn't my itnent to "tear down" Walt's life or accomplishments only to put them in another perspective.

While you don't see him as 'self indulgent' there have been many, many things written that do charcterize him in this light. The fact that he may have "mortgaged the farm" so to speak could be viewed as him being the creative and totally positive person as you see, but it could also be seen as someone doing whatever it takes to do it his way, on his terms whle beholding to as few people as possible meaning perhaps less resources but much greater control. The end result of both of our views is the same however and I agree with you about that, but you must agree that he was on the brink more than once because of his stubborn dogedness and we were all somewhat fortunate that the end result was as positive as it was (i.e. it certainly could have been worse).

Anyway, thanks again for the discussion and I will try and express my view in a less inflamatory manner (I see that I have been antagonistic).