Tuesday, July 23, 2002  [!]

In which we Learn how Big Entertainment Industry works Los Angeles Magazine's cover story, Lawyers, Tiggers & Bears, Oh My! describes the lawsuit between the woman who licensed the merchandising rights to Winnie-the-Pooh to Disney...and Disney. Brilliantly written by Amy Wallace. (earlier this year, I blogged reports of Disney shredding documents. Alas, two of the three links are no more. This one shoulda been among them, and it still works. )

It seems to Pooh that the shouting hasn't stopped since. Depending on who is shouting, and sometimes Pooh has trouble keeping track, he and his friends generate anywhere from $1 billion to $6 billion a year in revenue for Disney. That even rivals what Mickey Mouse makes and represents perhaps as much as a quarter of Disney's $25 billion annual operating revenue. Which helps explain why Disney executives get so bothered when Fields claims that if he proves his case, the Pooh Lady can terminate Disney's Pooh license. If Fields is correct, the Pooh Lady could grant some other Multimedia Conglomerate the right to sell Pooh T-shirts, sheets, toys, stuffed animals (known as plush), and thousands of other Things. Pondering that makes Disney executives Very Sulky indeed. [emphasis mine]
Me? I never liked what Disney did with Pooh and his friends.

More Pooh Papers: Jon Shea, correspondent for The American Reporter, wrote a story about the June ruling in the ongoing case referenced above.

In a tentative ruling handed down late today, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Ernest M. Hiroshige fired a controversial forensic accounting firm, threw out most of a court-appointed auditor's findings and awarded the owners of commercial rights to children's favorite Winnie The Pooh a 12.5 percent error rate in their Walt Disney Co. royalty payments that may yield as much as $200 million for them, the plaintiffs say.

But the plaintiff, Patricia Slesinger (the daugher of the Pooh Lady), didn't like the wording of one of her quotes in the above story, and fired her maid, the wife of reporter Jon Shea. Until this time, the Sheas have been friends of the Slesingers, and they were married in their home.

An heiress to the multimillion-dollar fortune generated by royalties from Winnie The Pooh has fired her family's longtime maid because the maid's husband, American Reporter Correspondent Joe Shea, refused to change a particular word in a quote, the well-known journalist revealed today.

This is enough for a novella! Talk about conflicting loyalties: Who are you more loyal to? Your friends or the lawyers prosecuting your royalty agreement case against a prominent member of the Dow 30? Journalistic integrity, to write the quote as stated, or to alter something for the reported source, a friend?

Other interesting things found in the search for more on this story:

All of the Disney vs. Pooh Lady stories from the American Reporter

One of the Pooh licensing deals: Winnie the Pooh Roo Juice (through Coca Cola), as found on the Atlanta Journal-Consitution's Coke Insider page.

Coke's Disney-branded drinks planned for U.K.

Coca-Cola is expected to sell fruit drinks in the United Kingdom using Disney's Winnie the Pooh brand. Coke, through a partnership with Disney, already sells Pooh-connected drinks in the U.S., Mexico and elsewhere. According to the Independent newspaper in London, Coke is expected to offer "Winnie the Pooh Roo Juice" in the U.K. The drinks are targeted at children.

Why do I care? I'm wondering to myself why I care about this, why I'm "wasting" time to find these stories and post them here. Disney's part in lobbying for legislation protecting corporate rights to make money for content, and the amazing coincidence of how the corporation's copyright on Mickey Mouse is just about to expire at the times that Congress manages to extend the time period for copyright for corporations.

Fight Club's perspectives on the emptiness of being a corporate drone or someone who values one's life based on the particular accumulation of corporate-branded objects one possesses.

People who stiff other people in the name of doing business. Earlier phone conversation today with a friend: A Friend went into business with Someone. Friend made Someone's business larger. Someone is now richer. Someone stiffed Friend, claiming reduced income, dot-com squeeze, while meanwhile raking in dough. Where does this leave my Friend? And why is it that my Friend has seen

Those are things at the back, middle and forefront of my mind as I explored this story. Now the theme I find most interesting is the conflict between friendship and doing your job well.

What does it mean to be a friend? Not to have a friend, but to be a friend.

Have you read Dorothy Sayer's Gaudy Night in the Lord Peter Wimsey series? Amid the crime that is being solved winds overlapping stories about Doing the Job (whether it be scholarly research, criminal investigation) and answering the job's demands before one's own personal concerns.