BetteBack July 30,1985: Disney Expands ~ Signs On Bette Midler

Mister D: Check out who was to star in Ruthless People…lol

THE Capital Times
Los Angeles Times News Service
Tuesday, July 30,1985


BURBANK, Calif. – In recent years, the magic of the Disney name was slipping away.

It became the studio of last resort for movie makers – a dream factory running on empty that churned out annual re-issues of classic animated films and the occasional syrupy feature that was too childish for adults and not sophisticated enough for kids. Theme-park revenues flattened. The cornerstone of the institution – movie making that captured the hearts of Americans of all ages – seemed lost in the shuffle.

Disney now looks like a studio in flux overdrive. Cash-rich from record profits in other divisions (plus a limited partnership deal with Silver Screen Partners that pumps $200 million into the production pot), the brand-new team of creative executives is transforming Disney from a boutique operation turning out four or five movies a year to a full-service studio that will turn out 12 to 15 movies annually and plunge full force into the competitive TV game.

The new Team Disney is led by Michael Eisner, Disney’s chairman of the board who arrived 11 months ago; Vice Chairman Frank Wells, a former chief of Warner Bros.; Jeffrey Katzenberg, chairman of Disney’s motion picture and TV division; and TV developer Richard Frank.

Eisner, Katzenberg and Frank were key players on the powerhouse Paramount Pictures team that launched movie-TV hits such as “Beverly Hills Cop,” “An Officer and a IGentleman,” “Entertainment Tonight” and “Solid Gold.”

Team Disney is buying up people arid projects at a dizzying pace. They have signed up everyone from Bette Midler to a first-time screenwriter who, until recently, mixed margaritas for a living. Also successfully recruited were “Desperately Seeking Susan” producer Lauren Shuler; the “Airplane!” writing-directing producing team of the Zucker brothers and Jim Abrahams; “Beverly Hills Cop” writer Dan Petrie Jr.; and “Moscow on the Hudson” writer-director
Paul Mazursky.

Disney has put some 75 movie projects into the development pipeline, made a deal with ABC to revive the Sunday evening Disney anthology series (now called “The Disney Sunday Movie“) next season, sold two Saturday morning cartoon shows and announced plans to construct a $300 million full-service studio and movie theme park next to
Disney World in Florida.

Here are some of the high-priority movies coming from Disney in the next two years:

”¢ “Down and Out in Beverly Hills”: Directed by Paul Mazursky, the movie portrays a wealthy couple (Bette Midler and Richard Dreyfuss) who take in a drifter (Nick Nolte), who then wreaks havoc on their once-comfortable lives.
”¢ “Captain Eo”: Currently shooting, this 12-minute 3-D short produced by George Lucas, directed by Francis Coppola and starring Michael Jackson will become a permanent attraction at Disneyland and Disney World.
”¢ “My Science Project”: One of a crop of science-tinged youth comedies, it is about a high school senior who must complete a science project for an ex-hippie teacher (Dennis Hopper) or he won’t graduate.
”¢ “Splash 2”: Although the deal isn’t set, Disney is developing a script that would reunite everyone’s favorite mermaid (Daryl Hannah) and the very hot Tom Hanks.
”¢ “Tough Guys”: This comedy employs Kirk Douglas and Burt Lancaster as two bank robbers just released from prison who are having a tough time catching up with a much-changed world. Due out next spring.
”¢ “Ruthless People”: Disney is feverishly trying to hire Madonna to play a lead in this very black comedy written by newcomer Dale Launer about a man who refuses to pay the ransom on his kidnaped wife, ‘

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