We had forgotten how easy — and fun — it can be to jerk the chain of a mouse-eared multinational entertainment conglomerate named Disney.
It seems that OffBeat’s missive last week on Disney’s faltering big-ticket venture into “new media” touched a nerve with the head lady at Disney Interactive, Jan Smith. The once highly touted executive can’t seem to fiddle fast enough to keep up with the flames that are licking at the door. She took the time to draft a memo to her senior producers at Disney Interactive blasting our item as, more or less, a pack of lies. (Though one source tells us it was a “Clinton denial. You know, a nondenial denial.”)
Smith was apparently peeved that we printed only two words (categorically and denies) from the 160-word “Response to the L.A. Weekly charges,” drafted by Disney Interactive flack Amy Malsin; and she accused us of concocting the story that employees were deserting Disney Interactive like so many proverbial rats. Or mice.
On the first score we plead guilty. We admit that we spared you from such deadly PR boilerplate as this gem from Malsin’s keyboard: “We continue to be committed 100% to this business, to be excited about its future and to delivering the Disney experience in the interactive medium.” Please.
On the second score, however, it appears that Smith may have to eat Malsin’s words. Only days after assuring OffBeat that everything was hunky-dory at D.I.’s Glendale encampment, Malsin herself joined the quickening exodus and accepted a job in New York with another company.
We wish we could take credit for the kill, but according to our sources, Malsin has been looking to get out of D.I. for some time now. And from where we sit, her timing couldn’t be better: Her departure came just weeks before the critical E3 industry expo in Atlanta, a high-tech gala where the big boys and girls unveil the year’s new products; Malsin has played a key role in coordinating D.I.’s presence at the show in past years.
What does this mean for Disney Interactive? As one source said, “Repeat after me: We’re fucked.”
Polite Pot Police
The largest medical-marijuana dispensary on the planet, the San Francisco Cannabis Cultivators Club, was shut down Monday for a total of 21 1/2 hours, pursuant to a court order obtained by state Attorney General Dan Lungren. But if Lungren was looking for a sensational, head-cracking raid, he had the wrong man in San Francisco Sheriff Michael Hennessey, who arrived early Monday morning with a group of deputies at 1444 Market St. to vacate and padlock the club, founded by Dennis Peron.
“I fought my way through the photographers and camera people and got to Dennis’ desk and asked him and everyone else to leave,” a bemused Hennessey recalled for OffBeat. “Everyone was very cooperative.” The Jerry Garcia Memorial Elevator was broken, so the deputies had to “hump up the stairs. Then we seized about two dozen marijuana plants — they left the sick ones behind — and a few bongs and scales.”
Hennessey says Peron and Co. were still outside when he left. “They sat on the sidewalk and smoked dope and sang and had a little street party. There was no hostility toward the deputy sheriffs who were guarding the doors.”
Like Mayor Willie Brown and District Attorney Terrence Hallinan, Hennessey is at odds with Lungren’s attempts to keep Peron from distributing pot to sick people. “Medicinal marijuana has a very real and important role in patient care. I personally know people whose health has benefited from the use of marijuana to stimulate their appetite when they’ve had AIDS wasting syndrome and things like that. I hate to see our attorney general doing everything he can to thwart the law of California that the voters voted in.”
By 11 a.m. Tuesday morning the club had reopened as the San Francisco Cannabis Healing Center. The new director is Hazel Rodgers, a 79-year-old glaucoma and cancer patient. Peron says he’s devoting his time to his gubernatorial Republican primary challenge to Lungren. As for the attorney general, his spokesperson Matt Ross says, “This is still a drug house and it appears the nuisance has not been abated.”
A Real Hang-Up
You might have noticed that hanging up the phone isn’t what it used to be. Starting about a month ago, your dial tone stopped returning the moment you clicked off the line. Now you’ve got to wait a beat or two before you get that 2,600-cycle tone back. If, like us, you are in the habit of speeding from call to call to call — well, you can imagine the annoyance.
What’s happened is that the marketing wizards at Pacific Telesis have added a new feature to your phone — pay-per-use three-way calling. You never ordered it; you might never use it; but Pac Bell has installed it on your line. Simply dial one number, briefly click on the hang-up or “flash” button, dial your third party, and presto, it’s a ménage à trois.
But should you accidentally engage the three-way by waiting an insufficient period between calls — well, you’ve just bought yourself a three-way. Charge: 75 cents.
Thinking refund? We’ll see. All you’re going to get from Pac Bell is a notice in your next monthly bill instructing you that you’ve got to wait between calls. We guess this is how you stay competitive in a deregulated marketplace.
—Edited by Sam Gideon Anson