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D23 2015: Disney’s Legends Awards

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Filing into the media section at this year’s D23 Expo 2015 is always exciting as the House of Mickey kicks off their annual convention by honoring its employees and collaborators…using epic words like “Legends”. The man who claims to have the “happiest job on Earth”, Disney CEO Bob Iger, is on hand to host the event and announce each recipient. The excitement of The Force Awakens has notably energized attendees for this year’s awards show as George Lucas is set to be headlining this year’s honorees. Yet, as you’re watching the show unfold, it’s distinctively well-prepared and doesn’t have a moment of lag. At other conventions, you’ll have noticeable moments of dead air and ill-prepared moderators. Maybe it’s because the corporate titan is behind this presentation, but it should be noted that Disney does a good job of mixing in performances to keep the show’s momentum going. It’s so good, it would put the Oscars to shame, which ironically is ultimately broadcasted by a Disney company.

Injecting a Disney staple into the mix is always important, but reminds us that other corporations don’t treat this art form with as much priority as Disney does. As awardee Danny Elfman explains in his acceptance speech, music is treated with importance and is very much a part of Disney’s physical makeup. In this musical spirit, the compositions of Richard Sherman are brought to life by Broadway star Ashley Brown from Mary Poppins. Also heard are Phil Collin’s hit from Tarzan “You’ll Be in My Heart”, which was impressively vocalized by Josh Strickland. Dancing with the Stars dancers were also on hand to dance along with the classic waltz from Sleeping Beauty as part of a tribute to Eyvind Earle.

As a writer covering the show, you keep everything in perspective and do your best not to look at these awards through the fanboy looking glass. Yet as name after name is announced and each moving speech is met with applause, the hand-clapping and even tears can’t be contained. It’s a little embarrassing to be a 350-lb. Samoan man and sit their stealthily wiping tears away. It’s reminiscent of those sad Disney moments where your machismo is defied by animation. There’s Mufasa dying in The Lion King or The Toy Story characters as a grown-up Andy is saying goodbye to them in the third installment. It’s remembering those moments and seeing the people behind them that you can’t help but personalize this awards showcase. Artist Andreas Deja was in tears after he quotes a little girl coming up to him, “thank you for drawing my childhood”. I wasn’t told to pack tissue to this show. Then there was that heartfelt tribute to legends who passed away since that featured Frank Gifford and a video of Robin Williams voicing the blue genie from Aladdin. It got a little messy in the back of the press area.

The show also had triumphant fist-pumping moments. As expected, Danny Elfman and George Lucas got standing ovations. Bob Iger then pulls a rabbit out of the Mad Hatter’s hat and announces a surprise. The star of the currently-filming Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man Tell No Tales, Johnny Depp, was this year’s surprise honoree. He gave a humbling speech and credited the fans for allowing him to work. He called the audience “his employers”. At the end of the day, Disney’s Legends Awards did not disappoint. It covered a wide range of legends…not just the celebrities in front of a camera, but the magicians behind the company’s massive well-oiled engine. If there’s one spirit that captures what it’s like to experience this show…it’s a reminder of happy thoughts…the stuff that gave me the Pixie Dust to fly.

Bravo Disney…for reminding us about that second star to the right.

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About Disney Legends Awards Ceremony

Hosted by The Walt Disney Company Chairman and CEO Bob Iger, the event will honor eight individuals who have made creative contributions to Disney. Being honored at this event aare George Bodenheimer, Julie Reihm Casaletto, Andreas Deja, Danny Elfman, Eyvind Earle, George Lucas, Susan Lucci, Carson Van Osten, and Johnny Depp.

 

Source: Walt Disney D23 Expo 2015 Media Guide

Photo Credit: Disney Expo 2015 Official Gallery

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