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  1. #46

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    Re: Rumor: Is Tony Baxter being shown the door?

    Quote Originally Posted by WDW1974 View Post
    But in addition to the fact Tony and Tom can barely tolerate each other ... they were known as the Dueling Divas of Glendale ... it makes no sense fiscally for them and Bob Weis to all be working on DLR. The resort simply isn't that large and most of all the major projects that have been funded have either started construction or will within the year.
    Exactly. The DL Resort isn't on the same scale as WDW, so why does it need three WDI executives -- two Executive Vice Presidents and one Senior Vice President -- to oversee creative development? That makes no sense at all.

    More to the point, just look at WDW. Eric Jacobson is the WDW portfolio leader for THREE parks, as well as much of the resort. He's the one running lead on the Animation Hotel, as far as I know too. The only park not under his auspices is DAK, where nothing has been happening, and he is instead hanging out in Oahu finishing Disney's new Aulani Resort.
    That's the main argument right there. Two Exec VPs and one Sr VP creatively manage two small parks and three hotels in Anaheim. But two Sr VPs creatively manage two enormous parks and two moderate parks and over a dozen hotels in Orlando? What's wrong with this picture? Why would Disney keep all three execs overseeing such a small resort for the long haul? Given the enormity of WDW which has been managed by only two Sr VPs for the past several years, Anaheim's situation seems like overkill.

    Consider this:

    Weis will be moving over to the Shanghai project soon, leaving Fitzgerald in charge of the DCA expansion and the DLH renovation and supervising Baxter's management of DL.

    If Disney (or Tony) fully intended to keep Baxter at the creative helm of Disneyland for years to come... then why was Tom Fitzgerald moved from Paris to Anaheim to oversee the entire Disneyland Resort, making him Tony's immediate boss? Why does a Senior Vice President with 40 years at Imagineering need to be supervised by someone with less experience?

    It was the relocation of Fitzgerald to Anaheim earlier this year that made me think twice about Baxter's longevity with Imagineering. I just don't see Tony remaining much longer, not with Tom Fitzgerald at the helm. What I do see happening in the near future, however, is Tom Fitzgerald overseeing the entire DL Resort by himself.


    No Bob Weis. No Tony Baxter. Just Tom Fitzgerald.

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  2. #47

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    Re: Rumor: Is Tony Baxter being shown the door?

    I may be a bit out of the know, here, but what has led us to assume that WDI even wants to get rid of Tony? What has he done that's made them despise him so much?

    Maybe the rumors of Tony being disliked by management was just started by someone who has a personal grudge against him or something. Like someone who didn't get to build their "dream project' because Tony's idea was better, or whatever.

    And another thing, maybe Tom has only temporarily been placed as head of the DLR. It seems too small to have a head Imagineer for the whole thing, and the parks are almost completely different, so I think it would be better if each park just had its own Imagineer. Maybe as soon as Bob leaves, Tom will be moved to head of DCA, and his current position is just a place holder so that nobody is fighting over who gets control of DCA.

  3. #48

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    Re: Rumor: Is Tony Baxter being shown the door?

    Quote Originally Posted by BlueSkyDriveBy View Post
    ...why was Tom Fitzgerald moved from Paris to Anaheim to oversee the entire Disneyland Resort, making him Tony's immediate boss?
    Just as a wild guess, for the same reasons that an executive like David Stainton was moved from Disney Animation Paris to Burbank, and ultimately put in charge of Disney Feature Animation.

    And for any fans who think these pecking-order promotions aren't 100% political, hire thyself unto Burbank & Glendale for a decade or so, and see for yourself.

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  4. #49

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    Re: Rumor: Is Tony Baxter being shown the door?

    Quote Originally Posted by RCT3 View Post
    I may be a bit out of the know, here, but what has led us to assume that WDI even wants to get rid of Tony?
    Not WDI per se, but Burbank. The big boys who control the purse strings. They're the ones who've been eliminating the senior employees with decades of work experience.

    What has he done that's made them despise him so much?
    Two things primarily:

    1) Time passed and he acquired too many years.
    2) Time passed and he acquired too many raises.

    Disney, like other large multinational corporations, is turning against their senior employees who make "too much money." If you're over 50 and have many years with the company, you're at risk for losing your job, no matter how good you are at it, no matter how long you've been doing it.

    If you're making a high salary and you're closer to retirement age than a college graduate, you're at risk.

    And another thing, maybe Tom has only temporarily been placed as head of the DLR. It seems too small to have a head Imagineer for the whole thing, and the parks are almost completely different, so I think it would be better if each park just had its own Imagineer.
    Those days are slowly disappearing. Disney doesn't want to spend the money anymore for "one park - one Imagineer" kind of creative management, with a few exceptions: Joe Rohde for DAK, Tony for DL, and Bob Weis for DCA.

    Look at WDW and the Asian parks. Eric Jacobson manages MK, EPCOT, and DHS. Tom Lanzisero manages TDL, TDS, and HKDL. Most of these parks are larger than DL or DCA, yet only one Imagineer manages several at the same time. And until earlier this year, Tom Fitzgerald was managing both parks in Paris.

    As for the exceptions... Joe manages DAK because it's his baby. It's a unique Disney park with special needs, which Joe fully understands and appreciates. Bob Weis was only managing DCA before acquiring the new Shanghai park because he was the senior Imagineer leading the redesign effort for Phase I. After the construction is completed and the dust settles, DCA won't need as much specialized attention for many years. The DL Resort would do fine being managed by only one Imagineer instead of two or three.

    Maybe as soon as Bob leaves, Tom will be moved to head of DCA, and his current position is just a place holder so that nobody is fighting over who gets control of DCA.
    I have no doubt that Tom will be put in charge of DCA when Bob shifts over to Shanghai development full time. But given that he's already overseeing the entire resort and leading the refurbishment project of the DL Hotel, it would quite simple to hand him the reins of DL as well.

    The DL Resort is a small property. One experienced Imagineer could handle it all. I simply don't see more than one creative exec managing all of the DLR in the future, given the austerity focus Disney has for all business units now. Burbank just doesn't want to spend the money.
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  5. #50

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    Re: Rumor: Is Tony Baxter being shown the door?

    Okay, I have no inside information on this particular matter, but I know the corporate world and I know the entertainment industry. I've worked in just about every aspect of showbiz including design, production, post-production, marketing, licensing, exhibition, public relations, you name it. I've worked directly for or consulted for companies such as Lucasfilm, MTV Networks, Sony, Fox, CBS, PBS, Hasbro, Electronic Arts, Activision, and even Disney. I have been a performer in front of the camera and the microphone as well as a VFX artist, animator, and designer. I don't say any of this to brag. I am very fortunate and very, very blessed to be able to do all the things I do and I take none of it for granted. I'm only trying to establish the angle I'm coming from. Not trying to boast.

    Here are my thoughts on the matter...

    I could be dead wrong, but I'd be willing to bet that Fitzgerald goes before Baxter does. Or if Baxter "retires", Fitzgerald won't be too far behind him.

    Why?

    Because I've seen it played out over and over and over again in the industry: people being brought in from some other area or division to "oversee" a "problem" only to be gone a couple of years later. I don't personally know either Baxter or Fitzgerald. I'm only putting forth a scenario based on what I've seen within other companies. Isn't it possible that Fitzgerald was put in charge of the Disneyland Resort because there was no other place for him?

    Someone else here in this thread has said that once Phase I of the DCA make-over is complete their won't be a need for two top executives. I'm going to guess that Fitzgerald and Baxter both cost Disney roughly the same amount in salaries and benefits even if Baxter is older. Come 2012 when Phase I of the DCA renovation is done and the Disneyland Hotel refurbishment is finished it sounds to me like Fitzgerald's job will be at an end. Given a choice, most companies would keep the person with the better track record (in this case Baxter). Call it a hunch based on my own experiences first hand at film studios, effects houses, game companies, and television networks, but Fitzgerald's position sounds temporary to me. If I had a dime for every time I saw someone like Fitzgerald get "promoted" over someone like Baxter only to be shown the door a few years later after they have served their purpose, then I could pay off my mortage.

    Now, let me throw these two words into the debate...

    "George Lucas"

    Disney likes its association with George Lucas. Steve Jobs and George Lucas are friends. John Lasseter and George Lucas are friends. Tony Baxter and George Lucas are friends.

    Where does that put Tom Fitzgerald?

    Just a thought.


    Seriously though, I think most of the evidence presented regarding the possiblity of Baxter's forced retitrement are purely circumstantial. However I will say this...no one's job in any area of the entertainment industry is safe. Not one. It does not surprise me to hear that Baxter with his incredible track record still has to fight to get a green light on his projects. Everyone does. I have a friend (you'd know him if I named him) who was nominated for an Emmy not that long ago who still has to struggle to get good roles. I know someone else (a VFX supervisor) who has won multiple Oscars and yet still has to actively seek work. And I know actors, animators, writers, directors, producers, and theme park designers with proven track records who still have to hustle and pitch their little hearts out. That's the business!

    So I will concede that no one's position at WDI (or anywhere else) is safe including Baxter, but I'm going to side more with Dusty on this topic.

  6. #51

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    Re: Rumor: Is Tony Baxter being shown the door?

    Quote Originally Posted by C. Andrew Nelson View Post
    Now, let me throw these two words into the debate...

    "George Lucas"

    Disney likes its association with George Lucas. Steve Jobs and George Lucas are friends. John Lasseter and George Lucas are friends. Tony Baxter and George Lucas are friends.
    But you're forgetting these associations: Steve Jobs and John Lasseter are friends. John Lasseter and Tom Fitzgerald are friends.

    Which individual do you believe has more influence with top Disney management, George Lucas or Steve Jobs?

    Which individual do you believe has more influence inside Imagineering: George Lucas or John Lasseter?

    Where does that put Tom Fitzgerald?
    Exactly where he is right now: Executive Vice President and Senior Creative Executive for Walt Disney Imagineering, a position he's held for nine years. Tony is still just a Senior Vice President, a position he's held for over 20 years.

    Why hasn't Tony promoted to Exec VP yet? He's certainly been a Sr VP long enough. That for me is a major red flag, not to mention that Tom is ten years younger than Tony. (Tony will be 65 in about 18 months.) All of these add up to making Tony a more likely candidate for early retirement/termination than Tom.


    Disney hates older workers now, no matter how successful and productive they've been, and is getting rid of them one by one. Disney also hates the very highly paid workers regardless of their age, and is getting rid of them as well. Tony falls into both categories, which doubles his risk of forced retirement. I just don't see his career with Disney lasting much longer.
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  7. #52

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    Re: Rumor: Is Tony Baxter being shown the door?

    Quote Originally Posted by C. Andrew Nelson View Post
    Now, let me throw these two words into the debate...

    "George Lucas"

    Disney likes its association with George Lucas. Steve Jobs and George Lucas are friends. John Lasseter and George Lucas are friends. Tony Baxter and George Lucas are friends.

    Where does that put Tom Fitzgerald?

    Not to discredit any of your post at all, but Tom Fitzgerald had a part in Star Tours as well...

    Interview: Tom Fitzgerald EndorExpress


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  8. #53

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    Re: Rumor: Is Tony Baxter being shown the door?

    With dark rides seemingly back in vogue, maybe Tony will breeze past Tom and keep his job.
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    Re: Rumor: Is Tony Baxter being shown the door?

    Quote Originally Posted by BlueSkyDriveBy View Post
    But you're forgetting these associations: Steve Jobs and John Lasseter are friends. John Lasseter and Tom Fitzgerald are friends.

    Which individual do you believe has more influence with top Disney management, George Lucas or Steve Jobs?

    Which individual do you believe has more influence inside Imagineering: George Lucas or John Lasseter?
    I'm just gonna throw this out there, but I think I can almost garuntee that John lLsseter is better friends with Tony than he is with Tom.

    Why hasn't Tony promoted to Exec VP yet? He's certainly been a Sr VP long enough. That for me is a major red flag, not to mention that Tom is ten years younger than Tony. (Tony will be 65 in about 18 months.) All of these add up to making Tony a more likely candidate for early retirement/termination than Tom.


    Disney hates older workers now, no matter how successful and productive they've been, and is getting rid of them one by one. Disney also hates the very highly paid workers regardless of their age, and is getting rid of them as well. Tony falls into both categories, which doubles his risk of forced retirement. I just don't see his career with Disney lasting much longer.
    Just because its a "promotion" doesn't mean its what you want in a job. That's obvious. Maybe Tony doesn't want to be an executive VP. He's been perfectly content with his job he has now. If he wanted a place as an executive VP, then he would have had it years ago. And I think Tom's position was more or less given to him anyway, since he was Marty Sklar's apprentice, or sorts.

    Tony is no idiot. He's survived some of the toughest times in Imagineering, from Eisner and the pathetic New Tomorrowland of '98. Its not like he hasn't been in a situation like this before. Honestly, if he wants his job enough, he would probably go to the execs and say "Cut my pay in half and let me keep my job for the next 10 years" or whatever.


    I also can't see Disney forcing retirement upon one of maybe 10 people in the company that actually knew Walt Disney. Thats just bad publicity.

  10. #55

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    Re: Rumor: Is Tony Baxter being shown the door?

    I doubt if anything changes for the next couple years. Tom will be very busy with DCA and the hotel redo. Tony will be involved with StarTours 2 and no doubt a couple major refurbs. There is also Tomorrowland that needs to be fixed. So its possible there might bring in someone new, but I think there will be at least two imagineers assigned to DLR for awhile.

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    Re: Rumor: Is Tony Baxter being shown the door?

    Quote Originally Posted by Streetcardriver View Post
    I doubt if anything changes for the next couple years. Tom will be very busy with DCA and the hotel redo. Tony will be involved with StarTours 2 and no doubt a couple major refurbs. There is also Tomorrowland that needs to be fixed. So its possible there might bring in someone new, but I think there will be at least two imagineers assigned to DLR for awhile.
    That's what I was thinking. After DCA Phase 1 and the Disneyland Hotel, I'm sure there will be something happening to the Paradise Pier Hotel and Al's rumored expansion of Downtown Disney. Why can't Tom be in charge of those projects, plus the rumored DCA Phase 2 after Al Weis leaves for Shanghai?

    Tony on the other hand can stay in Disneyland doing big refurbs, Star Tours 2, the rumored Tomorrowland redo, and the rumored Frontierland expansion.

    That is what I think will happen.

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    Re: Rumor: Is Tony Baxter being shown the door?

    I hope not, Tony is one of my biggest Disney hero's, it's like Eisner is back making more mistakes if he leaves.



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    Re: Rumor: Is Tony Baxter being shown the door?

    Quote Originally Posted by disneylandfan95 View Post
    That's what I was thinking. After DCA Phase 1 and the Disneyland Hotel, I'm sure there will be something happening to the Paradise Pier Hotel and Al's rumored expansion of Downtown Disney. Why can't Tom be in charge of those projects, plus the rumored DCA Phase 2 after Al Weis leaves for Shanghai?

    Tony on the other hand can stay in Disneyland doing big refurbs, Star Tours 2, the rumored Tomorrowland redo, and the rumored Frontierland expansion.

    That is what I think will happen.
    I'll second that. That sounds like the most likely scenario.

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    Re: Rumor: Is Tony Baxter being shown the door?

    George K> is a Tom supporter. (WHy do you think Tom came ALL the way from Paris?) and Lassiter is a Tony supporter. Will be intresting to see who wins.

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    Re: Rumor: Is Tony Baxter being shown the door?

    The presence of ongoing projects at Disneyland does not justify it being the only park to have a dedicated Imagineer overseeing what happens. The only other park with this scenario is Disney's Animal Kingdom, which as stated is quite different and at the moment Rhode is working in Hawaii.

    I can actually see how having Baxter at his Disneyland post is a way to marginalize him. He gets to just do a bunch of little projects plussing this or that while local Disney fans and D23 members get to eat up all of the little things that make up "Disney magic®".

    If Baxter is shown the door, which I do think looks like it is coming, I doubt he will simply be kicked to the curb. They could either A) get him to consult like with Rick Rothschild or B) move him into a semi-retired position, like Sklar's last post as Imagineering Ambassador.

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