Jeffrey Sherman, son of songwriter/composer Robert and nephew to Richard, has had some pointed things to say regarding the film adaptation Disney is making on his Facebook page via posts and comments:
"The Pamela Travers conceived by the screenplay writers is made to be a sort of hero. In the draft I read, at least, she comes up for key story and song notions I absolutely know were my father and uncle’s contributions. She points out that they’d better write a song about that bird woman, pointedly mentions flying kites and a spoonful of sugar. The screenplay suggests that, somehow, by “saving" her precious story from the hands of the bumbling songwriting brothers and their cartoon-making boss, setting them all straight, she will in some sense “save" her own deplorable, drunken loser father who, according to these screenwriters, was the entire basis for her “Mary Poppins" book. For those of you who’ve read Travers’ original book, the ‘father’s responsibility to his family’ concept is nowhere to be found. That was my father’s and uncle’s added theme. So was the prayer for charity that is “Feed the Birds." The kites were an ode to my Grandfather, Al Sherman, and his simple, inexpensive way of bringing family together. Yes, a man must work hard, but his first responsibility is to his family. Mary and Bert both get that across, singing and speaking my father’s words. All it takes is tuppence, just a spoonful of sugar."
"The whole central conceit of the story they're telling is flawed, from what I know about it. They're saying the reason Mrs. Travers was so intent on keeping true to her original material was because it was a story 'really' about her father. I listened to all the hours of taped recordings of the Travers/Sherman Bros./Don Da Gradi/Bill Walsh meetings when Gregg and I were making "the boys: the sherman brothers' story." The truth is, PL Travers was simply an objectionable, kooky woman who disliked everything developed by my Dad and Dick and the Poppins screenwriters -- INCLUDING the cohesive story about the dysfunctional family, the work-a-holic father and all the things my Dad and Uncle created with Walt Disney. The "...Mr. Banks" filmmakers have falsely attributed all of this to Mrs. Travers -- even certain song ideas. Ludicrous and laughable. In the long run, I suppose, who cares. My Dad is gone now and can't speak up for himself and the truth, my uncle won't for variety of reason. Despite the fact that Gregg's and my documentary we made FOR Disney Studios laid out the actual, true origins of the magic in the classic Poppins film -- and that, I'm told, our segment on Travers inspired the writers to write "...Mr. Banks" -- no one bothered to ever fact check. True Disney/Poppins fans know the real origin story well. Just sad that no one at the company that my Dad and Uncle helped build cared enough to tell the factual story."
Interesting, if that pans out, that a movie released and made by Disney rewrites the history of some of their most talented employees in favor of 'improving' the story of an author who actually disliked the work Walt and the Sherman Brothers did, and attributing elements she opposed/others came up with to her. That doesn't sound terribly encouraging, if Jeffrey Sherman is accurately recounting things (which I've no reason to doubt, as the excellent documentary about the Sherman Brothers he contributed to doesn't shy away from personal disputes and 'darker' instances they had, even though they are family).
Source for Jeffrey Sherman's comments.