Love the Country Bears Christmas Show? You’ve Got Work to Do

3 Nov

Check out this post today from The Disney Blog. I quote:

The rumor is that Walt Disney World management has decided to save a little money by not switching the costumes, audio-animatronic controls, and decor of the attraction to the holiday show. Not sure how much money this would save, but it can’t be worth the loss of the holiday spirit the show provides that area of the park. It’s a popular show that has fans returning to the park each holiday season to see it.

John Frost provides contact info for the people at Disney to whom you may wish to express yourself.

And now, I must admit, I’m having a little walk down Memory Lane. My grandfather was Mort Werner, NBC’s VP of Programming in the 1960s and 1970s. If you were an extremely nerdy Star Trek fan in the early days, you might have sent him a postcard to protest the cancellation of the original series, in what was perhaps the first ever major fan campaign to bring back a doomed show. But does anybody remember him as the man who argued for the show to get a second shot, after that miserable first pilot? Does anybody remember that he was lobbying for Star Trek feature films as early as 1970? Well, some people do, and to them I am grateful.

And yes, I am indeed nerdy enough to be proud of my original Tribbles from the set.


So, do send those letters to Meg, and Phil, and Erin. And be kind.

12 Responses to “Love the Country Bears Christmas Show? You’ve Got Work to Do”

  1. wolferiver November 5, 2006 at 1:54 am #

    Oh man, I am also a Trekkie from way back. Not far enough back to have written postcards, but I am eternally greatful that Star Trek stayed on the air long enough to make it to syndication — which is where I discovered it in the mid-seventies.

    I think I’m going to have to get that book you link to and read all about it.

  2. Kitty-chan November 5, 2006 at 1:34 pm #

    I’m with you . . . I discovered Star Trek around the same time, introduced to it by my babysitter Pam (I must’ve been around 8). Imagine my amazement when I found out that my grandfather had something to do with it!

    I’m surprised actually how hard it is to find info online about the original “Save Star Trek” campaign. But Bjo Trimble’s Wikipedia page has a nice little reference.

  3. tgtby2 November 8, 2006 at 6:25 am #

    i am not sure you ever showed me the actual tribble, i think you always said it was in a drawer or something, so i am unconvinced… however, i vaguely recall that there could have been a sort of hairball looking thing sitting next to an oddly decorated mirror on rising road. i do know we discussed this in the 8th grade. now if only you had applied your family chutzpah towards saving, i don’t know, “starship” or something…. they built this city, y’know.

  4. tgtby2 November 8, 2006 at 6:29 am #

    ooooh ya – and my previously denied disney-geekdom was affirmed as i sat down to watch CBJ at the magic kingdom this october and thought – i love this show! i missed it from disneyland so much… y’know, you walked past the snoring bear cave and took a right past that fried chicken place, under the trees and went to the show… i haven’t ever seen the xmas version, so i will be dissapointed because that little squeaky bear whose name escapes me at 5:30 am needs some help.

    where on earth in site lines from disneyland could “affordable” housing be even built if not stacked up on the parking lot anyway? surely a motel 6 or denneys won’t suffer?

  5. Jim November 2, 2007 at 6:48 pm #

    I had the pleasure of working with Mort during his retirement years on Maui. After reading your post, I’m left wondering what kind of grandfather he was. best regards, Jim

  6. Kitty-chan November 3, 2007 at 5:48 pm #

    Thanks for stopping by Jim!

    I’m guessing you might have worked with my grandfather at the radio station? I remember dropping by one time to see where he was DJing, but I must have been 10 or so at the time.

    My grandfather was a sweet man. Very strange at times, definitely an eccentric man in many ways, and I remember him quite fondly. I visit Maui from time to time, and it’s always a pleasure when I run into people who knew him.

  7. Roger Marcus December 17, 2007 at 6:32 am #

    Your grandfather came to our house one day as it was being sold. He sat down and started playing our piano, and from that moment on, he became friends with our family.

    We visited him in Maui when he finally left New York. In Maui he described the anti-trust lawsuit against NBC, ABC, and CBS in which he was chosen by all three networks to be the sole defense witness in a 900 page document which he wrote.

    That he put Star Trek on the map was a major coup. But that he invented the Today Show with Dave Garoway and later hired Jack Paar, Steve Allen, and Johnny Carson – many of them against the wishes of NBC; but he fought for what he believed was right and the above names proved him very right.

    I gave him a calligraphy that I had done, “A Rose by any other Name” which I lettered with a goose feather on calfskin. It was my way of thanking him for his hospitality in Maui. It must still be in the family somewhere.


  8. Kitty-chan December 17, 2007 at 9:08 am #

    Thanks so much for your kind note Roger! I’ve had the good fortune to hear some of the early Today Show memories from my mother, especially about a crazy early-morning hardware store trip, and also about some of the discussions leading up to Bill Cosby’s casting in I Spy.

    I feel lucky to get to hear a little bit about behind-the-scenes in some of TV’s most innovative days. Thanks so much for honoring my grandfather’s memory, it means a lot to me. I’m sure that calfskin’s still in the family; I’ll watch for it.

    Jennifer, aka Kitty-Chan

  9. Temboola December 23, 2007 at 7:18 pm #

    A University of Missouri Kansas City website featuring radio news reports from World War Two has a CBS reporter interviewing a “Private Mort Werner” on the streets of Hollywood on V-J Day (August 14, 1945). Private Werner expresses his interest in going after “one of those radio announcer jobs.” Could this have been your grandfather?

  10. Kitty-chan December 24, 2007 at 9:13 am #

    Temboola, thanks for dropping by and leaving the comment! That does sound like my grandfather . . . and my mother confirms that it was probably him.

    And of course this brings me around to thinking about Armed Services Radio, and my grandmother Martha Werner, born Martha Wilkerson, and also known as GI Jill. My grandfather’s mentioned in that article as well:

    “G.I. Jill’s show is an outgrowth of an OWI radio program begun in 1942 with her husband, ex-Radioman Mort Werner. As “Jack and Jill” they served up a mixture of jazz and banter called Hi, Neighbor. A.F.R.S. took over the program in the spring of 1943. Soon Jill (minus Jack) was doing a solo act called G.I. Jive (now AEF Jukebox).”

  11. Rod Williams June 18, 2008 at 2:58 pm #

    As General Manager of KMVI AM & KHEI AM on Maui I knew Mort as a great friend.
    He and I created a “BigBand” show that he hosted which we syndicated to several stations in the “Mainland.”

    Her and Marti were frequent guests at our home in Kihei and each would regale us with stories of the early days of broadcasting.

    The URL I provided includes a picture of Mort at a meeting of NBC execs shortly after Brandon Tartikoff was named as programming boss of NBC. A picture of Mort and Marti at our Maui Condo is also included.

  12. Jennifer June 19, 2008 at 6:39 am #

    Rod, thanks so much for your comment and that link! It’s wonderful to hear from so many of my grandfather’s friends, and I love the pictures!

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