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The Milt Kahl event

Last night’s Milt Kahl tribute at the Motion Picture Academy was a huge (though a bit long) success – if you got into the theater.

Those inside were treated to a wonderful art exhibit of Kahl drawings, model sheets and cels from scenes he’d animated. Everyone got a commemorative poster and program brochure. The screening included Kahl’s finest animation on the big screen, everything from his first Mickey’s Circus (1936) to his last, Medusa in The Rescuers (1977). Andreas Deja and Charles Solomon did the hosting chores, and special guests Brad Bird, John Musker, Ron Clements, Floyd Norman, John Pomereoy, Kathryn Beaumont, Alice Davis and Sybil Barnes (Kahl’s daughter) told great stories about the man and his influences. Clips of Kahl from amateur video interviews were a highlight, as was the excerpt from the Disneyland TV show “The Story of Dogs” with Kahl himself – and Andreas, once again doing an amazing job of analyzing Kahl’s drawings, using an overhead projector to display rare examples of his work.

However, all was not well outside the Academy building. Brian Johnson, posting on my Facebook page reported:

“I have been looking forward to that once in a life time event and was pissed that (along with 150 angry people) were not allowed in even though we bought our tickets months ago!! They simply oversold hundreds of tickets and ruined a lot of people nights!”

Darrell Van Citters wrote me as well:

“It seems that the Academy deliberately oversold the event, leaving a large number of ticket holders with no recourse. They did issue refunds but you had to stand in line all over again to get your money back. When they told the crowd they wouldn’t be allowed in, they brought out two ineffective-looking security guards in case things turned ugly. The whole thing was shameful and as my Disney friend said on our way back to our cars, “I’ve never gone to one of these Academy things before and I don’t think I will again.”

On future Brew postings for the Academy, you might want to include a disclaimer to the effect that “buying a ticket does not guarantee a seat”. I know I won’t waste my time on another event there.”

I’ve rarely seen any Academy event sold out like this… and the animation events are less likely to do so. I had heard the event was sold out shortly after we announced it on Cartoon Brew last month. A huge story on Kahl in last Wednesday’s LA Times probably caused the overflow of attendees. I can only hope the Academy will continue its animation programs with a better grasp on ticket allotment and crowd control.

UPDATE: Randy Haberkamp, the Program Coordinator at the Academy, has responded in the comments below. He would greatly appreciate it if ticket holders who were turned away would contact him at rhaberkamp-at-oscars.org