“My Two Pontiffs.” Coming to TBS!

English: Pope Benedict XVI during general audition

Expect things to get c-c-c-r-a-a-z-z-z-y in Pope Land!  Castel Gandolfo is one villa that’s just not big enough for two popes.  Benedict likes things just so, and doesn’t enjoy sharing his direct line to the Almighty with other nuncios.  Meanwhile, Pope Francis is an easy going guy who enjoys a Tango Canyengue any time he can find a partner.  Uh oh, he’s swaying his hips and crooking his finger at a group of hungover American cardinals.

Pope Francis met with media

A bit of a prankster, Pope Francis gets the Swiss Guard guffawing by hiding the red pope shoes Benedict snuck out of the Vatican. To show he still has a sense of humor, Benedict keys the newbie’s popemobile.

Benedict softens when Francis makes a peace offering:  A well-preserved copy of Benedict’s seminary yearbook, the one with the photo of the graduation day dance on the title page.

Bishops dance

Next week:  While Benedict knits a cassock for the Vatican dachshund, Pope Francis helps himself to the Cannoli in the Emeritus drawer of the papal fridge.

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When Snow White and the Seven Dwarves Went To War

Few people have the remotest idea how tortured was the path that “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” took to arrive at the silver screen.  It was to be Walt Disney’s first feature length film.  At the time, Disney, still an upstart in the movie business and angling for the respect of his fellow studio bosses, planned his debut feature as a live action film.  Yes, live action.  So began a nationwide casting search for little people who could create an emotional bond with American movie audiences. No circus, carnival sideshow, zoo, or junior high school escaped the scrutiny of Disney’s casting directors.  Finding his ensemble  was only the beginning of this film project’s troubles.

A friend who teaches a History of Intellectual Property course at a prominent Canadian law school revealed the details of this correspondence only if I promised not to identify him.

Walt Disney in a 1937 color movie trailer for ...

From the Desk of Alan Haimisch, Diminutive Artists Agency (DAA)

To:  Walt Disney

Re:  7 Dwarves.

Cc:  Sleepy, Dopey, Doc, Bashful, Sneezy, Grumpy, Happy

September 30, 1935

Dear Mr Disney,

I was just as disappointed as you to hear that the Seven Dwarves felt compelled to walk off the set of  “Snow White & the Seven Dwarfs.”  I warned you that the archaic spelling of “Dwarfs” in the title would chap Grumpy’s tiny ass.  For godsakes, his M.A. diploma in English Composition hangs on the wall of his trailer.  The little grammarian is willing to go to arbitration to see “Dwarves” find its proper place in the title.

No less happy is Happy.  He insists the alternate title proposed by your VP of Casting, “Snow White and the 7 Sawed-Off Magical Creatures” would upset his girlfriend.

And do I need to mention the boys’ discomfort at having to work on Tuesday, the Dwarf Sabbath?

Sincerely

Alan Haimisch                                                                                                                                                  Diminutive Artists Agency (DAA)

The famous "Heigh-Ho" sequence from ...

October 2, 1935

Cc:  Sleepy, Dopey, Doc, Bashful, Sneezy, Grumpy, Happy

Dear Alan:

It’s a shame things have come to this.  A movie certain to carve out a special place in Disney lore, our first live action feature film–has been jeopardized by the poor behavior of your clients.  We let ourselves dream that its eventual success would spawn a sequel, “Snow White & The Seven Dwarfs 2.”  We even commissioned a script.

Now, it’s all hanging by a thread, my friend.  Unless you ensure your seven clients’ appearance on the set, in costume, by 9 am Monday, they’ll be lucky to find work as ride attendants at Asbestos World.

Respectfully

Walt Disney

Calendar girl 1

October 30, 1935

Dear Mr Disney:

I assure you their brief walkout was a reasonable reaction to dismal working conditions.  In a cost-cutting move, you asked Doc to work as the physician on the set, a flagrant violation of his contract.

Indeed, there have been genuine health issues.  Sneezy, it turns out, is not just allergic but goes into anaphylactic shock in the presence of apples, poisoned or otherwise.

While we’re on the subject of food, you should know that Sleepy has been forced to perform grueling stunts without a snack break.   This practice has become a health risk in light of his recent hypoglycemia diagnosis.

By the way, dangling the prospect of a sequel in front of the Dwarves was a low tactic calculated to sow jealousy among them.  Poor Dopey worries that the numeral ‘2’ in the sequel title would require fourteen little fellows and diminish the profit participation of the original seven.

Sincerely

Alan Haimisch
Diminutive Artists Agency (DAA)

Calendar girl 7

November 6, 1935

Dear Alan:

We’re happy to make the little fellows more comfortable.  In exchange, perhaps, you could restrain Grumpy’s attempts to undermine the film’s reputation.  At every opportunity he bleats to the press that the film has been re-titled, “Snow White, On Her Back Again.”

I Remain,

Walt Disney

PS  Why do you keep harping on the size of the Dwarves?  You’re barely five feet tall yourself.

 

Hayworth in the strip scene from Gilda.

November 12, 1935

Dear Mr Disney:

When Grumpy referred to your movie as “Snow White, on Her Back Again,” his rigid sense of morality had gotten the best of him.  He was objecting to the on-set, sexual double-team foisted on Dopey by the Queen (Bette Davis) and Snow White (Rita Hayworth).

Dopey had already complained that his love scene in the forest with the gorgeous but clearly incapacitated cleaning lady was neither believable nor  legal.  But Miss Hayworth lured the little guy into her glass enclosure with a slice of bratwurst and, after that, he was no match for her superior bulk.

Regards

Alan Haimisch
Diminutive Artists Agency (DAA)

Calendar girl 8

November 20, 1935

Dear Alan,

The Studio might be willing to meet you half way.  We will consider substituting the more grammatical “Dwarves” to the title. We’ll substitute a hypoallergenic peach for the poisoned apple.  We’ll bring in a stuntman so Sleepy’s blood sugar won’t be an issue. And if it makes Dopey more comfortable, his love scene will be with an animatronic Snow White.

If I agree to those conditions, will you drop any legal action and assure the studio that the 7 Dwarves will appear on time, as per contract, at 9 am Monday?

All The Best

Walt Disney

Calendar girl 9

November 23, 1935

Dear Mr Disney,

Thank you for your gracious show of flexibility.

Most of the boys have agreed to show up as promised.

Unfortunately, Monday is the day that Happy will be honored by the American Psychiatric Association for his pioneering work in archetypal research, specifically the “Who’s Your Favorite Dwarf Personality Profile.”

Can you adjust the shooting schedule to accommodate these arrangements?  And send the studio aircraft?

Best

Alan Haimisch                                                                                                                                           Diminutive Artists Agency (DAA)

Calendar girl 10November 26,  1935

Dear Alan,

We won’t be needing your wee clients after all.  In a labor saving move, we’ve decided to hand-draw the characters and, if necessary, distribute flip-books of the fairy tale.

Regards

Walt Disney

Calendar girl 4

November  28, 1935

Dear Walt,

The Dwarves don’t think America is prepared to believe cartoon heroes.

Until you come to your senses, the boys are off to the USSR to entertain the hero of the little guy, Uncle Joe Stalin.

All The Best

Alan Haimisch                                                                                                                                                 Diminutive Artists Agency (DAA)

Editor’s Note:  The Dwarves were never heard from again.  It’s assumed they lost their lives in Stalin’s purges, however KGB files released during Glasnost suggest two of the Dwarves actually served as willing assassins for Stalin.  The files say their lack of height was an ongoing challenge. Though ineffective as hit men, according to insiders they acquired a reputation as skilled knee-cappers.