"Good Riddance to Tom Schumacher"

November 2002

The recent announcement in the papers that Disney Feature Animation "Leader" Tom Schumacher has decided to "step down" in June comes to the animation industry not as a surprise but as a rapturous celebration. We have all been waiting breathlessly for this event to transpire for some years and now the joyful day is upon us. Of course, there is already plenty of "spinning" going on about all of this in an effort to make it look like Mr. Schumacher may have actually spear headed the movement himself as he moves back towards theater. But wait, just a few short months ago Mr. Schumacher was heard to say in a meeting that he had no intention of leaving Feature Animation unless he was carried out kicking and screaming. Well, that certainly doesn't sound like someone who was ready to leave now does it? And why would he leave? Any successes Tom may have had in recent years is a direct result of his association with Feature Animation and the product created by the real talent at the studio. Take the Beauty and the Beast and Lion King Broadway shows, for instance. Both are based on works Schumacher had only a proximity to, (in that he happened to be at the studio at the time they were made) but little creative control over. And yet, when the publicity cameras go on and success is assured, then and only then, does Tom come out of the shadows to take his bows. But where is Mr. Schumacher when there is dirty work to be done? Hiding behind closed doors, in secret meetings, practicing his "sincere" looks and self righteous smirks or his glib responses to genuine requests for information from earnest and concerned feature animation staff.

Well, Tom, your days of holding court in Executive Updates and boring people to tears with your tales of exploits with the rich, famous and social elite are almost at an end, and even those supposedly closest to you, (if that is possible) are probably heaving signs of relief that the end is near. And yet, as I state in my personal letter to you (below), this is not the end of your damage to Feature Animation. You leave behind a great legacy of your own personal brand of corporate terrorism in the form of projects you have already green lighted that are yet unfinished, a third floor full of incompetent "creative" executives, a severly decimated feature animation production team, and a department run by an inept and unscrupulous finance department who gleefully cut the salaries or jobs of long time staffers while self promoting themselves to positions of higher and higher power and wealth. Truth be told, what has happened to you is just the beginning of what needs to happen at Feature Animation and at The Walt Disney Company at large. You may be the first to go down, Tom, but this job clearly calls for a double or triple flush. No one from your regime should be left in Feature Animation or throughout the studio. There should be no "floaters" left in the bowl.

So, Tom, what would my personal message to you be in this time of justice for Feature Animation? Below is a summary of some thoughts addressed just to you. Good riddance to you and may your future be what you have built for yourself based on what you have given to others.

We Interrupt this page for an important announcement to the, shall I say, more dense "creative" executives at Feature Animation, 11/13/02:

If you find yourself wandering around your disproportionately well appointed office on the third floor of the feature animation building wondering, "What does this Dave Pruiksma mean?" Or saying, "I don't understand why he is upset!" or asking yourself, "Am I a 'Floater'?" You are, INDEED part of the problem, as I and others have repeated stated the reasons and they could not be more clear. Oh, and yes indeed, you ARE a 'floater'. Kindly save yourself the embarrassment of being fired and simply move on to the next cushy, mindless, ineffectual position which no doubt awaits somewhere in Hollywood.

That said, I now return you to the original email:

Dear Tom,

The announcement of your professional demise has lead to much great rejoicing throughout the artistic and animation community such as I have not heard in my 25 year association with the industry. I guess the reason they did the deed off campus is so that no one could hear your "kicking and screaming," which you recently said was the only way they would get you out of there.

Of course, there is no doubt that your brand of corporate cancer has already metastasized and is in the corporate lymph nodes at Disney and throughout the animation industry, but still, the major tumor has been extricated from the body and in time there may actually be some healing.

So, good riddance to bad rubbish and thanks for nothing. Your mark on the history of animation is little more than a "skid mark" on the jockey shorts of a proud and illustrious art form. Your most famous artistic contributions being the wildly despised and eventually unproduced "Wild Life" the mostly forgotten "Rescuers Down Under" (despite the hard work of good directors and a crack animation staff) and that "hilarious" quote from Wiggin's in Pocahontas.... "Gift Baskets?" Carry that with pride, Mr. Schumacher.

There is finally some justice in the universe.

Yours most sincerely,

Dave Pruiksma

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