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Congressman vents to Disney’s Eisner over reply to ‘Bubble Boy’ concerns

WASHINGTON (BP)–A Texas congressman said Disney Chief Executive Officer Michael Eisner has refused to respond to any specific concerns about the new Disney movie “Bubble Boy,” according to an Aug. 29 CNSNews.com report.

The comedy by Disney’s Touchstone subsidiary about a boy with a deficient immune system was released Aug. 24 despite opposition from many who thought Eisner should have pulled the film prior to release.

Rep. Kevin Brady, R.-Texas, who was among those who publicly called for the film to be pulled, wrote to Eisner expressing his disappointment in Disney. Carol Ann Demaret, the mother of the heroic true-life “boy in the bubble” who died in 1984, lives in Brady’s congressional district.

Brady wrote to Eisner, “While I am doubtful Disney will [pull the film], you can at least do the next best thing by donating $1 million or more of the proceeds from the movie to the Immune Deficiency Foundation.”

Eisner wrote back to Brady, but did not address the questions raised in the congressman’s letter.

“I asked Mr. Eisner three specific things and his response addressed none of them,” Brady said. “In fact, judging from his reply, it looks like he had Mickey, Donald or Goofy write back. It’s too bad Mr. Eisner is avoiding a serious dialogue on this issue.”

In response to Brady, Eisner said, “We are aware of and sensitive to the concerns raised on behalf of those with immune deficiency, and we assure them and you that Jimmy Livingston [the movie’s main character] is portrayed as a likeable and heroic figure.

“The film is a comedy,” Eisner added. “When the film does come out, we hope that you will see that Jimmy Livingston is a positive portrayal.”

The Immune Deficiency Foundation, the patient advocacy group that has been most critical of the film, called the movie a “feature-length joke about individuals without immunities.”

“Despite the disclaimer stating that any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental, there has been only one boy who ever really lived in a bubble,” the IDF said. That boy, David Vetter, was born with X-linked Severe Combined Immune Deficiency (SCID), the most severe of the genetic diseases of the immune system. Vetter lived in a protected environment for the duration of his life until his death at age 12 in 1984.

“Valiant young David Vetter was a far cry from the cartoonish figure Disney presents,” the IDF said.

Brady also asked Eisner to personally come to Texas to apologize to Vetter’s mother, Carol Ann Demaret, who lives in Brady’s congressional district. There was no response to that particular request.

Demaret, a member of the IDF’s board of trustees, had said the idea of making a comedy film based on a potentially deadly disease is “a travesty. It makes a mockery of humanity. It dishonors the memory of my son, David, and is an insult to every primary immune deficient patient.

“Diseases and disabilities are no laughing matter,” Demaret said. “Families have come to expect quality productions from Disney Studios, movies which reflect decency, moral values and are an inspiration to our youth.

“Parents should think twice, however, before taking or sending kids to see this movie: not only is the content objectionable, but it has received a PG-13 rating [for] containing bad language and crude sexual humor,” she said.

Disney’s Bubble Boy earned $2 million during its initial weekend, not enough to put it into the top 12 films, CNSNews.com reported.

“It’s a crummy movie and people realize that,” said Matt Lloyd, press secretary for Brady. “They realize it makes fun of a number of different groups including people that have diseases that they can’t even help.”

Brady added that Disney’s production of Bubble Boy is a sign that the company is not doing well.

“Clearly the standards of the Disney Company have dropped considerably,” Brady said. “I’m afraid it looks like the days of Herbie Goes To Monte Carlo and Bambi are gone.

“I challenge Mr. Eisner to reverse this downward spiral and restore our faith in Disney’s ability to provide wholesome family friendly entertainment,” he said.
Pyeatt is a staff writer with CNSNews.com. Used by permission.

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