By Rob PerezWednesday, May 23, 2001
YOU may not have been invited to Walt Disney Co.'s exclusive party and movie premiere Monday night.
Disney takes the
Navy for a ride
But you certainly helped underwrite it.
Taxpayers provided the unique venue for the party -- the deck of the USS Stennis -- and Navy personnel helped make sure everything went smoothly.
Amid the spectacle of the Monday extravaganza, some sailors even held signs offering shipboard tours to the 2,000 partygoers.
Using a San Diego-based Navy carrier to help Disney launch "Pearl Harbor" has raised some questions, even though one purpose of the event was to honor those who died and those who survived the 1941 Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.
The Drudge Report, an online publication, posted a critical article on its Web site, www.drudgereport.com, this week. The New York Times ran a story yesterday.
The Navy insists it did not cost any extra money to bring the Stennis from San Diego to Hawaii for the premiere because the vessel was supposed to be at sea conducting training anyway.
Instead of doing exercises off the coast of California, the training was conducted on the way to Hawaii, the Navy says. More will be done on the return trip beginning Friday.
Disney spent an estimated $5 million to host the "Pearl Harbor" bash, although the company did not have to pay to rent the carrier for Monday's premiere and for several days of premiere-related media events.
Federal law prohibits renting government property, according to Cmdr. Robert Anderson, a Navy spokesman in California.
But Disney is reimbursing the Navy for special expenses directly related to the premiere, such as utility costs and installation of extra phone lines, Navy officials say.
When Disney first raised the idea of hosting the "Pearl Harbor" premiere aboard a carrier, the Navy checked to see if a vessel had a training schedule that could accommodate such an event, said Cmdr. Bruce Cole, a spokesman for the U.S. Pacific Fleet.
The Stennis already had been scheduled to hold training exercises off the California coast this month. And the cost of operating a nuclear-powered carrier off California essentially is the same as sending it more than 2,500 miles to Hawaii, the Navy said.
What the Navy got in return was exposure -- and lots of it. That exposure helps in recruiting and spreads awareness of the military, the Navy says.
"The Navy gets a ton of ... positive publicity," says Cmdr. Chris Isleib, a member of a Reserve unit that works with Hollywood on film projects.
While the premiere events generated stories from many of the 500-plus media representatives who came to Hawaii from around the world, much of the benefit to the Navy will be from the movie itself.
But that is a benefit that would have come even without the staging of a multimillion-dollar party aboard the Stennis -- a party designed to give the movie a publicity boost ahead of its nationwide release Friday.
Star-Bulletin columnist Rob Perez writes on issues
and events affecting Hawaii. Fax 529-4750, or write to
Honolulu Star-Bulletin, 500 Ala Moana Blvd., No. 7-210,
Honolulu 96813. He can also be reached
by e-mail at: firstname.lastname@example.org.