California and Disney showdown over theme park reopening

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Disney's theme park in Anaheim, October 5, 2020. Disney and California are in a dispute about whether Disney’s parks in the state can reopen during the coronavirus pandemic. Photo by Laura Kondourajian/KCRW.

The Walt Disney Co. is putting pressure on California lawmakers to reopen its theme parks in the state. Disney announced plans to lay off 28,000 workers across its retail stores, cruises, and theme parks. The company’s executives blame the California government for what they call “unwillingness to lift restrictions that would allow Disneyland to reopen.”

The state announced on Thursday that it would release guidelines to reopen theme parks, although Disneyland and Universal Studios both oppose the current plan. Disney chair Bob Iger was a member of Governor Gavin Newsom’s COVID-19 economic task force until he stepped down on Thursday night.

This week, Disney workers caravanned to Sacramento for a vigil outside the capitol in favor of Assembly Bill 3216, which would have given rehiring protections to workers laid off during the pandemic. Newsom vetoed the bill on Thursday.

Meanwhile, filmmakers from a wide swath of Hollywood wrote an open letter to Congress, urging lawmakers to offer protections to movie theaters during the pandemic, which they say many cinemas may not survive. The signees, which included Clint Eastwood, Alejandro González Iñárritu and Ang Lee, made the case for movie theaters’ place in American life as “great unifiers where our nation’s most talented storytellers showcase their cinematic accomplishments.”

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Guest:
Matthew Belloni - Editor - @MattBelloni

Host:
Kim Masters

Producer:
Kaitlin Parker