Almanack: That's all, folks

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The Independent Online
TROUBLE in Tinseltown, where a spat has developed between Disney and the organisers of the World Cup. Disney were to have staged the opening ceremony of the tournament, but last week they withdrew from the deal, citing 'artistic differences'.

What exactly were the problems, then? 'It was never a financial dispute,' says Jim Trecker, a spokesman for the World Cup organising commitee. 'The dialogue centered as to how much of the show would be Disney-focused and how much World Cup-focused,' Jim burbles. Almanack assumes this corporate waffle means that one side was keen for the ceremony to be Duck-focused while the other retained a quaint belief that it should have something to do with football.

Disney's withdrawal leaves the World Cup without plans for the ceremony to be held on 17 June at Soldier Field, Chicago. The 'Imagineers' had been working on the project for four months, and the rivals they beat to the contract last year are understandably now playing hard to get. Jam Productions, for instance, made a joint bid to stage the festivities with MCA-Universal Studios. 'They asked us if we would like to do it,' says Kim DuShane, the Jam spokeswoman. 'We're not sure we have the right amount of time because of other commitments.'

The World Cup folk, of course, remain upbeat. 'There will be an opening ceremony,' Trecker says, 'and it will be terrific. The time frame is short, but it's something we can work within.'