Is that what happened in RL? They defaulted to lukewarm romance for Kirk when they could fit Eddie Murphy in?
Pretty much. Murphy, a Trek fan, wanted a part, but they couldn't agree on a role. Instead Eddie did The Golden Child, which was a blockbuster success but a mediocre movie.

There will only be one ITTL, then, thankfully.
Any way of saving Rebecca Schaeffer?
Always a way.
I suspect we'll hear more about Robocop in the near future.
I suspect that you will too.
I have to say I kinda like this and hope to see more ITTL:
I'll look into it. See why it failed IOTL.
The Three Mouseketeers of Fortune New
Ron, Frank, and Jim: The Three Mouseketeers
Excerpt from Fortune Magazine, November 1st, 1986

Your kids might be watching Mickey, Donald, and Goofy on Saturday Mornings, but the Entertainment Industry is watching its own Three Mouseketeers: Ron Miller, Frank Wells, and Jim Henson. This winning triumvirate is guiding the venerable Walt Disney Entertainment Company into a new renaissance of filmmaking, parks, and attractions.

CEO Ron Miller has steered a bold new strategic path for Disney, expanding the business into new markets and moving beyond its child friendly roots with Oscar-winning dramas and once-taboo subjects. Chairman and President Frank Wells has restructured the company, streamlining management and drastically reducing overhead while simultaneously increasing the profitability of the parks and attractions. Chief Creative Officer Jim Henson has been a creative shot in the arm for the studios and parks alike, bringing bold new visions and creative decisions to Disney that are piling up the statuettes and filling the theaters and couches of America. Together, this Disney triumvirate is demonstrating the advantages of a diversified leadership capable of working in concert and counterbalancing each other’s strengths and weaknesses.

Modest and a bit camera shy despite towering over everyone, the broad-shouldered 6’ 5” Ron Miller stands in sharp contrast to the Big Name, Big Ego corporate leaders one expects to find at the helm of a Fortune 500 company. Miller, in reflection of his sporting roots, is big on teamwork and consensus. While modern Celebrity CEOs are working hard to put their name out front and seize credit for any successes, Miller is quick to shine the spotlight on his underlings and focus on the accomplishments of the team. All for one and one for all.

Miller almost literally inherited the helm of Disney after marrying Walt Disney’s daughter Dianne and then joining the company after a brief career in professional football. Walt and former CEO E. Cardon Walker groomed Miller to lead the company from an early point in time. During this extended apprenticeship, Miller came to see the side of Walt that few others did, namely his secret desire to expand beyond children’s entertainment. “After seeing To Kill a Mockingbird together,” said Miller, “my father-in-law told me and Dianne that he wished that he could make films like that. Now he can. And if that’s all I can claim at the end of my time at Disney, then I’ll be ok with that.”

Such self-effacing modesty seems ironic from the man who created Hyperion Pictures, now a rising juggernaut in live action film, including The Ballad of Edward Ford, which won the Palm d’Or and nearly swept the Oscars in 1986. Greenlighting such a picture with its definitively un-Disney-like subject matter took guts and trust in your subordinates. And yet when asked about it, Miller points to Jim Henson, Tom Wilhite, and Bernie Brillstein, and also to his father-in-law. “This was Walt’s To Kill A Mockingbird.”

Miller’s firm but gentle right hand is Chairman, President, and COO Frank Wells. Another soft-spoken and considerate man, Wells has an aura of quiet strength and confidence. He’s a man who has climbed mountains both literal and metaphorical, and whose steady hand has produced tangible results, seeing profits increase 500% and stock prices soar since he joined the team in late 1984, peaking at over $200 per share this year. Analysts predict that Disney stocks will split three or even four ways at the end of the year. Wells is a man who has every right to pride, and yet the urbane and considerate Wells displays the same sense of self-effacing modesty as his CEO, reportedly carrying a slip of paper in his pocket saying “Humility is the final achievement[1].”

Wells first joined the Disney team as an advisor and coordinator during the chaotic months of the ACC hostile takeover bid, where he quickly caught the attention of the Board of Directors with his confidence and composure under pressure. When the White Knight campaign succeeded, he was soon asked to join the company, assuming the roles of President and COO from Miller and, more recently, the Chair from Ray Watson. Wells has earned a reputation as a tough but fair arbiter of disputes, an open ear for ideas and complaints alike, and a laser-focused leader with an attention to detail that has let him navigate the rapids and rocks of show business timelines and egos and keep the ship running at peak efficiency. His “Mickey’s Glove” organizational structure has even been the study of numerous graduate theses at business and management schools alike.

Wells was up front about his achievements, and yet humble. “We’ve accomplished big things,” he said, matter-of-factly, “and each day offers a unique set of challenges for the Disney team.” Asked about where he goes from here, Wells was to the point. “Why would I want to go anywhere else?”

Finally, Miller’s creative and agile left hand is Jim Henson, who shares Miller’s height, Well’s gentleness, and both of their humility. Henson is a living creative legend and a man who has managed to do impossible things, like get adults to tune in to watch puppet shows and cartoons. With a keen eye for talent and a willingness to take real creative risks, Henson has more than achieved Miller’s dream of expanding the limits of what a Walt Disney production can mean. His films have broken box office records and raked in the awards, and he is credited with saving Walt Disney’s animation studio in particular and feature animation in general. He has produced or greenlit everything from Oscar winning dramas to fun-filled children’s animation and helped develop truly mesmerizing rides and attractions for the Disney theme parks. He’s even had a hand in hotels, being a driving force in the creation of the new Grand Floridian Resort and Villa Romana Hotel, both set to open next year.

Henson, for all of his great success, remains almost childlike in his sincerity and playful optimism. If asked, he will gladly bring out any number of felt alter egos and bring them to such uncanny life that it’s hard for even the most jaded of men to not think, even for only a second, that a felt frog is indeed a living, breathing being. Kind, gentle, colloquial, and even sweet, it’s easy to overlook just what a force of nature the “Gentle Giant” is. A man who leads by example and inspires inspiration in others, his soft smile hides one of the industry’s great leaders. Productivity at the studios has soared under Henson to a level not seen since the passing of Walt Disney himself, and no threats or hardball tactics were required. Some have credited him with having the “Magic Touch”, but Henson demurs.

“I feel that it is a fundamental truth that most people want to do great things,” said Henson. “Every person has a great imagination in them and if given the right environment to grow in, then they will amaze even themselves with what they are willing and able to accomplish.” He added, “There’s nothing magical about it, at least not in the literal sense.”

These Three Mouseketeers of Disney may be quiet and modest, but there’s no hiding that they are a highly effective team with productivity, profitability, and morale all soaring along with the stock price. We sat down with all three men for an in-depth look into their business and management philosophies and how they see the “Disney Model” as a new way forward for creative endeavors. Ron Miller for one… Article continues on Page 21.

* * *​

The Board of Directors for the Walt Disney Entertainment Company, January 1987:
Ronald “Ron” Miller, CEO
Frank Wells, Chairman, President, and COO
James M. “Jim” Henson, CCO, President, Walt Disney Studios
Richard “Dick” Nunis, President, Disney Recreation
Roy E. Disney, Vice President, Walt Disney Animation Studios (head of Shamrock Holdings)
Al Gottesman (President, Henson Arts Holdings)
Dianne Disney Miller (Partner, Retlaw Enterprises)
Peter Dailey (former US ambassador to Ireland and Roy Disney’s brother-in-law)
Charles Cobb (CEO of Arvida Corp.; representing the interests of Bass Brothers)
Alfred Attilio “Al” Checchi (representing Marriott International)

Advisory Board Members (non-voting, ad-hoc attendance):
E. Cardon “Card” Walker, Chairman Emeritus
Donn Tatum, Chairman Emeritus
Sid Bass (CEO of Bass Brothers Enterprises)
Steven Spielberg (Partner, Amblin Entertainment)
John Sculley (CEO & President of Apple Computer, Inc.)
George Lucas (CEO of Lucasfilm, Ltd.)
J. Willard “Bill” Marriott, Jr. (CEO of Marriott International)
Ray Watson, Chairman Emeritus (former head of the Irvine Company)
Caroline Ahmanson (head and founder of Caroline Leonetti Ltd.)
Philip Hawley (Carter Hawley Hale)
Samuel Williamson (senior partner, Hufstedler, Miller, Carson, & Beardsley)
Stan Lee (Chairman of Marvel Entertainment)

The Disney Executive Committee:
Ronald “Ron” Miller, CEO
Frank Wells, President and COO
James M. “Jim” Henson, CCO and President, Walt Disney Studios
Richard “Dick” Nunis, President, Disney Recreation
Thomas “Tom” Wilhite, President, MGM Studios
Carl Bongirno, President, Walt Disney Imagineering Workshop
Roy E. Disney, Vice President, Walt Disney Animation Studios

* * *​

Stocks at a Glance: Walt Disney Entertainment (DIS)
January 12th, 1987
Stock price: $49.44 [following 4:1 Stock Split Jan 1st, 1987]
Major Shareholders: Henson family (19.4%), Roy E. Disney (13.4%), Disney-Miller family (12.3%), Sid Bass (9.6%), Bill Marriott (6.3%), Amblin Entertainment (1.3%), Apple Comp. (0.7%), Lucasfilm Ltd. (0.42%), Suspected “Knights Errant” (4.6%)
Outstanding shares: 68.4 million (31.8%)

[1] True!
Any 'White Knight' who got on-board during the takeover is certainly seeing the value of that investment now! Cannot see someone mounting another challenge with the shares worth this much!

This whole '2nd Golden Age' is so going to be called the Three Mouseketeers period in any number of future bios, AltYouTube videos, and documentaries.

Long may this Disney continue*!

More please @Geekhis Khan.

*get plenty of sleep and health checks Jim please.
The Littlest Diplomat New
The Littlest Diplomat (1984-1986)
From The TV Obsessive, by Hanmii Dahri-Mote, a regular column in TV Guide and other publications

There are some old ‘80s family shows that are too saccharine for words. Shows like Growing Pains that are so artificially sweet that they hurt your teeth. On the other hand, other shows of the time like Who’s the Boss were so casually cruel and cynical that they bordered on the misanthropic. Most shows of the time were also extremely vapid and formulaic. You’ve seen these characters and plots and tropes a hundred times already. Finding the right balance between original and familiar and idealistic and cynical, particularly for a show aimed at family audiences, could be a particular challenge. So, when you see it done right, it is glorious to behold.

And perhaps the best show of the era in this regard is, in my opinion, The Littlest Diplomat, which ran for two glorious seasons on CBS from 1984 to 1986. It starred a young Samantha Smith.

The show was born out of the amazing childhood of Smith herself, who gained fame as a child in the early ‘80s when her letter to Soviet Premier Yuri Andropov, asking him if he really wanted a nuclear war as some were saying, led to her being invited to visit the USSR, where she became America’s youngest goodwill ambassador. The visit gained her audiences with many powerful world leaders and she served as a young but charismatic spokesperson for the cause of peace.

Still from Samantha Smith Goes to Washington (Image source “”; see the full show here)

The visit also gained the attention of Disney, who sent her to Washington DC to cover the 1984 Presidential Election. Samantha Smith Goes to Washington played on The Disney Channel where it was highly regarded. Disney creative head Jim Henson was particularly impressed with the intelligent young woman and suggested that they create a TV show around her. At first Henson imagined a documentary series where Smith would visit various places and people and interview them, but producer Bernie Brillstein convinced him that it would never sell as a standalone series. The idea instead led to a short series of such interviews for Sesame Street. Brillstein had a different idea for Smith’s standalone series: a semiautobiographical situational comedy about a young girl who becomes an actual American diplomat working at the United Nations building in New York. The Littlest Diplomat was born[1].

Smith played the fictional Samantha Samuels, whose achievements at pursuing peace as a child got her appointed to the UN by fictional US President R. Robert Rogers (Robert Guillaume). Her single father Bill Samuels (Robert Mandan) struggles to raise her and her sister Sadie (Maia Brewton) while simultaneously dealing with all of Samantha’s “work related” stuff (as represented by the sarcastic Secret Service agent John Adam Smith, played by Ted Wass). “Sam”, meanwhile, struggles to balance work, school, her relationship with her father, and her relationships with other kids, such as school rival Kim (Melissa Joan Hart) and friend Bobby (Joey Lawrence), who has a secret crush on her.

It was all the stuff of a standard mindless sitcom of the era, but the geniuses at Witt/Thomas/Harris Productions gave the series an intelligence and heart that elevated it into a work of pure sentimental optimism tempered with a bittersweet realism. While the ultimate lesson of the series was that being willing to put your heart out and stand up for what’s right always wins out over cynicism and selfishness in the end, Sam’s world was not an easy one, full of struggles, setbacks, and disappointments. Each episode presented Sam and her family with challenges on both the “professional” and personal side, with the twin challenges always mutually reinforcing the same theme or lesson. For example, in Season 1, Episode 5, “It’s a Date”, Sam has to balance a date with a boy she likes with an important diplomatic meeting with the gruff and demanding Japanese Ambassador (Pat Morita), with both meetings reinforcing the themes of trust vs. suspicion and empty charm vs. real meaningful connection.

TLD was and episodic three-camera comedy with a laugh track, as was the standard of the era, and was filmed almost entirely at a sound stage at Disney in Burbank with a handful of location-shoots or stock footage from New York or a New York City Set. It was remarkable for the time in how it made each of its characters a fully rounded human being rather than a simplistic archetype or stereotype, even the supporting roles, though the quirks of the supporting cast started to exaggerate in the second season hinting that full-on character decay may have set in had the show progressed. The young characters, even “cute but annoying little sister Sadie”, were given a wide range of emotions rather than reduced to types, which was somewhat uncommon for the time. Emotional conflicts or disagreements could last beyond one episode and episodes occasionally referenced “earlier” issues, providing hints at a larger continuity even as each episode was stand-alone enough to be seen and appreciated in isolation.

TLD was one of those “loved by the critics, ignored by the viewers” shows that won awards but failed to make its mark in the Nielsens. Smith was sublime and the supporting cast great, the writing was some of the best of the era, and the lessons meaningful and relevant without being preachy or easy to misconstrue. It’d be easy to snidely call it “too smart for your average viewer”, but this was not the kind of show that would make such assumptions about people, so I won’t either. Instead, let’s appreciate it as a rare mid-‘80s sitcom that assumed that its audience wasn’t a bunch of morons.

TLD is now a beloved cult classic, of course, though even today it doesn’t get the recognition that many of its lesser contemporaries have achieved. It never made the 100-episode threshold for broad syndication but did eventually see airplay in the 1990s on CBS Family on basic cable, where it gained an appreciative audience, eventually seeing home media release. Though not a long runner, TLD influenced many other TV creators and helped launch Samantha Smith’s career.

If you haven’t seen it, I recommend that you do so, and soon.

[1] In our timeline Smith was instead cast in the forgettable domestic sitcom Lime Street. She was tragically killed in a plane crash returning from the set of Lime Street in 1985. Here, that event is butterflied. And yes, @nick_crenshaw82, it means that Robert John Bardo will not stalk and kill Rebecca Schaeffer, but will instead stay focused on Smith…more to come on that chilling regard!
Another Brillstein classic there! The Littlest Diplomat does sound like interesting TV here - the format also sounds like something that could export well to other countries, I could see ITV trying something similar around the Commonwealth for example.

Let's hope Samantha Smith has a long an fruitful career- perhaps getting an Ambassadorship later on?

Nice butterflies @Geekhis Khan .
Another Brillstein classic there! The Littlest Diplomat does sound like interesting TV here - the format also sounds like something that could export well to other countries, I could see ITV trying something similar around the Commonwealth for example.
I wonder if CBC or CTV will try to make a Canadian version of it with an up-and-coming Canadian actor.

That said, on the subject of Henson, I learned that Apple TV+'s Fraggle Rock reboot is being filmed my current home city, Calgary. Neat!
The interesting thing about the Bardo trial--guess who prosecuted and got Robert John Bardo sentenced to death originally (IIRC, it was commuted to life--he should never get out, IMO)? Marcia Clark, the lead prosecutor on the O.J. Simpson case (who many blame for botching the case)--hell, her being the prosecutor in the Bardo trial may have been one of the reasons she got the lead prosecutor on the Simpson trial...