Disney has hired the 74-year-old Nobel Peace Prize recipient as a consultant--presumably, so he can deploy his world-class Rolodex and contacts to smooth over the studio's relations with China, according to Friday's New York Times.
Disney isn't denying the Kissinger hire--it's just not commenting on the famous statesman's role. Says a company spokesperson: He will "advise us on various initiatives we've been discussing over there."
"Over there" is undoubtedly China. That's the country Disney figures to have trouble with come the Christmas Day release of Martin Scorsese's new film, Kundun. The movie focuses on the Chinese invasion of Tibet and the formative years of the nation's spiritual (and now-exiled) leader, the Dalai Lama.
Chinese leaders put Disney on notice last year that the release of Kundun could jeopardize attempts by the Magic Kingdom to expand into the land of one-billion-plus potential consumers.
It can't help matters that China's already feeling stung by Brad Pitt's Seven Years in Tibet--not a Disney movie, granted, but another product from the Hollywood devil that is currently making Chinese soldiers out to be bad guys on big screens everywhere.
This is where Kissinger comes in. If, as the adage goes, only Nixon could go to China, then perhaps only Kissinger could pave the way there. Between the two men, the previously bolted-shut door between the U.S. and China was cracked open in the early 1970s. They encouraged the two nations to share: Ping-pong players, zoo animals, acrobats, etc.
The closest thing to a glamour puss that the U.S. state department has had this century, Kissinger should fit well into the Hollywood scene, particularly since today's studios are essentially multinational conglomerates.
If, in the end, Kissinger can sell the Chinese on Kundun, Disney might want to give the guy some other missions. Think of the good he might have done negotiating the advance of filmgoers into U.S. theaters screening G.I. Jane.