January 15, 2009
AAP awards “greediest” right-wing Christian executive prize for his influence on children
by Valerie Merians
The Association of American Publishers has announced that the film production company Walden Media is the recipient of its 2009 AAP Honors Award, “For their inspired work in generating an appreciation for, and love of, good children’s books.” Walden Media’s films include The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe, Charlotte’s Web, and Bridge to Terabithia. The AAP’s press release fails to note that Walden Media was founded by Christian conservative billionaire and business and media magnate Philip Anschutz, who Fortune Magazine dubbed, “the greediest executive in America” for dumping $1.57 million in stock of another company he founded, Qwest Communication, just before its share price collapsed — and after urging other stockholders to hold on to their shares. (The SEC agreed with Fortune’s estimation of Anschutz, and ordered him to pay $4.4 million in penalties.) The AAP congratulated Walden for “Venturing beyond film production,” and creating “an impressive educational outreach program, working with teachers, museums, and national organizations across the country to develop supplemental programs and materials related to the films and to the books they are based on.” Indeed, tapping a huge conservative Christian network, Walden was able to push out the pre-publicity for their film with astonishing efficacy, easing its way to grosses — in the case of The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe — to $745 million. (More about their unique promotion campaigns here.) The AAP award includes a $5,000 charitable donation to an organization of the winner’s choosing.
Valerie Merians is the co-founder and co-publisher of Melville House.