By Scott Brown
July 19, 2006 at 11:33 PM EDT

So, you’re Disney. You’ve got the world’s top franchise in your stable, the world’s top movie in theaters, and Michael Eisner safely off the lot. How do you celebrate? Apparently by firing everybody.

Longtime studio chief Nina Jacobson and 649 other unlucky souls bit the dirt this week, victims of a long-planned house cleaning intended to redress and punish shortfalls like The Alamo, The Ladykillers, and The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou. (Oren “National Treasure” Aviv will be replacing Jacobson.) Sure, it’s smooth sailing for Disney this week, but you know how fast the weather can change on the Caribbean: best to offload as much ballast as possible.

That means doing what every movie studio dreams of: not making movies. Why bother? They’re risky and expensive and they usually suck. Thus, the annual slate’s being reduced from 18 to 11 or 12 — think Paramount in its long forgotten late-’90s glory days. The idea is a light, sleek force of blockbusters, with Miramax punching out a few prestige pics.

Anyway, next time you visit Walt Disney World, and you see Chip stumping along forlornly without Dale, do yourself a favor and don’t ask him where his companion’s scampered off to. Chip will simply shake his giant head and nod discreetly in the direction of the Ye Olde Magic Kingdom Hot Dog Cart.