Sterling Ambivalence (sterlingnorth) wrote,
Sterling Ambivalence

Scrooge: A Michael Eisner Tale. . .

Michael Eisner should have been fired a long time ago. Yet he's still burning down Disney's house.

From the Slate piece that summarizes events of the past 6 months or so...
Michael Eisner's Disney has been a case study in poor corporate governance. Over the years, the board was disproportionately stocked with insiders, professionals who had dealings with the company, people whose children or relatives worked at the company, and others who were ill-equipped to exercise oversight over Eisner.


One of Eisner's main deficiencies has been an inability to manage key relationships and heed advice. And he hasn't improved much on that score, either. On the board, only two directors challenged Eisner directly: Roy Disney . . . and Stanley Gould.

Both resigned after Disney wasn't renominated for the board of directors.

By replacing the two longtime insiders with two new independent directors—Aylwin Lewis, president of YUM! Brands, and Sybase Inc. CEO John Chen—Eisner has managed to make it appear as if the board is more independent while banishing the two truly independent voices from the boardroom.

And the excellence continues...
Disney grew into a powerhouse in part because Walt Disney insisted that his company create, own, and control the company's animated creatures. But under Eisner, Disney partially outsourced the expensive (but potentially lucrative) process of creating new characters—to Pixar, for example. Today, Disney seems to take an accountant's approach to the creative process. . . He spoke of "creative cost-consciousness" in the television businesses, and "shrinking the financial box" for series. "A hit live action series like That's So Raven is produced at half the price of a network series, resulting in very good returns," he boasted. (That's so C-level entertainment.)

"Across the company, we are pushing creativity," Eisner continued. In some cases, he's pushing creativity right out the door. In January, Disney shuttered its Orlando animation studio, which employed 260 people. This provided more fodder for Disney and Gold. "The drain of talent over the past several years from the company's feature animation department in Orlando, Burbank, Paris and Tokyo has been absolutely gut-wrenching," Roy Disney blogged.

Increasingly, Eisner looks like a miserly bean-counter intent on putting out entertainment that is derivative, cheap, and easily digestible. And as Eisner extols That's So Raven, Roy Disney's artistic aura grows. He was just nominated for an Academy Award for Destino, a short film he made in 1946 with Salvador Dalí.

There's just so damn much wrong with the Walt Disney Company it's going to take more than one person to enumerate it all. I can just summarize it like this. Walt Disney used to admonish people not to forget that "it all started with a mouse." It was more than that... it all started with creative people free to come up with great ideas and magical stories. That is something you have to invest in and nurture. You can't tinker and meddle and muck up the paints.
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