UPDATED: Roy Disney, Stanley Gold resign from board, criticize Michael Eisner

Posted Monday, December 1, 2003 3:51 PM | Contributed by redman822

In a sign of tension at the top of one of the nation's media giants, Walt Disney Co. vice chairman Roy E. Disney stepped down from the board of directors and called on chairman and chief executive Michael Eisner to resign. Disney, 73, is the last family member active in the company, founded in the 1920s by his uncle Walt and his father, Roy O. Disney, who was the business manager. He said he also is quitting as chairman of the company's animation division.

UPDATE: Stanley Gold, another Disney board member an ally of Roy Disney, also resigned today.

Read more from AP via The Gainesville Sun.

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Monday, December 1, 2003 11:53 AM
.. anyone whos been paying attention to the top side of Disney should not be real surprised by this.

.. and honestly, as someone who was in a project who's end result was affected by Eisner's choices, I support Roy 120% in this.

Monday, December 1, 2003 1:31 PM
This is more shocking to me than Story's resignation. I think that it is just the beginning for big news coming out of the Walt Disney Company. This is the positioning that will lead to the end of Eisner.
Monday, December 1, 2003 3:08 PM
Wow, no sooner did I type that than I read the Stanley Gold has just announced his resignation and echoed Roy Disney's call for Eisner to go. Interestingly enough, Stanley was instrumental to bringing Eisner and the late Frank Wells to the company back in the mid-80's.

It's raining rich white men.

Monday, December 1, 2003 3:27 PM
Stanley Gold's Resignation... http://apnews1.iwon.com//article/20031201/D7V5PN9G0.html?PG=home&SEC=news
Monday, December 1, 2003 4:17 PM
Eisner is the Anti-Christ.

im just waiting for the day he slips up and forgets to appear in his human form...

hate him with a passion. and after he screwed up the relationship with Pixar, i hate him even more. Pixar cant stand on its own yet...

money-grubbing scum is what Eisner is. there should ALWAYS be a Disney on the board there.

Walt is spinning in his cryo-chamber....

Monday, December 1, 2003 4:18 PM
You can read Roy's letter to Mr. Eisner HERE

It touches base with the issue of corner-cutting at the Disney parks a few times.

Monday, December 1, 2003 4:44 PM
Now it appears as if the the board is saying that they put Roy into mandatory retirement http://news.moneycentral.msn.com/ticker/article.asp?Feed=RTR&Date=20031201&ID=3152424&Symbol=US:DIS

I think it's an attempt at spin control - which failed miserably.

Monday, December 1, 2003 4:47 PM
Jeff's avatar I can't say I've watched Disney all that closely, but can we credit Eisner with any of the huge success the company had in the 90's? The animated films of that time were huge, every one of them starting with Little Mermaid. Sure, Roy was in animation, but at the end of the day it's still the CEO that has to present overall budgets to the board. Heck, let's not forget they've opened three US theme parks on his watch too (small as they might be, they'll all grow over time).

I just don't understand the hate for Eisner. Maybe he is the reason for the theme parks getting, well, "behind," but people hate him like they know him. I don't follow that.

Monday, December 1, 2003 4:57 PM

A good number of the people who blindly criticize Eisner are too young to remember what happened at Disney in the early to mid-80's. The company was on the verge of a fire-sale. Without exaggerating I can say there was a pretty good chance they would sell off the individual business units to the highest bidder. Then, Eisner and Wells were recruited. Eisner presided over unprecedented growth, and not just unprecedented for the company...unprecedented in the history of business.

I was fortunate to work for Disney during the "Disney-Decade" and I can assure you that people praised him then more vehemently than they criticize him now. Back then he was a genius and now he is a chump.

If Eisner can be blamed for anything, it surely must be his ego. It got in his way when it came to many important relationships. Katzenberg, Ovitz, Robin Williams, the Jim Henson family, Pixar...just to name a few of the obvious ones. There is no doubt that he is a micromanager which isn't necessarily always a bad thing. But, with the size and complexity of this company I suspect that management style is not well-suited.

Everyone has a peak and perhaps Eisner is well beyond it. It is my hope that Gold and Roy Disney have been thinking this out for some time and likely have an agenda we aren't privy too just yet.*** This post was edited by wahoo skipper 12/1/2003 4:59:13 PM ***

Monday, December 1, 2003 5:06 PM
Jeff's avatar Fair enough. I suspected that might be the case when Katzenberg left, because at the time it just seemed to me that Disney was too sweet a place to leave, let alone start your own studio.
Monday, December 1, 2003 5:49 PM
i am old enough to remember the 80s and how bad it was.

and yes, Eisner looked like he was awesome. maybe he was at the time. but now, he is running the company into the ground and taking others with it.

just because he likes to be a real-life "Pointy-Haired Boss" does not mean that Pixar and Miramax should suffer. they (and New Line) are the most innovative film companies out there and the former two need the support Disney could give them.

has MR Eisner already forgotten how much MONEY Pixar just made for his company with "Finding Nemo"?

the only good decision the man made in the last year was "Pirates of The Caribbean"...and even then he probably hemmed and hawed....


Monday, December 1, 2003 5:56 PM
It seems to many that any credit that may be due to Eisner for Disney's success in the 90's was actually a result of the balance that Frank Wells played in the relationship. Not that Wells was a crazy money spending fool - I've actually heard stories from the early days of Eisner's reign where he'd walk through the park with Junior executives ordering them to do things that'd cost tons of money, and Frank taking the executive aside afterward saying 'This is what he really meant', offering a more reasonable alternative.

Apparently, Frank was the one with the gift for balance. Weighing the needs of Wall Street with those of the legacy of the company. Frank and Michael's reign gave us things like Splash Mountain, don't forget. Once Frank died Mikey lost his sense of balance (as well as a buffer between himself and his tendency to Micro Manage) and started mortgaging the company's past for the sake of Wall Street alone.

Monday, December 1, 2003 6:01 PM
Katzenberg wanted to be #2 when Wells died. The way that fell apart depends on who you are listening too but the bottom line is Eisner wasn't going to relent so Katzenberg jumped ship...and landed on a yacht.

Ovitz wanted more responsibilities and didn't want to go to Eisner for every little thing. Eisner wasn't willing to relent and Ovitz got a golden parachute.

The Henson family wanted to be treated with some respect.

Pixar doesn't want to be bent over a chair...if you get my drift.

The common denominator in all of this is Eisner's ego. Everything he touched in the late 80's early 90's turned to gold. Then, he started making mistakes. The go.com network, the sporting franchises, Disney's America, the debacle that was EuroDisney, etc.

I think when he started at Disney he was a creative man. Now he is a business man and he forgets how the company got where it is today.

Tuesday, December 2, 2003 9:20 AM
I've been reading some of the Disneyland discussion boards in preparation for a week-long family trip to Walt's Apartment.

Peering in on that community is interesting. If you think coasterbuzz has single-minded-to-the-point-of-obsession people, you have no idea. There is practically a religion built around Walt, the parks, the movies---all of it. As with any religion, there is naturally considerable passion amongst the adherents, complete with schisms along dogmatic lines (DCA sucks/DCA is neat).

Eisner, as the steward of this enterprise, becomes the magnet for each individual "flawed" decision/execution. After nearly 20 years, he has done at least one thing to tick off nearly every serious fan. Mind you, most of the fans can't agree on what that one thing is, but that doesn't seem to matter.

Finally, the joy that is your average 'net discussion board allows people to vent anonymously (and with vitriol) and find the other six like-minded people who agree with them, thereby forming a consensus. But then, you've seen that happen here, too.

The end result is that Eisner is pretty much the Anti-Christ amongst the Disney faithful. Turns out they don't own that much stock---2/3 of the company is held institutionally. If I had to guess, I'd say that the hard-core Disney fans also don't make up a noticeable fraction of the company's income---just as enthusiasts are barely a drop in the revenue bucket for your average park. So, I'm wondering if any of this matters that much. But, it sure is fun to watch.

Tuesday, December 2, 2003 9:48 AM
You make a good point, Brian, but regardless of how much or how little the religious Disney fans matter when it comes to the company's bottom line, it can't be denied that those "Disney faithful" aren't the only ones that are disgusted with many aspects of the company. Its just like Six Flags- the enthusiasts are generally unhappy with the state of things over there, and that matters very little in the grand scheme of things, but even the general public is unhappy with the way the company is run, and that is evident by their plunging stock value and their slumpin revenue. Enthusiasts make up a very small portion of a company's business, but their opinions and feelings seem to serve as a precursor to what everyone else will soon be feeling. There are many people, not enthusiasts at all, that are "down on Disney" right now.
Tuesday, December 2, 2003 10:12 AM
To expand on that point, Disney enthusiasts do seem to have a pretty good feel for what is the common Disney expectation and what isn't. The enthusiast community was down on Disney's California Adventure b/c they knew it was half-assed. The predicted trouble and they were right on the money. I think the enthusiast community has been right in their complaints about the lack of care at Disneyland, particularly in terms of Tomorrowland. And their are many other examples in the parks: AK's Dinoland USA, the monorail debacle, the sadness that is 20K Under the Sea, etc.

When it comes to movies the enthusiast community also knows what the problems are. Direct-to-video sequels are dilluting the brand. The as-of-now failed attempt to work out differences with Pixar. The implosion of the animation department.

And in television, who couldn't see the sudden demise of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire coming from miles away. Obviously, Eisner didn't see it coming.

In the past 7 years I haven't seen Eisner do anything that tells me he has changed his tune and knows what the right buttons to push are right now. Greenlighting Tower of Terror for DCA and Everest at AK are a start but any of us could have made those decisions.

Finally, I am not an Eisner hater. I think he (along with Wells, Katzenberger, etc) did a remarkable job with the company in the 80's and early 90's. But, that was then and this is now.

Tuesday, December 2, 2003 10:53 AM
janfrederick's avatar I think most *enthusiasts* would like to see the purveyors of their hobby be the best they can be. However, not being *there* in the heat of battle tends to distort the vision of the battle.
Tuesday, December 2, 2003 11:00 AM
I think Disney in itself has grown to big for its own good. I sense this in Europe and I wouldn´t be surprised if reaction towards an omni-present entertainment machinery is beginning to distract people in the US too.

Apart from Japan were being part of a corporate identity belongs to culture, people in the western hemisphere tend to feel "consumed" by companies that seem to cover every aspect of their world and culture. Europeans react negatively to an overdose of "all-american kitsch culture" Disney is often associated with (some countries more than others). I think that Americans, on the other hand, are more and more doubting the benefits of big corporations as scandals and frauds are revealed on a regular basis.

The constant nagging and personification of Eisner as the source of all evil shows how unsatisfied and "betrayed" people feel by "their" company.

I guess nobody wants back the Disney that produced films like "Condorman" in the eighties. But I guess many people could live without a Disneyland on every continent. It used to be something special to dream of going to the Magic Kingdom a few years ago. Now its a little like going to Mc Donalds. Its literally everywhere and one place isn´t even distinctively different from the other.

I doubt that 12 million visitors per year at Disneyland Paris can be considered a failure. But instead of adding TO the park, they added A park! People feel ripped off, while other parks have learned their lessons from Disney and provide a more affordable and culturally adapted experience.
(Park Asterix being a good example).

Sometimes it looks like Disney is now attacked by the ghosts it created themselves. And being such a huge corporation its getting harder to act appropriately

Tuesday, December 2, 2003 11:18 AM
wahoo skipper hit all of the nails on the head.

The Disney brand has been dilluted, although it extends far beyond the "direct to video" releases of sequels to Lion King, Jungle Book and whatever other franchises the company felt needed to be bled dry in order to make a quick buck. I applaud Disney for building new parks, but it can be argued that Disneyland CA needed new rides before DCA was added, Disneyland Paris needed a new attraction or two before Disney Studios was built, and both Epcot and MGM would have benefitted more from new investments before money was put into Animal Kingdom. The only Disney location that seems to be doing things right is the Japan property, which comes as no surprise because that is partially owned by another company (Oriental Landholding or something like that). Disney seems to stretch itself way too far nowadays, and that means that everything within the company suffers.

I'm not a complete Eisner-hater. I know that he suffers from a bit of an ego, but since I'm not in that boardroom, I can't honestly say who is to blame for what. But, like w.s. said, what Eisner is credited for happened yesterday... what has he done for Disney today?


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