Michael Eisner CEO - Walt Disney
Jewish Name - Michael Dammann Eisner
Michael Dammann Eisner is a
American businessman. Michael Eisner was the chief executive officer
of The Walt Disney Company from 1984 until 2005.
Michael Eisner was born in Mount Kisco, New York,
on March 7, 1942, the son of
Margaret (née Dammann) and Lester Michael Eisner, Jr. His
great-grandfather, Sigmund Michael Eisner, was one of the first
uniform suppliers to the Boy Scouts of America. Michael Eisner was
raised on Park Avenue in Manhattan. Michael Eisner attended the
Allen-Stevenson School kindergarten through ninth grade followed by
The Lawrenceville School in tenth through his senior year and
graduated from Denison University in 1964 with a B.A. in English.
Michael Eisner is a member of the Delta Upsilon Fraternity and
credits much of his accomplishments to his time at Keewaydin Canoe
Camp for boys in Vermont.
ABC and Paramount
After two brief stints at NBC and CBS, Barry Diller at ABC hired
Michael Eisner as Assistant to the National Programming Director.
Michael Eisner moved up the ranks, eventually becoming a senior vice
president in charge of programming and development. In 1976, Diller,
who had by then moved on to become chairman of Paramount Pictures,
recruited Michael Eisner from ABC and made him president and CEO of
the movie studio. During his tenure at Paramount, the studio turned
out such hit films as Saturday Night Fever, Grease, the Star Trek
film franchise, Raiders of the Lost Ark, and Beverly Hills Cop, and
hit TV shows such as Happy Days, Laverne & Shirley, Cheers and
Diller left Paramount in 1984, and, as his protégé, Michael Eisner
expected to assume Diller's position as studio chief. When Michael
Eisner was passed over for the job, though, Michael Eisner left to
look for work elsewhere and lobbied for the position of CEO of The
Walt Disney Company.
Since Walt Disney's death in 1966, The Walt Disney Company had
narrowly survived takeover attempts by corporate raiders. Its
shareholders Sid Bass and Roy E. Disney brought in Michael Eisner
and former Warner Brothers chief Frank Wells to replace Ron W.
Miller in 1984 and strengthen the company.
During the second half of the 1980s and early 1990s, Disney was
revitalized. Beginning with the films Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988)
and The Little Mermaid (1989), its flagship animation studio enjoyed
a series of commercial and critical successes. Disney also broadened
its adult offerings in film when then Disney Studio Chairman Jeffrey
Katzenberg acquired Miramax Films in 1993. Disney acquired many
other media sources, including ABC and ESPN.
In the early part of the 1990s, Michael Eisner and his partners set
out to plan "The Disney Decade" which was to feature new parks
around the world, existing park expansions, new films, and new media
investments. While some of the proposals were completed, most were
not. Those completed included the Euro Disney Resort (now Disneyland
Paris), Disney-MGM Studios (now Disney's Hollywood Studios), Disney
California Adventure Park, Disney-MGM Studios Paris (eventually
opened in 2002 as Walt Disney Studios Park), and various film
projects including a Who Framed Roger Rabbit franchise.
Wells died in a helicopter crash in 1994. When Michael Eisner did
not appoint Katzenberg to Wells' now-available post, Katzenberg
resigned and formed DreamWorks SKG with partners Steven Spielberg
and David Geffen. Michael Eisner then recruited his friend Michael
Ovitz, one of the founders of the Creative Artists Agency, to be
President, with minimal involvement from Disney's board of directors
(which at the time included Oscar-winning actor Sidney Poitier, the
CEO of Hilton Hotels Corporation Stephen Bollenbach, former U.S.
Senator George Mitchell, Yale dean Robert A. M. Stern, and Michael
Eisner's predecessors Raymond Watson and Card Walker). Ovitz lasted
only 14 months and left Disney in December 1996 via a "no fault
termination" with a severance package of $38 million in cash and 3
million stock options worth roughly $100 million at the time of
Ovitz's departure. The Ovitz episode engendered a long running
derivative suit, which finally concluded in June 2006, almost 10
years later. Chancellor William B. Chandler, III of the Delaware
Court of Chancery, despite describing Michael Eisner's behavior as
falling "far short of what shareholders expect and demand from those
entrusted with a fiduciary position..." found in favor of Michael
Eisner and the rest of the Disney board because they had not
violated the letter of the law (namely, the duty of care owed by a
corporation's officers and board to its shareholders).
In 2003, Roy E. Disney, the son of Disney co-founder Roy O. Disney
and nephew of Walt Disney, resigned from his positions as Disney
vice chairman and chairman of Walt Disney Features. His reasons for
resigning were micromanagement flops with the ABC television
network, timidity in the theme park business, the Walt Disney
Company turning into a "rapacious, soul-less" company, refusal to
establish a clear succession plan, as well as a string of box-office
movie flops starting in the year 2000.
On March 3, 2004, at Disney's annual shareholders' meeting, a
surprising and unprecedented 43% of Disney's shareholders,
predominantly rallied by former board members Roy Disney and Stanley
Gold, withheld their proxies to re-elect Michael Eisner to the
board. Disney's board then gave the chairmanship position to
Mitchell. However, the board did not immediately remove Michael
Eisner as chief executive.
On March 13, 2005, Michael Eisner announced that Michael Eisner
would step down as CEO one year before his contract expired. On
September 30, Michael Eisner resigned both as an executive and as a
member of the board of directors, and, severing all formal ties with
the company, Michael Eisner waived his contractual rights to perks
such as the use of a corporate jet and an office at the company's
Burbank headquarters. Michael Eisner's replacement was his longtime
assistant, Robert Iger.
On October 7, 2005, Michael Eisner hosted the Charlie Rose talk
show, filling in for Rose. His guests were John Travolta and his
ex-boss, Barry Diller. Impressed with Michael Eisner's
performance, CNBC President Mark Hoffman hired Michael Eisner in
early 2006 to host his own talk show, Conversations with Michael
Eisner. The show mostly features CEOs, political leaders, artists
and actors. Some of his guests include Chuck Norris and Frank Gehry.
Michael Eisner is also an executive producer of the show.
In March 2007, Michael Eisner's investment firm, The Tornante
Company, launched a studio, Vuguru, that will produce and distribute
videos for the Internet, portable media devices and cell phones.
"The entire concept here is 'content is king'," Michael Eisner said
in an interview. "What will drive traffic is interest in the subject
matter." Through these companies Michael Eisner has acquired the
rights to the internet series SamHas7Friends. The first series
produced by Vuguru is Prom Queen, created by Big Fantastic (the same
team behind SamHas7Friends), which launched on April 1, 2007. The
second series produced by Michael Eisner and Vuguru is The All-for-nots
(theallfornots.com), created by Thom Woodley and Kathleen Grace of
The Burg (theburg.tv). It premiered March 11, 2008 at SXSW.
In October 2007, Michael Eisner, through his Tornante Company
investment firm, partnered with Madison Dearborn Partners in the
acquisition of Topps Company, the bubble-gum and collectibles firm.
Michael Eisner produced a mockumentary style show about his takeover
of the Topps Company, called "Back on Topps." His studio Vuguru
produced it, the episodes first aired exclusively with Fox Sports,
and it is sponsored by Skype. All episodes are currently available
The College of Education at California State University Northridge
is named in his honor.
In 2009, Michael Eisner used his own money to produce a claymation
show called Glenn Martin, DDS.
Work In Progress (1998) (ISBN
Camp (2005) (ISBN 978-0446533690)
Working Together: Why Great Partnerships Succeed (2010) (ISBN
Awards and recognition
2001 Honor Award from the National Building Museum
2004 UJA-Federation of New York's Steven J. Ross Humanitarian of the
Received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2008.
On November 29, 2011, it was announced that Michael Eisner would be
inducted into the Television Academy Hall of Fame. The induction
took place at the 21st Hall of Fame Induction Gala, held March 1,
2012, at the Beverly Hills Hotel. References
"Michael Eisner receiving star on Hollywood Walk of Fame
Friday". Orange County Register. 2008-04-24.
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