Rise and fall of 'Emperor Eisner'

By almost anyone's standards, Michael Eisner had a good first decade at the Walt Disney Company. He faced a hard task after being appointed chief executive in 1984, trying to turn around an icon of American entertainment under the long shadow of the family dynasty that first introduced the mouse to the world.

In those days, Mr Eisner even got on well with Roy Disney, the nephew of Walt, who was among those who championed giving him the job. But after 1994, his relationship with Roy, the last family member of the board, began to sour and the fortunes of the company started to gyrate.

That year, his hugely respected right-hand man, Frank Wells, was killed in a helicopter crash. Also in 1994, the company plunged into the maelstrom of media consolidation still playing out today with its massively expensive acquisition of ABC television. That deal gave Disney the ESPN sports networks that have been cash cows. But ABC itself has been in the ratings ditch since.

Some would say Mr Eisner's first major misstep came in 1992 when he opened Euro-Disney outside Paris. The venture was not a success financially or with the public. Critics said Mr Eisner chose Paris because of government incentives, when he should have chosen somewhere with a better climate, say, Barcelona. But it has been the management style of Mr Eisner that has most irked Mr Disney, his allies and Wall Street.

He has been accused of padding the Disney board with cronies. And questions have been multiplying over his failure to institute a succession plan at the company. His answer until recently was that he had a name in a sealed envelope for the day he departs. Now he says Disney is looking for candidates to replace him.

Mr Disney, who called him "Emperor Eisner", says: "The company is rapacious, soul-less, and always looking for the 'quick buck' rather than long-term value which is leading to a loss of public trust."

Daniel Gross, who writes financial comment for Slate, the online magazine, said: "Eisner looks like a miserly bean-counter intent on putting out entertainment that is derivative, cheap, and easily digestible."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Recruitment Genius: Digital Optimisation Executive - Marketing

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The UK's fastest growing, multi...

Recruitment Genius: Financial Reporting Manager

£70000 - £90000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Financial Reporting Manager i...

Recruitment Genius: Payments Operations Assistant

£23000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They win lots of awards for the...

Recruitment Genius: Telephone Debt Negotiator

£13500 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This nationwide enforcement com...

Day In a Page

Sepp Blatter resignation: The beginning of Fifa's long road to reform?

Does Blatter's departure mean Fifa will automatically clean up its act?

Don't bet on it, says Tom Peck
Charles Kennedy: The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

Charles Kennedy was consistently a man of the centre-left, dedicated to social justice, but was also a champion of liberty and an opponent of the nanny-state, says Baroness Williams
Syria civil war: The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of this endless conflict

The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of Syria's endless civil war

Sahar Qanbar lost her mother and brother as civilians and government soldiers fought side by side after being surrounded by brutal Islamist fighters. Robert Fisk visited her
The future of songwriting: How streaming is changing everything we know about making music

The future of songwriting

How streaming is changing everything we know about making music
William Shemin and Henry Johnson: Jewish and black soldiers receive World War I Medal of Honor amid claims of discrimination

Recognition at long last

Jewish and black soldiers who fought in WWI finally receive medals after claims of discrimination
Beating obesity: The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters

Beating obesity

The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters
9 best women's festival waterproofs

Ready for rain: 9 best women's festival waterproofs

These are the macs to keep your denim dry and your hair frizz-free(ish)
Cycling World Hour Record: Nervous Sir Bradley Wiggins ready for pain as he prepares to go distance

Wiggins worried

Nervous Sir Bradley ready for pain as he prepares to attempt cycling's World Hour Record
Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

On your feet!

Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

The big NHS question

Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

Thongs ain't what they used to be

Big knickers are back
Thurston Moore interview

Thurston Moore interview

On living in London, Sonic Youth and musical memoirs
In full bloom

In full bloom

Floral print womenswear
From leading man to Elephant Man, Bradley Cooper is terrific

From leading man to Elephant Man

Bradley Cooper is terrific