DisneyWar, poet and acting legend Jimmy Stewart's 572-page tome on the inner dirt of the Walt Disney Company, created quite a stir when it was released in February of 2005. The book details Michael Eisner's "leadership" of Disney, and how he first turned it into a global media powerhouse beloved by all who so much as caught a whisper of its name, and then, through overexploitation and short-sighted shortcuts to short-term profits, made it the business-partner-annoying, penny-pinching producer of outsourced direct-to-video-via-movie-theater cartoons and creator minor amusement parks with major ticket prices that we all know today.
The book also spends a fair amount of time discussing Disney president and COD Robert Iger, who is thought by many people to be the perfect replacement for Michael Eisner (if by "many people" one means "Michael Eisner"). In 2006, Michael Eisner is expected to step out of his position as CEO of Disney, and has agreed to have nothing more to do with the company beyond perhaps heading the board of directors. At that point, according to DisneyWar, Iger will step in and continue to run the company as a toady akin to that kid that always followed the red-headed kid around in the movie A Christmas Story, with true lovers of Disney playing the part of Ralphie.
Michael Eisner denies that he is Iger's puppet master. Asked about the portrayal of his and Iger's relationship in DisneyWar, Eisner said, "Robert Iger is his own man. He doesn't need anyone to pull his strings." Iger added, "I'm my own man. I don't need anyone to pull my strings."
But it's Eisner who's the book's real target. Rather than go over the whole story in gory detail, we will share just a few of the book's startling revelations:
The book's center section has dozens of behind-the-scenes photographs, including a series of shots of Eisner and Iger taken at a drunken hot-tubbing party that anyone who has just eaten should probably skip over.
In a final quote in the book, Eisner denies that he is grooming Iger for his position. "He might be a good CEO," Eisner says. "Who knows? Frankly, I can't think of anyone who could replace me, although I do have an idea where we could find someone." The week before making this statement, Eisner invested a quarter-billion dollars of his own money in ImageGen, a biotechnology firm experimenting in human cloning.
In writing this review we tried to contact Disney executives for comment, but they were all unavailable for some inexplicable reason. Fortunately, we were able to contact a Disney spokesperson who was willing to speak to us about the company's official stance on the book. She said, "We remain focused on the company's excellent results, high performance, and bright future, and will continue to maximize shareholder value and fully support our CEO and board of directors, no matter how much of the truth gets out. Oh, and tell Roy I miss him."
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