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Exit Eisner - Los Angeles Times, 9/30/05


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  • Exit Eisner - Los Angeles Times, 9/30/05

    THE MICHAEL EISNER ERA at the Walt Disney Co. officially ends today, when the 63-year-old chief executive steps down after 21 years at the helm. Unfortunately for Eisner, he is more likely to be remembered for the missteps and controversies of the last decade than for the phenomenal successes of his first 10 years, when Disney blossomed into a media powerhouse. That's the way Hollywood operates, after all — you're only as good as your last screenplay.

    Eisner's tenure would have made for a tense drama. His "Machiavellian (and imperial)" management style, to quote a federal judge in Delaware, prompted many talented underlings to jump ship. And when former pal Michael Ovitz didn't mesh with Eisner's tight-fisted operational style, Eisner threw him overboard 15 months after hiring him as Disney president.

    The successes are easy to overlook amid all the contretemps Eisner generated with his iron-fisted rule. Instead of being celebrated for the corporate turnaround, he became a poster boy for poor corporate governance. In a way, he's like an aging star on one of the teams Disney used to own: He stayed in the lineup long after he should have quit.
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