Nightline covers Disney tonight. It is interesting that none of their bosses agreed to be interviewed. I wonder if Ted will use the same stern tone when he announces it he uses for other corporate heads who duck an interview. Update; Eisner went on the show. He wasn’t even really asked touch questions, but came off badly.
Nightline Daily E-Mail
March 3, 2004
TONIGHT’S FOCUS: Today is the Disney Company stockholders meeting. As most of you probably already know, Chairman and CEO Michael Eisner is being challenged on a number of fronts. What will this mean for the future of Disney, and ABC?
Those of you who remember the comic strip Pogo probably remember its most famous line: “We have met the enemy and he is us.” With apologies to the author of the strip, today “we have met the news and it is us.”
Tonight we’re going to report on what is going on in the Disney Company. Would we be doing this if the company in question was General Motors or GE or another major corporation? Probably not. But Disney is the parent company of ABC. And Disney also has a unique status in this country, and in fact around the world. Almost all of us grew up on Disney characters and movies and Disneyland and all of that. The characters are instantly recognizable, as are the songs. At the same time, the company, in some quarters, is seen in a different light, as a huge entity that plays too great a role in American culture. Very few people are neutral about Disney. And that too, makes it different from most companies.
The stories about the current fight over the tenure of Michael Eisner
and the Board of Directors have been all over the place in the last
couple of days. Usually, stockholder meetings are low-key affairs. Today’s Disney meeting is not. Roy Disney, nephew of Walt Disney, left the board and began a campaign to urge stockholders to withhold their votes from some or all of the current directors. That campaign is really aimed squarely at Michael Eisner.
Now there is no chance that any of the directors are going to be voted off, we are really talking about sending messages. The thinking is that if a certain percentage of votes goes against the board, that will be seen as a signal that a change needs to be
made. But this really is a question of perception. What percentage means what? And really, the question is, what will happen to this company in both the long and the short run?
It’s obviously difficult to report on ourselves. We don’t like being
the news. But today that’s exactly what we will do. Chris Bury will
report on the meeting and how we got to this point. Ted will anchor and will interview Roy Disney and his partner, Stanley Gold. Nightline invited Michael Eisner, Disney number two Bob Iger, and Presiding Director George Mitchell to appear on the broadcast. They declined.
Leroy Sievers and the Nightline Staff
ABCNEWS Washington D.C. bureau