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Who is the Happiest Man in Hollywood?

Who is the Happiest Man in Hollywood?

That’s easy. Disney Chairman Michael Eisner, but not for the reasons that you might think.

Michael could certainly be happy for the resurgence of ABC, the positive steps that his hand picked successor was doing, or any number of other things going on at Disney. However none of these compared to the joy he must have felt has he opened his Wall Street Journal on May 31st. This is because what really drives Esiner’s happiness even more than his own success is seeing his enemies fail—particularly big, ugly public failures.
“It’s not so easy, is it, you little midget?”

It has taken many years, but the man he called his “golden retriever” and more derisively the “little midget”, has finally stumbled — and stumbled big time. Even better, it is exactly the kind of public company blunder that Eisner used as an excuse to not promote Jeffrey back when Katzenberg was still a knight in Mickey’s Kingdom. Eisner never felt that Katzenberg was up to the task of managing a public company.

When DreamWorks posted its first-quarter earnings on May 11th, the DreamWorks Animation CEO had to admit that the company had overestimated sales of “Shrek 2”. This was bad for many reasons. First, he wasn’t just a little off, but 25% — no rounding error. Second, it raised questions why it took so long for the company to recognize and admit the miscalculation. Third, it hit DreamWorks in the pocketbook, dragging its share price down and shaking investor confidence. Fourth, it comes at a particularly poor time for DreamWorks as a secondary offering is in the works. Fifth, the person in charge of selling DVDs for DreamWorks is Ann Daly, a former Disney employee who quit the mouse to work for Jeffrey (an unforgivable sin in Eisner’s world).

Of course, there had been earlier mis-steps for DreamWorks and Katzenberg. “Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas” was a bomb, but that had been largely hidden from public view because DreamWorks was a private company. Eisner had never had that opportunity with his miscues; even his most private discussions have become public fodder due to lawsuits from disgruntled investors and board members, things that Katzenberg hasn’t previously had to deal with.

Yes, May 11th must have been a wonderful day for Michael Eisner … only topped by May 31, the day that the Wall Street Journal published Katzenberg’s picture with the headline “How DreamWorks Misjudged…” You have to imagine that this article was emailed and faxed to and from Eisner’s office all day and how Eisner must have fantasized about how his former protege was dealing with it all. Yes, revenge is a dish best served cold.

Enjoy the day Mr. Eisner, it has been a long time coming.
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3 Responses to “Who is the Happiest Man in Hollywood?”

  1. 1
    A Senior Administration Official Says:

    And today, the shareholder lawsuit!

  2. 2
    Insider Says:

    and later today, the post about the shareholder lawsuit:


  3. 3
    Stuff. :: 2D Animation Dead? Nope :: July :: 2003 Says:

    [...] as a bomb, but that had been largely hidden from public view bec […]
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