Michael D Eisner
- Category : Business-Top-executive
- Type : PSP
- Profile : 5/2 - Heretical / Hermit
- Definition : Split - Large
- Incarnation Cross : LAX Dominion 1
American executive, Chairman and CEO of the Walt Disney Company. Cutting his teeth at CBS and ABC, Eisner distinguished himself with successful programming ideas such as the soaps "All My Children" and "One Life to Live" as well as "Happy Days," "Welcome Back, Kotter" and "Barney Miller." By 1975 he was v-p in charge of programming and development, then ADB’s senior v-p of prime-time production and development. Moving into Disney offices in 1984, he exercised an enormous influence on family entertainment in the U.S. and around the world.
Eisner's father was a lawyer and entrepreneur and his mother was the president of a medical research institute. While a college student, Eisner worked as a page for NBC. After graduating from Denison University in 1964, he worked for the same network as an FCC logging clerk.
He left ABC in 1976 to work as CEO for Paramount Pictures where he gained a name for cutting edge ideas. Even with a tight budget, he brought out such profitable films as "Saturday Night Fever," "Grease" and "Raiders of the Lost Ark." Eisner helped Paramount become the most successful major studio after it had previously been the least successful of the six major movie studios.
When Eisner joined Disney, the financially troubled company was not making successful films, it had lost television exposure, and it made the bulk of its profit from theme parks. Eisner quickly diversified Disney's operations with adult programming and revamping old cartoons and films as well as initiating the construction of theme parks in Japan and France as well as American additions to the existing Disney parks. The company further broadened its corporate empire in 1995 when it bought Eisner's old employer, ABC. The company's success brought Eisner financial rewards in the form of bonuses and stock options.
Eisner's book, "Work in Progress," written with Tony Schwartz, chronicles Eisner's background and his experiences in the entertainment industry. It addresses the problems of Disney's Parisian theme park (Euro Disney) and Eisner's difficulties with top-executives such as Jeffrey Katzenberg, who later left the company and sued Disney, and Michael Ovitz, who briefly served as Disney's president and received millions in severance pay.
In March 2004, the Board of Directors gave Eisner a "no confidence" vote, and he was stripped of his title of Chairman of the Board. On September 9, 2004 in Los Angeles, the embattled executive announced that he would retire as CEO of Walt Disney when his contract expires on September 30, 2006.
However, on March 12, 2005, his replacement, Robert Iger, was announced and Eisner announced that he would yield the CEO spot in September 2005, a year earlier than planned.