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Totting up the Eisner scorecard

Totting up the Eisner scorecard

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How many of you caught that interview that Michael Eisner gave to the Associated Press last week? The one where Disney's outgoing CEO talked about how ...

" ... 'turbulence' at the Walt Disney Co. during his reign as chief executive was just part of trying to do things better at one of the world's biggest entertainment companies."

As you read through this piece, it's almost shocking to see how glib Eisner can be as he looks back over his 21 year-long run as head of the Mouse House. Take -- for example -- last year's raucous shareholders meeting. Which Michael attempts to casually dismiss with a single one liner. Saying (in essence) that -- if you thought what Roy Disney & Stanley Gold did in Philadelphia last year was disruptive:

"You should have seen the turbulence at my fraternity house."

When pressed about whether or not he felt that he'd made any mistakes while he was in charge of the Walt Disney Company, the only error that Eisner would admit to was overpaying for Mo Vaughn. Agreeing to pay $80 million over a six year period so that this free agent could then come play ball for the Anaheim Angels. Only to have Mo injure his ankle almost immediately after signing with the then-Disney-owned team. Which forced Vaughn to sit out virtually the entire 1998 baseball season.

Now I would imagine that JHM readers have a very different view of Michael Eisner's legacy. That you people might think that Disney's outgoing CEO had a bit more to answer for than just over-paying for Mo Vaughn.

Which is I'd now like your input on a little project that I'm trying to put together. Something that I'd like to call:

"Michael Eisner's Scorecard"

To explain: Over the next 19 days, I'd like your help in assembling a document that we'll eventually be posting here on this site. Something that will attempt to look back over Michael Eisner's entire tenure at the Walt Disney Company. A catalog of all of this man's successes & failures, if you will. With the hope that this document will then provide us all with some sort of perspective on Disney's soon-to-be-ex-CEO.

Now please understand that the purpose of this project isn't to bash Eisner. But -- rather -- to try & help us all take in the bigger picture. Get some sense as to whether Disneyana fans think that the Walt Disney Company wound up in a better place because Michael was in charge. Or if they think the Mouse House was irrepairably damaged during Eisner's tenure.

Obviously, this will be an extremely unscientific, incredibly subjective poll. But even so, I'll be intrigued to hear what JHM readers consider Michael's successes and failures to be. To get the ball rolling, the following is my take on some of the very first decisions that Eisner made upon arriving at Walt Disney Productions back in 1984:

Greenlighting production of "Down & Out in Beverly Hills" (The 1986 feature film) -- Hit

Greenlighting production of that "Down & Out in Beverly Hills" spin-off TV series -- Miss

Greenlighting production of "Basil of Baker Street" back in 1984 -- Hit

Changing the name of this animated feature to "The Great Mouse Detective" just prior to its release -- Miss

You get the idea of what I'm going for here yet? A Wikipedia-style look back at Michael Eisner's career. Where all of us get to chime in, debating about what we think Disney's outgoing CEO did right and/or did wrong. Where we can applaud the man for having the courage to put "Who Framed Roger Rabbit" into production. But -- at the same time -- take the guy to task for bobbling Disney's best opportunity to make a sequel to that Academy Award winning motion picture.

Of course -- in order for the project to be a success -- JHM is going to need your input. The idea here is to try & get the Disneyana fan's perspective on what occurred during the Eisner era. Both the good (EX: "The Lion King" animated film as well as "The Lion King" stage musical) as well as the bad (EX: Okaying the construction of far too many hotels at the Disneyland-Paris Resort).

So how's about you folks now joining me over on JHM's discussion boards? Where we can then get started on totting up Michael Eisner's scorecard.

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