Today's the last day of Michael Eisner's 20+ year reign as head of the Walt Disney Company. It's been a rollercoaster (ahem) career for the former head of Paramount Pictures and ABC Television, as he took the reigns of a dying, creatively bereft company in 1984 and turned it into the international media conglomerate it is today. But not every step or decision made by Eisner was met with universal acclaim - as with all modern businesses, bottom lines must be maintained and in the entertainment industry sometimes imagination and wonder must be sacrificed for practicality and necessity.
Eisner at times, fueled by his own ego and wish to be the new Walt Disney, took things too far. After ten years and a string of animated successes ("The Little Mermaid," "Beauty and the Beast," "Aladdin," "The Lion King," not to mention the advent of the Pixar partnership beginning with "Toy Story") the previous ten years have seen stockholder upheaval, layoffs, theme park neglect and consistently bad creative choices. Beginning with the death of partner Frank Wells in 1994 and continuing with rifts between Eisner and key collaborators like Jeffrey Katzenberg, Michael Ovitz, Roy Disney (Walt's Nephew and keeper of the legacy), Stanley Gold and Pixar president Steve Jobs, it was clear that the honeymoon was over.
Today Eisner steps down as head of the Walt Disney Company and Bob Iger takes over. What will the next ten years hold? Who knows, but it's up to Iger to pull the company back to the lofty position it held ten years ago. Good luck, Bob.
And, in the immortal words of Lenny and Squiggy:
M-I-C... (See ya real soon!)
...K-E-Y... (Why? Why not?)