Deposed Disney CEO Eisner’s advice to ‘stupid’ striking writers: blame Steve Jobs, not the studios

Apple iTunes“In his keynote speech on Wednesday morning at the Media and Money conference hosted by Dow Jones and Nielsen, former Disney CEO Michael Eisner talked about writers as though they were a minority group that he didn’t particularly understand well. ‘I like writers. Some of my best friends are writers,’ he said as though attempting to save face. But nevertheless, his foremost epithet for the ongoing Writer’s Guild of America strike was ‘stupid,'” Caroline McCarthy reports for CNET.

“Eisner said in the keynote, which was structured as a conversation with Neil P. Cavuto, senior vice president and managing editor of Fox Business News. ‘This is a stupid strike,'” McCarthy reports. “Eisner, now the head of a private investment firm called The Tornante Company, has launched an online video studio called Vuguru, and said that it’s still more or less a fruitless labor. Vuguru’s debut series, a serial mystery called Prom Queen, ‘didn’t make money,’ he said.”

“The problem, Eisner said, is that the Writer’s Guild is lobbying for a bigger cut of the profits from digital distribution–and according to the former Disney chief, those profits simply aren’t there,” McCarthy reports. “He said it would take about three years for Web video and other forms of digital distribution to gain enough of a foothold to be profitable–and that’s when the Writer’s Guild would have a case to make. ‘What I’m saying is for a current writer, for six thousand people to give up today’s money for a nonexistent piece today is stupid,’ Eisner asserted. ‘They can do it in three years. They shouldn’t be doing it now.'”

“Eisner, a well-known critic of Apple (whose CEO, Steve Jobs, is a powerful member of Disney’s board of directors), suggested that the profits may be getting sucked up elsewhere. The studios ‘make deals with Steve Jobs, who takes them to the cleaners. They make all these kinds of things, and who’s making money? Apple! They should get a piece of Apple. If I was a union, I’d be striking up wherever he is,'” McCarthy reports.

Full article here.

So, the writers are stupid for striking, the studios are stupid for making deals with Apple and Eisner himself is obviously stupid for going from Disney CEO to ignominious obscurity. (Vuguru? What the hell is that? Just go play golf and shaddup, Mikey.)

It’s impossible to negotiate with Steve Jobs. Jobs is a Shiite Muslim. – Michael Eisner, Disney Board Meeting, March 2003

Funny how Disney CEO Bob Iger seems to do just fine negotiating all kinds of deals with Steve Jobs. Jobs is a Pescetarian, by the way.

Let’s face facts. For good or bad, Steve Jobs usually gets what he wants, including Eisner’s head on a platter (which would be an example of “good” for Disney employees, customers, and shareholders – including Disney’s largest shareholder; “bad” only for Eisner, hence his grudge-inspired stupidity).

Anyway, everyone’s stupid and Steve Jobs is, as usual, the smartest guy in the room.

That part sounds about right to us, even coming from loose cannon Michael Eisner. Otherwise, the writers are striking correctly against the studios who employ them and control the profits. Apple is simply a retailer.


  1. To hear the term “stupid” come from the mouth of a CEO seems disconnected. One would think that people in that position would be more erudite and use tactful terms which more times than none can be more incisive. Seeing that I am light years away from ever attaining CEO status i can comfortably say that Eisner continues to be a spoled “cafone”

  2. He’s partly right. At this point, these corporations getting involved in video are just pumping money out to see what sticks. In essence, they’re not making money, mostly breaking even. For the guild to go out and seek a % of paltry profits, considering what the profits COULD be in the future, they might be shooting themselves in the foot. He’s basically saying the guild is fighting for table scraps at this point when they should wait for when everyone is eating steak.

    If the guild strikes a bad deal at this point, not knowing how the market will truly develop down the road, they’ve got no one to blame but themselves.

    As for Apple and Steve Jobs being the problem, the studios don’t have to say yes. That’s a lame excuse and a cop-out. Apple makes no bones about the fact they are in business to sell hardware, life-style hardware. It just so happens Apple is where the market is currently at, like it or not.

  3. hold on…yes, they are striking for a share of digital sales, etc. But they are also striking for better sharing of revenue on DVD sales – which are quite profitable.
    I think they probably felt that they waited too long on the DVD stuff and want to get ahead of the curve on digital.

  4. Checked Vuguru and Prom Queen. It seems interesting, but you have to pay for it, and it’s windows only. And he wonders why it has made no money? THe answer is simple. People will not pay for a TV show that they do not know. TV has had it correct for decades. Give the show to viewers for free and have advertisers pay for it.

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