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. Eisner was such a smart guy, he was within spitting distance of letting Pixar go on the open market, where the other studios were salivating for a distribution deal with them, all because Pixar wanted a good contract compared to the newbie, unproven producer contract it originally signed with Disney. Because of his stance (and a few other things), he got canned.

    The writers see where the future is going, and that’s to more and more diverse content delivery. The big networks are on their way to becoming just another cable channel, and technology is fast approaching where it will be feasible to broadcast entertainment via the internet and have some decent quality.

    I seriously doubt that the writer’s strike is due solely to online percentages of non-existent revenue. Methinks Eisner doesn’t want to pay his writers anything, which may also help explain how he drove Disney’s movie and animation departments into the ground with bad story lines.

  2. The current writers’ contract is heavily weighted towards the old network business of first-run and reruns. That system has been fundamentally shaken by Internet distribution. And if Eisner says waiting until the technology is more “mature” would be better for writers, it’s a better piece of fiction than many of the scripts he bankrolled.

    Why are writers only getting a ridiculously low .3% of DVD sales? Because they signed a contract during the early days of VHS and got hookwinked to accept a low rate for the burgeoning “new” technology. They’ve been stuck with that absurdly low rate ever since. If they don’t get their fair piece of online sales now, they never will.

    Even though my income is partially based on the entertainment industry — no new shows, no new marketing campaigns to promote them — I support the guild 100 percent!

  3. I don’t get how he can decide that Apple is ripping them off. Where are the costs involved with selling content through iTS? Whether music, movies, or TV, it’s all pre-produced content that takes next to nothing in the way of resources make available via iTunes. There’s no packaging, no physical media, no shipping, and Apple covers the cost of digital delivery. Seems to me that it’s just one more revenue stream with a very low price of admission. The only thing they need to do is reformat it for iTunes. What’s the problem?

    Art, Shiite Muslims can be any race. That wasn’t a racist comment.

  4. If someone working for Disney made racist comment like that while under his leadership, the person would have been fired. I hope every company using his consulting service cancels their contract with him.

  5. Once a shithead, ALWAYS a shithead.

    Since Eisner f**ked up Disney several years back by screwing over anything pre-1985 and making anything since the start of his tortuous tenure extremely mainstream and f**k everyone else, I’m less inclined to believe him when he makes idiotic comments like he did.


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