Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Three years since Roy Disney's letter to Michael

Charles at Animation Nation just posted a reminder that today is the third anniversary of the infamous letter that Roy Disney sent to Michael Eisner, in which Mr. Disney resigned as Chairman of Feature Animation and Vice Chair of the Disney Board of Directors . . .

Here's a nugget from the letter:

In conclusion, Michael, it is my sincere belief that it is you who should be leaving and not me. Accordingly, I once again call for your resignation or retirement. The Walt Disney Company deserves fresh, energetic leadership at this challenging time in its history just as it did in 1984 when I headed a restructuring which resulted in your recruitment to the Company.

At the time, many people took it as a feeble, useless gesture. If Roy Disney couldn't help change things from the inside, how the heck could he do any good by quitting? No one imagined there was any way Eisner would leave even one day early, or that he couldn't engineer staying even longer, or that his hand-picked successor would make any real attempt to turn things around. It was a pretty dismal time at Disney, to say the least. Despair was not too strong a word for the situation.

Right after the letter, came out, one of our board members (Karen Nugent) had the great idea to invite Roy and his wife to the Guild's holiday party. To everyone's delight, they came. And Mr. Disney electrified the huge crowd with a few well chosen words ...*

We didn't know it then, but that last line, "It ain't over yet!", wasn't a boast. It was a huge understatement.

I know there are some layoffs coming at Disney, and that the changes there since Iger took over are a work in progress. But it's amazing how much things can change in a few years, isn't it?

Thanks to Floyd Norman for reminding us of those words.


Steve Hulett said...

It's worth remembering that Roy Disney was a key player in the departures of two Disney CEOs. The first was Ron Miller (Walt's son-in-law) in 1984. The second was Michael Eisner in 2005, twenty-one years and two months later.

The lesson: Not a good idea to tick off Roy.

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

I heartily agree with Steve and hope that Roy in some fashion will contunue to be a driving force behind The Walt Disny Company. Such passion for creative integrity is so missing without his sort.

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