This book tells a story of personal greed and the struggle to maintain power at the top of the Disney organisation towards the end of Michael Eisner’s term as CEO. Once I got into the book I found it a real page-turner as it documented Roy Disney’s attempt to remove Mr Eisner from his post, after 20 years at the top.
The author James B. Stuart is a former page-one editor of The Wall Street Journal. He won a Pulitzer Prize in 1988 for his reporting of the stock market crash. The book is based primarily on first hand reporting consisting of hundreds of interviews and a review of many thousands of pages of documents.
Part of the book documents the conflict between Michael Eisner and Disney chairman, Jeffery Katzenberg. After Katzenberg was forced to resign from Disney he mounted a court battle for the compensation he believed he was due under his contract. At one point Katzenberg indicated that he would settle for $60 million. Eisner and the Disney board would not concede this but the eventual court case led to a settlement of $280 million. This is an eye watering amount in anyone’s reckoning, especially when the Disney animators were, at the time, being paid the lowest wages the studio could get away with. Jeffery Katzenberg moved on to DreamWorks where he oversaw the production of many hit animation movies including Shrek. Ironically this started a wages war between Disney and DreamWorks as they tried to entice the top animators to their studio.