Daily Figment 09 Disney, Eisner and Lasseter

I have been thinking a lot (maybe too much) about Eisner lately. I guess this has been spurred on by everyone’s unbridled love for Lasseter. Don’t get me wrong, I think Lasseter is the bees knees, but his sudden coronation as ‘Uncle Lasseter’ scares me quite a bit. I guess I relate to Eisner’s meteoric rise and parachute-less fall to the current situation.

I read the passage below and learned so much from so little. How did Walt really feel about his image; about Disney’s image; about his social responsibility?

I found myself imagining Walt in his personal time and the effect sharing that time must have had on the people around him. One of our earlier Figments points out the effect he had on Herb Ryman.

And then came Eisner. A brilliant buffoon. An amicable villain. A tightrope walking bulldozer. His entire existence at Disney is oxymoronic. It’s as if he was Superman AND Mytzlplyk, often on the same day according to those he worked with. Bizarre? Bizarro!

Eisner, of course, had a different effect on the people around him than Walt did. I have read tales of creative staff meetings where either noone but Eisner talked or noone disagreed with him. Then I think of Walt’s early WED rule: Noone is allowed to say no during a brainstrorming meeting. How creative can a room full of yes men be?

My hope is that Lasseter will inspire the current cast to deliver the best performance of their lives, but we all know what power does to most in those situations. Will we be reading passages like the one below and reminiscing for the good old days when Lasseter was the saviour, before he traded Disney’s soul for his own historical immortality?

Most of all, when I read the passage below I think ‘When will I have my own home screening room?’

In 1962, he (Ron Miller) and Diane had watched ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ with Walt and Lillian at their home screening room, When it was over, everyone was moved and Walt said, “I wish I could make movies like that.” Even Walt had felt constrained by the Disney brand. As he put it in one outburst, “I’ve worked my whole life to create the image of what ‘Walt Disney’ is. It’s not me. I smoke, and I drink, and all the things that we don’t want the public to think about.” Miller had vowed that someday he would make adult films at Disney.
(Card) Walker had resisted for years. “We have our image,” he insisted. But once Miller was chief executive, he’d relented. Miller established Touchstone, and tried to bring in some new blood to run it. His first choice was Michael Eisner.

Disney War, James B Stewart, pages 45-46

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3 thoughts on “Daily Figment 09 Disney, Eisner and Lasseter

  1. I agree that calling Lassetter “Uncle John” is pretty gross and would probably embarrass the man himself, but then again I think “Uncle Walt” is pretty horrific too.

  2. Hearing you comment about the creativity of a room full of “yes men” reminds me of my dad talking about running a computer project in South East Asia.

    He said that the culture was such that you didn’t question what superiors were telling you. Your thoughts on any matter was that of your direct supervisor. He made it his goal during that project to teach them how to express their opinions. To speak up when they thought his ideas were stupid or wrong.

    Until that happened, he said it was unnerving to feel like anything good was happening in meetings.

  3. Foxx,

    I hope that Lasseter is the man to bring the company back to Walt’s ideas of quality. I also hope that Iger is strong enough to keep Lasseter in check and employed by Disney.

    I can envision the media and frothy fans (me included) going nuts over Lasseter and promoting him to minor-deity status. As long as he can keep to the story, we should be fine!

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