The Wonderful World of Disney

​February 23, 2023     |     The Hollow Man Series, International Espionage

By the early 1990s, I thought I had fully grown into as normal a human being as I would ever be. But I was wrong. Disney Studios called my office in Los Angeles asking for a trained facilitator to negotiate an executive meeting. Within an hour, I pulled into a multi-level Disney headquarters parking lot held up by concrete pillars that suspiciously looked like their cartoon characters. I parked and headed up to the boardroom on the top floor.

Standing in the hallway outside the room was a tall gentleman. He actually brightened when he saw me. The man shook my hand with a smile. Disney really was a fun place full of happy people.

“My name is Michael Eisner,” he said. “Call me Michael. I’m the CEO here. Come on, I want you to meet a few people. ”

He opened the door. Already sitting in the meeting room were six, not-to-happy looking men. I stepped up to the lectern and Eisner sat to my right. They all looked at me and I stared back, not at all understanding why I was here.

“Can you please introduce yourself and tell us why you are here?” I asked the first man to my left, thinking I might get a hint regarding what I was asked to facilitate.

He told me his name, his position as head of Disney’s Studios, and he did not have the slightest notion why he was called to this meeting. I received the same response from the next four in line. All were also a head of four other divisions, Touchstone Movies, Consumer Products, Theme Parks, and Music. The last man, head of Disney’s Animation Studios, however, knew exactly why he was at the meeting. (for those counting, there are up to 15 divisions at Disney today)

“I’m here so that bastard other there doesn’t get what he wants,” he said, pointing to the head of Touchstone Movies. Thanks for that clarification, sir.

“We’ll see about that, won’t we?” Touchstone responded.

“And, of course, you all know Mr. Eisner,” I interjected, averting an uncomfortable moment when guns were drawn.

“I told you once, call me Michael,” he said, looking directly at me. “I won’t tell you again.”

OK, point taken, Mikey.

“I’m here to tell you,” Eisner continued, turning back to the group. “One of you will keep your job this year, the one who makes the most money.”

I saw Mr. Touchstone lean back in his chair. The smirk on his face was overwhelming. One smash hit movie and you guys are gone, all gone.

“Wait a minute, if my music is in one of his movies, I want royalty for it,” exploded Mr. Music.

“If one of my characters is singing your song is his movie, I want royalty too,” said all the cartoon characters in unison.

“Now, you know what you’re here to do,” Eisner jumped in. “Fix the royalty problem.”

Michael Eisner stood and left the room. I never saw him again during the following weeks while I charmed a pack of division cobras. Happy trails, Mike. You left me in a snake pit without an antidote.