"When You Wish Upon a Star", "Whistle While You Work", "The Happiest Place on Earth", these are lyrics indelibly linked to Disney, one of the most admired and best-known companies in the world. So when Roy Disney, chairman of Walt Disney Animation and nephew of founder Walt Disney, abruptly resigned in November 2003 and declared war on chairman and chief executive Michael Eisner, he sent shock waves through the entertainment industry, corporate boardrooms, theme parks, and living rooms around the world, everywhere that Disney does business and its products are cherished.
DisneyWar is the breathtaking, dramatic inside story of what drove America's best-known entertainment company to civil war, told by one of our most acclaimed writers and reporters.
Here, too, is the creative process that lies at the heart of Disney, from the making of The Lion King to Pirates of the Caribbean. Even as the executive suite has been engulfed in turmoil, Disney has worked, and sometimes clashed, with a glittering array of stars, directors, designers, artists, and producers, many of whom tell their stories here for the first time.
Stewart describes how Eisner lost his chairmanship and why he felt obliged to resign as CEO, effective 2006. No other book so thoroughly penetrates the secretive world of the corporate boardroom. DisneyWar is an enthralling tale of one of America's most powerful media and entertainment companies, the people who control it, and those trying to overthrow them.
DisneyWar is an epic achievement. In its sudden twists, its vivid, larger-than-life characters, and its thrilling climax, it tells a story that might itself have been the subject of a Disney animated classic, except that it's all true.
©2005 James B. Stewart; (P)2005 Blackstone Audiobooks
"Stewart has an astonishing story to tell. His notable accomplishment is that he tells it so well. The book is hypnotically absorbing." (Publishers Weekly)
It is hard to imagine that these guys might have ruined one of the biggest franchises out there. Big egos. Big mistakes and some big wins. Big money made along the way. The confluence of creativity and intellectual property with business can be ugly in a big way.
Every time I watch a Disney movie that was made during the time that this book takes place, all the information that I learned about the movie from this book comes back to me. I can't sit there and watch it with out leaning over and saying Eisner hated the "gay pirate" that Johnny Depp was doing. He had to sneak his fake teeth into the set. I just love books like this that have all the private memo's and diaries of the people involved because it is a court case. It seems like you get such a raw perspective because of this. I really feel like I am getting the real story.
It has complete ingredients for an entertaining movie. Well written, and you'll get to know the characters (real people)involved; and like everyone else, they are no different. We listened to it during our long drive to/from Toronto.
As a college student with aspirations of working in the entertainment industry, I have been following the Disney-Eisner scandals avidly over the last four to five years. Stewart's book is a fantastic account of the problems faced by the company in the final years of Eisner's reign. Anyone interested in the soap-operic nature of Big Business will enjoy this book. What I like most about Stewart's writings are his ability to be both journalistically balanced, while also offering the reader a sense of personal connection to the characters. The fact that Stewart started his interviews with Eisner just before the proverbial dung hit the fan, makes his perspective more telling than any other account of this stage in the Disney saga. As others have mentioned, the audio editing by Blackstone is on the sloppy side. This is not that big of a deal if you are listening to the book in shorter increments (while driving to work, or while taking the subway), but it can become frustrating if listening for an extended period of time. Still, the book is fantastic and intriguing. I should note, although my prior knowledge/interest in the information in the book undoubtedly added to my enjoyment, my mother, who knew absolutely nothing about Michael Eisner, Mike Ovitz or Stanley Gold enjoyed it just as much as I did.
Look, this is one of the best audiobooks I have listened to. Yes, there are problems. But the BOTTOM LINE is that the author has written a wonderful book that is engaging and hard to put down. The errors are not bothersome enough, in my mind, to take away or even inhibit the message of the author. If you want a good story that will keeping you begging for more, purchase this book. If you like to whine and groan then ....GET A LIFE!
What a great book! I found this book fascinating. It follows the history of the Disney company from 1984 through 2005. All the personalities. Many private conversations are revealed. Michael Eisner believed the author was documenting his legacy and opened many doors. What the author found was so fascinating that he needed to tell it straight rather than tell it from Michael's point of view.
After visiting Disney World in January, I really felt the negative feelings coming over me. The greed that has truly effected the long-term potential value of the Disney name. This is the story of how it got to where it is today and of the people who are fighting to get the "real" Disney back.
Anyone who is familiar with the products of the Disney company will appreciate and enjoy this book. It is a long book, but also a book that I really looked forward to listening to every day and didn't want it to end.
I love the book, but the editing was horrendous. Repeated phrases, mispoken words, "corrected" words from the speaker without removing the "incorrect" words. In many spots, it was like a rough cut directly from the recording studio, without final editing. Absolutely no attention was paid to the editing of this product.
This ponderous audio book (over 26 hours!) is, as other reviewers have mentioned, filled with errors and bad editing. That aside, Michael Eisner's name must be spoken about a bajillion times, along with others in this melodrama, including Iger, Katzenberg, Ovitz, and all the other ego-manical billionaires who devestated the legacy of Walt Disney. Have you been to Disneyland lately? Have you seen what's become of it during Eisner's reign? Do you remember what it used to be like? What more can I say about that. This is not a history of Walt Disney's dream, so don't mistake it for one. It's an erratically narrated tale of how that genius' dream was taken over and mutated into what the Disney Company is now. If you're reading this before August 7, 2005, run to savedisney.com and look at Roy Disney's site before he takes it down. HE should have been running this company. It should have stayed in Walt's family's hands. Eisner doesn't have a creative bone in his body, and he simply does not have a clue as to what Walt, a true artist and visionary, was trying to achieve. And don't blame me if you end up slapping yourself in the head screaming "Why did I buy this book!" after you're hours into it. It could have been edited down to a tenth of this length, and still held enough content for the listener to get the picture of how the company was mis-handled by the bean counters who almost literally destroyed it. As a listening experience, it is simply way too long, too repetitive, too filled with errors, and that scraping noise you hear is probably Walt Disney, turning in his grave, urn, or cryogenic tank, whatever you choose to believe.
The history of the Eisner years makes a solid case for the overthrow of capitalism - greed, power, double-dealing, back-stabbing were all characteristics of the Disney company for the past three decades. The whining of executives over their multi-million dollar bonuses left me non-plussed. The story was interesting enough but unsatisfying on a personal level. The characters were all detestable narcissists who thought nothing over raising theme park fees for young families in order to pay executive compensation in the hundreds of millions (and that's just Eisner's piece of the pie). I'd recommend the book for those interested in learning how NOT to run a company.
I got this one because it was on sale and I read some good reviews about it. I'm not usually big on corporate books, but I did find this one interesting. While I've experienced Disney World (and loved it)and my son has shared some insights from Disney employees in Orlando, I knew very little about the business of Disney. I found it, especially in the beginning, very interesting.
This book, while briefly giving some of the company's history, documents events at Disney from the time Michael Eisner became CEO in 1993 to the recent events (or foundations of) that finally put him out of power.
I've read other reviews by those who were shocked to find out about the shrewd business nature and ruthless deal making of corporate executives, but having been in the business world and watching from a distance how Disney has operated over the past two decades, this didn't shock or surprise me at all. In fact, it made me think, "Ah, so that's what was going on there." What is interesting here is that when they are discussing profits and bottom lines and tossing around ideas, instead of new widgets and gaskets, it is on a "product" we know and can appreciate like "Beauty and the Beast" or "Lion King."
About half way through it, I was ready for it to be over. While the narrator wasn't my favorite, not really bad but didn't enhance the experience, my husband absolutely refused to listen to him after five minutes saying that his narration would drive him crazy!
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