Ousted Walt Disney Co. executives and former board members Roy Disney and Stanley Gold are asking their supporters to pressure the company to find a new CEO immediately and take the title from Michael Eisner.
Eisner last week said he would exit the company when his contract expires in 2006, but the former execs say that is too long for him to be a lame Donald Duck.
Through their Web site, savedisney.com, the execs sent out an e-mail alert Wednesday with a link to a form letter they want their supporters to fax or e-mail to Disney Chairman George Mitchell and General Counsel Alan Braverman in advance of board meetings beginning Sept. 19.
The letter asks the board to begin a search for a CEO immediately and strip Eisner of all his responsibility as soon as one can be found. It says, in part:
"Best corporate practices require that you move immediately to form an independent committee that will retain an independent executive search firm to find the visionary leader we need to take The Walt Disney Company into the future.
"We can't wait two years. Again, the best experts on corporate leadership tell us that two years of lame duck leadership will lead to drift, division and decline....
"We will never attract the world-class CEO we need as long as Mr. Eisner continues to dominate the Company. In order to bring in the talent Disney deserves, you should make it clear that Mr. Eisner will retire from all positions at The Walt Disney Company and its Board of Directors upon conclusion of the CEO search."
Roy Disney and Gold lost a battle with Eisner over the direction of the company and since leaving in December 2003--Disney was effectively ousted and Gold quit--have led a long and bitter campaign to oust Eisner.
Back in March, they were instrumental in getting 43% of Disney shareholders to withhold their vote to re-elect Eisner as chairman and CEO, which led to the company splitting off the chairman title and giving it to Mitchell.
Robert Iger, ABC Chairman, has been on everybody's short list of possible Eisner successors, but the savedisney.com folks don't agree. Among the world-class executives they have in mind are eBay's Meg Whitman, Apple's Steve Jobs and News Corp.'s Peter Chernin,though Chernin just signed a new, five-year deal to remain president of the company.
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