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Intelligencer: February 14–21, 2005


Final Skirmish in ‘DisneyWar’
Eisner phones in edits.
When James Stewart started work on DisneyWar, Michael Eisner was cooperating. Then he stopped. But then he wanted to be very involved again as the book was going to press. A source close to the author says Eisner spent January 26, 27, and 28 on the phone, muscling Stewart to make extensive changes. He acquiesced to some, but by that Friday, the day final changes were due, Eisner wouldn’t let up. “It started in the mid-afternoon and went until almost ten,” the source says. As it happens, much of what Eisner was denying came straight from his own autobiography. Among Eisner’s other quibbles: an anecdote where he allegedly raised his voice at then–ABC honchos Susan Lyne and Lloyd Braun during a discussion of the future of Eight Simple Rules after John Ritter’s death (Eisner wanted the TV wife to become pregnant, which they felt raised taste issues). On Monday, when Stewart explained he could no longer make changes, Eisner said, “I own a publishing company. You can always delay.” Around the same time, Eisner was lunching at The Four Seasons near Barbara Walters, Liz Smith, Marie Brenner, and Joni Evans. His antennae up, Eisner approached Walters, gave her a friendly peck, and said, “I know you’re talking about me.” To which she reportedly replied, “As a matter of fact, we were discussing you and Michael Jackson.” “Well,” Eisner told Walters, “let me know when you get to Michael Ovitz.” A Disney spokesman had no comment.
—Jacob Bernstein

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