In the last day or so, tipsters have phoned influential entertainment journalists detailing a laundry list of Eisner errors: from grossly overpaying for the Fox Family Channel while nixing a bargain-basement price for 50 percent of BravoIFC; from passing on Harry Potter, The Lord of the Rings, new film versions of Peter Pan and Pinocchio, and half of Ice Age, to saying no to TV shows like CSI, The Weakest Link and Felicity. And before green-lighting The Sixth Sense, Eisnersold off international to Spyglass Entertainment because, he said, it starred an action hero with a gun and no one would keep the ending secret. Even after it became one of Disney‘s blockbusters that year, Eisner was stingy on its Oscar campaign.
Back at Pixar, founder and CEO Steve Jobs didn’t once mention Eisner by name, a deliberate snub since the two men are in a bitter dispute over sequels. (Jobs told analysts that Toy Story II was it.) That Jobs hates Eisner is the worst-kept secret in the entertainment industry and explains why, as soon as February 2003, when Pixar delivers Finding Nemo and is contractually free to start negotiations on a new partnership, he‘ll likely be looking at a distribution deal elsewhere. And why Pixar already has started work on its first non-Disney film, which means today’s most successful animation house in the world is about to become Eisner‘s competitor. That’s exactly the sort of news certain to create a stink among Disney shareholders.