Updated from 2:39 p.m.PHILADELPHIA -- Disney's ( DIS) detractors say they won't rest until Chairman and CEO Michael Eisner leaves the House of Mouse. "We're not going away until Mr. Eisner's gone," Stanley Gold told reporters Tuesday morning. "We don't believe he's capable of running this company anymore." Speaking at a press conference in Philadelphia -- where Disney's annual meeting is set to take place Wednesday -- Gold and fellow former director Roy Disney continued their campaign to get shareholders to withhold their votes for Eisner and other directors at Wednesday's meeting. As part of that campaign, the men sought to counter what they see as the entertainment conglomerate's attempts to dilute the impact of the anti-Eisner votes at Wednesday's meeting. Contrary to the company's hoped-for interpretation, Gold said, the anti-Eisner vote should not be seen simply as a vote to split up the chairman and CEO posts so that they are held by separate people. Rather, he said, the tally should be seen as a vote on whether Eisner should be out completely. While Eisner's camp has been indicating that it expects a 30% "withhold" vote for the chairman's re-election to the board Wednesday, Gold -- who did most of the talking at the press conference -- insisted that any vote in the 20% range "is sending a message that Eisner has to go." Whatever Wednesday's results are, Gold made it clear that he and his business associate Roy Disney won't quit until Eisner is out. "We'll be here next week, next month, next year," Gold said.
Finger-PointingAs they have before, Gold and Disney laid the blame for Disney's multiyear decline squarely on Eisner. At the press conference, they accused him of such missteps as overpaying for assets such as the ABC Family Channel, of skimping on appropriate maintenance for the company's theme parks, and of creating a company environment in which the creative spirit was crushed.
|Silence Isn't Golden |
Disney (left) and Gold hold forth
|TSC Photo: George Mannes.|
As longtime board members of Disney until they departed last fall, Gold and Disney acknowledged Tuesday that the decline they lamented occurred while they were in a position of authority at the company -- and after they voted in favor of deals of which they are now critical. But, said Gold, he had relied on management's projections and plans. "You have to trust management as a director," he said. Later, however, he said that in hindsight, "we did trust