Eisner letter to Ovitz

Juicy stuff in Michael Cieply's LAT story today about a letter from Michael Eisner to Michael Ovitz firing him from his ill-conceived Disney post back in 1996. The seven-page letter (PDF file) was unveiled in a court case Wednesday. In it, Eisner says Ovitz is not suited to be a #2 executive or to work in a public company, and is too much of a liar.

"I believe you should resign (this is not a legal suggestion but a cosmetic one), and we should put the best possible face on it. When we talked last Friday I told you again that my biggest problem was that you played the angles too much, exaggerated the truth too far, manipulated me and others too much. I told you 98% of the problem was that I did not know when you were telling the truth, about big things, about small things. And while you were telling me those dishonest days were over, you were deceiving me."

"...You were late to almost all meetings. And often you lost your temper, to pilots, drivers, little people."

"...I was frustrated because you wouldn't take anything and follow through. You seemed to be agenting, not operating…."

"...Most of our executives were out of step with you. And that cadence problem basically was caused by lack of trust in you. As we've discussed many times, we all never knew when you were telling things as they were. The truth was often hard to decipher."

And on handling the media, a little bombshell about Variety editor Peter Bart:

"I feel distance and honestly [sic] and non-manipulation is the way to go. You want to control or handle or humor the press. In your letter you told me to read 'Peter Bart [of Variety magazine] and I will better understand relationships.' That's all you said. When the article came out, you told me, he had sent it on to you beforehand for 'corrections and tone and editing.' That is not how we should run this company. We are the media."

In today's LA Weekly, Nikki Finke updates the proxy battle against Eisner being waged by Roy Disney and Stanley Gold, and notes the latter two have retained Sitrick and Associates to help out.

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