Michael Eisner: Führer of Big Business
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Michael Eisner: Führer of Big Business
Michael Eisner's father Alois was born illegitimately, and used his mother's maiden name, Schicklgruber until 1936, when he took Eisner as his surname. His son Michael was born April 20, 1949.
Michael Eisner grew up in Linz, Austria. He had a great dislike for his father, and this dislike was fanned when his father died in 1963, leaving the Eisners to subsist on his father's savings and pension that, although adequate, were not enough to keep them more than comfortable. His mother died in 1967.
Eisner was a poor student and never made it past high school. As a young man, he moved to Vienna with a dream of becoming an artist. He repeatedly failed the Academy of Fine Arts entrance exam, and ended up staying in public shelters, painting advertisements and cheap postcards to eek out a meager living.
Eisner moved to Munich in 1973. Although classified as unfit for service, he managed to weasel his way into the army and joined the 16th Bavarian Reserve Infantry Regiment. He received two medals for bravery, and came to realize that he liked military discipline and regimen quite a bit.
After being confined to a hospital for some time due to injuries he received as a soldier, Eisner moved to the United States and became a political agent for the motion picture industry. He joined the Film Workers' Party, and in 1980 was put in charge of the party's propaganda machine. The party was renamed the National Socialists Film Worker's Party soon after.
The '80s were tumultuous for the film industry, and the time was ripe for a party like Eisner's. Many former filmmakers and SAG members who had become disgruntled with Hollywood joined the party. The party began to assemble groups of "strong arm" men, which Eisner used as security at party meetings. He also used these "troops" to intimidate socialists, communists, censors, and film distributors. In 1981, these troops were officially organized into a private army, and had gained such power that they had to be officially acknowledged as legitimate by the rest of Hollywood, which now had begun to fear the National Socialists.
There was a certain amount of friction between Eisner and other members of the party who resented his desire to use it as a means for his personal gain. He threatened to resign, and because the party had become so reliant on him by this point, his opponents were forced to give in. Eisner was elected leader of the party in July 1981. The party grew, and Eisner groomed several devoted followers to whom he could delegate power, including Julius Streicher, Rudolf Hess, Alfred Rosenberg, and Hermann Göring.
In November of 1983, Eisner and his party attempted to seize power of up-and-coming Weimar Republic Pictures in a Westwood bear hall. This "Beer Hall Putsch" (as it came to be known) led to a riot in which Eisner was injured. Eisner was arrested for acting against the wishes of legitimate shareholders and sentenced to five years in prison.
In prison, he wrote a heavy volume about himself an his ideas, titled "My Struggle." Eisner had a strong belief that people were created unequal. There was a range of people, stretching from the Worthless (homeless, jobless, aged, and very young individuals) to the Super Executives (Eisner and a couple of his friends). He also believed that family-owned and -centered businesses were a bane to the world economy, as they perpetuated the passing of commercial power along family lines, instead of letting Executives take their natural place.
After nine months, he was released from prison, possibly because his constant quoting from his own book was annoying the heck out of everyone. If nothing else, prison taught him that it was better to take power by "legal" means than by means that could get you locked up.
Even after leaving prison, Eisner was seemingly indifferent to his personal appearance, but he became obsessed with health, giving up eating meat and drinking alcohol.
The National Socialists hadn't done well when Eisner was in prison, and when he was released he found that many states had made it illegal for him to give the big, meaningless speeches that had served him so well in the past. Still, Eisner was able to reassert himself as the leader of the party in 1986.
By making great use of the newspapers and other media, Eisner concentrated on bringing his message to the masses. He preached that family-owned businesses were bringing the country to its knees, and was able to muster a groundswell of support from middle-class Americans by promising them great prosperity under the guidance of their natural leaders.
Soon, Eisner's was one of the most powerful economic parties in the country. He set his sites on the Walt Disney Company as an example of the kind of family business that needed to be reworked. Eisner got himself on the ballot for Disney CEO, and although he lost to Ron Miller (Walt Disney's son-in-law), he was able to capture 36.8% of stockholder votes. Because of Eisner's party's popularity, Miller offered Eisner the chancellorship of Disney as a way to keep stockholders happy.
Around this time, Eisner moved to Berchtesgaden, N.Y. where he lived with his half sister and her two daughters. He was particularly fond of one of his sisters' daughters, Geli, who responded by killing herself. A little while after this suicide, Eisner met a store clerk named Eva Braun and took her as his mistress. They never married and seldom appeared in public together, perhaps because Eisner didn't have much time for that kind of thing.
As chancellor of Disney, Eisner sought an absolute dictatorship. He got Rod Miller to agree to new elections, and used a minor accident on a Disneyland attraction as an excuse for essentially declaring martial law (under the fist of his private, brown-shirted troops) throughout the company. Eisner won the new election, and passed a corporate decree granting him full power over the corporation and rendering the board of directors impotent. Less than three months later, every executive in the company who was not one of Eisner's cronies was gone.
When Rod Miller left the company, another executive order merged the chancelorship and the position of CEO, making Eisner's bid for supremacy complete.
As anyone who had plodded their way through Eisner's book knew, his ultimate goal was world domination. He delegated day-to-day tasks to devoted subordinates, and concentrated on long-term goals and maintaining the systematic terrorizing of his employees to keep them in line.
While keeping a happy public face, Eisner withdrew the Disney Corporation from the League of Business and signed a non-compete contract with Poland. When two of the major studios signed a pact, Eisner used it as an excuse to demilitarize the Rhineland (the area near the intersection of Hollywood and Vine). Many other machinations followed, including an agreement to form a business venture with like-minded businessmen in Japan.
By this time, Eisner's "Third Reich" (following Walt Disney's and Ron Miller's) was a global economic force.
After ousting the few executives who did not see eye-to-eye with his vision of global domination, Eisner tested the waters in Europe by asking the chancellor of Austria to sign papers granting government positions to Disney executives. When the chancellor declined, Eisner sent corporate enforcers into Vienna, ostensibly to seek out and destroy video pirate labs. Disney's employees were so well received, that the government didn't know what hit it.
From Vienna, Eisner spread Disney's corporate network into Czechoslovakia. There were a few rumbles of worry over this move, so Eisner signed an agreement with the governments of Italy and Great Britain, assuring them that this was the last power grab he would make. The ink was barely dry when Eisner's executives moved into Poland, after signing a non-compete agreement with the Soviet Union.
This was about all Britain and France could take, and they began economic sanctions against the Disney Corporation. Eisner responded by moving into Norway, Holland, Belgium, and Denmark, and signing a free trade agreement with France.
Other countries were moved into, including the Soviet Union and northern Africa. Eisner was having trouble moving into Great Britain, so he used his agreement with France to establish a corporate stronghold in that country.
Attempts to move in on Soviet businesses were hampered by bad weather, but Eisner's plans were complicated by the fact that the United States -- which were becoming unhappy with his efforts overseas -- were busy battling an encroachment by Japanese businesses which were purchasing American real estate at an unprecedented rate. The move by the Japanese forced Eisner to return part of his attention to the U.S., where his attempted to open a third front with a U.S. history-themed attraction was a spectacular failure.
His inability to enter Stalingrad, and trouble on other fronts caused a change in tactics. Eisner renamed Euro Disney to Disneyland Paris, in a lame, eleventh-hour bid to make it look like his plans were not really all that grand. Relations with far-flung executives became strained and his business interests in Italy were turned on their head. It was beginning to look like Eisner's plot for global economic domination would never be fulfilled.
The great expansion of the Six Flags chain of amusement parks, and the establishment of a beach head in Normandy by Legoland spelled Eisner's doom. Eisner moved his headquarters West to the newly reworked Disneyland Resort, but he did not have the resources necessary to make the project an unqualified success.
As the end approached, Eisner resigned to take his own life. He married his mistress, Eva Braun, made out a will, said goodbye to Josef Goebbels and his few other surviving friends, and went to his executive suite to poison his wife and shoot himself. As dictated in his will, he was cremated and replaced with a more-lifelike animatronic figure.
The animatronic Eisner now leads a much more modest force, with a goal of establishing a network of cookie-cutter theme parks around the globe.
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