This was the lead story in The New York Post's Page Six gossip column this morning.
EISNER 'SUBVERTS' MOUSE HUNT
THERE'S no way Disney will get the best and the brightest CEO to replace Michael Eisner because, according to former Disney board members Roy Disney and Stanley Gold, Eisner is "going to be present at all the interviews" and part of the selection process.
PAGE SIX has obtained parts of a blistering letter Disney and Gold are sending to current Disney board members today, which calls for a revision of the company's CEO search process.
Disney, the nephew of founder Walt Disney, and Gold, two of the largest shareholders in the company, forced Eisner to give up his chairmanship last year and announce he would retire in September 2006, after a vote of no confidence.
Their letter states: "[We] have learned that Michael Eisner is going to be present at all the interviews the Board is conducting for his replacement as CEO . . . if Eisner is allowed to be present, it will make a mockery of the idea that candidates should have meaningful interchanges with the Board and it will subvert the entire search process."
The two dissidents call for an investigation into "a coverup" of the mistakes Eisner made in acquiring the Fox Family Channel for $5.2 billion in 2001. They cite information in James Stewart's new tome, "Disney War," which indicates Disney overpaid for the cable channel by as much as $2 billion.
The letter also says Stewart's book "clearly raises integrity issues with respect to Disney senior managers — including Bob Iger." Disney and Gold are furious that Disney chairman George Mitchell has called Iger — Eisner's personal choice to be his successor — an "outstanding candidate" for CEO.
Disney and Gold tell their former fellow board members they believe Eisner is "incapable of honest self-evaluation without seeking to blame others." They also say that board members don't challenge Eisner because they are afraid they will be "shown the door" if they do.
To make matters worse for Eisner, our insider who leaked us portions of the letter said Disney and Gold plan to run the letter in full in "full-page ads in the New York Times and the Los Angeles Times" soon.
A representative for Disney and Gold declined comment. A rep for Disney [the company] said: "No letter has been received. However, they've been egregiously and consistently wrong in the past and this is more of the same."