"I didn't say I didn't want to be chairman; Zenia has been saying that," Mr. Eisner told Mr. Stewart in an interview on Sept. 29, 2004, referring to Zenia Mucha, Disney's corporate spokeswoman. "I don't want to be irrelevant. I'm not going to ask the board to be named chairman. I'm not going to beg for it. But the board might come to me. Then I'd have to consider it."
Mr. Eisner's comments were made six months after 45 percent of the votes cast in the company's annual election were withheld from him after a shareholder revolt.
In one such case, when Mr. Eisner was head of Paramount Pictures in the early 1980's, he got into an argument with his friend, the producer Larry Gordon, over whether Mr. Gordon could take the project "Streets of Fire" to Universal Pictures, which had agreed to finance it. When Mr. Eisner learned the project went to Universal, he refused to speak to Mr. Gordon, going so far as to jump off a dock with his shoes on when he saw Mr. Gordon approaching the lake at a summer camp their two sons were attending.
But not all his ideas made sense. At one meeting, according to the book, Mr. Eisner proposed having Mickey and Minnie Mouse get engaged on Valentine's Day, get married in June and honeymoon in Paris. The notion was quickly scrapped, but in the early 1990's, early in Mr. Eisner's tenure, there was a willingness to challenge convention that helped Disney become the place to work in Hollywood.