MICHAEL EISNER's dual press-drops he'll retire in '06 and that he "preferred" to see Robert Iger as his successor-looks likely, at long last, to quell rampant speculation surrounding top leadership at the august Walt Disney Co. Kidding! Joke! Eisner peeled back one theoretical layer on the Disney onion-of-uncertainty to reveal several more. Like: He thinks he's gonna exit in two years (nice wind-down period, that!). Like: Telling dissident director Roy Disney that is gonna make him hop up and down with glee? Right. Disney and fellow grumbler Stanley Gold still want Eisner out soonest. And Iger still has to prove that he can make ABC, you know, work and stuff. And, of course, the laundry list of "potential successors" among the usual-suspect industry heavies is now cropping up. This is news?
Still, Eisner did read the tea leaves well enough to see that the board looked unlikely to re-up his contract. So give him points for that. (And deduct points for his utterly predictable, totally lame "I'm going to Disneyland!" zinger. Exactly the kind of humor you'd expect from a humorless CEO, or said CEO's speechwriter. Come to think of it, credit Roy Disney for not retorting with his best Donald Trump imitation.) It's not that Eisner picked the time and date of his leaving. It's that he appeared to. Of course, Eisner's line of work has taught him rather well about the value of appearance. Which, along with everything else about this story, leads one to an inescapable conclusion: Nothing has changed. Can we get a new storyline, please?