As far as public spats go, the Roy Disney and Michael Eisner one last week was particularly venomous. The repercussions have been nearly nonexistent on the business side-a tiny drop in stock price, and Eisner seemingly cemented in his job. The fallout to the brand, though, might be tougher to calculate.
"It's bad for Disney's image," says Russell Reynolds Jr., chairman-CEO of Directorship Search Group, which specializes in CEO searches. "It's a family company, and Roy Disney shouldn't be treated like an Eskimo being wheeled out into the snow to freeze to death."
Disney, Walt Disney's nephew and the last remaining family member to have held an executive position at the studio, was instrumental in bringing Eisner to the company in the `80s. He resigned from the board of directors last week in a fiery letter critical of many aspects of Eisner's management. Stanley Gold, another board member and a Disney ally, also resigned.
Eisner, who has run the Walt Disney empire through two decades of ups and downs, is currently riding a wave of healthy stock prices, box-office and home-entertainment hits, and a slowly improving ABC. But the battered theme parks are still struggling, a pivotal deal with animation powerhouse Pixar hasn't been inked, and merchandising remains sluggish. Eisner, who hasn't publicly talked about the surprise resignations of Disney and Gold, had no comment.