One of the greatest tragedies to occur in recent movie industry history was Steve Jobs, chairman of Pixar, giving Disney the proverbial bird by refusing to offer a reasonable contract to renew the fabulously successful collaboration the two firms have enjoyed for nearly a decade. Of course, who could blame him? Disney Chief Michael Eisner had been verbally abusing Jobs and Pixar (and everyone else associated with Disney for that matter) for years. That kind of flouting can only be taken so long. However the rift between Disney and Pixar may be temporary, especially since Eisner, like Bambi’s mother, has all crosshairs fixed on him…and it’s only a matter of time until the triggers are pulled.

James Stewart, a Disney/Eisner expert and author of the book “Disney War” described a light at the end of the tunnel in an interview today with NPR’s Renee Montagne. When asked about the fallout between Jobs and Eisner, Stewart said
    “…believe me, Roy Disney called after this all fell apart, and he had a pretty good relationship with Steve Jobs, and he said something like ‘Well, when the wicked witch is dead, y’know, we’ll all be back together’ and Steve Jobs agreed and I think it’s true that once Eisner is gone, there’s a good chance that Pixar will renew a deal with Disney if there’s a chief executive there they think they can trust.”
Such a restoration will come too late to save Woody and friends from a likely butchery at the hands of the incompetent Disney animation department. Two new Pixar-less Toy Story sequels are on the way, and who knows what other mischief Eisner will manage before he’s finally out the door. Eisner was demoted by Disney share holders in 2004 when the CEO and Chairman positions were separated and Eisner left only with the CEO duties. There are sketchy rumors Eisner may step down voluntarily as early as this summer, but his contract as CEO will not run out until 2006. Odds of contract renewal are as likely as Stuart Wood being cast as the next James Bond.

We can only hope for great things to happen again, once the “wicked witch” is gone. To hear more entertaining Eisner bashing from a classically monotone NPR interviewee, check out Montagne’s full interview with Stewart at NPR.org.

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