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An interview with michael d eisner

An interview with Michael D. Eisner

I’d like to say I had this vision. I was an English major and a premed at college. There was a very attractive girl that was in the theater department; I decided I’d write a play to impress her. I was interested in doing that, that was fun.

Later I needed a summer job, I be-came an usher at NBC2, because I came from New York. I loved being an usher; I loved handing out tickets for the Tonight Show. I thought it was great being near Jack Paar3 then, later, Johnny Carson4.

I just had a good time.

I loved the concept of creating intellectual property.

How long was it from being an usher to running a company?

Well, let’s see, I was an usher and then I went back to school, and then I came back, wrote a novel… or tried to write a novel, gave up on that. Since I liked being with people, I became a clerk at NBC. I wrote what time the commercials5 came on the air. I did traffic for NBC Radio, meaning I’d say what freeway was clogged6 up, made up names of roads, basically names of girlfriends that I was with the night before, the week before. “There was a traffic jam on the Throgsneck Bridge on Breckenridge Street.. ” You know, Breckenridge was actually the name of my wife, but I figured out I could have some fun in Links Of London the entertainment business.

Went to CBS, put the commercials in the children’s programs, saw every chil-dren’s program for a couple of years, worked on the Ed Sullivan Show. Wrote about 300 letters trying to get a job anywhere, finally got the job at ABC7. And I think when I was about 27, became in charge of daytime television at ABC, having never seen a soap opera in my life, and children’s programming. From there I had various different level jobs at ABC.

I always went into an area that was in last place, with a philosophy, “You can’t fall off the floor. “” And I was lucky, was at the right time and the right place , with the right ideas , and each one of these areas became number one.

Finally, I guess in my 30s, became in charge of all ABC programming. Got pretty lucky, we did a lot of interesting things at ABC, whether it was Roots, or Happy Days, or Laverne and Shirley9. When I was running children’s programming, we did Scholastic Rock, and After School Specials, and a lot of things that were kind of putting more content into what we were doing, not just frivolous10, bubble gum kind of stuff.

And all along, I was getting more interested in writing, and more and more interested in these cultural phenomena. I didn’t even know Saturday Night Fever was a musical. To me it was a story I read in New York magazine called “Tribal Rites of Saturday Night,” all about this kid who lived in Brooklyn who was the star in his area. But his area was destined to go nowhere, and he left his friends and he walked across that Verrazano Bridge and went to Manhattan , the Big Apple. I thought that was a great idea for a movie, and didn’t really know that the Bee Gees were going to change the world, as far as music was concerned.

What personal characteristics do you think are important to success, and have been most important to you?

Hard work, I think, is important. Being born to parents who care. I don’t think necessarily being born to parents of means14. Whether it’s somebody who walked across Europe out of Poland, or who grew up in the inner city of the United States Links Of London Charms , or actually was a middle class, or upper class environment. The genetic accident that you want is that you’re born from parents who care and support you , and they’re there for you , kind of give you the confidence to fail.

Succeeding is not really a life experience that does that much good. Failing is a much more sobering and enlightening experience.

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