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Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Is Michael Eisner Still Pissed at Steve Jobs?

Last year Michael Eisner said, "Steve Jobs, not the studios, is the one making money on digital distribution," Eisner said at the Media and Money conference according to Remy Davison at Insanely Great Mac.

Yesterday Michael Eisner’s Vuguru and book publisher Putnam, launched the first of a 50 episode online video series called Foreign Body. It's a prequel/promotional vehicle for the soon to be released Robin Cook novel title Foreign Body. The video series is produced for Eisner by my paintball buddies over at Big Fantastic who also did Prom Queen for Michael and sold him their original series Sam Has 7 Friends.

I have great hopes for the Foreign Body series not only as an online video series but as a ground breaking business model for monetizing online video. Eisner has always been and continues to be a man with a vision of the future. (I like to tell this story so if you've heard it before please bear with me.) Years ago I had the fortune to work as a production assistant for Michael on the opening segments of the Disney Sunday Movie where Michael would say, "Hello, I'm Michael Eisner and Welcome to the Disney Sunday Movie." I was a terrible PA, always trying to do more than I was asked to do, but I did manage to learn a lot watching the leader of the Disney empire and how he handled things while he worked.

Way before the Internet, each morning Michael would be handed several sheets of paper that listed all the news worthy items of interest to a CEO of a entertainment conglomerate. Now you can subscribe to Emails, Blogs and RSS feed readers that assemble all the same information but back then when I was a kid I thought this was WAY cool. Another thing I saw Michael do was that he never got mad at anyone. Well at least not that we could see. If something or someone was bothering him he would call over his assistant Art who was also his pitbull. Art would take care of all the dirty work and Michael would smile and say, "Hello, I'm Michael Eisner and Welcome to the Disney Sunday Movie."

Years later as a producer I had the pleasure of traveling the country interviewing Michael Eisner's teachers. I video tapped his kindergarten teacher, the head master of his all boys school and even the professor that Robin Williams' character was based on in Dead Poets' Society. During that project I learned that Ethan Frome was Michael Eisner's favorite book as a young man. Knowing that really makes me examine the way Eisner is playing with online video.

Now I've not spoken with the Big Fantastic boy since they started working on Foreign Body and I sure hope I don't get them in any trouble with this post but I have noticed that the man who seams to be putting the most skin into the original content creation /online video game at the moment is not playing with all of the players.

You can find Vuguru's videos on Youtube, Blip.tv and of course on Veoh the video site that Eisner has invested in but you won't find Prom Queen, Sam Has Seven Friends or Foreign Body on the iTunes Store...yet.

If you visit Foreign Body's website you will find a link to iTunes but when you click on it you get a message, "iTunes Podcast coming soon. Check back June 3rd."

This makes me wonder, Is Michael Eisner still pissed at Steve Jobs? Or has he moved on? Or are there other reasons Michael hasn't been using the iTunes to get the views of his online video up?

Most of us online video producers have found iTunes to be the best thing in launching our viral video successes, including the Big Fantastic guys but for what ever reason Eisner hasn't been embracing Steve Job's wonder toy.

Any ideas?

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