The rise and rise of the Disney empire's fortunes under the reign of chairman Michael Eisner—recounted thoroughly, competently, and with a minimum of fairy dust by Grover, L.A. Bureau Chief for Business Week. Walt wouldn't have approved of what had become of his company by the early 1980's, when its vault full of film classics, three top theme-parks, instantly recognizable name, and 28,000 Florida acres languished, virtually unexploited by a management team concerned only with maintaining the status quo. With corporate raiders Saul Steinberg, Irwin Jacobs, and Michael Milken contemplating a takeover in 1984, Disney management was forced to place a large block of company stock in the relatively friendly hands of Texan magnates Sid Bass and his three brothers. As Disney's largest shareholder, the Bass Brothers were quick to see Paramount Wunderkind Michael Eisner installed as Disney's new chairman and creative force, and Frank Wells, a Hollywood lawyer and tightfisted businessman, as president and holder of the company's purse strings. This creative/practical duo. a modern- day re-creation of Walt and Roy Disney, proved the perfect antidote to years of corporate stagnation. Through a combination of luck (an entertainment industry on the rebound, new markets for home video and cable, and a baby boomlet ripe for Disney exploitation) and business acumen (Eisner's show business experience, his enthusiasm for Disney's enormous potential and ability to act on it aggressively, as well as Wells's willingness to appear miserly, opportunistic and just plain petty), the new ``Team Disney'' turned a chronic underachiever into an international entertainment giant whose earnings increased eightfold over six breathtaking years. Grover tells this rags-to- riches tale with admirable evenhandedness, allowing comments from those on whose toes Disney has trod while providing enough play- by-play business reportage to inspire many a starry-eyed potential reader. A commendably researched tale of corporate dreams come true.
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