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so I'll tell you guys. I have made this point to CBS MarketWatch, but they are uninterested in it -- I think because it slams Eisner's main critics. So I wrote it up in the form of a little essay, and sent it to Jim Hill. I doubt that he'll be interested either. But here it is:


As most informed Disney shareholders have no doubt heard, only four members of the Board of Directors (Michael Eisner, Bob Iger, Father O'Donovan and Bob Matschullat) attended the annual meeting in Denver this past Wednesday. The fact that nine of the Board members couldn't be bothered to attend the meeting is very troubling. The weather in Denver was horrible, but that was absolutely no excuse for any of the 13 Directors to be absent.

Why do I say that? Well, because I attended the meeting. How in the world did I get into Denver?? Well, last weekend I looked at the weather forecasts, saw that there would be massive amounts of snow in Denver on Tuesday, and changed my reservations (taking a huge financial hit) so that I would get into Denver on Monday before the airports closed. I didn't want to miss the meeting. The same weather forecasts were available to everyone on the Board of Directors – to anyone who really wanted to make the trip.

Even if changing reservations at the last minute was difficult for some of them, others can't claim that excuse. Don't Roy Disney and Stanley Gold have access to their own corporate jet in connection with their business, or in Roy's case, Disney's jets? Why couldn't they arrive on Monday? And what about Gary Wilson? Certainly the chairman of Northwest Airlines can look at a weather map and recognize that a weather system might call for alternate plans – and change his plans accordingly.

Or perhaps they, and the others, simply don't care anymore? It certainly looks that way, when a doofus like me can make it to the annual meeting and they can't.

Roy Disney's absence was, for me, especially disappointing. I believe that Walt-quality Feature Animation and compelling storytelling are essential to Disney's recovery. Roy is really the person on the hotseat for the decline in the Disney animation brand in the eyes of the public – not Eisner. Roy Disney is the person to whom I wanted to ask my question about the over-reliance on sequels – not Eisner. After the meeting, a journalist told me my question about the sequels was “lightweight.” Of course it was. Eisner was the wrong person to be answering my question, but I had to make do with him. The real expert, the real advocate, the real culprit, was AWOL along with the other eight Directors – using the snowstorm as an excuse. That puppy won't hunt, guys.

Some might say I'm being unfair to the absent Board members, but I would disagree. I had no duty to attend the annual meeting, but I care passionately about the company and I found a way to attend despite the adversity. So I will not forget the ones who thought their time was too valuable to waste it on me and Walt Disney's Company. You think that perhaps their “who cares?” attitude has anything to do with the Company's current problems? That's a question to be put to all shareholders next year, when the "AWOL Nine" are once again up for re-election.

Alice Kottmyer
Washington, DC
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