President Obama’s nominee as the next Commerce Secretary, former Edison Intl. CEO John Bryson, is also on the board of directors of the Walt Disney Co.
That will surely bolster Hollywood’s ties to the administration, which were already pretty strong to begin with.
Disney president and CEO Robert Iger said in a statement, “John has been an incredibly valuable member of our Board, bringing experience and insight to complex issues. He is a proven leader, with strong strategic vision and business savvy, along with a keen grasp of policy and its impact on the business environment. It’s an ideal combination for a U.S. Commerce Secretary, one that bodes well for the country’s long-term economic growth and competitiveness.”
This may be ancient history, but Bryson is a veteran of the turbulent period in 2004 as CEO Michael Eisner found himself at the center of an effort to oust him. Bryson was among the board members targeted Roy Disney and Stanley Gold in their effort to oust Eisner and his allies from the Walt Disney Co. Bryson, who joined the board in 2000, was chairman of the nominating and governance committee, and delivered the news to Disney in 2003 that he was being forced to retire.
Per James Stewart’s book DisneyWar, Roy Disney told Bryson, “You’re making an awful mistake, and you’re going to regret doing this.”
Disney and Gold mounted a shareholder campaign to oust Eisner, Bryson and other board members. At the 2004 shareholders meeting, their effort failed, although the 45% disapproval for Eisner was enough for the board to strip him of his chairmanship title. Some 22% of shareholders withheld their support from Bryson and another board member, Judith Estrin. After Eisner departed Disney in 2005, Disney and Gold had a rapprochement with new CEO Iger.
Update: MPAA chairman Chris Dodd issued a statement of praise for Bryson: “In nominating John Bryson as the new Commerce Secretary, President Obama has chosen a man whose extensive experience in the private sector is matched with a strong record of public service. I look forward to working with him on the protection of creative content, and other issues that are so important to the 2.4 million workers in film and television and the nearly 100,000 small businesses involved in the production and distribution of movies and television. Nationwide, our industry generates more than $15 billion in public revenue, and we are one of the few industries that return a positive balance of trade. But it is critical that the Commerce Department, along with the White House and other federal agencies, help ensure that the industry is not decimated by the theft and illegal distribution of its creative products.”