Michael Eisner: former TV executive, studio head, and now talk show host. On March 28, CNBC premieres its new talk show, Conversations with Michael Eisner.
On his first outing, Eisner will be chatting with ex-con, ex-reality show host Martha Stewart; the man with the fate of Sony Corp. in his hands, Sir Howard Stringer; and technologist Bran Ferren.
Stewart will discuss the roller coaster of events that she has experienced over the past several years. From being put in jail, to getting out of jail, to being monitored with an ankle bracelet, to hosting the Apprentice spin-off, to being ragged on by her pal Donald Trump, this lady has had quite a ride.
Stringer, chairman and chief executive officer of Sony Corp., will discuss his plans to get the consumer electronics giant back on track, and what it's like being an American businessman running arguably the most famous Japanese company in the world. Eisner will seek answers from Stringer about the delay of the Sony PS3, the update of the game machine that has been the lynchpin of Sony profits for years.
Ferren, the former executive vice president for creative technology and research & development at Walt Disney Imagineering, will talk about how he created Disney theme park rides like the "Tower of Terror." Ferrer will also talk about his new role consulting for governments about emerging technologies.
CNBC says they want the viewer to feel as though they are at the table of a Hollywood insider meeting.
"Unlike any other interview program on television, Conversations with Michael Eisner re-creates the experience of being at a power lunch with the giants of their industries," said Josh Howard, CNBC's vice pesident of long form and special programming.
At first glance, Eisner is an odd choice for talk show host. But Eisner is no stranger to entering difficult situations and producing stellar results, and his life experience should give him an interesting take on many issues in business.
In the 1970s, Eisner helped third-rated network ABC rise to the top with the long-running hit Happy Days. When Eisner joined Paramount Pictures in the late '70s, the studio was ranked sixth out of six in profits. Under Eisner's guidance, Paramount rose to number one with hits like Raiders of the Lost Ark, Flashdance, and Beverly Hills Cop.
When Eisner joined Disney in 1985, he oversaw a renaissance in the company's fortunes that is only just recently sputtering to a stop. While Eisner chaired Disney, the company released an unprecedented string of hits including Beauty and the Beast, The Lion King, Aladdin, and The Little Mermaid. When Eisner joined the studio it had a market value of $2 billion; when he left it last year, its value had grown to $50 billion. (In 2001, it was valued at $61 million.)
Eisner's favorite movie is said to be Hayao Miyazaki's 1988 film, My Neighbor Totoro; Disney acquired the rights to the film in 2004.
Conversations with Michael Eisner premieres Tuesday, March 28, at 9 p.m. on CNBC.