It's Back: The Disney Shareholders vs Disney Board Show!

13 January 2005

Back by public demand, the ever-popular Walt Disney Company lawsuit has reopened at Delaware's Chancery Court.

Defying the usual showbiz practise of screening such epics through the holiday period with extra late-nite showings, the more sensitive members of the cast (aka lawyers) insisted on a prolonged break.

For those of our viewers unable to recall the state of play when the last episode rolled its end credits, here's a brief resumé of the story to date ...

A high profile lawsuit brought by Disney shareholders against the Disney board of directors and its short-lived former president, the Hollywood über-agent Michael Ovitz, claims Disney was negligent in its hiring and firing of the aforesaid Ovitz without 'cause', thus entitling him to a $140m (€105m, £73m) severance payout. The investors insist there was sufficient legal reason to sack Ovitz and want the $140m back plus interest ...

Befittingly it was a lawyer who reopened the show, one Larry R Feldman, a New York specialist in wrongful termination cases. He claimed he would have "gladly represented" Ovitz in a suit against Disney (at his hourly rate, win or lose, you betcha).

"Had Disney tried to terminate Mr Ovitz for cause under his contract, Disney could have exposed itself to hundreds of millions of dollars in damages," said Feldman, hired by Ovitz as an expert witness in the case.

There is no truth in the rumor that the whole Disney saga will be staged on Broadway next year as a Tony-winning musical with Barbra Streisand as Michael Ovitz and Anthony Hopkins as Michael Eisner. Pity.

Data sourced from New York Times; additional content by WARC staff