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NETWORK NEWS: TROUBLE BREWING IN THE MAGIC KINGDOM?
Published May 20, 1996
Just nine months after coming on board as President of Walt Disney Co., Michael Ovitz is said to be "warring" with Disney CEO Michael Eisner, according to this morning's N.Y. POST. One "well-placed source close to the company": "Eisner regretted hiring him from day one, and Ovitz is equally frustrated. He's a square peg in a round hole." Ovitz is said to have met "resistance" from Eisner on proposed acquisitions and expansions, while Eisner believes Ovitz "is spending too much time on projects of questionable value." One such project was the move of the Seahawks from Seattle to Anaheim. In addition to seeking the NFL team for Disney's planned SportsTown Complex, Ovitz also sought the NBA's Clippers or Nuggets. One source, on the Seahawks' move announcement: "Ovitz came to Eisner for the go- ahead and didn't get it. There was too much bad publicity and too much time wasted -- [Eisner] pulled the plug, and Ovitz was embarrassed" (Gregory Zuckerman, N.Y. POST, 5/20). BUSINESS WEEK profiles Ovitz: "The 49-year-old is finding that corporate life can be tricky" (BUSINESS WEEK, 5/27 issue). NBC NEWS: NBC Sports President Dick Ebersol is profiled by the WASHINGTON POST's Leonard Shapiro, with a focus on how he has changed his lifestyle and work habits in the wake of his minor heart attack in February. Some highlights: Ebersol credits ABC's Roone Arledge for much of his own success; he said NBA Commissioner David Stern taught him "how to be a great partner"; and he says he still gets "chills and thrills from being a dealmaker and a negotiator" (WASHINGTON POST, 5/20)....USA TODAY notes NBC execs are "concerned" over harassment allegations against NBC West Coast President Don Ohlmeyer. Ohlmeyer calls the reports (including a N.Y. DAILY NEWS report he was "groping" women at a network event last week) "character assassination of the worst kind" (Peter Johnson, USA TODAY, 5/20). OTHER NETS: The N.Y. TIMES profiles Barry Diller's plans to take home shopping to the Net (N.Y. TIMES, 5/20). ....INSIDE MEDIA reports USA Network has sold virtually all of its ad time for the French Open. New sponsors: MCI, Days Inn, Solaris, Alliance Capital, BMW and Ericcson Cellular. Returning sponsors: AT&T, MasterCard, Johnson & Johnson, Canon, Ford, Acura, GM, Block Drug and American Home Products. John Cronopulos, USA's VP of Corporate Accounts & Special Events, cited a 40% increase in revenue for this year's tournament (INSIDE MEDIA, 5/15 issue)....Big 12 ADs met with ABC and Fox/Liberty execs to discuss plans for the new conference's football coverage. There will be three prime time games on fX (HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 5/20).