Who's Afraid of Mickey Mouse?

When Disney Complains, Sack the Reporter

Meanwhile, Disney lawyer Daniel Petrocelli is still furious with Finke. "I was disappointed by how one-sided and biased [the page three] article was," he told the Voice. "Critical parts of the article were false." Petrocelli was especially ticked off by the comparison of Disney to Enron. In fact, the lawyer says, "there was no shredder. There was no destruction of evidence." He says the recently disclosed judge's ruling pertained to boxes that had been kept in a Disney warehouse, where old files are routinely discarded over time.

"It is very convenient for someone who has destroyed boxes and boxes of documents to say there is nothing important in them," counters Eskenazi. "At least one file Disney admits destroying was entitled 'Winnie the Pooh—Legal Problems.' "

Talking to the lawyers in this case quickly devolves into a game of he-said, she-said. For example, the plaintiffs claim they own expansive rights to Pooh, while Disney claims their rights are more limited. The plaintiffs claim the existing contract can be terminated; Disney claims it cannot. But Petrocelli vigorously disputes the allegations that any of the missing documents were relevant to the Pooh case, or that Disney ever intentionally destroyed such documents. He also disputes the plaintiffs' claim that the Pooh brand generates about 25 percent of Disney's gross revenues, insisting that the figure is more like 3 or 4 percent.

All that complaining paid off. On February 18, Petrocelli appeared solo on Fox News' O'Reilly Factor to discuss the Pooh contract dispute. The next day, Finke was fired, and at a Disney shareholders' meeting, execs declared that Mickey and Pooh were in excellent health.

Says a Post spokesperson, "There are no sacred cows at the Post. And Disney is certainly no exception."


ccotts@villagevoice.com


See also: The Importance of Jimmy Breslin by Tom Robbins

Will a Strike on Iraq Help or Hinder the GOP? by James Ridgeway

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