111 W. Jefferson St., Suite 200
Orlando, Florida 32801
Voice: (407) 377-0400
Fax: (407) 377-0420
February 12, 2004
Mr. Michael D. Eisner
The Walt Disney Company
500 South Buena Vista St.
Burbank, CA 91521
I'm sending this letter after repeated attempts to contact you by phone, all to no avail. I've noticed of late that certain parties have made a brazen bid to acquire your operation. ("How can he know this?", you're probably asking yourself in amazement. Allow me a slight smirk of self-satisfaction as I reply, "It's what we do.") From what I understand, although you yourself are resistant to the idea, it may be forced upon you anyway. So before the winds of change have their way, let me get a word in under the wire:
Stop. Take a deep breath. Don't sign anything.
At least, not until you hear what I'm about to propose. Instead of prostrating yourself in front of your attacker -- a friggin' cable company, no less -- why not consider giving up the happy dugout to Orlando Weekly, a corporate titan that can take you places no others can? What I propose is a tax-free, stock-for-stock, tit-for-tat, two-falls-out-of-three merger that would immediately endow your shareholders with a premium of more than $87 billion (unaudited). They would own about 42 percent of the combined company; we'd control the remaining 75 percent. Together, your people and ours would create a news-and-entertainment conglomerate unrivaled anywhere on this pathetic little mudball of a planet we all call home.
Consider the possibilities. Think of the opportunities for resource sharing and cross-promotion. Not only would you be guaranteed year-round advertising space on our coveted inside front cover (that means four colors, my friend!), but you'd be free to indiscriminately punish any and all editorial employees who may have mocked your operation in the past. For its part, Orlando Weekly would have access to Disney's voluminous library of classic films and TV shows, as long as we promised to return the tapes in a timely fashion and without any guacamole stains on them.
As we see it, the merger would provide us with the family audience Orlando Weekly has long coveted, while enabling you to tap into the equally lucrative angry-loner market. We envision a fiercely modern, wholly integrated business model, with visitors to your theme parks discovering an entire array of new attractions keyed to the youthful-hipster experience we know and understand so well. Some samples whipped up by our creative team: "If You Had Jobs," "Tunnelvision 360" and the fast-paced "Phil Rampy's Wild Ride." As part of the arrangement, our environment of choice, downtown Orlando, would be declared an official satellite of Disney property. Rechristened Wasteland, it'd be accessible by a special monorail route running parallel to I-4. We're so excited, we're already practicing how to stand clear of the closing doors.
Unlike some other suitors we could mention, we feel we're uniquely qualified to get out the Disney message of "Smile! Buy! Leave!" In addition to the mighty reach of our print product, you'd also benefit from our continued investment in new communications technologies, like shortwave radio and semaphore. And of course, in all of these endeavors, you'll be able to rely on the slavish dedication of a great staff with only a mild history of narcotics-related absenteeism.
We only have a few minor stipulations:
1) Park-hopper passes will be given out as bonuses at company Christmas parties; in turn, all Disney pin-collector events will include clientele-building opportunities for local tattoo artists.
2) More crotch shots in ABC's "TGIF" Friday-night programming. Also on the broadcast front, "Good Morning America" host Charlie Gibson will be immediately replaced with the animatronic figure of Chester A. Arthur from the Hall of Presidents, just to see how long it takes anybody to notice.
3) OW columnist Billy Manes gets to be a costumed character. (Trust me, we're already halfway home on this one.)
4) Laid-off animators get new jobs writing press releases for Toon Disney cable channel.
5) The merged company's new board of directors gets to enjoy hunting weekends chasing after the cast of "The Country Bears."
Come to think of it, everything but that last one is open to negotiation. We really want this deal to go through, Michael, and we're so devoted to the future it represents that nothing will stand in our way. No doubt, you'll have some concerns that combining the assets of two Wall Street mammoths like The Walt Disney Company and Orlando Weekly will set off all kinds of alarms in the inner sanctums of our nation's antitrust watchdogs. Having covered that beat for more than a few years now, we can safely tell you to relax: Those guys couldn't organize a game of Boggle. And anyway, do you really think we'd be pushing such a complex deal if we hadn't first cleared it with all the relevant authorities? Just yesterday, we were shooting pool with some of the secretaries from Clear Channel, and they said you have nothing to worry about.
I anxiously await your reply.
Publisher, Orlando Weekly