Jewish World Review April 13, 2001 / 20 Nissan, 5761
http://www.jewishworldreview.com -- SO, Disney has announced that 4,000 employees will either be forced into voluntary severance or fired. This news, which will result in the biggest job cut in the history of the company, came to employees in an e-mail addressed “Dear Fellow Cast Members” and signed by Michael Eisner. My sympathies go out to those soon-to-be ex-cast members and their families, whomever they might be.
I am especially sympathetic to those who had been with Disney for an extended period of time, and had every expectation of continuing with the organization even longer. Although it’s always a bad thing to lose one’s job, it is particularly jarring when you’ve been with one company for many years -- investing your life in what you’ve come to think of as “your company.”
Just about four years ago, after 27 years with The Walt Disney Company, I was unceremoniously kicked out on my keister because they were “restructuring and didn’t have a place for me.” Anyway, that was what they told me -- the fact of the matter was, that the newly appointed president of the division (Disney Consumer Products) didn’t like me. She was a on a power trip and I was, frankly, in the way because I wasn’t part of her “team”(she has since been removed from the company herself).
To those “cast members” who now find themselves in similar situations, all I can say is, “welcome to my world.” You have already survived the “Big Shock.” But now you must brace yourself for a few minor jolts that could follow (listed below). Perhaps knowing what lies ahead will cushion the “after-shocks” a little bit for you.
1. You are no longer “one of us.” After word gets around that you have become, er, shall we say, one of the “chosen,” don’t be surprised if suddenly you start getting the cold shoulder from those who were once warm and cuddly towards you. People who used to greet you with smiles and slaps on the back will avoid you. Phone calls won’t be returned. Memos will be ignored, and you may not be invited to lunch with the gang quite as often. You are not one of them any longer and you will feel it very quickly.
2. Who are your real friends? Prepare for both a good and a bad surprise. The bad surprise will be when you find out that the friends you THOUGHT you had, don’t call or take an interest in you anymore. One or two may even stab you in the back. The good surprise will be discovering that there are people out there who DO care -- and you never knew they did!
3. The feeling that you’re missing something. You’ll have the sensation that something is going on that you are not a part of anymore. You’ll feel left out. Unwanted. You will experience an emptiness, a hole, a lack of some intangible thing. You’ll feel lost. You’ll feel homeless. And why shouldn’t you? You were part of a big, complex company for many years and suddenly you have been torn out of it. It will take time, but that feeling will pass.
4. What did I do? What should I have done differently? It’s a normal reaction to wonder why a negative thing has happened to you. But don’t get hung up on it. These useless questions are a waste of your time and energy. Forget about it - the sooner, the better - and get on with your life.
The screenwriters and actors are making noises like they might go out on strike. The main bone of contention between the labor unions and management appears to be over residuals, a form of compensation unique to a favored few in the entertainment industry. Residuals is basically a perk. A pretty terrific perk. Getting paid again and again for something that you did five years ago, and were already paid for at the time you did it, is something all of us would like to be in on.
During my years with Disney I wrote thousands of gags, hundreds of stories, and dozens
of comic books and comic strips. I storyboarded on feature films. I conceived book and
character merchandise programs. I created new publication projects and headed up groups of
artists and writers who produced ideas for toys, clothing, and all manner of consumer products
used around the world. Wouldn’t it be great if some of the rest of us could get residuals on
the work we did years ago? I, for one, could really use it
JWR contributor Greg Crosby, former creative head for Walt Disney publications, has written thousands of comics, hundreds of children's books, dozens of essays, and a letter to his congressman. You may contact him by clicking here.
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