Former Disney CEO Eisner to Host Talk Show

Michael Eisner, loved and loathed as former chief executive of Walt Disney Co. (DIS), will begin the next chapter of his career in the entertainment industry, this time as a talk show host for business news channel CNBC.

Eisner, credited with steering Disney through a period of extraordinary growth and criticized later for his management style, will host a bimonthly, one-hour show called "Conversations With Michael Eisner." The program's premiere date has yet to be announced.

The network, owned by General Electric Co.'s (GE) NBC Universal, said the program will focus on the importance of creativity and innovation in business, politics, entertainment and other subjects.

During Eisner's 21-year watch at the helm, Disney saw the rejuvenation of its film studio with blockbusters such as "Beauty And The Beast," "The Lion King," and "The Little Mermaid." It also bought Capital Cities/ABC in 1995.

But the company hit a number of stumbling blocks in the last four years, including a slump at its theme parks and flagging ratings at the ABC network until the success of recent hits such as "Desperate Housewives" and "Lost."

The missteps caused Roy Disney, nephew of the company founder, Walt Disney, to launch a campaign to oust Eisner. The board made many of the changes Roy Disney advocated, although Eisner left on his own terms.

In October, Eisner was tapped as a guest host for PBS's Charlie Rose, when he interviewed InterActiveCorp. (IACI) CEO Barry Diller and actor John Travolta.

Eisner joins a number of executives who have parlayed careers into television talk show hosts, including advertising executive Donny Deutsch and former hedge fund owner Jim Kramer. And real estate magnate Donald Trump scored a major hit with NBC's "The Apprentice," albeit in a different format from TV talk shows.

In the past, CNBC has tried a talk show hosted by Tina Brown, one time publisher of Vanity Fair and the New Yorker, but it was canceled quickly due to low ratings. Jack Welch, former CEO of General Electric, was a periodic co-host of the CNBC show "Squawk Box" several years back.