“The best rapper is white, the best golfer is black,” said Peter Guber, former CEO of Sony Pictures, producer of such films as Batman and The Color Purple and founder of Mandalay Entertainment. “And in the White House two are named Bush and Dick and last year they cleansed their Colon.”
That awkward bit was but one of the countless prepared lines to come from the stage at the Javits Center on Friday during The Power Within, a daylong series of motivational talks in front of the thousands who shelled out $861.58 to $1,403.45 to sit on folding chairs in what amounted to an airplane hanger to hear Guber and Survivor producer Mark Burnett, former Disney head Michael Eisner, Bill Clinton and Lance Armstrong — all, with the exception of Burnett, successful retirees who’ve discovered the racket that is the corporate speaking circuit.
Each give their variation on the “tapping your inner strength” theme.
“The movie business is collapsing all around,” Guber said. “Unless we develop a new story, we will be victimized by it.” Guber, who resembled a slightly more coherent Robin Williams, said Hollywood’s penchant for putting out sequels is because “we are habituated to the certainty” rather than the uncertainty of something new.
Eisner — who appeared to be delivering the same speech he’s been giving since the mid-90s — pointed to Euro Disney, the micromanaged budget of the 1987 film Outrageous Fortune and Who Framed Roger Rabbit? as examples of Disney’s “management within a box” approach to success.
Eisner did eventually talk about more current successes, like ESPN and Pirates of the Caribbean, asserting that Disney wouldn’t have made Pirates without “stuffing the box with creativity.”
Armstrong, dressed in blue jeans and black shirt and sportscoat, delivered his patented cancer survivor story to a hushed crowd.
Clinton, surprisingly, made no mention of his recent run-in with Fox News, but outlined his differences with the Bush administration, specificallty its lack of diplomacy and refusal to partner with other countries. “[We need] to make more friends than future terrorists,” Clinton said. “It’s so much cheaper than going to war.”