Disney buys Capital Cities/ABC -- The $19 billion buyout results in largest entertainment empire

By A.J. Jacobs
Updated August 11, 1995 at 04:00 AM EDT

Pluto, meet Urkel. Urkel, Pluto. And welcome all to the new, behemoth Mickey Mouse Club. Disney’s $19 billion buyout of Capital Cities/ABC creates the world’s largest entertainment empire. Announced a day before another merger, Westinghouse’s $5.4 billion CBS purchase, this mondo deal deserves its own awards ceremony. And the winners are:

The Sleeping Beauty Award to the media and Wall Street for being caught napping by the buyout. The trick was cutting out the middlemen, says Disney CEO Michael Eisner. ”I dealt directly with ABC because I worked there for 10 years. It was like buying a house from a cousin.”

The Walt Disney Cryogenic Plaque to the networks. Given up for dead not long ago, their lifeless bodies were defrosted with a vengeance by heat-generating megadeals like this one.

The Miramax Crying Game Medal to NYPD Blue, for being in the right deal at the wrong time. ABC’s butt-flashing cop show fits family-friendly Disney about as well as the demon seed in subsidiary Miramax’s Kids. Says Blue‘s Dennis Franz: ”I hope it won’t have any effect on the show…. I don’t understand why people want to mess with success.”

The Winnie the Pooh ”Oh, Bother!” Ribbon to Time Warner CEO Gerald Levin. His is no longer the world’s largest entertainment company.

The 101 Damnations Leash to DreamWorks. The Dream Team’s plans to produce TV shows for ABC may collapse like a Tool Time gazebo: There’s bad blood between DreamWorks’ Jeffrey Katzenberg and his former Disney boss. But Katzenberg’s whistling a happy tune: ”There’s no downside at all…. [The networks] all need another hit show, and always will. They’ll buy it from Attila the Hun.” Give that man a Pinocchio citation!

The Not-So-Little-Mermaid Megaphoneto Roseanne. After years of lambasting ABC suits, the high-decibel comic has new wicked stepfathers to torture.

It’s a Frighteningly Small World After All Trophy to Robert Sam Anson, the Disney-bashing writer and editor of Los Angeles magazine, which was owned by Capital Cities. Mr. Anson, meet your new boss: Michael Eisner, the same man compared to Captain Queeg in an article you penned. Says Anson in ”Don’t Worry, Be Happy” mode, ”I’m just too busy putting out the magazine.” But for how long?

The Goofy Cup to Westinghouse, which announced its CBS purchase a day after Disney’s deal. Not only did Disney steal the defense contractor’s thunder, it made Westinghouse’s deal look dog-eared.

The Home Improvement Arrgh! Arrgh! Arrgh! Grunt to Tim Allen. With a hit ABC sitcom and The Santa Clause under his tool belt, Allen — not Mickey — is this company’s mascot.

Additional Reporting by Judy Brennan, Richard Natale, Jennifer Pendleton, and Jed Spingarn