The lure of Broadway is a strong one. How else to explain actors who foresake huge movie paychecks to spend their summers doing theatre for near-scale wages? How else, despite competition from film, TV and the internet, to explain the 2000-01 Broadway season having the biggest attendance and highest grosses in history? And what better way to explain Peter Schneider, chairman of Walt Disney Studios, stepping down from that position to start an independent theatrical production and investment company. Thomas Schumacher, President of Buena Vista Theatrical Group and co producer (with Schneider) of The Lion King, will continue to helm the company's stage projects.
“I wish Peter all the success and happiness as he goes forward,” Disney CEO Michael Eisner said in a statement. “For the last 16 years, he has been a wonderful colleague and friend who has been at the center of our incredible creative successes in animation and the legitimate theater. He has chosen to go back to his roots in live theater. Whether Peter is producing a play on Broadway or wherever his plans take him, I will be with him in spirit." Actually, it will be more than just spirit, as Schneider's firm will be "partially funded" by the Walt Disney Company.
— By David Lefkowitz