Disney trades ABC sportscaster for Walt's original 'toon
Published: February 9, 2006 at 2:17 PM
Disney's just traded sportscaster Al Michaels for the rights to, among other things, Walt's original character, Oswald the Lucky Rabbit.
Michaels, long the voice of ABC's "Monday Night Football" is leaving the network to join Universal-owned NBC's "Sunday Night Football" in the fall. But he was under contract to Disney-owned ABC, so the network extracted some concessions from Universal to release him.
Most of the deal involves Disney-owned ESPN getting the rights to air more highlights from NBC-covered sports events, such as Notre Dame football. But Universal also threw in the rights to Oswald, a character that Universal owned from back in the day before Walt Disney formed his own studio.
Walt drew Oswald for a series of cartoon shorts distributed by Universal. But Walt didn't own the character's rights. So when Walt decided to set out on his own, he created a new character by shortening Oswald's ears and putting shoes on his feet.
And thus, Mickey Mouse was born.