Posted: May 4, 2015
GRIDIRON GOES WITH "TEAM ELLEN"
By Celia Cohen
There was really not much suspense over who would go down at the Gridiron this year.
Corporate Enemy #1.
After all, this is Delaware, the place Joe Biden once called the "Duchy of du Pont."
Nelson Peltz was in trouble. This was a "White Card" crowd, this assemblage of 450 or so people at the First State Gridiron Dinner & Show, the annual political roast, held Saturday evening at the Chase Center on the Riverfront in Wilmington.
There, at one point on a big screen as the backdrop while the Gridiron Players performed, was a colossus-size photo of Ellen Kullman, the CEO of DuPont, with a caption reading, "Team Ellen."
There, sitting at a table in the front, was the captain herself.
Kullman came, even with just 10 days to go before the proxy showdown on May 13 between the "white card" from DuPont and the "gold card" from Peltz, the corporate interloper from the Trian Management hedge fund. This is doubling down on Delaware.
In return, Gridiron doubled down on DuPont. The sponsors typically get zinged when they are acknowledged by voiceover, but this is the way it went for the company:
"DuPont -- the Gridiron is looking forward to another 200 years of progress from DuPont, and no one, including Nelson and his team, can erase the iconic company and its leaders from the state's history and from our lives . . . and there's nothing funny intended about that."
In an off-year for politics, DuPont stole the Gridiron show. There was praise, and there was also lamentation for the way the company has had to cull itself.
What more could anyone ask of a place that even shrunk its name from Du Pont to DuPont?
So the Gridiron Players sang and danced to the tune of "High Hopes"
Once there was a chemical plant
Then this Nelson Peltz had a rant
Everyone knows a plant can't
Stop a Nelson Peltz rant
But we had high hopes
We had high hopes
We had high-apple-pie-in-the-sky hopes
But then the comp'ny named Nemours
Poof -- became Chemours
Seems he'd got what he want
Oops, there goes another piece of DuPont . . .
Trian wants to sell our hotel
Golf and tennis going as well
If this is the way they do things
We'd rather send them to hell . . .
You can guess we're not a fan
Of his fund Trian
We're not fond of their plan
Oops, we've had it up to here with Trian
Naturally there was still plenty of room for politics in the show.
John Carney, who spent eight years as the Democratic lieutenant governor inquiring about the governor's health and now waits for word about Beau's, inspired a song to the tune of -- what else? -- "Hey, Look Me Over":
Hey, look me over, I could be great
I'll live in Dover, if you need a candidate
I've been real busy as your congressman
But I always wanted to be your guv, that was my first plan
Chris Coons, the Democratic senator who has largely been spared from the Gridiron hot seat, found himself parodied for largely being spared from the Gridiron hot seat. It was a takeoff of Carly Simon's "You're So Vain":
You're so plain
We wish there was some scandal about you
You're so plain
We wish there was a reason to doubt you
Doubt you, doubt you, doubt you
The mayor. Dennis Williams. Two lines.
Every day I'm an invitee
Every day I'm an absentee
The Gridiron finale is always a Delaware twist given to "Don't Cry for Me, Argentina," the showstopper from "Evita," by Lynda Maloney, the soul of Gridiron and the former first lady of Wilmington. It had to be about DuPont, and it was:
Don't cry for me, Nelson Peltz
We've tightened all our belts
Please do not forget
Our Ellen's got a set
She's shown the moxie
She's got my proxy
And as for fortune, that is his game
It's clear he cannot see
That DuPont is a Delaware legacy
When the song was sung and the applause begun, Kullman was proudly standing. Maybe an omen?