UPDATED: Following CEO Bob Iger’s lead, Disney CFO Jay Rasulo won’t break out financial numbers for ESPN. But he strongly hints that its financial prospects are rosy by offering a few projections for Disney’s cable networks, which are dominated by …
Former Good Morning America Sunday co-anchor Willow Bay today was appointed the director of USC’s School of Journalism. “The breadth of Willow Bay’s experiences, skills and talents is extraordinary,” said Ernest …
While attention had been focused on who would replace Anne Sweeney atop Disney/ABC’s TV Group, observers ponder what the choice would say about Walt Disney Co. CEO Bob Iger plans for the future of the company. Thomas Staggs and Jay Rasulo both have already done stints as CFO and head of the Disney parks division and are considered leading contenders to succeed Iger in the top post when he departs in 2016. If one of them is chosen to oversee Disney’s non-sports TV assets, the appointment would anoint that executive as an Iger heir apparent as the job would give him entertainment experience, a background both Iger and his predecessor Michael Eisner had before taking on the CEO job. For whoever within the Disney Co. takes the job (and Iger had indicated he doesn’t intend to look outside the company), it would be a learning curve. The only executive with experience in both TV programming and managing global portfolio, A+E Networks CEO Nancy Dubuc, is under a long-term contract at a very successful company, which Disney doesn’t own outright but is a 50-50 partner with Hearst, making a transition to Disney-ABC problematic (though not impossible).
The other possibility that has been gaining momentum — of splitting Sweeney’s portfolio into two — is even more intriguing. ABC’s morning golden boy, News President Ben Sherwood, is being groomed for a Jeff Zucker-type career trajectory from morning TV to a top network job, with another executive, like Rebecca Campbell, president of the ABC Stations Group, possibly overseeing the rest of the portfolio.
UPDATE: Bob Iger Talks Up ‘Frozen’, ‘Star Wars’ & New ‘Incredibles’ And ‘Cars’ Movies As Shareholders Re-Elect Board
The Disney CEO made his observations as he kicked off his company’s annual shareholder meeting in Portland, Ore. Frozen has already generated more than $1B globally and, with its successful open in Japan, should pass Toy Story 3‘s sales of $1.06B. TS3 made $126.7M in Japan. The new film’s success has returned Disney’s animation studio to its “rightful place” as one of the world’s greatest, Bob Iger says. Pixar, meanwhile, will produce a third Cars movie and is developing a sequel to 2004′s The Incredibles, Iger also said, with confirmation coming via Disney/Pixar’s Facebook page that it is “currently working on two new films featuring your favorite characters from Incredibles and Cars.” Iger also crowed about the company’s market value of more than $143B, up from about $100B last year. “I’d call that a great year,” he says. Iger told investors that he can’t share much about Star Wars VII, but said that principal photography will begin in May in London. In his opening comments the CEO also said that the Shanghai Disney park will feature a Pirates Of the Caribbean-themed attraction called Treasure Cove.
Related: Disney: ‘Star Wars’ To Start Shooting In May, Pick Up 30 Years After End Of ‘Jedi’
No surprises on the business side: All of the board nominees, who were unopposed, were re-elected according to the preliminary returns. Former Starbucks CEO Orin Smith trailed the pack with support from holders owning 92% of the votes cast. Iger was favored by 99%. Some 80% supported an advisory resolution endorsing the company’s executive compensation. Just 24% supported a shareholder proposal that Disney opposed that would have barred accelerated vesting of executives’ equity awards if there’s a change in control.
The change appears to have appeased shareholders who are still seething over Disney’s decision to make Bob Iger both CEO and Chairman — and scratches a potentially embarrassing vote today over a proposal that could have made the process of selecting board members slightly more democratic. …
If you have a fledgling consumer media or entertainment product company, then this is for you: The media giant says its new Los Angeles-based program — called Disney Accelerator — will pick 10 companies to receive …
UPDATE: Disney’s Bob Iger Touts “Franchise Potential” Of ‘Frozen’ After Movies Fuel Q1 Ratings Surge
UPDATE, 3:28 PM: Bob Iger continued to tubthump for the red-hot Studio Entertainment division during the company’s analyst call– and specifically Disney Animation’s runaway hit Frozen. While not going so far as to say that potential includes another feature film, the Disney CEO noted the pic, which is up for a pair of Oscars, has made $864.4M worldwide since its late November release, passing The Lion King as the company’s biggest animated hit ever — and that’s with China just opening and Japan to come in mid-March. “This has real franchise potential” across Disney’s businesses, Iger said, adding that in Disney’s parks “we will see Frozen in more places” along with Marvel properties including Iron Man. CFO Jay Rasulo said Frozen is the top-selling brand in Disney’s stores (followed by Disney Junior properties), which helped Consumer Products to gains in revenue and operating income.
Several analysts asked about Disney Interactive, a day after the unit said it would lay off about 200 employees. Iger touted the success of the Infinity business, which increased revenue and operating profit during the quarter, and said the next phase of Disney Interactive’s rollout will involve mining new iterations of characters. Iger said to look for more licensing deals as the division moves off more traditional platforms and zeroes into the mobile space “where the users are.” Rasulo said Q2 will see “downdraft” as there are no big names due out during the quarter.
PREVIOUS, 1:18 PM: The stock is up, CEO Bob Iger is talking up the fiscal Q1 numbers on CNBC — and at first glance it looks like there’s enough in the results to justify all of that enthusiasm. Disney reported net income of $1.8B, +33% vs the period last year, on revenues of $12.3B, +9%. Analysts thought that the top line would come in a little lower, $12.2B. Diluted earnings at $1.04 a share handily beat expectations for 92 cents. Unlike at most Big Media companies, the Studio Entertainment unit was the star for Disney’s year-end quarter. Revenues rose 23% to $1.9B, with operating income +75% to $409M, as Frozen and Thor: The Dark World hammered last year’s results with Wreck-It-Ralph. The studio also benefited from sales to overseas streaming services. Media Networks revenues increased 4% to $5.3B with operating income +20% to $1.5B. ESPN and Disney’s 50% stake in A&E helped to drive a $325M increase in operating income to $1.3B for the cable networks unit. But ABC struggled with revenues falling 2% to $1.5B and operating income down 32% to $178M. Ad sales were hurt by lower ratings.
It’s not a criticism of the CEO’s work, the board notes in the company proxy just filed at the SEC. Bob Iger’s cash bonus fell because “the Company’s outperformance relative to financial measures established by the Compensation Committee did not match the magnitude of outperformance delivered in fiscal 2012, demonstrating the effectiveness of the Company’s pay-for-performance compensation plan,” Disney says. Iger’s compensation package includes $2.5M in salary, $8.8M in stock awards, $8.5M in option awards, $13.6M in non-equity incentives, and $968,538 in other compensation. The “other” category includes $332,808 for personal air travel and $584,075 for security. Disney’s come under attack for Iger’s high compensation — and noted in the proxy that, in the board’s eyes, it has “generally been at or below the median of reported compensation for Media Industry Peers.” Last year was an exception because “the Company experienced exceptional performance.” Disney shares appreciated 24.7% in the 2013 fiscal year that ended in September. Iger’s 2013 compensation was 6.1 times the median for the other four top executives named in the proxy. That’s out of whack with the maximum of 3.0 times that corporate governance activists prefer, but slightly better than 2012 when Iger’s pay was 6.4 times higher than the average for his closest lieutenants at Disney. CFO Jay Rasulo was the second highest paid exec in 2013 with $10.7M.
The Marvel characters to be featured on Netflix in the four-series deal the companies announced today are “not among the most popular,” Disney CEO Bob Iger just told analysts. Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Iron Fist, and Luke Cage ”were never going to become feature films.” But that could change if the shows planned for the streaming service catch on. That makes the agreement “great for Netflix” — and opens “a great opportunity for Marvel to create more brand value…There are more opportunities beyond our platform to produce product for.”
The Disney chief also urged investors not to fret about the long time it’s taking for the entertainment giant to work out a new program carriage deal with Dish Network. The companies agreed to keep talking — without any programming black out — at the end of September when their previous agreement expired. “Progress is being made,” Iger says. Still, a deal “could take some time.” That’s because the negotiations are less about the price for carrying traditional TV channels than they are about the fees and conditions for Dish to stream
LOS ANGELES, CA (October 9, 2013) – The Producers Guild of America (PGA) announced today that The Walt Disney Company Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Bob Iger, will be honored with the 2014 Milestone Award. The award will be presented to Iger at the 25th Annual Producers Guild Awards ceremony on January 19, 2014 at the Beverly Hilton Hotel.
“I’ve had the great privilege of working with some of the world’s best storytellers,” said Robert A. Iger, Chairman and CEO, The Walt Disney Company. “I am constantly inspired by the creativity and innovation at Disney, as thousands of people around the world work together to tell great stories in spectacular new ways. For 90 years, Disney has redefined what’s possible and raised the standard of excellence in entertainment. We continue to strive to live up to that legacy, and it’s very rewarding to see our efforts recognized in such a meaningful way by the Producers Guild of America.”
The Milestone Award is the Guild’s highest honor recognizing an individual or team who has made historic contributions to the entertainment industry. In the past, the Producers Guild has paid tribute to such industry leaders as Clint Eastwood, Jeffrey Katzenberg, Steven Spielberg, James Cameron, Ron Meyer, Walt Disney, and the 2013 recipients Bob and Harvey Weinstein, among others.
With low barriers to entry on the Internet, rivals to Netflix “are going to use technology to offer varied product” making the competition for viewers “more of a marathon than a sprint,” Disney CEO Bob Iger told investors this morning at the Goldman Sachs Communacopia Conference. “It will be very hard for them to monopolize the marketplace.” That’s probably what you’d expect to hear from a company that’s also a major investor in Hulu, a Netflix rival. But his upbeat views of a highly competitive Internet world stood in stark contrast to his equally optimistic description of the benefits of maintaining a traditional pay TV business where consumers have little choice. “The $75 [a month], 100-channel expanded basic package is a really good bargain,” Iger says. “The consumer is getting a good deal.” He also sees no problem as companies including Disney ratchet up their programming fees. Could price inflation lead to cord cutting, or young people choosing not to subscribe at all? “We don’t see evidence of that occurring.” And consumers may see no impact because pay TV distributors “may have to accept lower margins on their video business.” That could make sense because video is “very important” to help them sell lucrative broadband and phone services.
The Disney chief’s contract originally called for him to give up the CEO title on April 1, 2015 but remain chairman until the end of June 2016. Under the new amendment, he will keep both jobs until the end. As a result of the change, he’ll continue to receive in the last year of his agreement the salary and target incentive compensation he receives as CEO and chairman. (He made $40.2M in compensation last year.) “Now, Disney will continue to have the full benefit of Mr. Iger’s leadership as CEO and chairman for the duration of his tenure,” the board’s Independent Lead Director Orin Smith says. “The board remains focused on effective succession planning, and will continue to develop a sound and appropriate process for ensuring a smooth management transition.”
In a summer where internal studio battles are exploding, talent agencies are attacking each other, gun violence is rampant in real life and on screen, football teams are spawning accused murderers, teen idols are out of control, and people don’t talk — they just text — it’s nice to reflect on this Sunday before Independence Day that there once was what, at least in retrospect, seemed to be a kinder, more innocent Hollywood. At least that was the feeling I got this week at two events celebrating two uniquely inspiring past stars, both very much off the radar of the industry that eats its young today. They are worth noting.
Many people today who worship the likes of the Kardashians may not know who Dolores Hart is. Or was. But in the late 1950s and early ’60s she was a genuine film star who gave Elvis Presley his first screen kiss in Loving You (1957) and again in King Creole (1958); searched for men in Where The Boys Are (1960); and co-starred opposite the likes of Montgomery Clift, Karl Malden, Anthony Quinn, Myrna Loy and many others until she suddenly gave it all up after attending the New York premiere of her last film (1963′s Come Fly With Me). She told the studio’s limo driver to drop her off at the Abbey of Regina Laudis in Bethlehem, CT, and became a nun. That was exactly 50 years ago, and Mother Dolores, as she is now known, is still there and still doing great things with her life — even if it isn’t as the movie star she once was.