The California State Teachers’ Retirement System owns about 5.3 million shares of Disney stock worth $263M, which only represents 0.3% of the company’s shares. But the group reports ahead of Disney’s March 6 shareholders meeting in Arizona that …
Bob Iger today told a Massachusetts congressman that his privacy issue concerns about new technology being introduced at Disney theme parks are bunk. “We are offended by the ludicrous and utterly ill-informed assertion in your letter dated January 24, 2013, that we would in any way haphazardly or recklessly introduce a program that manipulates children, or wantonly puts their safety at risk,” the Disney chairman and CEO wrote in a letter (read it in full below) Monday to Ed Markey.
The program to which Iger is referring is the company’s MyMagic+MagicBands digital venture set to launch this spring at Disney World. As Iger outlined last week during a Q&A with Brian Grazer, the initiative enables theme park visitors to upload their personal information into digitally enhanced wristbands so they can reserve time on rides and in restaurants as well as upload birthday information. From Disney’s point of view, the MagicBand tracks guest interaction and purchasing behavior while in the parks.
Jen Yamato is a Deadline contributor.
Disney‘s Bob Iger said he’s taking measures to monitor violence in his company’s video game interests following the Newtown school shooting and President Obama’s subsequent gun initiatives, which include a study of the impact of violent video games. The chairman and CEO said at a Q&A with Brian Grazer today during a HRTS Newsmakers Luncheon that he met yesterday within the company’s ranks “to take stock in everything we’ve got that can be considered near the line or over the line”. Iger refused to speak with press before and after the hour-long chat, which was moderated by longtime pal Grazer, although a rep tells Deadline any official plans to review the titles have not been solidified. “Fortunately at Disney there’s very little [violent content], but I still want to make sure we’re asking ourselves the right questions in terms of that standard,” Iger said, “and also [ensure] we’re willing to be a part of a dialogue in today’s world that I think is pretty necessary in terms of what our role is and what our role should be”.
The company says in its proxy filed at the SEC this evening that in meetings with shareholders “there was broad agreement with the Compensation Committee’s assessment that Mr. Iger’s performance as chief executive officer has been excellent.” Disney shares appreciated 76% in the fiscal year that ended September 30, while the Standard & Poor’s 500 was up 30%. The company also says that in the previous three years Bob Iger‘s compensation was “near or below the median compensation awarded to his peers.” Directors responded by raising all components of Iger’s compensation compensation for the fiscal year that ended in September: It amounted to $2.5M in salary, $9.5M in stock awards, $7.8M in option awards, $16.5M in non-equity incentives, $3.1M change in pension value, and $800,700 for other compensation. The “other” category includes $574,331 for security and $190,439 for personal air travel. The company says it requires Iger to use the corporate jet for his personal travel “for security reasons.” It also notes that the present value of the pension rose in part because interest rates dropped and “does not result in any increase in the benefits payable to participants.” Still, Disney paid Iger like a rock star: He made 6.3 times the median pay for the four other executives named in the proxy. Corporate governance watchdogs say that CEO pay is out of whack when it exceeds three times the average for other top officers. The second-highest-paid exec, CFO Jay Rasulo, made $12.2M, a raise of 10.2%. Disney shareholders will have a chance to voice their opinions about the pay package, and elect directors, at the annual meeting to be held March 6 in Phoenix.
Walt Disney Chairman/CEO Bog Iger exercised options on 1 million shares of company stock and sold them for about $47.4 million, netting about $17.9 million, Bloomberg reports. Iger paid $29.51 to exercise each option and sold them for an …
Disney chairman and CEO Bob Iger and George Lucas break down their new deal.
Disney plans to bring not just one but three new Star Wars films to the big screen, and the companies “have a pretty extensive treatment of the next three movies,” chairman and CEO Bob Iger said in a conference call announcing its deal to acquire Lucasfilm. “Episode 7 will be released in 2015, the first under the Disney/Lucas banner,” he said, with Episode 8 and Episode 9 to follow. Disney plans to release a new Star Wars movie “every two to three years.” Disney also intends to pursue the Star Wars brand in their parks, with games and, “other initiatives,” CFO Jay Rasulo said. “Being that there hasn’t been a Star Wars film since 2005, a lot of the value we attribute to the deal is to come, added Rasulo. ”This gives us a great footprint in the consumer market, and we already had a good one,” said Iger of the licensing possibilities that the Star Wars franchise could represent for Disney.
EXCLUSIVE… UPDATE: Sources now tell me that all three female executives in employments disputes with the Walt Disney Co have settled – including one today. This is many months after the women lost their jobs in a Department Of Consumer Products reorganization set in motion nearly a year ago by Marvel boss Ike Perlmutter who is Disney’s 2nd largest shareholder. Former DCP head of fashion and home products Pam Lifford, former chief financial officer Anne Gates, and former DCP HR exec Susan Cole Hill were all represented by the same attorney with the Pasadena law firm Hadsell, Stormer, Keeny, Richardson and Rennick which has sued Disney in other employee rights cases. According to my sources, the three women, who are all African Americans, referred to themselves as “The Help” – a reference to last summer’s hit DreamWorks movie distributed by Disney and set during the civil rights movement about black maids in Mississippi.
The reorganization took place in September 2011 but the negotiations for the exit settlements dragged on. Some insiders claim the law firm didn’t return Disney’s calls because it first wanted a story damaging to Perlmutter to appear in the media. An article appeared on Thursday, and Disney and Marvel and Perlmutter now are in damage control mode. Financial Times LA-based correspondent Matthew Garrahan broke the news about these three African-American female execs, their respective job status after their boss Andy Mooney was replaced as the head of DCP, and their hiring an attorney. At the time he wrote that only one of the three women had settled with Disney.
But the FT story also reported that, when African-American actor Terrence Howard was replaced by African-American actor Don Cheadle in the role of Colonel Jim Rhodes for Iron Man 2, ”Perlmutter apparently told Mr. Mooney the change cut costs. He allegedly added words to the effect that no one would notice because black people ‘look the same’,” Garrahan wrote. A Marvel spokesperson told the FT in a statement: “Mr. Perlmutter and all of Marvel have a long record of diversity in the workplace and on movie sets around the world as evidenced by both Mr. Perlmutter’s own history and Marvel’s management team.”
There’s also conflicting descriptions of a formal complaint with Disney
Human Resources about Perlmutter filed by former CFO Anne Gates before she left the company. Several sources told me it was a racial complaint but others say it wasn’t race-related.
The last thing Disney wants is bad press about the reclusive (Forbes found this 1985 photo, right), opinionated, parsimonious, and incredibly successful 69-year-old Perlmutter. (The Los Angeles Times, ever obliging to advertisers, didn’t even mention the FT accusations in its clip-job story about Perlmutter appearing later Thursday.) Perlmutter’s influence inside Disney is gigantic ever since his $4B sale of Marvel to Mouse House CEO Bob Iger in 2009. I reported back in April that one of the reasons Rich Ross was summarily fired as chairman of the Walt Disney Studios was because the Marvel Entertainment CEO was a very vocal detractor. The comic book, TV, and film company boss is a notoriously tough customer eager to back-seat manage everything. (As I quoted a source saying in April: “Iger has real problems. Bob thought he could handle him. But Ike is uncharmable.”)
Related: Why Rich Ross Was Fired At Disney
High-ranking Marvel sources today tell me that the FT‘s implication that Perlmutter is racist is ”proposterous”. The insiders also claim, about what Perlmutter allegedly said to Mooney, “he [Mooney] never complained about it at the time and then only 5 months later”. Other insiders acknowledge that “it looks bad” that the African-American trio were reorganized out of their jobs but claim the FT‘s information is coming from “disgruntled employees” who have tried to “peddle accusations against Ike” to other media outlets for many months. Trying to give me some context about Perlmutter, one insider made the point that he was “of a different generation and an Israeli immigrant and owner of a private company” whose blunt style is at odds with a public corporate environment like Disney. But these people who know him all flatly deny that he has demonstrated racism.
The public is about to get a first look at the revamp of Disney’s 11-year-old California Adventure — including the Pixar-engineered Cars Land and other upgrades. The face-lift, which took five years, aims to fix what Disney CEO Bob Iger once called a “brand eyesore.” The company also hopes to boost attendance at the underperforming venue, which is situated across from Disneyland in Anaheim. Disney reportedly spent $1 billion on renovations. Goofy’s Sky School replaced the Mulholland Madness roller coaster. An animatronic attraction, The Little Mermaid: Ariel’s Undersea Adventure ride, replaced the Golden Dreams audio tour of California. And the Golden Gate Bridge was replaced by Buena Vista Street, which attempts to re-create the Los Angeles of the 1920s when Walt Disney first came to town and lived and worked in Los Feliz.
UPDATE: Michelle Obama was on hand for the company’s announcement in Washington. She praised Disney for listening to parents who are more and more concerned about what their kids are eating. She said Disney has seen momentum building across the country on behalf of children’s health and has realized that what is good for children can also be good business. She also said she’s getting letters everyday from kids who tell her they’re eating healthier, getting more exercise and “loving every minute of it.”
PREVIOUS, 8:13 AM: The news was already out, but it’s important — and this makes it official.
BURBANK, Calif., June 5, 2012 – Building on its landmark nutrition guidelines established in 2006, The Walt Disney Company (NYSE: DIS) today became the first major media company to introduce new standards for food advertising on programming targeting kids and families. This significant undertaking marks the latest step in Disney’s partnership with parents to inspire kids to lead healthier lifestyles. Under Disney’s new standards, all food and beverage products advertised, sponsored, or promoted on Disney Channel, Disney XD, Disney Junior, Radio Disney, and Disney-owned online destinations oriented to families with younger children will be required by 2015 to meet Disney’s nutrition guidelines. The nutrition guidelines are aligned to federal standards, promote fruit and vegetable consumption and call for limiting calories and reducing saturated fat, sodium, and sugar.
Disney CEO Bob Iger had to know that he’d face the ESPN question this morning at the Sanford C. Bernstein Strategic Decisions Conference. The Wall Street firm has led the pack in warning that sports programming contributes to rising pay TV prices — and that could become a big turn-off for consumers in a stagnant economy. ESPN is seen as a culprit because the network and its offshoot channels account for more than 26% of pay TV programming fees, but just 5% of the ratings. But Iger stood firm, taking a page from Franklin Roosevelt by saying in effect that the industry has little to fear but fear itself. Pay TV subscribers “generally are pleased with the variety of programming that they get.” He attributed the growing complaints about sports costs to the fact that “it has been a rough economy over the last few years.” He adds that ESPN has been careful about its price increases to compensate for its aggressive investments in programming including rights for major sports matches. “We’re not trying to kill the golden goose.” Indeed, the pay TV providers who criticize ESPN may be doing more to upset the status quo when they complain about costs instead of “selling the value to the consumers.” If they want to complain about sports costs, they should train their fire on regional sports networks. “If you look at the cost of those channels vs the ratings they deliver, it’s not even close ” to ESPN, he says. But at the end of the day he isn’t concerned that ESPN — Disney’s cash cow — will be whacked as pay TV providers begin to offer low priced services without sports. In a few cases where it’s been tried (for example, Time Warner Cable offers a $40 a month package without sports) “adoption is not particularly high.”
Broadcasters are seeing red about the new ad-zapping Auto Hop feature on Dish Network’s Hopper DVRs. But Disney CEO Bob Iger didn’t want to address it directly in an interview today on Fox Business Network. ”I’m in the hands of our great legal counsel,” he says. Still he says, in …
BREAKING… SHOCKER! RICH ROSS OUT AT DISNEY
“It was a very difficult decision. Very. But his team lost faith in him. The town, as you know, never wanted him to succeed. And it was just the wrong fit,” a Disney insider tells me, explaining Walt Disney President/CEO Bob Iger’s decision announced today to fire Disney Studios Chairman Rich Ross. Iger began discussions several weeks ago with Ross to end his tenure. But, after 2 1/2 years in the job, Ross’ own slate of movies had not even bowed: Peter Hedge’s The Odd Life Of Timothy Green (August 15th), Tim Burton’s Frankenweenie (October 5th), Sam Raimi’s Oz The Great And Powerful (March 8th, 2013), Gore Verbinski’s The Lone Ranger starring Johnny Depp under the Jerry Bruckheimer banner (May 31st, 2013), Maleficent (March 14th, 2014) starring Angelina Jolie. The rest of Disney’s release slate consist of Pixar/Walt Disney Animation, Marvel, and DreamWorks pics. Disney strenuously denies there are any problems with Ross’ upcoming films. Instead, insiders strenuously complain about Ross’ personality:
“He had an ‘awareness’ issue,” a Disney source explains to me. “Sometimes people, when they’re put in a different place, they manage it well. And sometimes they don’t. It has nothing to do with the slate of his upcoming films. They’re fine. It’s just about leadership and management. Rich didn’t make the transition. He got caught up in the trappings of the job rather than the specifics. What it became about was we saw him making stupid mistakes. Focusing on things that were not important like parties and celebrities. People that were doing business with us in the film business not only internally but externally were complaining that they were having a hard time doing business with him.”
Rare indeed is the movie mogul who isn’t arrogant. But as much as Ross’ style and substance were the problems, and of his own making, so was his situation, which wasn’t. Because the Walt Disney Studios has become unmanageable. Among Ross’ most vocal detractors were Disney’s mega-shareholder Marvel Entertainment CEO Ike Perlmutter, Pixar/Walt Disney Animation Studios chief creative officer and mega-exec John Lasseter, mega-producer Jerry Bruckheimer, and DreamWorks mega-filmmakers Steven Spielberg and Stacey Snider. The fact is that these powerful personalities — oh, hell, let’s call them what they are: major-league pricks — have come together in one place making so many demands on the parent studio that it’s hard for anyone who finds himself nominally in charge able to keep them all satisfied. Interestingly, Ross’ predecessor, the famously people-pleasing Dick Cook, did for a time and maybe could have continued well into the future. But Iger fired him, too.
Ross arrived at a watershed time for the studio: shortly after Iger entered into the 2009 deal with Marvel. The comic book, TV, and film entertainment company’s Israeli owner Ike Perlmutter is not just a notoriously tough custumer but a budget-obsessed megalomaniac besides a recluse. He has taken control of Disney’s consumer products division already (firing here, fixing there), and my sources tell me he is making Iger’s life miserable with back-seat managing of everything, especially Walt Disney Studios. (“Iger has real problems with Ike. That’s the real story,” one of my insiders tells me. ”Bob thought he could handle him. But Ike is uncharmable.”) Lasseter had the full force of then mega-stockholder Steve Jobs behind him, and singlehandedly caused the film studio to back the loser live action picture John Carter. DreamWorks, of course, drove two Universal and Paramount crazy with their constant complaining before it started to give Disney the same mistreatment beginning in 2009 and continuing through War Horse. Meanwhile, Jerry Bruckheimer’s films were falling out of favor at the box office. Now Bruckheimer is pissed that, after all the hits he’s delivered in the past, under The Lone Ranger‘s ‘favored nation’ deal negotiated with the studio to deflate a bloated budget, he (+ Depp + Verbinski) get paid big bucks only when Disney recoups.
And then there is Iger himself, infamous for firing top executives just when they’re about to turn their divisions around.