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.
Obama With Bob Iger, Jim Gianopulos, & JJ Abrams At Peter Chernin Fundraisers; Jokes About Hollywood Democrat “Donor Fatigue”
UPDATED 1:46 PM: Star attraction President Obama told some of the Hollywood’s biggest players and his biggest contributors that he understands if they’re feeling “donor fatigue” from all the times he’s hit them up for money. “We don’t have time to be fatigued because we’ve got too much to do,” he addressed the crowd at the two sold-out DNC fundraisers at former News Corp No. 2 and now independent mogul Peter Chernin’s house today. Tickets today range from $10,000 to $32,400. I’ve learned that longtime Obama supporter Disney boss Bob Iger flew back directly from a Fortune mag confab in China to make the lunch. And I’m told Fox Film chief Jim Gianopulos is also there along with Haim Saban as well. StarTrek/Star Wars director JJ Abrams and his wife Katie McGrath and HBO’s Mike Lombardo and his partner Sonny Ward, who held a fundraiser for the Obama/Biden campaign in the their home last year, are also in attendance. White House pool report and press office excerpts below:
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you, everybody. Thank you. (Applause.) Oh, we’re okay, guys. Sit down. Thank you. (Applause.) Thank you. Well, to Peter and Meg, I just want to thank them so much. Not only have they been longtime supporters, back when a lot of people couldn’t pronounce my name — (laughter) — but more importantly,
UPDATED: This is one our Nellie Andreeva told you was going to happen back in March. It became official this morning on The View, the show Barbara Walters co-created. “In the summer of 2014, a year from now, I plan to retire from appearing on television at all”, she said after showing a clip montage of her 52 years in the business. “It has been an absolutely joyful, rewarding, challenging, fascinating and occasionally bumpy ride. And I wouldn’t change a thing. I’m perfectly healthy. This is my decision. I’ve been thinking about it a long time. This is what I want to do”. She added: “I will come back, I’m not going into the sunset.” Walters said she will continue as executive producer of The View with Bill Geddie. (Continued below)
Disney’s Bob Iger was one of several Disney and ABC brass on hand for the announcement. “What are we going to do?” Walters asked the chairman and CEO during the show (Iger is retiring in 2015). “The two of us love to dance”, he responded. “I say we go on Dancing With The Stars”. ABC Television Group president Anne Sweeney, ABC News president Ben Sherwood and ABC Entertainment president Paul Lee joined Iger to watch Walters say goodbye.
As part of an ongoing review to ensure that the Studios’ operational structure and economics align with the demands of the current marketplace, we have made the difficult decision to reduce our staffing levels in several divisions of the Studio.
PREVIOUS, MONDAY AM: Disney shares are trading around their all-time high. But Wednesday looks like the day Disney will drop the ax for its expected layoffs. I have learned that about 150 people at Walt Disney Studios will receive pink slips. Sources say the cuts will come from across all of Disney Studios businesses, including the music and NYC-based theatre departments. At this point it looks like a one-time round of layoffs, but an overall reorganization affecting other divisions is planned for later this year and that could include more cuts. They’re coming as a result of an internal review ordered late last year by CEO Bob Iger and CFO Jay Rasulo to pinpoint superfluous positions and increase efficiency. But the company is already doing well with mega-blockbusters including The Avengers. Net profits for the fiscal year that ended in September increased 18% to $5.7 billion on revenues of $42.3 billion.
Cory Booker hasn’t officially said he’s running to become New Jersey’s next Senator but Hollywood is planning to shovel money into his campaign treasure chest. Anointing Booker as Hollywood’s new favorite politician, invites went out this week for a “Special Evening In LA” April 25 fundraiser for the Newark Mayor at the Beverly Hills home of producer Jerry Weintraub and girlfriend, producer Susan Ekins. The event has a marquee host list that cuts across party lines and into deep wallets. It costs $5,000 a ticket to attend the fundraiser with the money going to Cory Booker For Senate. The event is one of eight the telegenic Democrat has lined up in the next two months in anticipation of a 2014 run to replace departing fellow Democrat Frank Lautenberg in the heavily Blue state. The Beverly Hills fundraiser certainly shows that backing a potential winner cuts across party lines. Republicans like Bush family confidante Weintraub and Bruce Willis are listed on the invite but so are avowed Democrats like Jeffrey Katzenberg, who was one of the largest single contributors to Barack Obama’s reelection, Steven Spielberg and new Star Wars director J.J. Abrams and their wives Kate Capshaw and Katie McGrath.
The Disney CEO and chairman seems bemused by last week’s effort by shareholder rights advocates to split the company’s two top jobs when he steps down. “This is essentially a cause looking for a problem,” Bob Iger told CNBC’s Maria Bartiromo in an interview this afternoon. “We do not have governance issues” at Disney, where nine of the 10 directors are independent and the company stock is trading near its all-time high. “We just don’t have a problem here.” Iger added that there are “no statistics that prove” companies run into conflict of interest trouble when the person who runs management also oversees the group that’s supposed to hold him or her accountable. “If you have an experienced, independent and engaged board” then “it doesn’t matter.” Last week holders of 35.5% of Disney’s shares supported a resolution urging the board to split the CEO and chairman jobs — and 42.1% opposed directors’ executive compensation decisions. Critics including proxy advisory firms Institutional Shareholder Services and Glass Lewis said, among other things, that the board hadn’t adequately tied Iger’s pay to performance. His compensation in fiscal 2012 came to $40M, a 20.3% raise, and they say the contract he negotiated in 2011 guaranteed him at least $30M even if the stock had not popped as much as it did.
Under more normal circumstances, the Orpheum Theater in Phoenix would briefly replace Disneyland tomorrow as Disney‘s “happiest place on earth.” The company’s stock is trading around an all time high as shareholders prepare to convene there for their annual meeting. But attendees instead are girding for a fight over resolutions that could shape the way Disney’s run, especially after Bob Iger steps down in June 2016. Many shareholders support a movement sweeping corporate America to democratize governance policies, giving the people who ostensibly own a company more flexibility to check the power of CEOs and directors. Disney infuriated them in 2011 by agreeing to make Iger chairman as well as CEO, which critics say puts him in charge of the team that’s supposed to judge his performance. And the company further enraged shareholder rights advocates recently when it gave Iger a 20.3% raise with a package for fiscal 2012 worth $40M — even though 43% of Disney shareholders opposed management in the federally mandated say-on-pay advisory vote at last year’s annual meeting.
That set the stage for tomorrow: California teachers’ fund CalPERS, and proxy advisory firms Institutional Shareholder Services (ISS) and Glass Lewis, are among the groups asking shareholders to oppose Disney in the say-on-pay vote. They also support two shareholder resolutions that Disney opposes. One would enable some stock owners to nominate candidates for the board — an idea that’ll be raised at several companies this year. The second urges the board to amend the company’s governance guidelines to prevent a CEO after Iger from also serving as chairman, except under brief and unusual circumstances.
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 it is voting against Chairman and CEO Bob Iger among others. It fears that the directors’ decision to give Iger both of the top jobs means that they constitute “an entrenched and insular board that lacks independence from the CEO”. They say that structure could harm shareholders’ interests. “We’ve been through this fight before, in 2004-05, which resulted in the ouster of then-CEO Michael Eisner and a shareholder revolt that led to the separation of the Board Chair and CEO positions”, CalSTRS Director of Corporate Governance Anne Sheehan said. Iger assumed the role of chairman in addition to his CEO and president titles in March, when chairman John Popper retired from the board. That was part of the plan back in October 2011 when Iger’s contract was extended through June 2016.
The pension fund also will vote against proposed stock and executive compensation plans. In 2012, Iger made $40.2M in compensation, a 20.3% raise over 2011. The second-highest-paid exec, CFO Jay Rasulo, made $12.2M, a raise of 10.2%. Disney notes in its proxy that shareholders saw a total return of 76.3% in the 2012 fiscal year while the benchmark Standard & Poor’s 500 appreciated 30.2%. It also says …
CEO Bob Iger made the disclosure in an interview on CNBC. He says that Larry Kasdan and Simon Kinberg are working on them — Deadline revealed exclusively back in November that they were getting involved — and they’re in addition to Disney‘s planned Star Wars VII, VIII and IX — the first of which is being penned by Michael Arndt and directed by JJ Abrams. No word yet on which characters are involved in the spinoff films. Kasdan of course wrote Empire Strikes Back and Return Of The Jedi, and Kinberg’s franchise credits include X-Men. Here’s the Iger clip:
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 average $47.37 each, according to an SEC filing, to result in a profit before fees of about $17.86 per share sold. Iger still holds 1.14 million shares. “He’s just diversifying his investments and still has a very large portfolio of Disney stock,” said Disney spokesperson Zenia Mucha.
Disney CEO Bob Iger echoed CBS’ Les Moonves in advocating a change in TV ad sales to include all ad views in the seven days after a show airs — up from the current three. The “story of the year,” he told analysts this evening, is the “greater penetration of DVRs and the greater usage of DVRs.” That has contributed to the startlingly big decline in prime time ratings at the major broadcast networks. That would seem to justify “an expanded look from a Nielsen and an advertising perspective at seven days versus three.” Unlike most other execs, Iger says that the networks may bear some responsibility for their ratings. “There seems to be an absence of new, big, buzzworthy hits,” though he says it’s too early to write off the season. He also says he believes ABC’s schedule is pretty solid. He identified Nashville as one of the series that he thinks could catch on. But he adds: “Would I like ABC to put on the schedule a big hit at the beginning of the year? Of course.”
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.