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Bob Iger Steps Down as Disney CEO in Surprising Announcement

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  • Disney announced on Tuesday that Bob Iger will step down as CEO and will instead spend the last 22 months of his contract as executive chairman.  
  • Iger will be succeeded by Bob Chapek, the head of the company’s parks and resorts unit. 
  • The announcement surprised many industry analysts and company insiders, who are speculating that there might be more to the reasoning than what was revealed.
  • Iger said he plans to help ease Chapek’s transition into the role before leaving altogether, and that the timing of the move was not expedited for any reason in particular.

Surprising Announcement

Bob Iger stepped down as CEO of Disney on Tuesday after 15 years in the role, a change that is effective immediately. 

Though Iger’s move was not out of the question, the timing of the announcement was surprising. He still has 22 months remaining on his contract, which the company says he will spend as executive chairman. 

Iger, 69, is ending his reign as one of the nation’s most successful CEOs. Under his leadership, Disney has expanded with several major acquisitions, including Pixar, Marvel, Lucasfilm, and much of 21st Century Fox. Iger was also a key player in Disney’s transition into the streaming era, as it was under him that Disney+ launched last November. 

“With the successful launch of Disney’s direct-to-consumer businesses and the integration of Twenty-First Century Fox well underway, I believe this is the optimal time to transition to a new CEO,” Iger said in a statement alongside the announcement.

What’s Next for Disney?

In his new role as executive chairman, Iger plans to focus on more creative aspects of the business as well as help ease the transition of his successor, Bob Chapek. Chapek has most recently served as the head of Disney’s parks and resorts unit. 

Though Disney seemed positive about the change, some industry analysts and company insiders were blindsided by the sudden news. After the announcement, Disney’s stock dropped about 3% in after-hours trading on Wall Street.

“Why is the CEO changing today?” Laura Martin, a media industry analyst at Needham & Co, asked The Los Angeles Times. “What is the urgency?”

“This was somewhat of a shock to us as shareholders,” Timothy Lesko of Granite Investment Advisors said to Yahoo Finance. “They’re usually much more scripted than this.”

“No one knew this was coming,” said one senior Disney executive, according to The Wall Street Journal.

According to NBC, Iger said on a phone call with investors after the announcement that the move was “not accelerated by any particular reason.” 

Chapek beat out a handful of projected potential successors, including direct-to-consumer chairman Kevin Mayer, who recently oversaw the successful launch of Disney+. Some on Wall Street thought the CEO title would go to Mayer.

“The market had no warning,” Richard Greenfield, partner of Lightshed Partners, said to The Los Angeles Times. “The big question remains: What happens with Kevin Mayer? … It was Kevin Mayer’s job to lose.”

Chapek, for his part, is eager to step into the role. He has experienced success at the company himself; in recent years he has overseen the two major additions of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge attractions in Disney theme parks in both Anaheim, California and Orlando, Florida. 

“When I was growing up in Hammond, Indiana, the son of a World War II veteran and working mother, my parents would take us on a family vacation to Walt Disney World every year,” Chapek said on a call with analysts, according to Business Insider

“That young boy could have never imagined that one day he would get the chance to lead this extraordinary company as the seventh CEO in its nearly 100-year history,” Chapek added.

See what others are saying: (Los Angeles Times) (NBC) (Wall Street Journal)

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Recording Academy CEO Defends Nominations After Controversial Nods to Marilyn Manson and Louis C.K.

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CEO Harvey Mason Jr. said the Academy is not “in the business of restricting people” from getting nominated.


Recording Academy CEO Defends Nominations

Recording Academy CEO Harvey Mason Jr. defended Tuesday’s Grammy nominations after artists like Marilyn Manson and Louis C.K. received nods for their work. 

Manson was nominated for his appearance on Kanye West’s album “Donda,” which landed in the Album of The Year category. Earlier this year, Manson was accused of sexual assault, rape, and psychological abuse by multiple victims.

C.K., who previously admitted to sexual misconduct, was nominated for Best Comedy Album. 

While speaking to The Wrap, Mason argued that the Recording Academy should not consider an artist’s personal life in its nomination process. 

“We won’t restrict the people who can submit their material for consideration,” he told the outlet when specifically asked about Manson’s nomination. “We won’t look back at people’s history, we won’t look at their criminal record, we won’t look at anything other than the legality within our rules of, is this recording for this work eligible based on date and other criteria. If it is, they can submit for consideration.”

Even though Mason believes artists with serious accusations levied against them should not be excluded from nominations, he did say the Academy will consider those factors when it comes to performances and other on-camera appearances. 

“What we will control is our stages, our shows, our events, our red carpets,” he explained. “We’ll take a look at anyone who is asking to be a part of that, asking to be in attendance, and we’ll make our decisions at that point. But we’re not going to be in the business of restricting people from submitting their work for our voters to decide on.”

Other Controversial Nods

Manson and C.K. were not the only controversial figures who received nominations. Comedian Dave Chappelle was nominated in Best Spoken Word Album for his special “8:46.” Last month, he faced severe backlash for transphobic comments he made in a separate special titled “The Closer.” Chappelle was slammed by several major LGBTQ+ organizations over the special but has defended himself against criticisms. 

Rapper DaBaby was also condemned by LGBTQ+ groups this summer after he made homophobic remarks during her performance at the Rolling Loud festival in Miami. He received Grammy recognition for his work on “Donda” and Justin Bieber’s “Justice.”

The Grammy Awards will be held in Los Angeles on Jan. 31, 2022.

See what others are saying: (The Wrap) (Pitchfork) (Rolling Stone)

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Kevin Spacey Ordered To Pay “House of Cards” Studio $31 Million for Losses After Sexual Misconduct Claims

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The studio argued that Spacey cost it millions after multiple sexual harassment and abuse claims against the actor forced it to suspend production, fire him, and shorten the show’s final season.


Arbitration Between MRC and Spacey Becomes Public

Actor Kevin Spacey and his production companies have been ordered to pay nearly $31 million dollars for breach of contract to MRC, the studio behind the Netflix series “House of Cards.”

The ruling was actually made by an arbitrator more than a year ago but was only made public Monday when MRC’s lawyers petition a California court to confirm the award.

Spacey was a centerpiece of the hit series and also served as one of its executive producers. However, during filming for its final season in 2017, an actor named Anthony Rapp accused Spacey of making a sexual advance towards him when Rapp was 14 in 1986.

Netflix suspected production in the wake of Rapp’s claims, but soon after, others came forward with allegations of sexual harassment and assault against Spacey, including several former and then-current crew members of “House of Cards.”

Netflix eventually fired Spacey, whose list of accusers grew to at least 15 people.

MRC Blames Spacey for Production Losses

In the secret arbitration last year, MRC argued that Spacey “repeatedly breached his contractual obligations.” It added that he and his companies are liable for his behavior, which allegedly caused the studio to lose millions given what it had already invested in developing, writing, and shooting the final season.

MRC also said the Emmy-winning series brought in less revenue when it finally aired because it had to be shortened from 13 to 8 episodes to write out Spacey’s character, Frank Underwood.

According to Variety, Spacey filed a counterclaim, alleging that he was owed money after he was dropped from the series and did not breach his contract. That claim was later rejected and the arbitrator ultimately agreed with MRC, issuing the massive reward, which includes compensatory damages and lawyers’ fees.

Spacey and his team have not commented on the news as of Tuesday, though the studio has since issued a statement saying, “The safety of our employees, sets and work environments is of paramount importance to MRC and why we set out to push for accountability.”

See what others are saying: (Variety) (CNN) (The New York Times)

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Netflix Staffers Who Criticized Dave Chappelle Rescind Labor Complaint, One Resigns

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Two employees previously accused Netflix of trying to stop staffers from speaking out against the company.


Employees Rescind Labor Complaint

Two former Netflix employees who were critical of Dave Chappelle’s latest comedy special have rescinded a labor complaint that they filed against the company, according to a statement released by their lawyer on Monday.

Terra Field and B. Pagels-Minor were outspoken about their issues with Chappelle’s special “The Closer,” which was widely accused of transphobia. Both protested the company’s decision to support Chappelle amid the controversy. They were also members of a resource group for transgender employees that staged a walkout in which staffers took to the streets of Los Angeles to call on Netflix to do more to support its LGBTQ+ employees. 

Field and Pagels-Minor filed a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board in October claiming that Netflix was punishing its staffers for speaking up about Chappelle and LGBTQ+ related issues at the company. 

According to the Los Angeles Times, the two staffers accused Netflix of attempting “to quell [them] from speaking up about working conditions including, but not limited to, seeking to create a safe and affirming work environment for Netflix employees, speaking up about Netflix’s products and the impact of its product choices on the LGBTQ+ community, and providing support for employees whom Netflix has treated in an unlawful and disparate manner.”

On Monday, Netflix released a statement saying the complaint had been rescinded. 

“We have resolved our differences in a way that acknowledges the erosion of trust on both sides and, we hope, enables everyone to move on,” the statement said. 

A lawyer representing Field and Pagels-Minor confirmed that the complaint was voluntarily withdrawn. 

Terra Field Resigns From Netflix

Both Pagels-Minor and Field were subject to some level of disciplinary action during the Chappelle controversy. Pagels-Minor was fired from Netflix for allegedly leaking internal information, though Pagels-Minor denies ever doing so. Field was suspended from the company after reportedly attending a meeting she was not invited to. That suspension was quickly lifted after it was revealed that a miscommunication led to the incident. 

On Monday, Field released a statement announcing that she had resigned from Netflix. 

“This isn’t how I thought things would end, but I am relieved to have closure,” Field wrote. “Shortly after B. was fired for something I did not and do not believe they did, I made a decision: sink or swim, I was going to walk side by side with B. as they had for so many of us while they led the Trans* ERG.”

In a tweet, she added that she was “not happy that this is how things turned out” but believed “this outcome is best for all parties involved.”

Why Did Dave Chappelle Spark Backlash?

Chappelle faced backlash for defending author J.K. Rowling, who was previously accused of being a TERF (trans-exclusionary radical feminist) after releasing a series of statements many found to be transphobic. 

“I’m team TERF,” Chappelle said during “The Closer.”

“I agree. I agree, man. Gender is a fact,” he added.

Chappelle made a series of other jokes aimed at the transgender community in the special, including one about Caitlyn Jenner and another comparing the genitalia of transgender women to Beyond and Impossible meat.

The comedian has defended himself against criticisms. According to The Daily Beast, he also recently continued to make transphobic jokes at screenings of his new documentary. The outlet reported that while Chappelle aired the film in New York, he made jabs about pronouns and “said the f-slur.” 

See what others are saying: (Los Angeles Times) (NBC News) (NPR)

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