- 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.
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)
Former “Real Housewives” Star Bethenny Frankel Sues TikTok Over Ads Misusing Likeness
The reality star said social media has become “a breeding ground for scams.”
TikTok Hit With Class Action Suit
Businesswoman and reality star Bethenny Frankel filed a class action lawsuit against TikTok on Thursday, accusing the social media app of platforming fraudulent ads that misuse the identities of influencers.
According to the lawsuit, several videos “purloined the images, voices, and content” of Frankel and others in an effort “to sell counterfeit items.”
Frankel claims that one advertisement used footage of her to make it appear as though she was endorsing a knockoff cardigan, even though she never authorized the use of her image. According to the lawsuit, Frankel attempted to warn her followers that the ad was misusing her persona, but TikTok allegedly removed that video for being “abusive.”
“Despite demands on TikTok to remove and police this corrupt conduct, TikTok has ignored such demands, and even taken countervailing positions,” the lawsuit claims. “Aside from not being compensated, the reputation and brand of Ms. Frankel and Class Members are being damaged and tarnished through unauthorized associations with counterfeit goods and other products that they do not support.”
It further alleged that TikTok is “unlawfully” allowing the use of Frankel’s “persona, voice, content, and likeness” in a manner that “constitutes unfair competition and deceptive trade practices.”
In addition to previously starring on “The Real Housewives of New York,” Frankel is also the founder of lifestyle and food brand Skinnygirl, and disaster relief initiative BStrong.
The Wild West of Social Media
In a TikTok video last month, the former Real Housewife told her followers she was considering taking legal action against the video app. As for why she took her complaints up with TikTok as opposed to the brands behind the sham ads, she said that the bigger issue is “the wild wild west of social media.”
“This is something that has to be addressed because it’s a breeding ground for scams,” she said.
After the fake ads appeared to show Frankel giving the knockoff cardigan a thumbs up, many of her followers thought she “sold out” by “hocking” the product. According to Frankel, TikTok offers little help in repairing the issue.
“There’s nobody to call at TikTok,” she said. “You know, calling China, you’re reporting something, it’s like small potatoes.”
After news broke that she filed the class action complaint, Frankel posted a statement to Instagram saying her demands “for creators and consumers is correct and just.”
“Consumers and creators are being exploited with no recourse or power to defend and protect themselves,” Frankel wrote. “That ends now.”
“Social media, and its impact as the most powerful medium on the planet, cannot be a reckless marketplace where people risk their rights and privacy being violated without protection.”
See what others are saying: (The Washington Post) (Insider) (Reuters)
Halyna Hutchins Family Settles With “Rust” Production, Filming to Resume in 2023
Alec Baldwin said everyone involved was motivated by the “desire to do what is best for Halyna’s son.”
The family of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins, who was fatally shot on the set of “Rust” last year, reached a settlement with the production over a wrongful death lawsuit on Wednesday.
The lawsuit was filed in February, several months after Hutchins’ death in New Mexico last October. The cast and crew were rehearsing a scene that involved producer and actor Alec Baldwin pointing a gun toward the camera. Baldwin claims he did not know it was loaded when it fired, killing Hutchins and injuring director Joel Souza.
The actor also claims he did not actually pull the trigger, but investigators determined it must have been pulled.
Hutchins’ husband Matthew filed the wrongful death suit on behalf of himself and his young son. It claimed that the production did not follow proper safety procedures and endangered the crew via reckless cost-cutting measures. Baldwin was listed as a defendant, as well as the set’s armorer, Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, first assistant director, Dave Halls, and others involved with the film.
The amount of the settlement was not disclosed, but as part of the agreement, the production of “Rust” will resume in January 2023. The late cinematographer’s husband will join the project as an executive producer.
“I have no interest in engaging in recriminations or attribution of blame (to the producers or Mr. Baldwin),” he said in a statement. “All of us believe Halyna’s death was a terrible accident. I am grateful that the producers and the entertainment community have come together to pay tribute to Halyna’s final work.”
A Tribute to Hutchins
Souza will return as the director. In a statement, he said his “every effort on this film will be devoted to honoring” Hutchins.
For his part, Baldwin shared the news of the settlement on his Instagram Wednesday morning.
“Throughout this difficult process, everyone has maintained the specific desire to do what is best for Halyna’s son,” he wrote. “We are grateful to everyone who contributed to the resolution of this tragic and painful situation.”
There is still an ongoing criminal probe happening separately from this lawsuit. It is unclear what impact the settlement will have on that, if any.
Last month, Santa Fe District Attorney Mary Carmack-Altwies sent a letter to the New Mexico Board of Finance seeking additional funding to prosecute up to four people over the incident, including Baldwin. So far, no charges have been filed.
In April, the New Mexico Occupational Health and Safety Bureau fined the production after it found multiple safety violations on set.
See what others are saying: (The Los Angeles Times) (The Hollywood Reporter) (Deadline)
The Try Guys Address Removal of Ned Fulmer: “We Had No Idea This Was Going On”
The group said that by severing ties with Fulmer, it felt like they were losing a friend.
“That Is Not What We Stand For”
Digital comedy and sketch group The Try Guys posted a video on Monday night explaining the recent removal of member Ned Fulmer.
Last week, the Internet was filled with speculation that Fulmer, who is married with children, was having an affair with a staffer for The Try Guys. Fulmer confirmed the reports, claiming he had a “consensual workplace relationship.” The Try Guys quickly announced that Fulmer would no longer be working with the group as the result of an internal review.
In Monday’s video, the remaining three members, Eugene Lee Yang, Zach Kornfeld, and Keith Habersberger, explained what led to their decision to remove Fulmer. While the trio noted there were legal issues that prevented them from sharing certain details, they wanted to be as transparent as possible.
“On Labor Day weekend, multiple fans alerted us that they had seen Ned and an employee engaging in public romantic behavior,” Habersberger explained. “We reached out to check on that employee and Ned confirmed the reports, and since confirmed that this had been going on for some time, which was obviously very shocking to us.”
He emphasized that the rest of the group “had no idea this was going on.”
After this, The Try Guys reached out to a variety of lawyers and HR professionals to make sure they handled the situation correctly.
“This is something we took very seriously,” Yang said. “We refused to sweep things under the rug. That is not who we are, and that is not what we stand for.”
Removing Fulmer From Content
They decided to immediately remove Fulmer from work activities and hired an HR rep to conduct a review. Fulmer was also withdrawn from releases pending the results of that review.
As part of this, his video section was erased, he was digitally taken out of some content, and he was not included in merch drops. The Try Guys said this was a long and tedious process.
“Honestly, I want to give major props to our editing staff for how deftly they handled that,” Kornfeld said. “There are several videos that we have deemed as fully unreleasable, you will never see them, and that is due to his involvement. And that is a decision that has cost us lots of money.”
“We will not be able to recoup that money,” he continued. “But it’s a decision we stand by proudly.”
The group declined to share details of the review but claimed it found that Fulmer engaged in “conduct unbecoming” of the team. Because of this, Yang, Kornfeld, and Habersberger gave written consent on Sept. 16 to ax Fulmer as a manager and employee of The Try Guys company.
The three said they were always planning to make a public statement about their decision, but were initially waiting out of respect to the families and employees involved. As online speculation arose, they chose to deal with it sooner.
“We’re losing a friend, we’re losing someone we built a company with, we have countless memories with, we just made a TV show together,” Kornfeld said. “I’m sure many of you feel the same way.”
According to the group, some upcoming videos featuring Fulmer will be edited to remove him. They said they are currently taking time to reimagine their channel.