A lengthy Vogue profile of Disney CEO Bob Iger incorporates, of course, ample notes and quotes about his sartorial preference for business casual. But it also fleshes out parts of his background and world view that don’t often get as much ink.
“The status quo, to me, is a joke,” Iger emphasizes, referring to multiple aspects of his stewardship of the company. Given his support for Democratic causes, the quote also has a political dimension. He tells writer Rob Haskell that he was actively pursuing a run for president (despite strong objections from his wife, Willow Bay) as a counter to Donald Trump, when the 21st Century Fox opportunity presented itself.
Iger said the impulse to explore a bid “was coming from the patriot in me, growing up at a time when we respected our politicians not only for what they stood for but because of what they accomplished. I am horrified at the state of politics in America today, and I will throw stones in multiple directions. Dialogue has given way to disdain. I, maybe a bit naively, believed that there was a need for someone in high elected office to be more open-minded and willing to not only govern from the middle but to try to shame everyone else into going to the middle.”
The piece is largely set at Iger and Bay’s Brentwood home, which was designed in the 1940s by architect Paul R. Williams. “He had a sort of ‘beard,’” Iger says, “a white architect who he’d have come in to meet the clients. People wouldn’t work with him if they knew he was black.” Those kinds of observations dominate the profile, rather than any kind of strategic deep dive on ESPN’s new OTT service. Iger’s childhood in Oceanside, on New York’s Long Island, was marked by clashes with his father, a Renaissance man with a love of the arts who worked in advertising but suffered from bipolar disorder.
Asked about #MeToo, which hit Pixar with particular force with John Lasseter’s “sabbatical” last fall, Iger says two things need to happen. “We need to figure out as an industry how to prevent this behavior from happening again,” he says. “And we have to make sure that we create environments for people, particularly women, to be able to speak up if they have been victimized by this or if they have seen others being victimized by it. I love that people are speaking up, and I hope—and I’m actually optimistic—that change is occurring.”
Even though he famously rises at 4:15 each morning in order to work out and have extra pre-dawn productivity, Iger tells Vogue he savors opportunities to catch screenings in his screening room. “I have more time than most people would imagine, and that’s a dirty little secret,” Iger says. “People think I must always be scheduled and therefore don’t try, and I like that. It’s protective.”
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