This just in: Bob Iger picks up his own pizza.
As might be predicted, there was not much in the way of breaking news in tonight’s conversation between Disney chairman and CEO Bob Iger and interviewer Brian Grazer about Iger’s new book, The Ride of a Lifetime: Lessons Learned from 15 Years as CEO of the Walt Disney Company, at Glendale’s Alex Theater as part of the Live Talks Los Angeles series. Much of the discussion was comprised of Iger recounting stories of business successes and failures that are told the book.
However, according to Grazer, Iger’s feelings about pizza delivery are not in the memoir and therefore should be revealed. For his part, Iger seemed quite emphatic about wanting to fetch his own pies. “I like doing it,” Iger said. “I trust myself picking it up. It’s not going to be turned upside down.”
Grazer also coaxed Iger to identify his favorite ride at Disneyland: Pirates of the Caribbean. “It was the last attraction Walt (Disney) created; it opened after he died,” Iger said. “It still has an essence about it, a simplicity to it. Also sometimes it’s just dark and quiet.”
Iger also drew applause by offering his best imitation of the voice on the ride that intones: “Dead men tell no tales.” Another burst of applause came when Iger talked about his pride in the success of Black Panther and its cultural importance. “It shut the naysayers up,” Iger said.
Grazer’s questions were generally touchy-feely, but audience members did quiz Iger on a couple of business issues: The first was whether Family Guy and American Dad might appear on upcoming streaming service Disney+ along with The Simpsons. “No,” he said.
And Iger was noncommittal about the future of short-form content. “Remember, Mickey Mouse is more short form than long form, he’s mostly been in shorts. Shorts, and shorts,” he added, referring to the Mouse’s standard attire. But, seriously, “I think it’s a very different form of storytelling,” Iger said. “The Simpsons started as short form.”
Iger added that while it is harder to gain traction with story and character in short-form content, he said he expects the form to “have impact” in the future.
At the beginning of the discussion, Iger joked that he and his longtime friend Grazer were an unlikely pair: “I’m management and he’s creative.” Later, he described himself as a “generally reserved person, I don’t think I over-emote.” He described that reserved quality as perhaps a liability when news is good, but an asset in failure because being negative does nothing to help inspire a creative team to further success.
Despite his self-description, Iger seemed relaxed and often cracked wise in response to questions from Grazer and the audience. Someone’s cell phone rang as Iger was talking about his relationship with the late Steve Jobs: “I hope that’s an iPhone,” Iger said.
When asked about his retirement plans after 45 years with one company, Iger said: “I’m going to Disneyland!”
And, when an audience member shouted out “2020,” as encouragement for Iger to re-think his decision not to run for president, Iger replied: That’s a news show on ABC.”