Peter Bart has just put up a think-piece on Robert Iger's first couple of years at the helm of the Disney Co.:
... How did the bastion of Mickey Mouse suddenly morph into the home of "Hannah Montana" and "High School Musical"?
I don't really believe in the efficacy of corporate makeovers, but the radical re-invention of the Disney empire will surely inspire a myriad of business school case studies. It seemed only a couple of years ago that Disney was becoming the ultimate in bland brands. Even the core animation business, the plaything of old Walt himself, was mired in mediocrity ...
Robet Iger hasn't "re-invented" Disney so much as he's taken a less rigid and dogmatic approach to CEOing than his predecessor did. One prominent example: Michael Eisner was happy to go to war with Pixar, Robert Iger made nice with Jobs, Lasseter and Catmull and bought Pixar.
Iger's been flexible and willing to try new approaches. (Maybe he just wants to be the "un-Eisner" ... or maybe he just is a different style of Chief Executive Officer. I tend to think it's the latter.) Bart continues:
...Iger's behind-the-scenes style has lately been in evidence during the tense negotiations to end the writers' strike. When most Hollywood CEOs seemed to duck for cover, it was Iger and Peter Chernin, the chief operating officer of Fox, who took on personal stewardship of the talks even as the prospect of a protracted stalemate loomed darkly.
"Bob Iger was personally appalled by the possibility that thousands of Hollywood artisans could face unemployment for months," says the top executive of a rival company. "He saw that the industry lacked focus and he invested more of his time and energy than anyone else in settling this mess."
Welll. I think that Mr. Iger wanted to get the WGA strike settled, but I don't think it's because he's a saintly corporate officer who's focus is on Hollywood's suffering, unemployed workers. Mr Iger is an exec with his eye on the bottom line, and he was well aware that ABC stood to take a bath on its Academy Award coverage if the job action wasn't settled.