“At the highest levels of Hollywood, [there’s] a consensus that Chapek is damaged goods and doesn’t have the finesse or capacity to save himself,” one Hollywood insider familiar with Disney said.
A media consultant told Business Insider that is the board’s responsibility to hire and fire CEOs as well as have an emergency succession plan in place. While the board has not indicated they would fire Chapek, the media consultant said that a contingency plan “is either fully developed, or in the process.”
Another insider close to Disney executives reiterated that the board has not indicated they would switch CEOs. They added that directors are waiting until after Disney’s quarter two earnings call today, May 11. Additionally, the board members are not permitted to speak on this decision as it would be a breach of contract.
Chapek’s most recent round of bad press has centered on his initial lack of response to the “Don’t Say Gay” bill in Florida. Though he eventually denounced the bill, it still passed the Florida Legislature and was signed into law by Governor Ron DeSantis. Despite Cast Members’ concerns about the bill, Disney is still planning on moving Walt Disney Imagineers and more jobs to Central Florida.
James Stewart, author of the 2006 book “DisneyWar,” previously told CNBC that the situation in Florida is a “growing cause of concern among many investors.”
Former CEO Bob Iger shared his dislike of the “Don’t Say Gay” bill well before Disney did and later sat down with the leadership team of NBCUniversal. An insider said that Iger feels the company he built is being poorly managed.
Some Hollywood executives believe bringing Iger back as board chairman could help the situation. Iger previously said that rumors he would return as CEO were “ridiculous.”
Some have thought that board member and Nike executive chairman Mark Parker may replace Chapek, but a senior Disney insider said that this is “Just not true.”
Others have suggested Peter Rice, chairman of Disney general entertainment, as a CEO candidate. Rice joined Disney when they acquired 20th Century Fox.
ESPN President Jimmy Pitaro is another possibility. Before taking over ESPN in 2018, he was chairman of consumer products and interactive media for Disney.
A former Disney executive told Business Insider that Catherine Powell should also be in consideration. Powell is currently the head of global hosting at Airbnb but was previously president of the western region of Disney Parks, including Disneyland Resort, Walt Disney World, and Disneyland Paris.
Other possible replacements include Kevin Mayer, the former chairman of direct-to-consumer and international, and Thomas Staggs, who was once Disney COO and a favorite to be Iger’s successor. Both now work together to run Candle Media.