Multiple sources are reporting that the now-former VP of Corporate Communications for The Walt Disney Company, Jeffrey R. Epstein, is among the first to be laid off in the sweeping company-wide layoffs announced by Bob Iger.
Epstein was prolific as one of the company’s most outspoken spokespeople on social media and perhaps figurehead of D23, even hosting the “D23 Inside Disney” podcast alongside Sheri Henry from Oh My Disney. TheWrap was first to confirm his ousting from the company.
For many years he worked under the feared former CCO Zenia Mucha, credited with much of Bob Iger’s positive public perception during his first tenure, who stepped down in 2021. Epstein has often been seen on his Twitter as a mouthpiece of the company, repeatedly joking about how he’s not related to the former sex offender of the same unfortunate name while promoting new products, films, and attractions.
Epstein also purportedly founded the Gay Days event at Disneyland in 1998, which in recent years has been embraced by Disney. It evolved from a gathering of LGBTQ+ fans at the park to a full weekend event featuring panels, speakers, and screenings.
Others affected by these layoffs include the entire metaverse division championed by former CEO Bob Chapek.
They reportedly also abandoned the membership program we reported on, rumored to be something akin to Amazon Prime. “When a family comes to our parks, we know exactly what you did. Let’s say you stay a week. We got seven days, 24 hours a day. We know everything that you do in the park,” Chapek had said of the program, “And if you give us the permission and ability through the membership app, we’ll program your Disney+ experience, not according to what you watched last or what other people who watch this show, but to what you did, what you experienced.”
Two more series of layoffs are coming this year as Iger moves to reduce costs. Senior Vice President of Production for Hulu, Mark Levenstein, and Jayne Bieber, senior vice president of Production Management & Operations for Freeform, were the first executives to be let go this week. The layoffs will not affect front line Cast Members at the theme parks.
Layoffs will impact about 4,000 employees, with the rest of the cuts coming from open roles. Additionally, targets have been given for reducing spending and headcount to each of these departments. Iger is reportedly on “a push for profitability” as his return to the company continues.