Disney CEO Bob Chapek breaks silence by apologizing to staff over Florida’s ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill

Disney CEO Bob Chapek has spoken about his response to Florida’s Don’t Say Gay Bill for the first time since apologizing to staff for failing to speak out against the controversial legislation last spring .

Chapek said he initially chose to remain silent on the bill because he wanted to balance the desires of Disney employees and customers, and hoped to keep the media giant away from political controversy. caused by the bill.

“What we try to do is be everything to everyone,” Chapek told The Hollywood Reporter in a recent interview, “That tends to be really difficult because we’re The Walt Disney Company.”

“We certainly don’t want to get caught up in political subterfuge, but at the same time, we also realize that we want to represent a brighter future for families of all types, however they define themselves,” he said. -he declares.

Chapek landed in hot water last spring when he took no public stance on the Don’t Say Gay bill, which banned schools from discussing sexuality or gender with children between kindergarten and the third year.

According to an internal memo released at the time, Chapek felt the company could better champion inclusivity through its content and by working with lawmakers behind the scenes.

The memo’s revelations were met with outrage by Disney staff, who called Chapek’s decision weak and disappointing. Chapek apologized later in March, publicly denounced the bill, announced that Disney had suspended all political donations in Florida.

Disney CEO Bob Chapek said he initially chose not to speak out against Florida’s Don’t Say Gay bill to balance the needs of customers and employees.

Chapek landed in hot water last spring when he took no public stance on Ron DeSantis' Don't Say Gay bill, which banned schools from discussing sexuality or gender with children between kindergarten and third grade.

Chapek landed in hot water last spring when he took no public stance on Ron DeSantis’ Don’t Say Gay bill, which banned schools from discussing sexuality or gender with children between kindergarten and third grade.

Asked if he had regained the trust of staff since the melee last spring, Chapek explained the complex situation he faced when the bill began to gain momentum.

“These are complex social issues where we absolutely and positively want to represent the needs and expectations of our stakeholders,” he said, “But we also realize that sometimes, in such a divided world, there is no no alignment between what may be large constituencies our customers and consumers are looking for.

“When you’re a lightning rod for clicks and for political talk, the essence of our brand can be hijacked or misused to try to fit the agenda needs of a particular group.”

Chapek explained that he wanted Disney to be a brand that could “rise above” the political fray and serve as a beacon of optimism and harmony in the world.

“We want to rise above that. We believe Disney is a place where people can come together with shared values ​​about what an optimistic and ideal future can be,” he said.

Pushing further on whether Disney staff felt those feelings from him, Chapek said he believed they did and that the springtime controversy had made the Disney “family” stronger.

“We are a very close-knit, big and happy family. I think our staff saw how firm I stood during the final barrage of attacks from certain political constituencies.

“Honestly, I think it was a lot stronger and a lot longer and a lot harder than they ever could have imagined and we held on,” he added, “So I think it is safe to say that actions speak louder than words, and they saw resilience and consistency regardless of the strength of the attacks.

After Chapek announced Florida's halt to political donations in his apology, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis responded by beginning the legislative process to remove Disney's special zoning status - known as Reedy. Creek Improvement District.

After Chapek announced Florida’s halt to political donations in his apology, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis responded by beginning the legislative process to remove Disney’s special zoning status – known as Reedy. Creek Improvement District.

Reedy Creek was established in 1967 after negotiations between Disney and the Florida government.  It established Disney as a special jurisdiction, allowing it to govern itself similar to a state county

Reedy Creek was established in 1967 after negotiations between Disney and the Florida government. It established Disney as a special jurisdiction, allowing it to govern itself similar to a state county

After Chapek announced Florida’s halt to political donations in his apology, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis responded by beginning the legislative process to remove Disney’s special zoning status – known as Reedy. Creek Improvement District.

Reedy Creek includes Disney World and its surrounding properties. Disney and the Florida government founded it as an independent jurisdiction 55 years ago, allowing Disney to operate as a county government. It is managed by a board of directors selected by Disney and other companies nationwide.

After DeSantis’ sudden decision, residents of surrounding counties who would absorb Reedy Creeks’ debt sued the government,

But Disney quickly hit back at DeSantis, saying there was a clause in its original contract that states or local governments will be responsible for its $1 billion bond debt when it is dissolved.

DeSantis said his proposal to disband Reedy Creek would be ready for the November election.

In the interview, Chapek also touched on the lawsuit between Disney and actress Scarlett Johansson.

Disney and Johansson settled the lawsuit in the fall of 2021, and Chapek told The Hollywood Reporter that their relationship is better than ever now.

Disney and Johansson settled the lawsuit in the fall of 2021, and Chapek told The Hollywood Reporter that their relationship is better than ever now.

In the interview, Chapek also touched on the lawsuit between Disney and actress Scarlett Johansson, who sued Disney for breach of contract arguing that the company sacrificed box office revenue from its film Black Widow by releasing it early on. Disney+ to promote the streaming service.

Disney and Johansson settled the lawsuit in the fall of 2021, and Chapek told The Hollywood Reporter their relationship is better than ever now.

“There were a lot of people who voted on how we handled this,” he said, “And I was one voice, and I’ll just say our relationship with her and her agency didn’t has never been better.”

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