DisneyPolitics

Disney CEO Bob Iger Uses ‘Zootopia’ As Justification For Working With Donald Trump

Despite mounting criticism from his shareholders, Disney CEO and chairman Bob Iger has doubled-down on his involvement with Donald Trump’s administration, making him the only major Hollywood CEO who is actively pursuing a relationship with Trump.

There was hope among Disney shareholders that Iger would step back Disney’s participation with Trump after Iger abruptly skipped out on a planned meeting with the president, but that appears to have merely been a maneuver to thwart criticism.

In recent weeks, Iger has started to use the studio’s Oscar-winning film Zootopia as justification for why it’s fine to participate on Trump’s economic advisory council. In response to critical shareholders at the the annual Disney shareholders meetings in Denver, Colorado, on March 8, Iger said, “You don’t make a movie [like] Zootopia, which is preaching tolerance…unless you believe fundamentally in that ideal and that value.”

Iger also cited the ABC sitcom Blackish and Rogue One: A Star Wars Story as examples of how the company incorporates basic humanitarian values into its projects. “I can assure you the values I speak of are expressed whenever I get the chance,” Iger said.

Shareholders at the meeting presented Iger with over 500,000 signatures asking him to leave Trump’s advisory council, but Iger instead referenced a musical number from the Broadway play “Hamilton” entitled “The Room Where It Happens.” He compared himself to the musical number, telling shareholders, “There’s an opportunity to have a voice in the room where it happens to speak for our company and its investors.”

Even if Iger leaves the economic advisory council, however, the Disney Company will remain deeply embedded in the Trump administration. President Trump revealed just days ago that Isaac “Ike” Perlmutter, CEO of Disney-owned Marvel Entertainment, was serving as his advisor on veteran affairs:

The meeting about veterans was abruptly cancelled after the Veterans Administration Secretary David Shulkin said he wasn’t attending the meeting (see video above), but Trump still followed through dinner with Perlmutter last Saturday at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Florida. In recent months, photos of Perlmutter (below, left) have emerged with Trump, a rare sight since Perlmutter hasn’t been publicly photographed since 1985:

perlmutter_trump

According to the Palm Beach Post, “[T]he pair had dinner with first lady Melania Trump and Perlmutter’s wife, Laura. They also were joined by Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross.” (Laura Perlmutter served on Trump’s inauguration committee.)

Perlmutter, who donated $5 million to various PACs supporting Trump’s election campaign, was the sixth biggest individual donor to Donald Trump during the 2016 election cycle. (Perlmutter received nearly $1.4 billion from Disney’s 2009 acquisition of the company.)

Perlmutter had largely been sidelined by Disney after their buyout of Marvel, however his deep relationship with Trump is now likely seen as a positive within the Walt Disney Company, especially by Iger. Even if Iger leaves Trump’s advisory council, he can rest assured knowing that another key Disney stakeholder has a direct line to Trump.