An Inside Look at Bob Chapek’s Final Days at Disney

Bob Chapek
Credit: CNN Interview

The holiday season is always a crazy time for many people. The weeks from around Thanksgiving through the new year seem to go by in a blur. And for Disney fans, the time has been even crazier as they adjust to Bob Iger being CEO of The Walt Disney Company once again. Iger stepped into the role after his predecessor (and also successor), Bob Chapek, was abruptly fired on November 20.

According to reports, the embattled Disney CEO had been blindsided by the firing — although he probably shouldn’t have been. However, there had been a lot going on behind the scenes that spelled the end for Chapek. A new, in-depth report, shows just when the beginning of the end started.

Bob Iger and Bob Chapek

Credit: Disney

While discontent over Chapek had been brewing for a while — with both Disney insiders and Disney fans — things really came to a head on November 8, when Chapek and Disney CFO Christine McCarthy hosted the company’s Fourth Quarter Earnings Call. Even though Chapek tried to paint things in a good light, the results were just dismal.

Insiders say that McCarthy had wanted Chapek to confront the poor numbers head-on, but he ignored her and did what he wanted. She wanted him to be frank about the losses coming from Disney+, but Mr. Chapek instead decided to tout the return of more live events at Disney Parks. Later, when McCarthy was honest about the numbers in subsequent interviews, Chapek was taken by surprise, and he was not happy.

Christine McCarthy Bob Chapek

Credit: Yahoo/Disney

Not long after, McCarthy learned that Chapek was planning on blaming her for Disney’s poor performance. That is when she decided that enough was enough and Chapek needed to go. She reached out to her close friend, and former Disney CEO, Bob Iger. According to The Wall Street Journal

On Nov. 16, Ms. McCarthy took matters into her own hands. Without having confronted her boss or seeking board approval, she called Mr. Iger to gauge his interest in returning as CEO. She caught Mr. Iger at a low point—he had been telling friends he was more concerned over the direction of the company than ever.

He also told them he was frustrated with the idleness of his post-Disney life. In early October, Mr. Iger had taken a trip aboard the Aquarius, his 150-foot yacht, around the Fijian islands and complained to friends that his wife, Willow Bay—too busy with her job as dean of the communications and journalism school at the University of Southern California—couldn’t join him.


Credit: Disney

Within hours, Disney’s Chairwoman of the Board, Susan Arnold, learned about McCarthy’s call to Iger. Arnold had always publicly defended and supported Bob Chapek, but it seems like even she was over his poor performance. In less than 48 hours, Arnold was talking to Iger himself. Just 48 hours after that phone call, Arnold called Mr. Chapek and informed him that he would no longer be working for Disney.

News of Chapek’s firing broke as Disney executives gathered at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles to enjoy an Elton John concert. Chapek had been scheduled to attend, but his seat remained empty.

About Krysten Swensen

A born and bred New England girl living the Disney life in Southern California. I love to read, to watch The Golden Girls, and love everything to do with Disney and Universal. I also love to share daily doses of Disney on my Disney Instagram @BrazzleDazzleDisney!