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Disney’s Iger hires 2 former heirs apparent for advice

Things aren’t getting easier for Disney’s Robert Iger, including yet another poor showing at the box office this weekend. So reports that the media giant’s C.E.O. has brought back two former heirs apparent, Kevin Mayer and Tom Staggs, to advise on the future of Disney’s legacy TV businesses were sure to get Hollywood talking.

It’s not clear what will come of their return to the company, where they were senior executives during Iger’s first stint as chief executive. But their mere presence underscores the amount of work that lies ahead at the House of Mouse.

Mr. Mayer and Mr. Staggs will help Iger think about “linear” TV properties like ABC, according to Puck. The legacy TV division is a business that Wall Street has been focused on since Mr. Iger effectively put a for-sale sign on it this month by saying the unit may not be “core” to the company’s future. A related issue is the fate of ESPN: Mr. Iger has said that the company was seeking a strategic partner for the sports network.

Both men had once been tipped as potential successors to Iger — Mr. Mayer as head of M.&A. and the architect of its streaming strategy; Mr. Staggs as C.F.O. — before leaving as their chances faded. (Mr. Iger chose Bob Chapek to take over, but he was ousted after two years and replaced by … Mr. Iger.) Mr. Mayer and Mr. Staggs now run Candle Media, an investment company that has bought an array of production studios.

Their new assignment renews questions about Iger’s latest plans. Though Disney recently renewed Mr. Iger’s contract until 2026, he remains under pressure to find a successor before then. Disney watchers have already identified potential candidates, including Dana Walden, the company’s co-chair of filmed entertainment, and Josh D’Amaro, its theme parks chief.

One investor focused on succession is Nelson Peltz, who cited the issue as a major concern in his board challenge just after Mr. Iger came back. Though Disney headed off Mr. Peltz’s proxy fight in February, his firm, Trian, still owns about 6.4 million shares in the company, The Times has reported.

Meanwhile, Disney’s box office flops keep piling up. “Haunted Mansion” earned just $24 million in its debut weekend. That was in part because of the actors’ strike, whose ban on promotional activity left the mansion movie unable to gain much buzz for its opening.

“Haunted Mansion” now joins “Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania,” “Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny” and “The Little Mermaid” in a string of expensive Disney movies that failed to live up to expectations this year. (“Elemental,” the latest Pixar release, initially fared poorly but has since made up some ground.) The New York Times

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