There aren’t many media moguls with two of their biggest stars, and one who can get off the hook for pedophilia accusations. But that’s what happened to Disney CEO Bob Iger.
And it couldn’t have happened at a more important time.
Long-running story: In the past week, Iger has been watching two of his most important, top-earning stars — ABC’s late-night host Jimmy Kimmel and ESPN’s Pat McAfee — both of whom were involved in an altercation with the star NFL player. Aaron Rodgers and Jeffrey Epstein. Epstein is a disgraced financier He died in 2019 after pleading guilty to child prostitution charges and later facing charges of child sex trafficking.
The details are both interesting and tedious, but that’s the tl;dr Kimmel was (rightly) upset Rodgers, a longtime and important guest on McAfee’s show, said in an interview earlier this month that Kimmel and Epstein had ties.
Since then, Rodgers and Kimmel (who denies any involvement with Epstein; Rodgers later said he was joking about the whole thing anyway) have been talking to each other on social media and, more recently, on Disney specials.
On Tuesday — when Rodgers appeared on McAfee’s show again and continued to tease Kimmel — it looked like the story would continue.
Now it seems not.
on wednesday McAfee announced that his appearance on Rodgers’ show was over For the rest of the NFL season — likely at least through the Super Bowl on Feb. 11 and possibly some time after that. It’s unclear when McAfee intends to bring Rodgers back, or if he ever will; ESPN officials declined to comment.
The Rodgers-Kimmel feud is over, at least on ESPN for now
It’s technically possible for the feud between Rodgers and Kimmel to continue. Rodgers can appear on someone else’s show – or just go on Twitter/X or whatever and insult Kimmel. Kimmel could tackle it on his own show or maybe Threads.
It will also be interesting to learn how McAfee decided not to have his most famous guest on the show anymore.
One reason is that Disney and ESPN are paying McAfee informed $85 million over five years to bring his daily talk show to ESPN, McAfee is not a Disney employee. That money is the license fee McAfee uses to produce his show and pay his staff. (McAfee has a separate deal to appear on other ESPN programs, a person familiar with the company confirmed.)
So, while McAfee technically has the right to do whatever he wants on his show — he was yelling at the time. announced last year that he had signed a deal to join ESPN — the practical reality is that both sides have leverage and something to lose: Disney and ESPN thought McAfee, a former punter who created his own popular YouTube show, was important enough to their future.
McAfee, who had already made a lot of money on his own, thought there was value in being on the world’s biggest sports network.
Therefore, both sides had incentives to eliminate it. But for now, assuming it does, it’s a huge win for Iger, who has had plenty of other issues to deal with since returning to the company he worked for for years last year.
Bob Iger needs a win. Removing this story will be considered one.
The big picture is that Disney’s once-dominant entire television and film business is under stress, and Disney has a number of specific problems, including: the uncertain future of its once-dominant. The Marvel franchise, revising costs and strategy around its streaming future; sick reserve; and boardroom battles with former Disney executives and activist investors.
ESPN itself — once a key to Disney’s success and a Wall Street fan of the company — is now a big question mark as traditional TV audiences erode and sports programming costs continue to rise. ESPN continues to raise money for Disney, but its business is in decline, which is one of the reasons why Iger is apparently trying to attract strategic investors to buy a piece of it.
All this means that Iger does not need additional complications in his life. And certainly not about one of ESPN’s biggest stars, who should represent its path to the future.
Now, at least for the foreseeable future, that seems to have been resolved.
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