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Disney’s Morrell Out as Communications Boss

Long-time, high-level PR pro leaves The Mouse after three months…

They say you don’t shoot the messenger, but you can certainly show them the door.

Geoff Morrell, Disney’s head of corporate affairs, is out.

Variety’s Brent Lang posted:

Morrell, ousted after less than four months on the job, joined Disney in January from a post as the executive vice president of communications and advocacy at oil and gas company BP. But the transition was bumpy, coinciding with a bruising period in which Disney CEO Bob Chapek was faulted for his stumbling response to Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” laws. Disney said Morell is “leaving the company to pursue other opportunities.”

Following notable hiccups in messaging, Disney — and Chapek in particular — garnered backlash from both sides as Disney’s CEO flip-flopped in his (and, in turn, the company’s) public stance on the controversial Florida bill.

Goodbye Reedy Creek?

Meanwhile, in apparent retaliation for The Disney Company’s eventual call for repeal of the “Don’t Say Gay” bill, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and fellow Republican lawmakers passed yet another bill designed to dissolve Disney’s self-governing Reedy Creek district surrounding Walt Disney World.

“The halting response from Disney has led to questions about Chapek’s leadership and a growing sense that the company needed to shake things up,” added Variety’s Lang.

In an email to staff, obtained by The Hollywood Reporter, Chapek explained who would take the reigns

Disney will split Morrell’s job:

Bob Chapek. Image: AP Photo/Kin Cheung, File.
  • First, Kristina Schake will lead The Walt Disney Company’s communications efforts, serving as our Executive Vice President, Global Communications reporting directly to me. In this expanded role, Kristina will have oversight for corporate and segment communications and continue to be our chief spokesperson. Our business segment and content communications leads will continue to dual report to both division leadership and corporate communications, now led by Kristina.
  • Next, Government Relations and Global Public Policy will now be led by our General Counsel, Horacio Gutierrez. Since joining the company earlier this year, Horacio has integrated seamlessly into the Disney family, and has quickly become a valued advisor to me and the leadership team on a wide range of issues. His extensive experience leading these areas will be incredibly useful in driving our efforts.

“Incredibly confident…”

Completing his thoughts, Chapek also told Cast Members, “I am incredibly confident in this team and look forward to working with them and all of our leadership to set Disney’s course for the next 100 years of extraordinary entertainment and experiences.”

Meanwhile, it seems investors are less enthused. Disney stock closed out the week at 111.63, just pennies off its 52-week low of 111.36.

This story is developing, and more details will come to light. So, keep it here on The DisInsider for the latest.

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