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Jay Rasulo Says “Disney Runs In My Blood”; Former Parks Chief With Activist Investor Nelson Peltz Not Out “To Fire The CEO”

Nelson Peltz and Jay Rasulo, who are fighting to get themselves elected to the Disney board against the company’s wishes, said today they’re not out “to fire the CEO.” Peltz of Trian Partners has been publicly bashing the company and Iger for a year. Rasulo hasn’t taken the stage publicly until today as the two answered questions from shareholders on a live webcast.

The queries — curated and read by a moderator seated at a conference table with the two men — served pretty much as setups for them to hit all their talking points, bashing executive pay, park prices, a wobbly studio, a “toxic” culture after so many reorgs, and, though they didn’t use the word, woke content that turns off Disney’s traditional family viewers.

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“I don’t think the shareholder [who lamented the latter] is alone. I think when I was at the company, and all the years [before], when people see the Disney name on a movie, they never said, ‘Can I take my family to [see it]? And will I have to explain what was going on between those people?’ … It was just guaranteed.”

Disney insists Rasulo has been too long away from the company and the entertainment business and wouldn’t work well with the current chief. He left after being passed over as Iger’s successor. Rasulo denied it. “I worked 15 years alongside Bob. I don’t think we ever had a cross word. I  can work with Bob.”

He said he remains steeped in the Disney culture. “My kids are Disney kids. My wife is a Disney wife. I had the opportunity to open up Hong Kong  Disneyland, launched two new cruise ships. I ran Euro Disney (Disneyland Paris) … I love the company.”

Shareholders will vote on directors at Disney’s April 3 annual meeting.

Trian basically claims the board is made of Iger patsies and holds no one to account, resulting in a lack of vision and a stock price that could be higer. He’s been funding a hugely expensive proxy fight and forcing Disney to spend back, lobbying shareholder not to elect the outsider candidates. Iger at a media conference this week said accountability is a priority. He reiterated that the complexities facing the media industry need seasoned pros, and it’s even hard for them.

Peltz has some muscle since from Marvel boss Ike Perlmutter is allowing it to vote his shares. Asked if they’re just stand-ins for Perlmutter, Peltz called that “a very silly argument.”

“We are our own people,” added Rasulo. “We don’t carry other people’s water.”

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