When Disney’s board of directors shocked the world last month by ousting former CEO Bob Chapek and reinstating his predecessor, Bob Iger, many Hollywood creatives and Disney fans could barely contain their excitement. The move attracted much more attention than a traditional C-suite shakeup because many viewed it as having less to do with profits and losses as it did with a philosophical disagreement about Disney’s values as a company.
During his first tenure at the helm of the entertainment giant, Iger was famous for cultivating close relationships with Hollywood talent and giving the company’s storytellers the space and resources to do the best creative work possible. His passion for the brand and willingness to accommodate artists made him a very popular figure in Hollywood. Chapek took a dramatically different approach, aggressively restructuring the company to cut expenses and maximize profits in a way that many felt came at the expense of the creativity and quality.
Many actors and filmmakers have openly expressed their happiness to see Iger return in interviews and on their social media accounts. The latest star to get in on the Chapek-bashing? Neil Patrick Harris.
Harris was at Disney World on Sunday night to narrate the Candlelight Processional, an EPCOT Christmas tradition that features a different host every few nights of the holiday season. Some of this year’s previous hosts include Chita Rivera, Josh Gad, and Isabella Rossellini. But none of those hosts waded into controversy as seamlessly as Harris did last night.
In his opening remarks, Harris used the opportunity to take a playful jab at Chapek while making fun of the acronym EPCOT.
“Welcome to tonight’s performance of the Candlelight Processional at EPCOT,” Harris said. “EPCOT, an acronym. And I’m pretty sure the ‘C’ doesn’t stand for Chapek.”
For the record, EPCOT stands for “Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow,” so Harris was technically correct. It was immediately clear that the actor had a responsive audience, as the crowd full of Disney fans cheered at the joke. But the jab was clearly not planned, as at least one Disney cast member later took to Twitter to recall their shock.
Watch the video below.
Neil Patrick Harris: “EPCOT. That’s an acronym. Pretty sure the ‘C’ doesn’t stand for Chapek”
WHEN I TELL YOU THAT EVERY CAST MEMBER ON THAT STAGE INCLUDING ME WAS JAW ON THE FLOOR OR LAUGHING OR BOTH AND THE AUDIENCE WAS CHEERING
— Crissie Auguste (@craftydabbler) December 19, 2022
Watch the video of Harris’ remarks below.
— Scott Gustin (@ScottGustin) December 19, 2022