Disney’s former communications chief — who was partly responsible for the company’s botched response to Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” legislation — amassed a gargantuan payday from his brief stint in Hollywood.
Geoff Morrell, who was hired as chief corporate affairs officer last January, worked for a three-month period that spanned 70 weekdays during which he reeled in $8,365,403 in total compensation, or roughly $119,505 a day, according to Disney’s securities filing Tuesday.
When payouts associated with his termination agreement are calculated, that per-day figure increases to $176,746.
Disney also shelled out roughly half a million dollars to move Morrell’s family to Los Angeles from London and then another half-million dollars for them to move away when he lost the job. After he left the Mouse House, Disney bought the $4.5 million Southern California home that Morrell had purchased, Disney said.
That’s despite the fact that Morrell reportedly was responsible for one of the company’s biggest PR implosions, which led to employee protests and pitted Disney’s then-CEO Bob Chapek against Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.
Even now, under Chapek’s successor, Bob Iger, Disney is trying to undo the damage done by the skirmish.
Morrell, an ex-Pentagon official who came to Disney from BP, was hired with a base salary of $489,500 and was given a $2.8 million bonus upon joining to replace compensation he was leaving behind at BP, the Wall Street Journal reported. Stock, options and other compensation totaled $5.1 million.
A person at Disney told The Post that “realized value” of Morrell’s fiscal 2022 compensation is expected to be “about $2 million less due to some performance-based payments not vesting.” Disney declined to comment further.
During his tenure, Morrell’s aggressive push to keep Disney from speaking out against the controversial Florida bill chafed Hollywood insiders, who quietly doubted that Morrell and his boss were the right fit for the liberal entertainment giant.
Last March, LGBT Disney employees erupted in anger over Chapek’s decision to not condemn the bill. Morrell told reporters that the CEO would stay on the sidelines because he was “not an activist” and didn’t want to “bring any partisan agenda to work.” That was a departure from company’s view under Chapek’s predecessor, Iger, who watched the controversy unfold and spoke out against the bill.
Notoriously tight-lipped Disney execs leaked to the press that Morrell killed the idea of joining corporations like Amazon and Apple by signing a letter from LGBTQ advocacy group the Human Rights Campaign opposing the bill. Anger bubbled over with Disney staffers speaking out against the embattled Chapek and leading a walkout. Chapek quickly changed course, condemning the bill and apologizing to Disney workers.
The about-face angered DeSantis, who not only signed the bill into law, but moved to strip Disney of its Reedy Creek Improvement District, which gives the Mouse House quasi-governmental control over its theme park properties in Florida.
Morrell stepped down shortly after, telling employees in a memo last April: “After three months in this new role, it has become clear to me that for a number of reasons it is not the right fit.”
Morrell currently serves as Teneo’s president of global strategy and communications.
Chapek stepped down as CEO in November and was replaced by Iger.