In the rapidly shifting and ultra-competitive media and entertainment landscape, you might be surprised to hear that the man who runs the Walt Disney Company doesn't pay much attention to what the competition is doing.

That rather startling admission was revealed by Chairman and CEO Robert Iger, as he was interviewed by prolific Academy Award-winning producer Brian Grazer at the Hollywood Radio and Television Society's newsmaker luncheon series, which attracted a crowd of 650 industry-ites to the ballroom of the Beverly Hilton on January 23rd.

Iger runs the world's largest media company and is therefore the steward of some of the best known brands in the world. Under his watch, Disney has built on its rich history of storytelling, starting with the acquisition of Pixar in 2006-- early in his tenure as CEO--and followed by that of Marvel in 2009 and then Lucasfilm.

"Those are three of the highest-quality names in branded entertainment," Iger said. "We think about making things that can last a long time, by balancing the heritage of the company, but not revering it."

Iger, who joined the Disney senior management team in 1996 as chairman of the ABC Group, began his career at the alphabet net in 1974.In recent years he has been known to embrace new technology, steering Disney to the forefront of the digital era by offering its content across multiple platforms.

"Walt {Disney} was a futurist," Iger told Grazer. "He thought long-term. You need to have a sense of what could happen. He believed storytelling was behind every element of the Disney brand, including things you may or may not see at hotels or theme parks."

Grazer--whose films and TV shows have earned a staggering total of 43 Oscar nominations and 149 Emmy nods--and Iger also spent quality time discussing the late Steve Jobs, who ended up becoming a majority shareholder in Disney. Iger talked about the deals they made that repaired the Mouse House's relationship with the Apple titan, which had been destroyed under a previous regime.

As a chief executive, Iger described his management goals to be accessible, to treat people fairly and to be direct, qualities he said Jobs appreciated.

Looking to the future, Iger agreed that this is a golden age of television as far as choice and quality of programming, but that there are challenges to the business model.

"Programmers need to serve advertisers better as the revenue stream of advertising is being threatened. It's a golden age--except for that fact," he said of the current television terrain. "We are trying to reach people in different places and on different screens. I don't envy the programmers of today."

Iger did not address the controversy that has developed over Disney theme parks’ implementation of “MyMagic+”wristbands for guests that encode their credit card numbers and track their movements and purchases within the parks. Many people have objected to the transmission of data about children--even though that can only be done with their parents’ consent--which includes their names, birthdates and other personal information.

Hillary Atkin is the editor and publisher of The Atkin Report, and has written extensively on media and entertainment for USA Today, the Los Angeles Times, Daily and Weekly Variety, The Hollywood Reporter, TelevisionWeek, Entertainment Weekly, The New York Observer and LA Confidential. She is an award-winning journalist who began her career as a television news writer, reporter and producer. As a broadcast producer at KCBS in Los Angeles, she won numerous Emmy, Associated Press and Golden Mike Awards for live coverage and entertainment special events programming, and then produced and directed biographies on Robert Duvall, Elizabeth Montgomery, Linda Darnell and Nicolas Cage for A&E and E!. She can be reached at

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