Mr. Iger, president and chief operating officer of Capital Cities/ABC, dreamed up the idea in August, the moment he heard Jeffrey Katzenberg was leaving as chairman of Walt Disney Studios.
The next morning, even before Mr. Katzenberg formally set his plans, Mr. Iger called to discuss a deal that ultimately led to Cap Cities' unprecedented joint venture to form a TV studio with Mr. Katzenberg, Steven Spielberg and David Geffen, the so-called Hollywood Dream Team.
At first, Mr. Katzenberg demurred, saying it would take time before he could discuss anything material. But Mr. Iger relentlessly pursued him, and ultimately Mr. Spielberg and Mr. Geffen. Then on Nov. 27, over a breakfast that oddly combined Egg McMuffins and Entenmann's cakes with a gourmet spread, Mr. Geffen plugged his laptop computer into a printer and produced two copies of a contractthat the four principals signed.
The eclectic menu grew out of a running joke between Mr. Iger and Mr. Katzenberg, the latter being used to Disney's opulent dining and not the spartan Cap Cities fare he experienced during deal-hatching breakfast meetings.
When Mr. Katzenberg showed up for the Sunday morning contract-signing, he brought the junk foods only to find Mr. Iger had already arranged for fine dining.
The deal took only a couple of weeks to put together and was conducted in the utmost secrecy directly between the high-level principals.
In fact, Mr. Iger worked out some of the finer points on the phone with Mr. Katzenberg while simultaneously preparing a Thanksgiving meal for friends and family in his Manhattan apartment.
But perhaps most significantly, the studio deal signals to the outside world that Mr. Iger, 43, has firmly grasped Cap Cities' reins.
"It's something everyone has known internally for a couple of years," said a Cap Cities insider, but that may not have been clear to outsiders before Mr. Iger closed the studio deal.
Although as head of the ABC TV network and an exec VP of Cap Cities, Mr. Iger was seen as the heir apparent, a year ago the outside world got mixed signals.
In October 1993, Cap Cities CEO Dan Burke decided to retire earlier than expected and, in a highly unusual move, former CEO Tom Murphy stepped back into the day-to-day management job.
The move set off speculation that other senior Cap Cities executives might be being groomed. But in September, the board named Mr. Iger president-chief operating officer, giving him responsibility for all operating divisions of the $13 billion media conglomerate.
Mr. Iger named ABC Productions President David Westin to succeed him as president of the network. Mr. Westin, 44, was instrumental in putting together the studio deal, and together the fortysomethings represent a new guard of Cap Cities management that will usher the company into the next century.
"Bob brings to us an unusual in-depth understanding of our operations, and has years of experience making deals and seeing how they work," said Chairman-CEO Murphy. "He is also respected by those he does business with. In short, he has integrity, brains and energy. These are qualities every company seeks in its executives, and we are fortunate Bob has built his career here."
Mr. Iger has come a long way since his days as a local TV weatherman; he joined ABC as a studio supervisor in 1974.
"I believe the studio deal happened because of Bob Iger," said Michael Wolf, partner and head of the media and entertainment division of management consultant Booz Allen & Hamilton, New York. "The creative community views Bob as somebody they want to work with."
As evidence he truly is a player, Mr. Iger left days after closing the studio deal on a two-week tour of Cap Cities' operations in the Far East, and was unavailable to be interviewed.