The Walt Disney Company, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss confidential information, reported that The Walt Disney Company suddenly fired Peter Rice, its top television content executive, due to his inconsistency with Disney’s culture.
Mr. Rice, chairman of Disney General Entertainment Content, a division of the company that gives more than 300 shows a year to platforms such as ABC, Disney Channel, Disney+, Hulu and FX, has been ousted by CEO Bob Chuck. Disney, in a short meeting on Wednesday, these folks said. Mr. Rice, who also oversaw ABC News recently renew his contract At Disney in August. It lasted until the end of 2024. People said Disney would pay him.
Rice declined to comment.
Mr. Rice’s overthrow happened like a sonic boom in Hollywood, where he was widely admired. Many people in entertainment (outside of Disney, at least) saw Mr. Rice as a potential candidate to succeed Mr. Chuckle as CEO of Disney. Mr. Chabek’s decision is sure to raise questions as to whether that chatter has risen a bit. Mr. Chapek has had a tough few months, with Disney turning into political punching bagespecially for Florida Governor Ron DeSantisand Disney’s stock price fell sharply amid industry-wide concerns about the profitability of streaming services.
In April, Mr. Chabek fired the company’s top communications and government relations executive. executive, Jeff Morell, joined Disney in January on a multi-year contract. As paid by Disney. On Thursday, Disney shares closed at just over $103, down nearly 4 percent, which is more than the broader market’s drop of about 2 percent.
Disney Chairman Susan E. Arnold said in an emailed statement that Mr. Chapek had the board’s support — a rare public comment indicating that despite the turmoil, Mr. Chapek is moving toward contract renewal. His current contract expires in February.
“The strength of the Walt Disney Company’s business emerging from the pandemic is a testament to Bob’s leadership and vision for the company’s future,” Ms Arnold said. “At this important time for business growth and transformation, we are committed to keeping Disney on the successful path it is on today, and Bob and his leadership team have the support and confidence of the Board of Directors.”
Another Disney board member, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the company’s issues, said the board had never considered Mr. Rice as a candidate for CEO.
Disney confirmed that Mr. Rice would leave the company immediately, but declined to comment on the reason. After the news of his ouster spread, Disney announced that Dana Walden, who was the head of entertainment at Walt Disney Television, will succeed him. Ms. Walden, working alongside Mr. Rice, has presented several hits such as “Abbot Elementary”, an ABC comedy, and “Only Murders in the Building”, a crime comedy drama on Hulu.
“Dana is a dynamic, collaborative leader and cultural force who, in just three years, has transformed our television business into a content powerhouse,” said Mr. Chappk in a statement. “She and Peter have worked closely together for years to create the best programming in the industry.”
Mr. Chabek offers nothing else about Mr. Rice, eschewing the cliched ideas that Hollywood usually resorts to at these moments. Nor did Disney give Mr. Rice an umbrella in the form of a production deal. (“I know we all wish Peter the best,” Mr. Chuck said in an internal email announcing Mrs. Walden’s ascent.)
In a statement, Ms Walden said it was an “incredible honor” to be promoted and praised the team Mr Rice has assembled as “truly the best in all respects”. The group includes Kimberly Godwin at ABC News and Ayo Davis at Disney Branded Television.
Rice’s sudden departure rips a powerful trio that Disney inherited from 21st Century Fox, which agreed to buy it from Rupert Murdoch in 2017. Mr. Rice, Ms. Walden and FX Networks president John Landgrave have worked closely together at Fox for decades.
Kind but often mysterious to those who worked with him, Mr. Rice began his entertainment career in 1987, when he was a summer intern at Mr. Murdoch’s film studio. Over the next three decades, he became close to Mr. Murdoch, rising to become president of 21st Century Fox. Along the way, Mr. Rice turned Fox Searchlight into an Academy Award and box office superstar, delivering special hits like “Little Miss Sunshine”, “Sideways” and “Slumdog Millionaire”.
Filmmakers and television creators came out of the woods Thursday to pay tribute to Mr. Rice. “Peter is the best CEO I’ve ever worked with, and I know many other artists would agree with him,” said Danny Boyle, who directed Slumdog Millionaire. He added that Disney would be “weaker” and “the most company without him”.
People briefed on the matter said the change of Disney came as a shock to both Mr. Rice and Ms. Walden. Recently, three weeks ago, Disney sent Mr. Rice to its initial phase, the company’s annual advertising industry fair. The prominent appearance in the foreground generally indicates that the position of the CEO in the company is strong.
Presented on stage by Steve Martin, Martin Short and Selena Gomez, the “Just Kill in the Building” stars, Mr. Rice spoke of Disney’s strong market position, noting that it was “the only company that hasn’t been bought or sold over the course of the year.” the last hundred years.”
The Disney TV section was going well. In addition to “Only Killing in the Building,” Hulu recently aired “The Dropout,” a limited and much-loved series about Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes. ABC News’ top shows, “Good Morning America,” and “World News Tonight” remain the most-watched morning and evening news broadcasts.
Mrs. Walden’s relationships in Hollywood, like those of Mr. Rice, run deep. Jay Souris, co-chair of United Talent Agency, called her “television’s best creative CEO,” adding that she was “beloved by talent.”