The chairman of Disney’s entertainment and programming was shockingly ousted from the corporation over reported differences with the so-called “corporate culture.”
Peter Rice was reportedly “abruptly fired” by embattled Disney CEO Bob Chapek on Monday during a short seven-minute meeting. The leading executive’s contract, which doesn’t expire until 2024, will be paid out.
“Chapek told Rice that he was not a fit in ‘the new Disney culture,’ to which Rice said words to the effect that he thought they were in the midst of building the new Disney culture,” The Hollywood Reporter reported. “He asked in what way he did not fit and Chapek responded, ‘Now is not the time’ and dismissed him.”
The New York Times similarly reported that their sources said Rice was ousted because he was an “ill fit with Disney’s corporate culture.”
The Times said the ouster “went off like a sonic boom in Hollywood,” where Rice “is widely admired.”
“Many people in the entertainment business (outside Disney, at least) have even seen Mr. Rice as a possible candidate to succeed Mr. Chapek as Disney’s chief executive,” the report said.
“Mr. Chapek’s decision is sure to generate questions about whether that chatter got a little too loud; Mr. Chapek has had a difficult few months, with Disney becoming a political punching bag, particularly for Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida, and Disney’s stock price falling sharply amid industrywide concerns about the profitability of streaming services,” the Times added.
In April, Governor DeSantis signed a bill stripping Disney’s special tax privileges in the state, effectively barring the corporation “from being able to govern the land where the Disney World theme park is located,” The Daily Wire reported.
“I’m just not comfortable having that type of agenda get special treatment in my state,” DeSantis said.
Rice’s top lieutenant, Dana Walden, has been tapped to replaced the canned executive.
“Dana is a dynamic, collaborative leader and cultural force who in just three years has transformed our television business into a content powerhouse that consistently delivers the entertainment audiences crave,” Chapek said in a statement. “Her well-earned reputation for championing creative talent and developing programming that truly captures the cultural zeitgeist has resulted in hit after hit, from ABC’s Abbott Elementary and Onyx Collective’s Academy Award-winning Summer of Soul, to Hulu originals like Only Murders in the Building, Dopesick, The Dropout and The Kardashians. She and Peter have worked closely together for years to create the best programming in the industry, and I can think of no one better than Dana to lead Disney General Entertainment to even greater heights.”
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