Disney Fires its TV Content Chief Suddenly

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Peter Rice, Disney’s TV content chief has been let go from the company in an abrupt shake-up as Disney’s board backs CEO Bob Chapek.

The senior television content executive had no idea the firing was coming says a person familiar with the matter.

A source told CNBC that Chapek told Rice in a short meeting Wednesday he wasn’t a cultural fit at Disney.

Rice came to Disney in 2019, after the company finalized its deal to buy 21st Century Fox. He will be replaced by Dana Walden, Rice’s top lieutenant, effective immediately.

According to one source, Chapek believed Rice didn’t work collaboratively with others and was more interested in controlling his own fiefdom. Chapek also felt Walden excelled in working with others, the person said.

“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 stated.

A source said that while Rice was generally well-liked personally, he irritated some co-workers at Disney for monopolizing information rather than sharing it with co-workers — a style that may have worked at Fox but was ill-fitting at Disney.

Rice also interviewed with Warner Bros. Discovery CEO David Zaslav last year for a top content executive role, according to people familiar with the matter. Rice oversaw 20th Television, ABC Entertainment, ABC News and FX, among other brands.

“The strength of the Walt Disney Company’s businesses coming out of the pandemic is a testament to Bob’s leadership and vision for the company’s future,” Susan Arnold, chairwoman of Disney’s board, said in a statement.

“In this important time of 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.”

Disclaimer: We have no position in any of the companies mentioned and have not been compensated for this article.

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