BURBANK, Calif. (CNS) — In a major front-office shakeup, the Burbank-based Walt Disney Co. confirmed Thursday the ouster of chief content officer Peter Rice, who is being replaced by company TV entertainment exec Dana Walden.
Both Rice and Walden joined Disney in 2019 when the company acquired 21st Century Fox.
A statement from Disney announcing Walden’s promotion made little mention of Rice, saying only he is “leaving the company” and that Walden’s appointment “is effective immediately.”
Sources familiar with the move told various trade magazines the ouster of Rice — who had two years remaining on his contract — came as a shock at the studio, but it appeared to be a purely business-strategy maneuver rather than an indication of wrongdoing by Rice. Sources told The Hollywood Reporter that CEO Bob Chapek felt Rice was “no longer a fit” in the position.
Walden will take on the title of Disney General Entertainment Content chair. She had been serving under Rice as chair of Disney television entertainment. In her new role, she will oversee ABC Entertainment, ABC News, Disney Branded Television, Disney Television Studios, Freeform, FX, Hulu Originals, National Geographic Contact and Onyx Collective.
“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.”
At Fox, Walden was chair/CEO of the studio’s television group, overseeing development of shows including “This is Us,” “Modern Family,” “Glee,” “Homeland,” “How I Met Your Mother” and “Arrested Development.”