Disney’s well-liked chairman of entertainment and programming, Peter Rice, has been let go.
Although Disney CEO Bob Chapek took it upon himself to personally axe the esteemed executive, his personal touch is a cold one indeed. According to The Hollywood Reporter, it took only a terse seven-minute meeting for the Mouse House chief to dismiss Rice on Monday, saying he was a bad fit in “the new Disney culture.”
When Rice asked how, exactly, he didn’t fit in, the big cheese responded, “Now is not the time.”
In fact, Rice may have fit in a little too well. Insiders told THR that some saw Rice as a man who was positioning himself to possibly take over Chapek’s job. And some powerful industry insiders were not happy to learn of Chapek’s latest move.
“Peter is beloved,” one agent told the outlet, noting that he was overseeing a successful division. As for Chapek, the agent said, “How many times does a person have to show you who they are?”
One way or another, cutting Rice is a reflection on Chapek’s judgement since, according to THR, he just re-upped Rice to a new longterm deal last summer and, with two years remaining on his contract, the company will have to come up with a substantial payoff.
Chapek’s contract, on the other hand, is almost up.
And the embattled CEO has been under pressure from all sides for months—first from his employees when he hesitated to denounce Florida Governor Ron DeSantis’s Parental Rights in Education Act or “Don’t Say Gay” bill, and then by a certain faction of conservative Americans after he finally did oppose it, pausing all political donations in Florida.
Dana Walden, who came to Disney from Fox and was Rice’s chief deputy, will take over Rice’s position.
This follows the April exit of chief corporate affairs officer of Disney Co. Geoff Morrell, who was fired after just three months. Morrell cited that the position was “not the right fit.”
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