Top Disney exec reportedly ‘blindsided’ when he gets the boot for not fitting in with ‘new Disney culture’

(Video Credit: CNBC)

Disney CEO Bob Chapek “abruptly fired ” Chairman of Disney General Entertainment Content Peter Rice on Monday because he ostensibly doesn’t fit in with “the new Disney Culture.”

The shocking ouster came after an explosive seven-minute meeting on Monday. Rice’s contract that expires in 2024 will reportedly be paid in full to him as he’s booted out the door, according to the Daily Beast.

“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,” according to The Hollywood Reporter. “He asked in what way he did not fit and Chapek responded, ‘Now is not the time’ and dismissed him.”

The New York Times and other media sources also reported that Rice was fired because he was an “ill fit with Disney’s corporate culture.” Rumor has it he was completely blindsided by his unexpected termination.

According to the Times, the firing of Rice “went off like a sonic boom in Hollywood,” where he “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 media outlet reported.

“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 New York Times added.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed a bill in April that stripped Disney of its special tax privileges in the state, effectively barring the company “from being able to govern the land where the Disney World theme park is located.”

“I’m just not comfortable having that type of agenda get special treatment in my state,” DeSantis remarked at the time.

Rice’s top lieutenant, Dana Walden, has been tapped to replace him in the interim.

“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 declared 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,” the statement added.

“You can never have enough good creative executives, and they had as good a lineup of creative execs working in one place as you could find,” an unnamed prominent industry player commented, according to Deadline. “Why would you get rid of a great one and shackle the other — a gifted creative executive — with unfamiliar areas like news and corporate tasks, giving them less time to spend on creative?”

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