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The Walt Disney Company has fired Peter Rice, chairman of General Entertainment Content, and the company’s most senior TV executive, according to The New York Times. Dana Walden, Chairman of Entertainment for Walt Disney Television, has been tapped to succeed him, per Variety.
Rice recently renewed his contract at Disney back in August, and it was set to run through the end of 2024. He is set to receive a payout from Disney amid termination. He and Walden came to Disney through the company’s acquisition of 21st Century Fox in 2017.
Until today, Rice oversaw an arm of the company that produces more than 300 shows annually and for platforms including ABC, Disney Channel, Disney+, Hulu, and FX. According to the Times, Disney CEO Bob Chapek terminated Rice during a short meeting on Wednesday. Variety added the decision was all business, not at all related to personality or behavior.
Rice was once thought to be a successor for Chapek, here making his most high-profile executive shake-up yet. Chapek has weathered a challenging 2022 so far for the company, skirmishing with Florida Governor Ron DeSantis over Disney’s stance on the Don’t Say Gay bill.
Susan E. Arnold, chairwoman of the company’s board, shared a statement with The New York Times indicating that the board backed Chapek in the decision.
“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,” she said. “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.”
Rice started off his career at 20th Century Fox in 1987, eventually rising to become president of 21st Century Fox. Amid the acquisition of 21st Century Fox in 2017, both Rice and Walden joined Disney.
Rice was close to Rupert Murdoch after working at the company for 30 years. After moving to Disney, he headed up ABC News.
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