Disney is firing Peter Rice, its chief television content manager.

The Walt Disney Company abruptly fired Peter Rice, its top television content manager, citing a poor fit with Disney’s corporate culture, according to three people briefed on the matter who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss confidential information.

Mr. Rice, president of Disney General Entertainment Content, a division of the company that makes more than 300 shows a year for platforms like ABC, Disney Channel, Disney+, Hulu and FX, was ousted by Bob Chapek, Disney’s chief executive. , in a brief meeting on Wednesday, those people said. Mr. Rice, who also oversaw ABC News, recently renewed his contract with Disney in August. It lasted until the end of 2024. Disney will pay for it, the people said.

Mr. Rice declined to comment.

Mr. Rice’s ousting has played out like a sonic boom in Hollywood, where he is widely admired. Many people in the entertainment industry (outside of Disney, at least) even saw Mr. Rice as a possible candidate to succeed Mr. Chapek as Disney’s chief executive. Mr. Chapek’s decision will certainly prompt questions about whether this chatter has gotten a little too loud; Mr Chapek has had a tough few months as Disney becomes a political punching bag, particularly for Governor Ron DeSantis of Florida, and Disney’s share price has fallen sharply amid industry concerns over profitability streaming services.

In April, Mr. Chapek fired the company’s top communications and government relations officer; executive Geoff Morrell had joined Disney in January on a multi-year deal. Disney also paid for it. On Thursday, Disney shares closed just above $103, down almost 4%, which was higher than the broad market’s decline of about 2%.

Susan E. Arnold, chair of Disney’s board of directors, said in an emailed statement that Mr. Chapek had the support of the board — a rare public comment that indicates that, despite the upheaval, Mr. Chapek is heading for a contract renewal. His current contract expires in February.

“The strength of The Walt Disney Company’s business as it emerges from the pandemic is a testament to Bob’s leadership and vision for the future of the business,” Ms. Arnold said. “At this important time of growth and business transformation, we are committed to keeping Disney on the path to success it is on today, and Bob and his management team have the support and confidence of the board of directors.”

Another Disney board member, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss corporate matters, said the board had never considered Mr Rice as a candidate for director. general.

Disney confirmed that Mr. Rice would leave the company immediately, but declined to say why. Following the announcement of his ouster, Disney announced that Dana Walden, who served as president of entertainment for Walt Disney Television, would succeed him. Ms. Walden, working in tandem with Mr. Rice, recently delivered hits like “Abbott Elementary,” an ABC comedy, and “Only Murders in the Building,” a comedy crime drama on Hulu.

“Dana is a dynamic, collaborative leader and cultural force who, in just three years, has transformed our television business into a content powerhouse,” Mr. Chapek said in a statement. “She and Peter have worked closely together for years to create the best programming in the industry.”

Mr. Chapek offered nothing more about Mr. Rice, avoiding the glowing platitudes that Hollywood usually turns to at such times. Nor did Disney give Mr. Rice a parachute in the form of a production deal. (“I know we all wish Peter the best,” Mr. Chapek said in an internal email announcing Ms. Walden’s rise.)

Ms Walden said in a statement it was “an incredible honour” to be promoted and praised the team assembled by Mr Rice as “truly the best in every way”. The group includes Kimberly Godwin at ABC News and Ayo Davis at Disney Branded Television.

Mr. Rice’s sudden departure breaks up a powerful trio that Disney inherited from 21st Century Fox, which it agreed to buy from Rupert Murdoch in 2017. Mr. Rice, Ms. Walden and FX Networks Chairman John Landgraf, worked closely at Fox for decades.

Mr. Rice, affable but often inscrutable to those who worked with him, began his entertainment career in 1987, when he was a summer intern at Mr. Murdoch’s film studio. Over the next three decades, he would become close to Mr. Murdoch, becoming chairman of 21st Century Fox. Along the way, Mr. Rice transformed Fox Searchlight into an Academy Award and box office superpower, delivering idiosyncratic hits like “Little Miss Sunshine,” “Sideways” and “Slumdog Millionaire.”

Filmmakers and TV creators came out of the woods on Thursday to praise Mr. Rice. “Peter is the best executive I’ve ever worked with, and I know a lot of other artists would agree,” said Danny Boyle, who directed “Slumdog Millionaire.” He added that Disney would be “weaker” and “more corporate without him.”

Disney’s shakeup came as a shock to Mr. Rice and Ms. Walden, those briefed on the matter said. Just three weeks ago, Disney sent Mr. Rice to its initial stage, the company’s annual showcase for the advertising industry. A prominent appearance usually indicates that a leader’s position in a company is strong.

Mr. Rice, who was introduced onstage by “Only Murders in the Building” stars Steve Martin, Martin Short and Selena Gomez, spoke of Disney’s strong market position, noting that it was the ” only business that hasn’t been bought or sold in the last 100 years.

The Disney TV division has done well. In addition to “Only Murders in the Building,” Hulu recently aired “The Dropout,” a much-loved limited series about Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes. ABC News’ main shows, “Good Morning America” ​​and “World News Tonight,” remain the most-watched morning and evening newscasts.

Ms. Walden’s Hollywood connections, like Mr. Rice’s, run deep. Jay Sures, co-chairman of the United Talent Agency, called her “arguably the best creative leader in the television industry”, adding that “she is loved by talent”.

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