Hollywood Ink: All-Disney Meltdown Edition!
· Disney chose a fine time to unveil the news that Dick Cook is out as the boss at Walt Disney Studios, sneaking the dispatch into e-mail inboxes on Friday night -- which happened to overlap with Rosh Hashanah. Most reports concur that the timing of the news (if not the transition itself) was Cook's choice, but that couldn't really stop the outpouring of frustration among talent and filmmakers all weekend. Among them: Steven Spielberg, who didn't really park DreamWorks at Disney because he's a huge fan of CEO and putative hatchet man Bob Iger (pictured here with Cook, left, this summer). Nevertheless, I can think of at least 825 million reasons to sort that out. [DHD]
More reactions (including a rattled Johnny Depp and Scott Rudin) and fallout after the jump.
· Claudia Eller tracked down Johnny Depp in London, where the close Cook ally expressed dismay over his friend's departure and instantly rattled his pirate sword with disillusion over a proposed fourth Pirates of the Caribbean film. "There's a fissure, a crack in my enthusiasm at the moment," Depp said. "It was all born in that office." Scott Rudin, too, was dumbfounded: "I'm completely shocked -- as is literally everybody I've spoken to," he told the NYT.
· But come on: Revenues had been down for a while, and when Cook struck gold, it was with something like The Proposal -- not quite what you'd call a franchise opportunity for the studio. And don't forget, as Kim Masters reminds us, that Iger had singled out the studio's underperformance as recently as February; it wasn't really a matter of "if" for Cook, but rather "when." [The Daily Beast]
· Now everyone wants to know who'll inherit Cook's position and all its attendant problems. Nikki Finke hints that Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige has a fan in Iger, and he's as good a candidate as any, especially since heirs of famed Marvel author Jack Kirby are attempting to strip the newly Disneyfied brand of its copyrights to his material. There go at least 40 properties, and Iger's got to keep Feige busy with something, after all. [NYT]
· Peter Bart chimed in with his own inimitable perspective, leading the way Friday afternoon with an Iger blow job that (I guess) was supposed to preempt the backbiting around town: "Iger is clearly a man who understands that, on many levels, he has the best job in town, and he projects the resulting equanimity. He has trimmed down by some 20 pounds and looks considerably younger than his 58 years. He has carefully cultivated strong relationships with a range of complex individuals, such as Steve Jobs, John Lasseter, Steven Spielberg and Marvel's quixotic Ike Perlmutter -- a cast of characters who might have bridled under Michael Eisner's impulsive style." Indeed, Iger's careful, deliberate execution is reaping a bounty of dividends this morning. Keep up the good work, Bob. [BFDealMemo]