Meet Sean Bailey, Disney's New Head of Production: A Movieline FAQ
Disney chairman Rich Ross's rodent-colonic approach to cleaning house meant he'd have to quickly appoint a successor to Oren Aviv, the production boss who issued a coerced resignation earlier this week. His choice was surprising: Sean Bailey, a producer in his late 30s with zero studio-exec experience who not long ago found his own project -- the McG-directed 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea remake -- fall victim to Ross's mighty axe. After the jump, a Movieline FAQ to better get to know the guy now burdened with making the mouse machinery run:
1. Was Bailey Ross's first choice?
No, he wasn't, as a matter of fact. Erik Feig, the production boss at Summit responsible for the Twilight franchise, was. For whatever reason -- and it's probably money, as Feig has a financial stake in Summit, though sanity might be reason enough -- he turned him down.
2. So how did he get the job?
It was a presentation for Tron: Legacy, a film Bailey is producing for Disney that comes bearing massive expectations, that reportedly impressed Ross. Someone close to the situation told the LA Times that Bailey conveyed a heightened grasp of how to best exploit the property across all of Disney's businesses, in addition to possessing genuine enthusiasm and creativity.
3. What's his background?
He got his start as a writer, and scripted several episodes of Push, Nevada, the ABC show he co-E.P.d with Ben Affleck back in 2002 that gave home viewers a chance to win one million dollars by following its clues.
4. What's his connection to Ben Affleck?
The two have a long personal and professional kinship that predated the founding of LivePlanet, a multimedia production company, along with Matt Damon and Chris Moore back in 2000. LivePlanet's best-known success so far is Project Greenlight, which aired for two seasons on HBO before moving to Bravo for Season 3.
5. What's going to be his biggest challenge at Disney?
His WME agent Patrick Whitesell puts it thusly: "The thing he hasn't done is manage a group of people -- that's the part where he's got to prove himself." His 2010 is a cakewalk, as Alice in Wonderland, The Sorcerer's Apprentice and his own Tron are on the schedule through December, and would have to screw up majorly not to earn hefty profits worldwide. What follows is the question mark. Is a The Black Hole remake, his next announced project, a good idea, considering the original was a massive bomb and exists now merely a nostalgic sci-fi curiosity? And will his new job as an executive prevent him from producing his own projects? And will he resist the seductive pull of things like spy gerbils and ape-rape that tanked G-Force and Old Dogs, and ultimately, his predecessor?
6. So what's Bailey like in a room?
Based on this Comic Con interview with Latino Review, let's say: uncomfortable in a videoconferencing format, but measured, thoughtful and sincere. With shades of Dick York.