While Hollywood is still reeling from the unexpected news that Disney CEO Bob Chapek fired the well-loved executive Peter Rice, Dana Walden is gearing up to take control of her new role within Disney. Both Rice and Walden were executives at 21st Century Fox when it was purchased by Disney, and became executives at The House of Mouse. Rice became the Chairman of Disney General Entertainment Content and Walden became the Chairman of Entertainment, Walt Disney Television Studios.
The shakeup at Disney was shocking, but Walden is ready to take the reins and keep Disney at the top of the food chain when it comes to entertainment Guests have access to on Disney branded television, and on Disney’s streaming service, Disney+. While she was Chairwoman of Entertainment at Walt Disney Television, she oversaw new programming and is responsible for bringing in new shows like Abbott Elementary on ABC and the Only Murders in the Building. Walden sent out a memo to Disney employees after her promotion where she praised both Peter Rice and CEO Bob Chapek.
The memo was shared with The Hollywood Reporter and says the following:
I promise you that I will do everything I can to support you and make sure that DGE is the best place in the business to work. A place that thrives on creativity and creative risk-taking; a place where people can bring their authentic, true selves to work every day; a place where inclusion is top priority and collaboration is celebrated; and a place where we will never stop working to be the very best home for talent. Let’s remember we are in the business of storytelling – what’s cooler than that? Let’s celebrate each other’s wins, show up for one another, watch each other’s shows, and connect even more together as a team.
In reflecting on my own professional journey, I am very fortunate to have worked alongside Peter Rice for a long time. We have been friends for almost three decades and he was my boss for eight years. He is a gifted executive, and I learned a lot from him. I know you all join me in wishing him the best in whatever he chooses to do next.
Finally, I’d like to express my immense appreciation to Bob Chapek for giving me this opportunity of a lifetime. Through quarterly content presentations, where our talented leaders have shared each brand’s priorities, he has become well connected to the dazzling work being done by each team. Bob is enormously proud of what we do, and as The Walt Disney Company enters its second century, I look forward to joining forces with all of you to help deliver on his priorities: storytelling excellence, innovation, and a relentless focus on our audience.
The move to unexpectedly fire Rice had a major hit on some people’s confidence in how Chapek is running Disney. One anonymous Disney insider even said that Disney was now “uninvestable.” However, Walden has major experience in launching successful shows on major networks or platforms, so she could prove that giving her Rice’s job was the right one. Disney’s Board of Directors also stood behind Rice’s firing and made a public statement saying that they support Chapek and his decision.