Saturday, September 19, 2009

Dick Cook no longer at Disney

Dick Cook was the head of Walt Disney Studios just a few days ago. He worked for Disney for 38 years, and has now been either fired or has stepped down from his post. Some names for his replacement have been floating around, and these are Kevin Feige, head of Marvel Studios, and John Lasseter, head of Pixar and Disney Animation Studios, as well as the creative part of Imagineering. I don't know anything about Kevin, but I don't know how I'd feel about Lasseter filling in for Cook. I think that Lasseter should stick to what he's good at, which is the creative stuff--not the stuff where you have to wear a suit. Anyways, Dick Cook, from what I've heard and seen, was a great guy with lots of connections. There was no apparent reason for him to leave. Here's his official statement:


I am stepping down from my role as chairman of The Walt Disney Studios, effective immediately.

I have loved every minute of my 38 years that I have worked at Disney…from the beginning as a ride operator on Disneyland’s steam train and monorail to my position as chairman of The Walt Disney Studios. To wrap up my Disney experience in a neatly bundled statement is close to impossible. But what I will say is, during my time at the Studio, we have achieved many industry and Company milestones. Our talent roster is simply the best in the business. I believe our slate of upcoming motion pictures is the best in our history. But most of all, I love the people, my colleagues, my teammates, who are the most talented, dedicated and loyal folks in the world. I know that I leave the Studio in their exceptional hands.

I have been contemplating this for some time now and feel it’s the right time for me to move on to new adventures…and in the words of one of my baseball heroes, Yogi Berra, “If you come to a fork in the road, take it.”
And here's Bob Iger's (Disney's CEO) official statement:

Throughout his distinguished 38-year Disney career, Dick Cook’s outstanding creative instincts and incomparable showmanship have truly enriched this company and significantly impacted Disney’s great legacy,” said Disney CEO Bob Iger. “We thank Dick for his tremendous passion for Disney, and his many accomplishments and contributions to The Walt Disney Studios, including a very promising upcoming film slate. On behalf of everyone at Disney, we wish him the best with all the future has to offer."

Cook's leaving Disney has stirred up a lot of conversation in Hollywood. He was well-liked by everybody, and nobody is quite sure why he had to leave. One of his buddies, in particular, was Johnny Depp. Here's some excerpts from a recent phone interview with the LA Times:

"(I'm) shocked and very sad, it seems like the whole town is shocked, I didn't see this coming. There was no reason to see this coming."

"(He's) the sweetest man on the planet and such a gent."

"He is the utmost gentleman, so he made the call himself. He said, 'I'd like you to hear it from me before you hear it from someone else or read it,' He said today was my last day. He didn't give me a reason."

"He's instantly trustworthy. And you generally don't meet people at the studios you trust, he's a rare beast."

And Depp also commented that he is less enthused about the upcoming Pirates 4 film:

"There's a fissure, a crack in my enthusiasm at the moment, it was all born in that office."

Also, Depp thinks he'll work with Cook in the future, just not at Disney:

"He will be somewhere and I will always look forward to working with him. I consider Dick a friend inside an insane system. He's someone I understand and I think he understands me."

But he's not the only one who's upset with Cook's leaving. Scott Rudin, whose production company has a deal with Disney, has said:

"I'm completely shocked - as is literally everybody I've spoken to,"

Spielberg is also devastated that Dick Cook's not with Disney anymore. Dick was one of the main reasons that Spielberg decided to go with Disney on the new DreamWorks distribution deal. "Steven worships Dick Cook," a DreamWorks insider has said.

Also, Lasseter has supposedly been on friendly terms with Cook since the Pixar deal. He must not be too happy about these recent developments, either.

As you can tell, Cook was a trusted guy. A true friend, and an honest man in an ocean of phonies. Iger certainly has some big shoes to fill if he wants to find someone as loved, hard-working, and loyal as Dick Cook.

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