The first shoe to drop is the departure of Kareem Daniel, who was installed as chairman of the Disney Media & Entertainment Distribution unit by Iger’s now-deposed successor Bob Chapek.
Daniel was in charge of deciding which Disney projects went to which of its outlets — a move that upset the creative people working at Disney, who lost a certain amount of autonomy.
In a note to staffers, Iger said the division will be managed in a way that “honors and respects creativity as the heart and soul of who we are.”
Iger said that he would be calling on Dana Walden, the head of Disney’s TV business; Alan Bergman, the head of its movie business; Jimmy Pitaro, who runs ESPN; and chief financial officer Christine McCarthy to help design the new structure, which will put “more decision-making back in the hands of our creative teams and rationalizes costs.”
Under Chapek’s watch, several key creative people left Disney, most notably Peter Rice. who had been head of Disney General Entertainment.
Here is the text of Iger’s note to Disney Media & Entertainment Distribution staffers:
Dear Fellow Employees and Cast Members,
I want to share this note with you that I sent to DMED employees a short time ago.
Dear DMED Employees,
As we embark on the transformative work that I mentioned to you in my email last night, I want to begin by offering my sincere appreciation and gratitude to each and every one of you.
Over the coming weeks, we will begin implementing organizational and operating changes within the company. It is my intention to restructure things in a way that honors and respects creativity as the heart and soul of who we are. As you know, this is a time of enormous change and challenges in our industry, and our work will also focus on creating a more efficient and cost-effective structure.
I’ve asked Dana Walden, Alan Bergman, Jimmy Pitaro, and Christine McCarthy to work together on the design of a new structure that puts more decision-making back in the hands of our creative teams and rationalizes costs, and this will necessitate a reorganization of Disney Media & Entertainment Distribution. As a result, Kareem Daniel will be leaving the company, and I hope you will all join me in thanking him for his many years of service to Disney.
Our goal is to have the new structure in place in the coming months. Without question, elements of DMED will remain, but I fundamentally believe that storytelling is what fuels this company, and it belongs at the center of how we organize our businesses.
This is a moment of great change and opportunity for our company as we begin our second century, and I am so proud to be leading this team again. I can’t say it enough: I’m incredibly grateful for the tremendous work you do each day, and for your commitment to maintaining the level of excellence Disney has always been known for.
I know change can be unsettling, but it is also necessary and even energizing, and so I ask for your patience as we develop a roadmap for this restructuring. More information will be shared over the coming weeks. Until a new structure is put in place, we will continue to operate under our existing structure. In the meantime, I hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday, and thank you again for all you do.
Jon has been business editor of Broadcasting+Cable since 2010. He focuses on revenue-generating activities, including advertising and distribution, as well as executive intrigue and merger and acquisition activity. Just about any story is fair game, if a dollar sign can make its way into the article. Before B+C, Jon covered the industry for TVWeek, Cable World, Electronic Media, Advertising Age and The New York Post. A native New Yorker, Jon is hiding in plain sight in the suburbs of Chicago.
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