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'Chapek Has Made Another Mistake': Disney CEO Catches Major Flak for Peter Rice Firing

Bob Chapek
(Image credit: Photo by Gerardo Mora/Getty Images)

Already reeling from his clumsy handling of last summer's ugly Scarlett Johansson salary dispute and his costly flip-flopping over Florida's far right-backed “Don’t Say Gay” education law, Disney CEO Bob Chapek is taking flak once again. 

After his abrupt firing of Disney Entertainment Chairman Peter Rice was revealed on Thursday, The Hollywood Reporter put out a fishing net for rival studio execs and Disney insiders unhappy with the way the Chapek handled the ouster. The trade ended up dredging up quite the catch (although no one wanted their name attached to their comments).

• According to ”one of the most powerful executives in media” — “Chapek just made another massive mistake.”

• A “high-level executive at a Disney competitor” — “By firing the guy this way, everyone else says, ‘Is this what he’ll do to me?’ ”

• A “Disney insider” — “It’s horrendous. It’s not good for the company. Morale is terrible.”

• Another ”Disney insider“ — “I wonder if Chapek has even been aware that Rice held Zoom town halls and Q&As throughout the pandemic that really made him a presence in the lives of us rank-and-file schlubs.”

Disney stock is down nearly 5% since news of Rice's firing leaked out Thursday morning. One rival studio exec put blame on Disney chairwoman Susan Arnold for not re-upping Chapek’s contract until the last minute. 

“You let the CEO get within a year of his contract being up,”  one longtime industry power player said. “That by itself is a statement of nonsupport. A vote of confidence is nonsense. It is the most Mickey Mouse company. It’s so dysfunctional.”

The Disney board put out this statement Thursday: “The strength of The Walt Disney Company's businesses coming out of the pandemic is a testament to Bob’s leadership and vision for the company’s future. In this important time of business growth and transformation, we are committed to keeping Disney on the successful path it is on today, and Bob and his leadership team have the support and confidence of the Board.” ▪️

Daniel Frankel is the managing editor of Next TV, an internet publishing vertical focused on the business of video streaming. A Los Angeles-based writer and editor who has covered the media and technology industries for more than two decades, Daniel has worked on staff for publications including E! Online, Electronic Media, Mediaweek, Variety, paidContent and GigaOm. You can start living a healthier life with greater wealth and prosperity by following Daniel on Twitter today!