A longtime Disney chief leaves. What does it mean for the future of the studio — and for Pirates of the Caribbean 4?
Shock waves are still coursing through Hollywood a week after Walt Disney Co. studio chief Dick Cook unceremoniously departed after 38 years of service. (He began his career in 1971 as a monorail operator at Disneyland.) Little reason was given as to why Disney’s CEO, Robert Iger, chose to drop Cook, but it’s clear from Iger’s previous comments during earnings calls that he was not satisfied with underperforming films this past year, like G-FORCE and Bedtime Stories. ”We’ve had a rough year,” said Iger. ”It’s not the marketplace. It’s our slate.” Iger’s recent actions also suggest that the CEO has no desire to continue business as usual. He swiped DreamWorks out from under Universal back in February, and just last month he surprised the town by purchasing Marvel Studios for $4 billion. ”Sooner or later, you’re the traditionalist, you’re the 59-year-old guy saying no to doing things differently,” says one insider of Cook’s ousting. ”You tell your boss no too many times, and it’s a problem.”
Questions remain as to why the dismissal was handled so coarsely — Cook casually stepped into his boss’ office Sept. 15 only to leave with his walking papers — especially considering his excellent relationships with filmmakers like Robert Zemeckis, Steven Spielberg, and Jerry Bruckheimer. Also uncertain is the status of Disney’s much-anticipated Pirates of the Caribbean 4. Both the film’s producer, Bruckheimer, and its star, Johnny Depp, have made it clear how disappointed they are over Cook’s departure. (Depp told the L.A. Times, ”There’s a fissure, a crack in my enthusiasm,” for returning to the role of Jack Sparrow.) Few believe that means Bruckheimer and Depp won’t participate in the project. ”It’s posturing now. If the script’s decent and the money’s there, they’ll re-sign,” says one source. Still, with all the changes at Disney, and more sure to come, Pirates 4 may happen with the Mouse House looking like a completely different animal.
— Nicole Sperling
Heather Locklear’s return to Melrose
After months of negotiations, The CW finally managed to lure Heather Locklear to its new Melrose Place beginning Nov. 17. An insider confirmed to EW that the 48-year-old star will earn north of $50,000 a week to reprise her role as Amanda Woodward for a multi-episode arc (and just like on the original version, she’ll be billed as a special guest star). Locklear will play the boss at the PR firm where Ella (Katie Cassidy) works. Her arrival at the complex couldn’t come at a better time; despite a huge promotional push, the reboot — which also stars Melrose alums Laura Leighton and Thomas Calabro — has averaged only 2 million viewers after two weeks.
— Lynette Rice