The man behind High School Musical and Hannah Montana gets a new job as movie chief at Disney
On Oct. 5, Disney’s president and CEO, Bob Iger, tapped Disney Channel head Rich Ross to run the company’s movie studio. (Ross, who’s been at Disney for 13 years, replaces longtime exec Dick Cook after his departure last month.) Despite having limited film experience, Ross is behind such breakout television series as Hannah Montana, Lizzie McGuire, and Wizards of Waverly Place, and he’s turned Miley Cyrus and the Jonas Brothers, among others, into household names. Called ”the ultimate team player,” he’s also responsible for the resounding success of the High School Musical franchise and the vast Hannah Montana and Jonas Brothers merchandising machines. Ross’ main job will be to juggle the disparate pieces that fall under the Disney Studios umbrella: DreamWorks, Pixar, Miramax, Touchstone, and überproducers like Jerry Bruckheimer and Robert Zemeckis. Says one source to EW, ”If the guy’s a good manager, that’s all that’s needed.” With such strong personalities under one roof, he’ll have his work cut out for him.
After a string of disappointments, Universal’s co-chairmen get the boot
Even if Universal’s comedy Couples Retreat scores at the box office this weekend, it will be too late for the studio’s co-chairmen. Marc Shmuger and David Linde were replaced this week after a run of unsatisfactory box office returns from such films as Land of the Lost and Brüno. Universal’s future belongs to marketing head Adam Fogelson and president of production Donna Langley, who were upped to chairman and co-chairman, respectively. The duo must now look for more franchise-making projects like the studio’s Bourne series, and avoid the underperforming dramas, like State of Play, that torpedoed Universal’s slate this year.
— Nicole Sperling
The Young and the Restless lets its biggest star walk
In yet another blow to the already ailing soap opera genre, Eric Braeden, the venerable star of CBS’ The Young and the Restless, has exited the top-rated daytime drama after an ugly negotiation with Sony. The production company wanted the popular actor to take a pay cut for playing megamogul Victor Newman, but Braeden — who’s been on the soap since 1980 — opted to leave instead. Barring any last-minute change, Braeden’s final episode will air on Nov. 2. Reps for Sony and CBS had no comment, though one insider indicated that no further talks are planned. ”I’ve been an important part of the show,” Braeden tells EW. ”To be dealt with in a perfunctory manner, as if you had known these people for just a few months, is what is most offensive.”
— Lynette Rice