Key Player: Richard Cook

Chairman, Walt Disney Studios

Exec trivia: Cook started as a ride operator at Disneyland in 1970.

The basics: A Disney lifer, Cook has held several jobs in the company since breaking in as an assistant sales manager for Buena Vista Distribution in 1980. In 1994, he took over as prexy of Buena Vista Distribution and Marketing after previously serving as distribution chief. He was promoted to chairman of the Walt Disney Studios Motion Picture Group in 1996 before taking over as the film studio’s chairman last year, filling a longtime vacancy created by Peter Schneider’s departure in 2001. Cook now oversees development, production, distribution and marketing for all live-action and animated pics under the Walt Disney, Touchstone and Hollywood Pictures banners.

Rep: Cook enjoys a close relationship with Eisner, and is considered a mentor to many of the studio’s younger film execs.

Modus operandi: “I don’t think there are any particular secrets to success in the motion-picture business, or any business, for that matter. Ours is a business of talent, talent and more talent, both in front of the camera and behind the camera. To the degree we can continue to nourish and challenge our talent to strive for the best, we will continue to be successful.”

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