Disney may divide up studio chief role

Rich Ross could assume additional duties

Speculation about the Disney power pyramid has brought up this over-riding question: Is the job of “studio chief” an anachronism?

Implicit in this question is the theory that there may not be a direct successor to Disney’s Dick Cook. Some supposed insiders opine that the job of studio chairman may be divided up by CEO Bob Iger into a group of “pod masters” overseeing different branches of the Disney entertainment empire.

Under this theory, Rich Ross, president of the wildly profitable Disney Channel Worldwide unit, may assume additional duties over the Disney brand films, while other sectors (Bruckheimer, Touchstone, DreamWorks, etc.) may report to another executive, perhaps Oren Aviv, the former marketing chief who is now production chief.

“Disney needs an executive to orchestrate the various power bases,” said one executive. “The company doesn’t need a picture picker in the traditional sense.”

Ross has built up a solid record presiding over the global kids business, with its various channels and TV specials. Whether he qualifies for the Big Job is arguable, however …

Also arguable is whether Iger wants to elevate another executive to be an overall impresario. Having grown up in TV, Iger is more accustomed to pods and podmeisters.

Iger has signaled he may not announce his decision for several weeks. In that case, the speculation will be intensified.

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