In Latest Shuffle, Fox Tries Cooking With Rice

The latest management shakeup at News Corp. (detailed by my colleagues Michael Schneider and Tatiana Siegel) has resulted in another slightly unorthodox executive reshuffling from Rupert Murdoch, placing Fox Searchlight’s Peter Rice in charge of the Fox network as chairman of Fox Entertainment.

This got me to thinking about the last 20 years at what was once called the Fox Broadcasting Co., which has a history of reaching beyond the roster of TV industry usual suspects in choosing presidents and chairman. Please forgive me if I miss anybody, but my list of the last two decades goes as follows — and given that my first stint at Variety began in ’87, it’s also like watching my professional life flash before my eyes.

Peter Chernin (1989-92) — His bosses Barry Diller and Jamie Kellner, who launched the network in 1986-87, left in ’93. Chernin, of course, recently announced his departure as News Corp.’s president, setting the latest chain of events in motion.
Sandy Grushow (1992-94)
Lucie Salhany (1993-94)
Chase Carey (1993-2000)
David Evans (1993-95)
John Matoian (1994-96)

David Hill (1995-99)
Peter Roth (1996-98)
Larry Jacobson (1997-2000)


Doug Herzog (1998-2000)

Sandy Grushow (2000-04) — Yep, he came back.
Brian Mulligan (2000-01)

Gail Berman (2000-05)

Tony Vinciquerra (2001-?)
Ed Wilson (2004-08)
Peter Liguori (2005-09)
Kevin Reilly (2007-?)
Peter Rice (2009-?)
Aside from the fairly constant level of churn — about on par with the House of Representatives, minus the benefits of incumbency — you’ll notice a couple of interesting footnotes here.
John Matoian was a former CBS TV movie executive, who had been happily running Fox’s family-film unit before semi-reluctantly being drafted to run the network’s entertainment arm. Doug Herzog was wooed away from basic cable (to which he successfully returned).Gail Berman actually had a theatrical background before segueing to the TV production side at Regency Television, where she spent only a few years before landing at Fox. David Hill had been running Fox Sports, and returned to it, remaining a trusted Murdoch lieutenant.
Rice’s movie background, in other words, follows a number of at least marginally out-of-the-box choices to chart Fox’s programming direction. The constants have been Murdoch and Chernin, whose influence — having held that job — was considerable.
Mostly, what this says is that Murdoch likes to keep a fresh set of eyes at the network, and that he believes smart executives can excel there, regardless of their background.
And if they don’t, well, the above list will just get a little longer.

Popular on Variety

More Voices

  • Tegna CEO Dave Lougee

    Coronavirus Pandemic Puts a Bright Spotlight on Value of Local TV

    The TV station group Tegna has been the subject of acquisition rumors for nearly a year. Finally, bids started to surface earlier this month that pegged the company’s market value at about $8.5 billion.  But in the space of a week, the assets up for grabs at Tegna have taken on a very different kind [...]

  • SXSW

    How Canceling SXSW Because of Coronavirus Affected These Filmmakers

    The 2020 South by Southwest Film Festival was set to be a career-making moment for many creators, and a particularly bright spotlight for women, as 70% of the films in competition were directed or co-directed by female filmmakers.  But when the 27th edition of the Austin-based festival was canceled on March 6 due to the [...]

  • Sugical mask isolated on yellow surface.

    How I Raised $6,000 During the Coronavirus Pandemic by Asking for Couples' Drama (Column)

    When you have a generalized anxiety disorder and a daily existential crisis, you end up self-isolating long before the city of Los Angeles mandates it. My coronavirus co-quarantine result is an apartment-turned-shared-home-office between a graduate student (my boyfriend) and a social media editor (me) who attempt romance from six feet apart without leaving their loungewear. [...]

  • Sam Mendes Bong Joon Ho 1917

    Final Oscar Predictions: Who Will Win in the Major Categories?

    The 92nd Academy Awards are almost here… For films like “Joker” and “Marriage Story,” the journey to the Oscars began five months ago with their premieres in Venice. “1917” had the least amount of time on the campaign trail: The Sam Mendes war movie didn’t start screening until late November. In the end, however, it [...]

  • Harriet Movie BTS

    Academy Needs to Start Taking Chances With Noms; Rewards Will Follow (Column)

    Throughout its history, the Academy Awards has been subject to intense criticism for the issues it embraces — and ignores. This year’s uproar over the lack of diversity among nominations in the highest-profile awards categories is the latest example. This failure reflects a chronic dearth of opportunity at Hollywood’s top artistic and financial levels. The milestone nominations [...]

  • Baby Yoda The Mandolorian

    Media Giants Make Smaller Moves With an Eye Toward Future Gains in Streaming Era

    Maybe the empire can strike back. Or at least strike anew. Over the past few months, a number of developments have emerged for traditional media companies that indicate a spirit of reinvention and experimentation is spreading across the industry. There’s a new willingness to take a hard look at long-standing operations and make big and [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content