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Help Wanted: Amazon, ESPN Hunt for New CEOs

Amazon is known for its speedy delivery of all manner of items. But the tech giant has moved at a snail’s pace in the search for a boss to take the helm of its Amazon Studios division.

The e-tailer’s hunt is just one of a handful of CEO dramas unfolding in 2018 that will be closely watched in the industry. Amazon’s decision on a new leader for its entertainment unit is expected to come sometime in January — more than two months after Roy Price was forced out as president of Amazon Studios amid sexual-harassment allegations and criticism of his management style. More execs have followed him out the door, so the new boss have a lot of rebuilding to do.

ESPN is just getting started on a CEO recruiting drive initiated by another hasty exit. After six years at the top, John Skipper shocked the sports and media world by resigning Dec. 18 due to what he described as “substance addiction.” ESPN’s opening is among a host of top-level shuffling expected as Disney prepares to integrate 21st Century Fox film and TV assets — so long as the government doesn’t stand in the way of the media marriage.

The megadeal that rocked Hollywood has left James Murdoch in “situations wanted” mode, with Disney chief Bob Iger saying only that the two will discuss potential roles for him in the combined company down the road. Fox patriarch Rupert Murdoch, meanwhile, has dropped hints that his son Lachlan, Fox exec chairman, will lead the remodeled Fox after the Disney transaction is complete.

Amazon’s search has been conducted in a fishbowl, reflecting the industry’s keen interest in the fate of a company that’s spending billions of dollars on original film and TV productions and acquired content. Speculation about candidates has been rampant. Fox’s Dana Walden and Stacey Snider, producers Nina Jacobson and Amy Pascal, Annapurna’s Sue Naegle and YouTube’s Susanne Daniels are among the names that have been most talked about.

“It’s a better show than anything Amazon has on the air right now,” quipped one industryite of the company’s upheaval.

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