×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Fox Execs Peter Rice, Dana Walden, John Landgraf, Gary Knell Set to Join Disney

Top 21st Century Fox television executives Peter Rice, Dana Walden, John Landgraf, and Gary E. Knell are officially headed to the Magic Kingdom.

The Walt Disney Co. announced that Rice and Walden will come aboard to lead the conglomerate’s non-sports television operations. Rice has been named chairman, Walt Disney Television and co-chair, Disney Media Networks. Walden has been named chairman, Disney Television Studios and ABC Entertainment Landgraf will serve as Chairman of FX Networks and FX Productions. Knell will serve as Chairman of National Geographic Partners.

“The strength of 21st Century Fox’s first-class management talent has always been a compelling part of this opportunity for us,” said Robert A. Iger, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, The Walt Disney Company. “Upon completion of the acquisition, this new structure positions these proven leaders to help drive maximum value from a greatly enhanced portfolio of incredible brands and businesses.”

With the announcement, the leadership of Disney’s vastly important entertainment television unit is now coming into focus nine months after the company made official its plans to acquire the bulk of Fox’s film and TV business. In his new role, Rice will oversee ABC Television Network, ABC Studios, the ABC Owned Television Stations Group, Disney Channels, Freeform, Twentieth Century Fox Television, FX Networks and FX Productions, Fox 21 Television Studios, and the National Geographic channels. Walden, Landgraf, and Knell will report to him, as will Disney Channels Worldwide president and chief creative officer Gary Marsh and ABC News president James Goldston.

“I love making television and have been fortunate to work with incredibly talented executives and storytellers. Disney is the world’s preeminent creative company, and I look forward to working for Bob, and with his exceptional leadership team, to build on that amazing legacy,” Rice said. “I also want to thank Rupert, Lachlan and James Murdoch for the privilege of working on such a wide array of movies and television, both entertainment and sports. It has been a wonderful thirty years.”

Walden will head all of Disney’s TV-studio operations as well as broadcast network ABC and cable channel Freeform. Repoting to Walden will be ABC Entertainment president Channing Dungey, ABC Studios president Patrick Moran, 20th Century Fox Television presidents Jonathan Davis and Howard Kurtzman, Fox 21 Television Studios president Bert Salke, Freeform president Tom Ascheim, and ABC Owned TV Stations Group president Wendy McMahon.

For Walden and Rice, the move takes both from a longtime home. Before moving to the television side of the business in 2009 — and eventually being named president of 21st Century Fox — Rice rose through the company’s ranks as a feature-film executive. Walden came up at 20th Century Fox Television, eventually becoming co-head of the studio alongside Gary Newman. The execs were named co-CEOs of Fox Television Group, gaining oversight of Fox Broadcasting — in 2014. But by going to Disney, they stay with the business units they have spent years leading.

Rice has, since well before rumors of a Disney-Fox deal first surfaced late last year, long been seen as a potential successor to Disney CEO Robert Iger, whose contract runs through 2021. By bringing Rice and Walden aboard, Disney is effectively acknowledging the strength of Fox’s TV management.

Broadcast network ABC, the crown jewel of Disney’s non-sports TV business, has struggled in recent years. Last season saw the successful launch of a reboot of “American Idol,” revival of family comedy “Roseanne,” and premiere of high-rated freshman drama “The Good Doctor.” “Idol,” however, progressed through most of its first season on ABC clearing the low end of ratings expectations; the success of “Roseanne” was all but wiped away by racist remarks that led to star Roseanne Barr being jettisoned from the show, which is undergoing a title change for next season; and “The Good Doctor” was developed by Sony Pictures TV, not in-house ABC Studios, which last year lost its top creator Shonda Rhimes to Netflix.

Landgraf and Knell’s new positions keep them in place atop FX and National Geographic, respectively — and give them a degree of autonomy, as both will continue to report to Rice rather than be grouped into Walden’s channel and studio group.

The new execs will officially come aboard when Disney’s pending acquisition of the bulk of 21st Century Fox’s entertainment businesses. Ben Sherwood, currently co-chair of Disney Media Networks and president of Disney-ABC Television Group, will stay in place until after the deal closes — expected to happen early next year — to guide help with the transition. Sherwood’s departure from Disney had been expected since lat month, when Disney lost out in its bid for Sky News. With Rice long anticipated to take Sherwood’s current job post-merger, Sherwood had been eyeing an opportunity to lead enlarged Sky.

“I want to personally thank Ben Sherwood for his years of service at ABC and Disney,” Iger said. “Ben has been a valued colleague, and I deeply appreciate his many contributions and insights, as well as his professionalism and cooperation in this transition.”

With Walden’s exit, her longtime executive Gary Newman is expected to stay at Fox. Newman, as has been previously reported, is in the final stages of negotiations to remain at post-deal 21st Century Fox and lead Fox Broadcasting.

 

More TV

  • Mira Sorvino Rory Culkin

    TV News Roundup: Mira Sorvino, Rory Culkin Join Quibi Series 'Emma'

    In today’s TV news roundup, Quibi announces new cast members for horror series “Emma” and Nickelodeon renews “Blue’s Clues and You!”  CASTINGS Academy Award winner Mira Sorvino and Rory Culkin have been cast in supporting roles in Quibi’s latest horror series “Emma.” The two are joined by Hannah Murray (“Game of Thrones”) and Michael Gaston (“Man [...]

  • Emilia Clarke

    Emilia Clarke Says She's Been Pressured to Do Nude Scenes After 'Game of Thrones'

    Emilia Clarke revealed that she’s been pressured to do nude scenes on projects following her role as the occasionally nude Daenerys Targaryen on “Game of Thrones.” Now a seasoned actor, Clarke is quick to shut down producers who won’t respect her boundaries. “I’m a lot savvier with what I’m comfortable with, and what I am [...]

  • CBS Makes Streaming News Available to

    CBS Makes Streaming News Available to Affiliates

    Any news junkie in need of a live-Information fix can toggle on to any number of streaming news outlets. Now, TV stations affiliated with CBS can do the same. CBS News told affiliates in a memo Tuesday that it would allow them to use live coverage from its CBSN streaming-video hub to keep news events [...]

  • Baby Yoda The Mandalorian

    The Star of 'The Mandalorian:' Baby Yoda

    SPOILER ALERT: This story contains spoilers for the first two episodes of “The Mandalorian,” if wish to be surprised you do, only annoyance will you find.  BB-8 and the Ewoks can step aside with the latest expansion of the “Star Wars” universe with Disney Plus’s “The Mandalorian.” There’s a new addition to the long list [...]

  • Vikings S4 Finale

    'Vikings' Sequel Series Set at Netflix From Michael Hirst, Jeb Stuart

    Fans of the History series “Vikings” rejoice! Netflix has ordered the follow up series titled “Vikings: Valhalla,” which will be set 100 years after the conclusion of the original show. The sixth and final season of “Vikings” on History is set to debut on Dec. 4. “Valhalla” will be executive produced by “Vikings” creator Michael [...]

  • Olympics

    NBCUniversal Sets Molly Solomon to Oversee Olympics Production, Replacing Jim Bell

    NBC’s Tokyo Olympics has a new contestant. Molly Solomon, a veteran sports producer who has been with NBC since 1990, has been tapped as the new executive producer of NBCUniversal’s Olympics broadcast, one of the most important production jobs at the Comcast-owned media conglomerate. She begins her new role immediately, with just months to go [...]

  • Juliette Lewis, Christina Ricci Join Showtime

    Juliette Lewis, Christina Ricci Join Showtime 'Yellowjackets' Pilot

    Showtime’s “Yellowjackets” pilot is rounding out its cast. The network has announced that “Camping” star Juliette Lewis and original “Addams Family” actor Christina Ricci have boarded the project as series regulars, joining already announced cast members Melanie Lynskey, Tawny Cypress and Jasmin Savoy Brown. “Yellowjackets” tells the story of a team of talented high school [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content