When Rich Ross was promoted from Disney Television, he was moved to become Disney’s Motion Picture Group Chairman from the Disney Channel. On April 20th, 2012 Ross “resigned” from this job where his leadership of the Disney Movies really hobbled the production of features at the mothership to nearly nothing. The only feature which Disney Movies has in production/release slate today is Sam Raimi’s Ox: The Great and Powerful and Producer Jerry Bruckheimer and Director Gore Verbinski’s The Lone Ranger starring Johnny Depp. Every other upcoming Disney release is from operating units where others call the shots, i.e., Dreamworks, Marvel or Pixar/Disney Animated.
Ross had been an valuable person during his incredible Disney Channel regime, but after his Disney Studios short term he became a punchline at CinemaCon, the annual Las Vegas movie theater conference. Sascha Baron Cohen in full Dictator character mode said “Is that chewing gum underneath your seat? Certainly they are not plastic explosives, Trust me, there are bigger bombs than ‘John Carter.’ Just shoot the executive behind that. Oh — wait, you did.”
An important thing to keep in context is the brain drain that big entertainment companies undergo when they go through regime changes often adrift in the wrong direction.
- Jeffrey Katzenberg was an amazing #2 at Disney with his partnership with Michael Eisner, however the biggest achilles heel of Eisner was his getting rid of Katzenberg who has gone on to fantastic success with Dreamworks Animation.
- Michael Ovitz was brought on by Michael Eisner to succeed Katzenberg, but in control issues and fear of giving up too much power, similarly Ovitz ended up leaving Disney.
So, where exactly does this leave Disney Television? Well, Rich Ross had incredible success in cable TV. It would be a shame for Disney to lose his vision and his being in their team because he didn’t work out at Disney Motion Picture Group. One of the craziest and blindingly stupid things for a major corporation to do is take incredibly talented people and put them into different business units expecting them to replicate their prior success in a different arena, i.e. Ross’s move from TV to Movies.
Now Bob Iger has been running Disney in good fashion, the TV/Cable networks are sitting pretty and in a bad economy the theme parks are doing well. Iger recently announced he will step down in three years and its well known that he has political aspirations. Essentially Iger’s asked Ross to step down within two years and is rumored to want to wash his hands of the situation. Now is probably a smart time for Iger to rectify the moves quickly and stabilize the company soundly.
Why not help end the vicious cycle of taking stellar talent and bouncing them out of a company when they can be placed back where they are brilliant? Iger would be an amazing leader if he righted both moves, to either put a new team in place at Disney Motion Picture Group where many are rumored to be considered for the leadership positions, or potentially bring someone successful back. Rich Ross ought to be considered a valuable person to Disney and kept in the fold. That would be the right thing to do in this situation as the history of the business is replete with examples of amazing people moving on to other companies where they have great success.
So shouldn’t Iger position Disney TV for more success by keeping Ross? Definitely. Corporations ought to have a policy in place that would allow them to take these risky moves for promotion and if things don’t work out, sliding that executive back to the area they thrived.
Now, when Ross came into the movie division he made plenty of outside moves which had been very controversial, especially when he had a big shadow to take over from, the esteemed Disney lifer, Dick Cook who had literally started as the Monorail operator at Disneyland and lived and breathed Disney. There are plenty of people vying for the new chairmanship opening, nothing would make Bob Iger more of a mensch than re-appointing Dick back to his old job. Perhaps with an all-star executive team which could round out the executive team.
If Iger could right the Disney Motion Picture Group and stabilize it beyond buying Marvel, Pixar and the release of Dreamworks features, he could cement his legacy as a solid leader.
- Peace, Love & Apple Pie © 2012 PeaceLoveApplePie.com