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Disney Channel's Rich Ross headed to the movies

Jl73jpncRICHROSS Disney Channel chief Rich Ross will figure prominently in the new management structure at Walt Disney Studios following the ouster of former studio Chairman Dick Cook, according to people close to the situation.

It is unclear whether Walt Disney Co. Chief Executive Bob Iger will discuss Ross' appointment with the company's board of directors at their regularly scheduled meeting tomorrow on the Burbank lot. People believe the announcement could come as soon as next week.

Iger hasn't commented publicly about his plans for the studio, but industry observers speculate he may divvy up Cook's job among two or more executives.

A Disney spokeswoman declined comment.  

Ross' departure from Disney Channel, which he built over the last dozen years into a tween programming juggernaut that reaches nearly 100 million U.S. households, would leave a new management void that would need to be filled in short order.

A person familiar with Iger's thinking said the Disney chief, in naming a new studio head, is looking to create an openness that didn't exist under Cook.  

Iger has been publicly critical of the studio's movie picks and the high cost of some of the films, including Jerry Bruckheimer's money-losing summer 3-D family movie, "G-Force." The studio's most recent big-budget release, "Surrogates," starring Bruce Willis, debuted last weekend with a paltry $14.9 million.

This weekend, the company re-releases Pixar Animation's two "Toy Story" movies in 3-D in a two-week run, followed by the reissue of "Tim Burton's The Nightmare Before Christmas" later this month.  

--Claudia Eller and Dawn C. Chmielewski

Photo: Rich Ross, left, president of Disney Channel pictured with "High School Musical" director and choreographer Kenny Ortega. Credit: Myung J.Chun / Los Angeles Times

 
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