Disney's search for marketing president has Hollywood abuzz
It's been the hottest topic of conversation in Hollywood all week, but when it comes to who will be Walt Disney Studios' new president of marketing, it appears writer William Goldman's maxim still holds: Nobody knows anything.
As of late Thursday, however, the word from people close to Disney and the industry's tight-knit community of marketing executives was that a candidate with experience in movie marketing who works at another studio will decamp very soon to the house that Walt built. The person will take the job vacated this week by MT Carney. Carney, a surprise choice with no movie marketing experience, was picked by Disney's then-new Chairman Rich Ross in April 2010.
Many in Hollywood are still scratching their heads, however, over who will get one of the most powerful and presumably most coveted jobs in the entertainment industry.
Speculation has centered on several likely candidates, including marketing presidents at other studios, such as Sony Pictures' Marc Weinstock, Paramount Pictures' Josh Greenstein and Warner Bros.' Sue Kroll; experienced marketing executives who are in between jobs, such as Peter Adee, most recently of Relativity Media, and Gerry Rich, formerly of Paramount Pictures; and studio marketing executives who would be stepping up to the top marketing job, such as Blair Rich, Warner Bros.' executive vice president of worldwide marketing, Dwight Caines, Sony Pictures' digital marketing president, and Michael Moses, Universal Pictures' marketing co-president.
However, it appears that none of those folks are headed to Disney, according to knowledgeable people who were not authorized to speak publicly on the matter.
One name that kept surfacing throughout the day was Bob Harper, who used to run marketing at 20th Century Fox and most recently co-headed New Regency with Hutch Parker. Both executives recently left the production company founded by Arnon Milchan. Harper could not be reached for comment Thursday, though several people who know him said he had just signed a consulting deal with Fox and has no real interest in going back to a full-time studio marketing gig.
Even filmmakers who work with Disney have not been informed of Ross' selection, though they have been assured it won't be a repeat of Carney -- a Hollywood outsider who had to learn the sometimes Byzantine ways of movie marketing. At the same time, Ross is said to be seeking an executive with some knowledge of and experience in the world of digital marketing, continuing Walt Disney Co. Chief Executive Bob Iger's mandate to reinvent the film studio for the age of Facebook, Twitter and iPhones.
A Disney spokesman declined to comment.
-- Ben Fritz
Photo: Walt Disney Studios chairman Rich Ross. Credit: Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times.