Saturday, September 19, 2009

Richard Cook's Quick Goodbye

As a commenter noted below, after four decades at the Disney Co., Mr. Cook is shown the door.

... A person close to Cook said the movie chief "didn't see it coming." He was summoned into a meeting and was told the studio "wanted to go in a different direction," said the person. A Disney spokesperson denied the report.

But in a meeting Friday with colleagues, Cook described himself as "a square peg in a round hole," three people said.

The first evidence of discontent bubbled to the surface in a conference call with analysts in May, when Iger described the studio's performance as "disappointing" -- and placed the blame on Burbank's doorstep, criticizing the choice of films and the execution. Cook's departure comes nearly three weeks after Disney agreed to buy comic-book publisher Marvel Entertainment, producer of the "Spider-Man" and "Iron Man" movies, for $4 billion.

I know Dick Cook not at all. I met and shook hands with him in the lobby of the Frank Wells Building a while back; beyond that I have never laid eyes on him.

But it doesn't surprise me that he got blindsided and ushered out in the way he did; that's the way the game is played in Tinsel Town. You don't see eye to eye with the Top Dog, then pretty quickly somebody comes to your office with a stack of cardboard boxes ... and you are told curtly to "clean out your desk."

From what the media is saying, and what I've been hearing, Dick Cook and Robert Iger did not see eye to eye. A couple of years back a Disney Animation supervisor informed me that Mr. Cook had told him that the Disney purchase of Pixar was too rich, and shouldn't have been done.

If this is true (and obviously I'm dealing here with second-hand hearsay), then it's kind of obvious the Disney executive suite held differences of opinion. (And that Robet Iger knew about the differences.) It wouldn't surprise me if Mr. Cook was not thrilled with the Marvel pick up.

And so Dick "round peg in square hole" Cook is now exiting the Burbank lot. Under the circumstances it's hardly surprising. The Disney Film Group's performance was down, the two men didn't agree, so adios to the second in command.

Happy retirement, Dick. Thirty-eight years is a long ride. Especially in this day and age.


Anonymous said...

On the other hand the NY Times says "[Cook] was a crucial player when it came to persuading Steven P. Jobs and others to bring Pixar into the Disney fold."


Maybe he was for it before he was against it?

Anonymous said...

You can bet Pixar's not at all happy about this. Neither is Spielberg and his minion stacy snider. Let's hope the person who replaces him can bring to the job what Dick did.

Bad form, Iger.

Floyd Norman said...


One step forward -- and two steps backward.

Anonymous said...

This might have been a negotiating point for the Mrvel purchase. Cook out, Feige in. I can see Feige's ego thinking he could do the job...

Anonymous said...

35 years at the same company? What, did he hide under his desk like George Castanza? I want to know how the man did it, please tell me. Nikki stumbles over herself to report on the careers of CEO's and producers like they were celebrities. God forbid you might actually draw for a living and last a tiny fraction as long as old Dick did. I shed no tears for the nameless whoz-zit whats-his-name monorail driver. Why the hell don't they promote the caricature artists at the park? What's with that shit?

Steve Hulett said...

the NY Times says "[Cook] was a crucial player when it came to persuading Steven P. Jobs and others to bring Pixar into the Disney fold."


Maybe he was for it before he was against it?

Maybe he was being a good soldier. Or maybe my information from a disgruntled Mouseketeer was wrong.

Anonymous said...

"It wouldn't surprise me if Mr. Cook was not thrilled with the Marvel pick up."

How did Cook feel about the Muppet purchase? That was much lamer.

Anonymous said...

Cook was interested in developing new talent and new ideas. Iger is more interested in buying pre-sold stuff. It's just not that easy, and Iger will rue the day he did this. I smell an Eisner like ouster coming soon.

Anonymous said...

it happens to everyone at some point regardless of how big you think you are in the corporate machine. eventually it comes down to where do you really want to be and what do you really want to do. maybe Dick wasn't happy with some of the recent decisions the company made and can see a different direction coming that he may not want to be a part of.

Anonymous said...

Of course, it's sad to see someone like him go off into what must be a tragically under-funded retirement, but was his track record really that great?

Anonymous said...

Let's not get too carried away here.

Dick Cook didn't feel traditional animation had a future at Disney Animation. "Princess and the Frog" was done over his protest.

At a recent (mostly) finished screening, he admitted to Lasetter that he had been wrong. Which is nice, I suppose--at least he admitted it.

But when Lasseter talks about executives who believed that the medium was dead, rather than a bad bunch of stories, he's talking about Dick Cook!

I'm not saying he's a bad person. In fact, he was probably the most "human" of all the heads of Hollywood studios. But geez, there's no real reason to overly lionize the guy.

Anonymous said...

Of course, it's sad to see someone like him go off into what must be a tragically under-funded retirement...


Royce Mathew said...

My name is Royce Mathew. I have the following information for you regarding Dick Cook's abrupt dismissal at Disney. I believe this all ties into my lawsuit and filings of fraud, corruption and criminal acts within the Walt Disney Company.

1) As was verified during the legal proceedings, this serious matter particularly involves past and current Disney employees Michael D. Eisner, Dick Cook, Nina Jacobson, Marty Sklar, Jason Surrell, Ted Elliott and Terry Rossio. It also involves Robert Iger and the Walt Disney Company board of directors failure and refusal to respond.

2) Dick Cook & Nina Jacboson are the ones who brought in writers Ted Elliott & Terry Rossio for the Pirates of the Caribbean movie. Eventually, it is evident that via Ted Elliott and Terry Rossio that my supernatural pirate story is being plagiarized for Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean movie.

3) In 2006, Nina Jacobson was abruptly fired several days after I went to re-file my lawsuit. She was in the hospital with her partner, who was giving birth when they abruptly fired her. This information is found in many noted newspapers. (Google it).

4) June 1, 2009 - A key notification letter demanding investigations into the evident criminal acts within the Walt Disney Company was sent to the Walt Disney Company’s board of directors including Bob Iger. Then suddenly, Disney announced that they were rushing Pirates 4 into production. Then several days before Disney's D23 expo, one of my letters which had demanded investigations was sent to various entities/individuals. Then days later, Dick Cook was dismissed.

5) With photo proof of fraud and corruption, such as the Art of Walt Disney World book, as detailed on the website www., and all of my detailing correspondence reaching the right people, Bob Iger is evidently now feeling the collective heat and pressured by certain powerful people who are rightfully questioning Disney's documented criminal acts.

I welcome all communications and interviews.

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