Kareem Daniel Exits Disney As Bob Iger Sets Restructuring Of Media And Entertainment Distribution Division

Kareem Daniel is exiting Disney as head of its Media and Entertainment Distribution division, one day after the ouster of CEO Bob Chapek.

Newly reappointed CEO Bob Iger disclosed the news in a letter to employees this afternoon (read it in full below). Iger said he has tasked Dana Walden, Alan Bergman, Jimmy Pitaro and Christine McCarthy to design “a new structure that puts more decision-making back in the hands of our creative teams and rationalizes costs.” That initiative, he added, “will necessitate a reorganization of Disney Media & Entertainment Distribution.” Walden, Bergman and Pitato are chairs of Disney General Entertainment Content, Disney Studios Content ESPN and sports content, respectively. McCarthy is Chief Financial Officer of the Walt Disney Co.

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Since the surprise ouster of Chapek, Daniel’s mentor within Disney, major changes to DMED had been expected both inside the company and among industry observers. The creation of a distribution hub, which controlled P&Ls and decision-making for all divisions, frustrated many veteran execs as well as notable members of the creative community. In stark contrast to the Iger era, when decentralization flourished, the governing idea of Chapek’s creation of DMED was to streamline the process of creating the optimal release plan for all film and TV titles, in theory minimizing internal friction. In Daniel, detractors say, the effort was headed by a business-minded exec who hadn’t developed extensive experience in overseeing film and TV slates.

Here is Iger’s full memo:

Dear DMED Employees,

As we embark on the transformative work that I mentioned to you in my email last night, I want to begin by offering my sincere appreciation and gratitude to each and every one of you.

Over the coming weeks, we will begin implementing organizational and operating changes within the company. It is my intention to restructure things in a way that honors and respects creativity as the heart and soul of who we are. As you know, this is a time of enormous change and challenges in our industry, and our work will also focus on creating a more efficient and cost-effective structure.

I’ve asked Dana Walden, Alan Bergman, Jimmy Pitaro, and Christine McCarthy to work together on the design of a new structure that puts more decision-making back in the hands of our creative teams and rationalizes costs, and this will necessitate a reorganization of Disney Media & Entertainment Distribution. As a result, Kareem Daniel will be leaving the company, and I hope you will all join me in thanking him for his many years of service to Disney. 

Our goal is to have the new structure in place in the coming months. Without question, elements of DMED will remain, but I fundamentally believe that storytelling is what fuels this company, and it belongs at the center of how we organize our businesses. 

This is a moment of great change and opportunity for our company as we begin our second century, and I am so proud to be leading this team again. I can’t say it enough: I’m incredibly grateful for the tremendous work you do each day, and for your commitment to maintaining the level of excellence Disney has always been known for.

I know change can be unsettling, but it is also necessary and even energizing, and so I ask for your patience as we develop a roadmap for this restructuring. More information will be shared over the coming weeks. Until a new structure is put in place, we will continue to operate under our existing structure. In the meantime, I hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday, and thank you again for all you do.


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