And Hollywood hates surprises.
The genial Cook who began his Mouse career as a Disneyland ride operator gave little reason for his decision, merely saying "I have been contemplating this for some time now and feel it's the right time for me to move on to new adventures … and in the words of one of my baseball heroes, Yogi Berra, 'If you come to a fork in the road, take it.'" But Friday night, the town and the internet were abuzz with speculation focusing on Disney Boss Robert Iger's unhappiness with the studio's recent lackluster performance.
Variety's quasi-official rendition noted, "The studio's most recent movies, like "Race to Witch Mountain," "Bedtime Stories" and "Confessions of a Shopaholic" have been disappointments and CEO Bob Iger expressed unhappiness with the studio's slate in a conference call with Wall Street analysts in May."
The LA Times repeated this theme adding, "Internally, Iger was growing increasingly frustrated with Cook's management style, people familiar with the situation said, citing Cook's tendency to play his cards close to the vest."
The LA Times also captured the despair of Johnny Depp, star of Disney's Pirates films. In the item, Depp "said his enthusiasm for a fourth Pirates movie has waned with the news of Cook's exit." Hard to imagine that anyone's enthusiasm for the tiredest mess of a franchise currently afloat could ever wane, but without the right man in the front office, somehow the fun of robbing hundreds of millions of film fans of their popcorn money loses its luster.
Nikki Finke, just "out of the hospital" claims the story as an "exclusive." And indeed her item is timestamped 5:03, so if the stamp is accurate, it was posted a good five minutes before five minutes before Variety's and a full 14 minutes before the LA Times' piece. So for five minutes, Nikki Finke readers were the only people in America who knew about Cook's departure, and presumably the executive who will be named his replacement used that critical window to maneuver brilliantly, sending Robert Iger a fruit basket and a card telling him how much he loves Willow's Huff Post Living Now section, while the Variety reading executives sat at their desks clearing off another game of mine sweeper.
Nikki adds the news that Cook was "blindsided" by the firing, and morally outraged that it would come on Rosh Hashanah. She also adds Steven Speilberg, who just moved his production company to Disney, to the list of people who are very, very upset. Nikki says the news is "playing very badly" on the Disney lot. And you know what happens to news that plays badly on the Disney lot...Well, nothing actually.
The Wrap assures us that Oren Aviv, President of Buena Vista will not be Cook's replacement, and speculates that either Pixar Chief John Lasseter may be positioned for another step up the ladder.