Following Disney’s executive shakeup last week, new TV chief Dana Walden sent a memo to Disney General Entertainment staffers to officially kick off her tenure after Peter Rice’s exit.
The note detailed the success of DGE’s recent multiplatform efforts across the programming brands Walden now oversees while outlining her ambitions as she settles in to her new role.
“I promise you that I will do everything I can to support you and make sure that DGE is the best place in the business to work,” Walden wrote. “A place that thrives on creativity and creative risk-taking; a place where people can bring their authentic, true selves to work every day; a place where inclusion is top priority and collaboration is celebrated; and a place where we will never stop working to be the very best home for talent.”
Much of the entertainment industry was caught off-guard by Disney CEO Bob Chapek’s decision to move on from Rice, who has worked closely with Walden for years. It turns out that Walden herself was surprised by the news and she wished her former colleague well in the memo.
“I am very fortunate to have worked alongside Peter Rice for a long time,” Walden wrote. “We have been friends for almost three decades and he was my boss for eight years. He is a gifted executive, and I learned a lot from him. I know you all join me in wishing him the best in whatever he chooses to do next.”
Walden’s first official communication as one of the most powerful executives in television emphasized celebrating wins throughout the Disney ecosystem, watching one another’s shows, and connecting as a team. She underscored this theme by highlighting recent wins for ABC Entertainment (shouting out “Abbot Elementary” in particular, ABC News, Disney Television Studios, Disney Branded Television, Freeform, FX, Hulu Originals, National Geographic Documentary Films, Onyx Collective, and the company’s 1,000 award nominations across all programming brands last year.
She also expressed appreciation to Chapek for the new opportunity. “Through quarterly content presentations, where our talented leaders have shared each brand’s priorities, he has become well connected to the dazzling work being done by each team,” Walden wrote. “Bob is enormously proud of what we do, and as The Walt Disney Company enters its second century, I look forward to joining forces with all of you to help deliver on his priorities: storytelling excellence, innovation, and a relentless focus on our audience.”