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Peter Rice Says Goodbye to Staff Following Surprise Dismissal

Rice’s departure from Disney was announced Thursday

Peter Rice, head of Disney’s entertainment and TV programming, said goodbye to his staff a final memo, obtained by TheWrap, that follow the news earlier in the day that he had been dismissed.

CEO of Disney Bob Chapek let Rice go. Dana Walden, Chairman of Walt Disney Television, will replace him.

Rice regularly sent his staff into the weekend with celebratory emails praising the work they did in the past week, whether it was a big movie premiere or another kind of achievement.

His last “weekend read” went out Thursday.

“I am incredibly sad that this will be the last “weekend read” that I will be sending you. It has been such a pleasure and a privilege to work alongside each of you here at Disney and many of you at 21st Century Fox,” Rice’s message began.

“I am so proud of the work we have done together, the friendships we have forged and the consistent success we have celebrated. We have the honor of working in the world’s greatest and most creative industry at a time of enormous change,” the letter continued. In the midst of this, together we have created amazing and award-winning television shows and I am eternally grateful for your kindness and generosity on the journey.”

The news of Rice’s dismissal came as a surprise to many after Disney announced that Walden, Rice’s second in command, would replace him in a statement that failed to acknowledge Rice’s contributions.

“As I depart Disney, may I leave you with a last thought: remain committed to excellence and always recognize that our stories are dependent upon the imagination and artistry of the writers, directors, producers, actors, and craftsman that we have engaged to call Disney home,” Rice added. “It has been so much fun to collaborate with them to bring their ideas to life. So, while I will no longer be riding along beside you, I wish you happy trails and hope that our paths will cross again.”

Rice’s contract, which was renewed last August, ran until the end of 2024 and the company is expected to pay it out, according to an individual with knowledge of the situation. The payout is expected to be significant, according to one agent. Rice was viewed by many as a potential successor to Chapek if the Disney board wanted to make a change.

Chapek’s contract will wrap in February of next year, leading some to think he may have viewed the outgoing Rice as a threat to his position.

Rice’s full email, as obtained by TheWrap, can be read below:

Hi everyone:

I am incredibly sad that this will be the last “weekend read” that I will be sending you. It has been such a pleasure and a privilege to work alongside each of you here at Disney and many of you at 21st Century Fox.

I am so proud of the work we have done together, the friendships we have forged and the consistent success we have celebrated. We have the honor of working in the world’s greatest and most creative industry at a time of enormous change. In the midst of this, together we have created amazing and award-winning television shows and I am eternally grateful for your kindness and generosity on the journey.

As I depart Disney, may I leave you with a last thought: remain committed to excellence and always recognize that our stories are dependent upon the imagination and artistry of the writers, directors, producers, actors, and craftsman that we have engaged to call Disney home. It has been so much fun to collaborate with them to bring their ideas to life.

So, while I will no longer be riding along beside you, I wish you happy trails and hope that our paths will cross again.

Warmly and with gratitude,

Peter

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