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Hollywood Insider Dana Walden Could Be Next CEO Of Disney

hollywood-insider-dana-walden-could-be-next-ceo-of-disney
Hollywood Insider Dana Walden Could Be Next CEO Of Disney

The Walt Disney Company may be on the verge of picking its first female head in its century-long history: Disney Entertainment co-chairman Dana Walden.

Walden, 59, is on the shortlist to replace Bob Iger, 73, as Disney’s CEO, and she may be the first choice, according to CNBC. Iger, who retired from the company in 2021, was replaced as CEO in 2020 by Bob Chapek. Iger took his place back at the head of the company after Chapek was fired in 2022.

Walden is a longtime entertainment industry executive with deep ties to Hollywood and a reputation for an impeccable sense for what will sell in the world of television. When she was at Fox, her division made hits such as “24,” “Homeland,” and “How I Met Your Mother.” Since moving to Disney, she’s been instrumental in the creation of shows such as “The Bear” and “Only Murders in the Building.”

In addition to her experience in entertainment, Iger is reported to want to tap Walden to succeed him in part because he wants to have a role in Disney naming its first-ever female CEO. He also wants to rectify his previous pick Chapek, which he now regrets and sees as a mistake, according to CNBC.

Walden also has her critics, however, with some questioning her business acumen and ability to transition from her time in entertainment to being the head of and international corporation with many different facets, such as prestigious parks and resorts.

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“She’ll be eaten up by real investors,” one person told CNBC. “Does she have the necessary depth of business knowledge? She can learn, but you can’t have someone teach you decades of finance, business and tactics in a year or two.”

Others have dismissed criticism of Walden as misogynistic.

“There’s something about looking at female execs where questions are asked that would never be asked of men,” Amazon Studios head Jennifer Salke, who previously worked with Walden, said. “Can they scale? Can a creative person be a business leader? I find that to be a huge bugaboo. She’s in charge of billions of dollars of assets, but she’s not capable of being a business leader?”

Iger retook the CEO role at Disney after a tumultuous two years at the company under Chapek, which saw the company get into a high-profile feud with Florida Governor Ron DeSantis over a piece of legislation that banned sexual orientation and gender identity lessons for young students. Disney publicly denounced the bill. In return, DeSantis stripped Disney of special privileges it had enjoyed on about 25,000 acres that housed the company’s landmark Disney World theme parks and resorts.

Florida and Disney settled a legal battle over the special district last month.

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