Dick Cook's Exit from Disney Leaves Johnny Depp Worried
Yesterday Nikki Finke and THR confirmed that Walt Disney Studios chairman Dick Cook was stepping down after working at the company for 38 years. For those not familiar with him, Dick Cook was one of the best executives to run that company in recent years. He established numerous beneficial connections and was a friend to many powerful people. It was a shocking and surprising announcement and no one knows who will replace him yet (which is also a big concern). However, his sudden departure may have quite an impact, as it seems there might already be a backlash in the industry that may hurt the studio in big ways.
We've already started to see producers and filmmakers around town expressing their sadness. Indiana Jones producer Frank Marshall said on Twitter: "Woke up to find Dick Cook has resigned from Disney. One of the most respected and classy executives in town. I will miss our breakfasts." Nikki Finke got an update from Disney insiders saying: "I hear that Steven Spielberg is devastated by the news of Dick Cook's ouster. Dick was a major reason why Spielberg and Stacey Snider brought the new DreamWorks to Disney. 'Steven worships Dick,' an insider told me tonight." But one of the most upset individuals is not a producer or a director, but rather an actor, and a very big one at Disney - Johnny Depp.
The LA Times' Claudia Eller caught up with Depp in London the night the news broke. Depp was "shocked and very sad" to hear about the abrupt departure of Cook, whom he called "the sweetest man on the planet and such a gent." They were so close that Cook even called Depp hours before to alert him that this news was coming. "He is the utmost gentleman, so he made the call himself." But now he's not so sure about working on the next Pirates movie, to be titled Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, without Cook around. "There's a fissure, a crack in my enthusiasm at the moment," Depp said. "It was all born in that office."
Word is that producer Jerry Bruckheimer is going to reestablish his relationship at Disney without Cook (and with whomever they get to replace him) and in the meantime somehow attempt to convince Depp to stay onboard. Everyone knows there really can't be a Pirates of the Caribbean movie without Johnny Depp. It's just fascinating to see all of this unfold in a matter of days. I was personally a strong supporter of Dick Cook as well, having seen him at big Disney presentations in-person multiple times. It really is unfortunate to see him go and I really don't know who would do a better job replacing him. What will happen next?