Cook ouster: A vote for fan, and company, interaction
Dick Cook’s ouster late last week caught many off guard, but apparently boiled down to irreconcilable differences: Cook wasn’t collaborative enough with colleagues and his division was perceived to operating as an island from the rest of the company. This issue came to a head when the movie chief kept the rest of the company in the dark about the big guests he had lined up for the company’s D23 expo.
The Daily Beast’s Kim Masters suggested his ouster was the end of an era. I agree, but not necessarily for the same reasons. At the D23 event, which I covered for The Wrap, Iger talked about the need to nurture fan connection to the Disney brand. The event was designed to give fans a sneak peak at coming attractions in the expectation they would share that info online.
Iger, one of the most savvy technologists in Hollywood, seems to be taking a page out of the Silicon Valley playbook, encouraging outside interaction with the company. The explosion of social media, and before that music file sharing, has shown the hunger for that form of engagement; traditional media ignores that at its peril, as the record biz and newspaper owners can testify.
I thought of all this while reading an advance copy of Ken Auletta’s “Googled.” In the opening chapter he tells the story of Mel Karmazin’s visit to the search giant’s campus in 2003: The Google guys favored targeted ads based on data, while the then-Viacom exec prized salesmanship and mystique. According to Auletta’s book, he told the Google engineers, “You’re fucking with the magic!”
In this day of splintered media and information overloads, Hollywood can no longer rely on mystique. Nor can studios act as their own fiefdoms; those days are long gone.