UPDATE: Walden Media has just issued the press release. See below.
Geez, what took so long? After all, CEO Cary Granat had been marginalized there for almost the entire year by David Weil, the CEO of Anschutz Film Group which is Walden Media’s parent company. “They had gotten along and then things started to go awry. The two men went in opposite directions,” a source tells me. Granat, whose name has been synonymous with Walden Media since 2001, should be out the door no later than the end of the year. He’d been hanging on by a thread since last January when Walden Media let go many staffers (like head of production Alex Schwartz and Executive VP Jackie Levine as well as the physical production department, public relations staff, music staff, legal staff, etc.). After that, the Walden Media co-founder retained his CEO title and oversaw physical production, marketing, and existing franchises. But Weil was firmly holding the reins. Granat was in charge of the disappointing Narnia 2, but now still can’t get a greenlight for Narnia 3. Which may well explain why “he feels like he did when he left Dimension: I’m done,” an insider explains to me. Sticking around for now is Granat’s longtime pal Michael Bostick, the film producer announced as the new co-CEO of Walden Media last March, whom Granat had actively recruited and reports to Weil. Bostick’s hiring followed an extensive executive search during which the job was offered to both Nina Jacobson and Colin Calender. But they weren’t willing to put up with the weirdness at Walden Media as it pertained to Granat. (Though Calender is footloose.) The real question now: what is the future of Walden Media? Is yet another buyer going down the tubes in this lousy economy? Hard to imagine considering Anschutz still has dough. Until recently, all of Walden Media’s movies had been shared with Disney, Fox or Summit. But in October, Fox Walden became part of Fox, and about a dozen Fox Walden staffers would be laid off as part of a restructuring. And Granat’s name was nowhere on that press release — only Weil’s.
1 PM: Here’s the official Walden Media announceent about Granat’s exit:
(Los Angeles – November 14, 2008) – Cary Granat, Co-CEO and co-founder of Walden Media, will transition from his Walden position to a consultant for the company effective December 1. Granat will be Walden’s creative consultant on the third installment in THE CHRONICLES OF NARNIA franchise – VOYAGE OF THE DAWN TREADER- which the company hopes to greenlight soon. He will also provide consulting services for an initiative with AEG Live, the concert and promotion company owned by Phil Anschutz who also owns Walden.
“This was a mutual decision,” said David Weil, CEO of Anschutz Film Group, Walden’s parent company. “Cary and we both felt this was the right way to formalize the change in the company’s creative direction that will now be overseen by Michael Bostick who was brought in as Co-CEO of Walden earlier this year. We all owe Cary a great debt of gratitude for co-founding the company and guiding the Walden brand to its preeminent place in family entertainment today.”
“I’m extremely proud of what we’ve accomplished in my seven years at Walden. We have been very fortunate, with the unparalleled support of Phil Anschutz, David Weil and the entire team here to create family entertainment that will last for generations. It’s time for me to hit the recharge button and take on a new challenge, but I’ll always look back fondly on my time at Walden.”
Granat will not be replaced and his responsibilities at Walden will now be handled by Weil and Bostick. Granat expects to announce additional future plans shortly.