BREAKING… EXCLUSIVE… UPDATE: Few Hollywood business executives have as distinguished a record of success as Richard Nanula. Now Deadline has learned from Colony Capital that the former Walt Disney Company SEVP/CFO has taken an unexpected leave of absence for personal reasons from the investment firm where he is a Principal and Miramax, where he actively manages that entertainment banner’s strategy. There is no return date pending, which indicates his future with both companies is being left open. Nanula is now the second major movie/TV executive this year alleged to have crossed the line between personal and professional behavior because of a private sex scandal. In March, Hearst Entertainment & Syndication President Scott Sassa left after his company became aware of an extortion plot and sexting scandal involving a stripper. Nanula’s surprise leave of absence comes nearly two weeks after Deadline began receiving tips that TheDirty.com was identifying Nanula in online photos having sex with a porn star. That post now appears to have been removed by the website. But Deadline learned that another website, GenesisOnline, re-posted the story and screen shots under the headline Ex Disney Exec Shoots a Porno with Wicked Contract Girl Samantha Saint on June 18th and made allegations it had related “old texts” involving Nanula. (Deadline did not write about the online stories at the time because it doesn’t post about personal lives.)
Nanula received recognition when Deadline was first to report that he was putting Tom Barrack’s Santa Monica-based Colony Capital into the entertainment business by mapping out the strategy for 2010’s $663M acquisitions of Miramax’s valuable library. Nanula bested former Miramax owners Harvey and Bob Weinstein even though they were funded by billionaire Ron Burkle in a big bidding battle when Disney put Miramax on the block. Barrack at the time was extremely pleased with Nanula’s enterprising work and praised him to the skies.
Nanula then looked into putting Miramax back into the producing business and widened its reach to overseas. Since then, one of Colony’s partners in the deal, Ron Tutor, has been pushed out. So was controversial adviser David Bergstein, who then in April 2012 filed a lawsuit claiming he was shoved aside after the Miramax sale against Nanula as well as Colony Capital and Tutor’s Filmyard Holdings. Nanula has guided Miramax as chairman after his handpicked executive to the indie, former CEO Mike Lang, departed in March 2012. Since then, Qatar Investment Authority, the sovereign wealth fund which helped back Colony’s acquisition of Miramax, has reportedly expressed frustration that Miramax has not grown more. Certainly it has occupied a low-key position within Hollywood in the past 18 months after a flurry of initial media announcements.
Nanula joined Colony Capital in January 2008 and shared responsibility for the firm’s global operations, with an official focus on operating company transactions. Before joining Colony, Nanula was EVP and CFO of Amgen Inc for six years, and before that was chairman/CEO of the internet company Broadband Sports. He’d also served as president/COO of Starwood Hotels and Resorts in New York. But Nanula is best known for his Disney tenure under Chairman/CEO Michael Eisner from 1986 to 1998, rising to the high profile post of SEVP and CFO. He also served as President of Disney Stores Worldwide and Corporate Treasurer, among many other roles.