EXCLUSIVE: I’m told Disney/ABC is, gulp, may be finally ready to start pinkslipping studio and network showbiz execs as part of the fallout from the January merger of ABC Entertainment and ABC Media Studios. “Steve McPherson has been having a series of closed door meetings over the last two weeks,” one of my sources says. On the other hand, it wouldn’t be the first time Hollywood changed plans because of bad publicity. Yet even with pilots casting, reading, shooting, and in post, I hear McPherson was skedded to leave for a week-plus trip to NYC to “meet with sales.” Most think he’s getting out of town when the ax comes down in order to avoid witnessing the bloodbath he created. Which would be contemptible enough even if he hadn’t publicly scolded Ben Silverman to “be a man” when their mutual friend Kevin Reilly was fired at NBC Entertainment with no advance warning. “But then bullies are like that…,” one of my sources snarks.
Of course, it was McPherson who engineered Mark Pedowitz’s ouster as head of ABC Media Studios (the former Touchstone Television) because Steve had been wanting that division brought under his control for a very long time. So now people are starting to speculate about Mark’s next move since everyone knows that his current gig as the senior advisor to the Office of the Co-Chairman reporting to Anne Sweeney, is just a placeholder. “Whenever you hear the term ‘special adviser’ in a press release, you immediately feel sorry for somebody,” one of my sources says. “The world knows he got fucked. Even after 18 years working for ABC, first under Cap Cities and then under Disney. So much for loyalty. He’s beloved by the business and creative community, he’s made the studio the most profitable it’s been in its history, and he gets axed. Something’s wrong.”