Murdoch’s top man at News Corp set to quit

Peter Chernin established Fox as a broadcasting and film powerhouse

The man who masterminded the success of the Fox movie studio spectacularly quit yesterday, a day after its film Slumdog Millionaire swept the board at the Oscars.

Peter Chernin resigned as chief operating officer of News Corporation, Fox’s parent company, after failing to agree a new contract with his boss, Rupert Murdoch. He had been Mr Murdoch’s man in Hollywood for more than a decade, extending the media mogul’s tentacles far beyond his traditional newspaper business and establishing Fox as a powerhouse in filmmaking and broadcasting in the United States.

Under Mr Chernin, Fox has revitalised its presence in Hollywood, not just bolstering the Twentieth Century Fox business but carving a lucrative niche sponsoring independent films through Fox Searchlight. Offbeat comedies such as Juno and Little Miss Sunshine were box office bankers and went on to become Oscar contenders, while the studio was yesterday basking in the Oscars glow of both Slumdog Millionaire and The Wrestler, for which Mickey Rourke was nominated as best actor.

Then, last night, it emerged that Mr Murdoch himself, now 77, will take direct control of the film studio, as least in the short term. Mr Chernin will leave the company at the end of his five-year contract in July, sparking rumours of a split with Mr Murdoch over the growing role of the mogul’s son, James. For the moment, James Murdoch will stay in his post as head of News Corp’s Asian and European operations – which include the British newspapers The Sun and The Times – but it is believed that he is being groomed for the post of chief executive, and, ultimately, to succeed his father as chairman.

Hollywood insiders were already predicting a period of disruption at Fox. Mr Chernin had become one of the most powerful men in the industry, taking a key role in debates over its future in an era of internet piracy, and leading some of the tense, recent talks with writers’ and actors’ unions. James Murdoch, a former head of BSkyB in the UK, has no Hollywood experience. “Certainly losing a leader with Mr Chernin’s abilities and reputation is yet another challenge for the company,” said Michael Morris, an analyst at the investment bank UBS. “He is viewed as the operator, the guy who gets things done.”

Hollywood had been buzzing about Mr Chernin’s future as the end of his existing contract has neared, and as Mr Murdoch had apparently turned cooler on the prospects for keeping him by his side. Last year, the mogul had hoped to keep Mr Chernin at least for another two years, and had characterised negotiations as “constructive and friendly”. More recently, he said only that they were “private”.

In a statement, Mr Murdoch said: “Peter’s contributions to the company over the past two decades have been immeasurable. We are fortunate to have such a strong and seasoned group of leaders at our Fox companies and we are confident that our success will continue. There are few executives, at any company, that combine his maturity, his experience, and his skills as a communicator and leader – I will miss him.”

Commenting on his departure, Mr. Chernin said: “Next week marks my 20th anniversary with News Corporation and the company has been a huge part of my life. During my years here I have had the great privilege to work for one of the true visionary leaders of our time, Rupert Murdoch. As a partner and friend he has been inspiring, fascinating, and most of all, tremendous fun.”

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
musicBand's first new record for 20 years has some tough acts to follow
News
peopleAt least it's for a worthwhile cause
Voices
A new app has been launched that enables people to have a cuddle from a stranger
voicesMaybe the new app will make it more normal to reach out to strangers
News
Liam Payne has attacked the media for reporting his tweet of support to Willie Robertson and the subsequent backlash from fans
peopleBut One Direction star insists he is not homophobic
Life and Style
healthFor Pure-O OCD sufferers this is a reality they live in
Life and Style
Sexual health charities have campaigned for the kits to be regulated
healthAmerican woman who did tells parents there is 'nothing to be afraid of'
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

Senior Account Executive / Account Executive

£25 - 30k (DOE) + Bonus & Benefits: Guru Careers: We are looking for an Accoun...

Account Manager / Sales Account Manager / Recruitment Account Manager

£25k Basic (DOE) – (£30k year 1 OTE) : Guru Careers: We are seeking a bright A...

Resourcer / Junior Recruiter

£15-20k (DOE) + Benefits / Bonus: Guru Careers: We are seeking a bright R...

Web Designer / Digital Designer

£25 - 40k (DOE) + Excellent Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Web Desig...

Day In a Page

A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments