December 23, 2009

Top 10 Most Shocking Hollywood Job Exits of the Decade

Dan_rather 10. Dan Rather
In March 2005, Rather ended his record-breaking 24-year run as anchor and managing editor of the "CBS Evening News" in the wake of a scandal over a controversial report that claimed President George W. Bush had falsified military records in connection with his Vietnam-era National Guard service. Rather had been a network news anchor longer than anyone in American television history and had always been seen as a beacon of journalism ethics, writing books and lecturing to other journalists. But in the summer of 2006, CBS completely ended its relationship with Rather after 44 years, when his contract ran out and wasn't renewed. Rather moved to cable TV's HDNet, where he started a new news program while continuing to make public his discontent about how he had been treated by CBS. In September 2007, Rather filed a lawsuit against CBS and various executives charging he had been made a "scapegoat" for the flap over the story about Bush's military service. In September 2009, a state appeals court dismissed Rather's lawsuit.

Lorenzo 9. Lorenzo di Bonaventura
A year and a half after he signed what was billed as a new long-term contract, di Bonaventura was out in fall 2001 as executive vp in charge of worldwide motion picture production at Warner Bros. After more than a dozen years in various capacities. Di Bonaventura had earned high marks for helping launch lucrative franchises such as "Harry Potter" and "Ocean's Eleven" as well as backing "The Matrix" when others didn't get it. He took chances on quirky hits such as "Training Day," "The Perfect Storm" and "Three Kings." Not everything worked, of course. Di Bonventura ran into trouble with DC Comics hits when his plan to pit Batman against Superman was quashed. He was also fingered for flops including "Pluto Nash." But his real problems were political. After Alan Horn and Barry Meyer took over in 1999, di Bonventura seemed out of tune with the new regime. He wasn't happy that the studio had a lot of output deals that required releasing loads of movies. Horn wanted volume to feed theatrical, DVD and other ancillary markets. Di Bonventura felt that overloaded the marketing department. He might even have survived that, but di Bonventura went to Time Warner corporate in New York behind Horn's back and complained. No one ever said officially that it led to his demise, but that was the buzz in Hollywood. He left with a studio producing deal, but his time at Warners was soon history.

Chris_albrecht 8. Chris Albrect
Until he was fired in 2007 shortly after being arrested in Las Vegas on domestic violence charges, Albrecht had enjoyed a storied career that saw him rise from running a comedy club to the heights of Hollywood. He became chairman of HBO in 2002 after his mentor, Jeff Bewkes, was promoted at Time Warner (where he's now chairman). Most important, he was credited with bringing HBO a series of shows that built buzz, fueled audience growth and won numerous Emmys, including "The Sopranos," "Sex and the City" and "Six Feet Under." When he was arrested in 2007 after an altercation with his girlfriend outside a Las Vegas boxing venue, news leaked about other earlier incidents involving violence against women, and Albrecht said he would take a leave to deal with alcoholism. Days later, Bewkes revealed that Albrecht was dismissed instead.

Kevin_reilly 7. Kevin Reilly
Three months after he was given a new three-year contract as president of entertainment at NBC in 2004, Reilly was forced to resign to make room for the ill-fated reign of Ben Silverman. Reilly had inherited a schedule at NBC that was falling apart with the end of "Friends," but he had to limit the number of pilots he made (to help pay the big tab for Sunday Night Football) and was undermined from above and below. Despite that, he was responsible for programming such shows as "The Office" (which he had to fight to put on the schedule), "Heroes," "Deal or No Deal" and "30 Rock." A month after he left NBC, Reilly was hired by Fox, where he has been busy beating the feathers out of the Peacock ever since.

Bill_mechanic 6. Bill Mechanic
After seven solid years as head of 20th Century Fox, the last four as chairman and CEO, it was a shock when Mechanic said he would exit the studio in 2000 to enter independent production. While it was positioned as voluntary, it soon became clear his contract wasn't renewed. Mechanic had come to Fox from Disney, where he had overseen video and international, at a time when the studio was struggling. Under his leadership, Fox rose within two years into the top ranks of movie distributors, with hits such as "Independence Day," "Titanic" (co-produced with Paramount), "There's Something About Mary" and "Star Wars: Episode I -- The Phantom Menace." However, there were flops as well as hits, including a costly remake of "The King and I" and "The Beach." Some blamed his downfall on another underperforming picture, "Fight Club," because it was said that Rupert Murdoch didn't like the dark tone or the negative PR it generated. The final blow appeared to be the failure of the animated "Titan A.E.," which was created by Fox Animation Studios, which Mechanic had ramped up to compete with Disney and DreamWorks at the time. Within a week after "Titan A.E." opened, Mechanic was out.

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