Hollywood has a new studiochief in Richard W Cook, the veteran of Walt Disney Studios who was namedchairman of the company on Friday. Cook, who has spent 31 years at Disney,steps into the position vacated eight months ago by Peter Schneider whoresigned in June 2001 after only 18 months on the job. Prior to Schneider, thepost was filled by Joe Roth for six years. Roth left to starts his own companyRevolution Studios which has to date produced hits such as The Animal,America's Sweethearts and BlackHawk Down.

Cook will head production oflive action movies at Walt Disney Pictures, Touchstone Pictures and HollywoodPictures as well as assuming responsibility for worldwide distribution andmarketing of both live action and animated films, home entertainment and legaland business affairs. He reports to Michael Eisner, who is chairman and CEO ofThe Walt Disney Co, and to Robert A Iger, who is president and COO. TomSchumacher, who heads Walt Disney Feature Animation, will continue to reportdirectly to Eisner and Iger.

For the last six years, Cookhas been chairman of Disney's motion picture group and has spent hisentire career on the marketing and distribution side of the company, lackingthe depth of relationships to the Hollywood creative community which characterizedRoth's reign at Disney. However, he commands considerable respect fromthe Disney board at a time when Disney's stock price has plummeted andits TV network ABC has slumped to third place in the ratings.

Ironically, the film studiohas had a successful end of year, scoring 24 Oscar nominations last week forfilms from its Miramax Films division as well as its own pictures The RoyalTenenbaums, Monsters Inc and PearlHarbor.