UPDATE 2: News Corp just put out a press release confirming Chernin’s planned departure and that he will launch a Fox-based production company later this year. He’s not leaving until his contract expires on June 30, 2009, and according to Murdoch, the two will spend the next four months trying to hammer out the transition.
UPDATE: Now The LA Times is reporting that Chernin IS leaving, according to people familiar with the situation.
As Nikki reported earlier, The Times confirms that no immediate successor will be named. Instead, Murdoch will take over many of Chernin’s duties including oveseeing Fox’s movie and TV operations.
Rupert’s former lieutenant, meanwhile, is expected to pursue a lucrative movie and TV production deal at Fox to which he’s entitled in his contract.
The Times claims Chernin’s departure was finalised over Oscar weekend and that in recent months he told Murdoch that he was seriously considering leaving once his contract was up.
No word on when Chernin may actually leave, but if it’s now, he’s jumping the gun by roughly four months.
EARLIER: As Peter Chernin’s News Corp. contract comes up for renewal this June, rumours have been running rampant that Rupert Murdoch’s trusted No. 2 may leave.
Now, Nikki Finke says one of her “most reliable sources” tells her Chernin is “definitely leaving” News Corp. and will become a producer at Fox with a very rich deal with the studio.
As Nikki qualifies, this is only from one source, no one at Fox has confirmed it, and Chernin could change his mind.
If he does step down, he’ll collect a huge retirement package, according to Ron Grover from Business Week, who has the details on what Chernin will get if and when he leaves:
- $27 million in deferred compensation
- $11 million in various pension funds, going back to when he ran the Fox film studio and TV network before moving up to the presidency, according to News Corp.’s proxy filing with the Securities & Exchange Commission.
- The right to “require” the company to enter into a six-year deal to buy films or TV shows from him.
- Fox would be required to buy “at least” two movies a year from him, paying a fee “at least as favourable as the most favourable agreement” the studio had with a producer in 2004, when he signed the agreement.
- He would continue to receive credit during his six-year production deal for the company’s pension plan, building up his nest egg as if he had remained an employee.
- His stock awards would continue to vest.
- He would have the right to use the company jet for up to 50 hours a year (a six-year benefit estimated by the company to be worth $1.65 million),
- Could make use as well of a company car (another $210,000) while making deals around Hollywood.