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Rich Ross Named Shine America CEO

DISNEY BLAME GAME: Rich Ross

In his return to TV, the former Disney chief succeeds current Shine America CEO Carl Fennessy, who will return to Australia.

Former Disney chief Rich Ross has found a new home at Shine America.

Ross succeeds current Shine America CEO Carl Fennessy, who will return to Australia in mid-2013. The former Walt Disney Studios chairman and Disney Channels Worldwide president is set to join the company in January; Fennessy will remain joint CEO of Shine Australia.

The move marks a return to television, where Ross spent the bulk of his career before making a short-lived shift to features. At Shine, he’ll oversee a collection of formats including Fox’s MasterChef, NBC’s The Biggest Loser and Oxygen’s upcoming The Face as well as the company’s first scripted pilot, The Bridge, which is set up at FX, and its first Spanish-language production Minuto Para Ganar at MundoFox. 

"It's an incredibly exciting company that's one step ahead," Ross told The Hollywood Reporter about the opportunity. Of particular interest to Ross is the global nature of the company, which is pushing into scripted -- where Ross' roots lie -- and an ongoing stateside expansion. Of his desire to mine the global resources that Shine offers, both in terms of content and best practices, he added, "Rather than sit across the table from 17 people negotiating for the hottest format, [formats] are part of the DNA of this company."

Ross began his career at Nickelodeon, before joining FX Networks in 1993 as part of its executive team at launch, overseeing development and production for the cable net. It was during that period that he met Shine Group chairman Elisabeth Murdoch, with whom he has kept in touch for the past two decades. In 1996, Ross joined Disney Channels Worldwide, where he was responsible for such global phenomenons as Hannah Montana, Lizzie McGuire, Phineas and Ferb and That’s So Raven as well as the original film franchises High School Musical, Camp Rock and The Cheetah Girls.

More recently, Ross moved over to the Walt Disney Studios, where he served as chairman from October 2009 until April, when he was forced to resign. Murdoch reached out to him shortly after his exit, and the two have been talking about the opportunity to join Shine since the summer, with conversations picking up this fall.

"I was thrilled to do what I did," he said of his stint at Disney Studios, "but this opportunity is brimming with optimism."