I Work at Fox and I’m Terrified By the Disney Future (Guest Column)

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"You count on seeing the same people every day. Now you wonder, 'Am I never going to see this person again?'" says one Fox employee.

An LA-based employee of the film studio for more than a decade explains life in limbo as staff awaits word on a sale — and their own fates: "How do I reinvent myself?"

There was palpable fear in early November when it was first announced that Fox and Disney had been in talks. I was completely shocked — I had watched the Murdochs grow an empire and never imagined they would start dismantling something that they'd built over the past 30 years. I was worried not only for myself and my co-workers but about what this would mean for a studio with a long and storied history dating to 1915.

At the beginning of December, we learned that Comcast was also in the mix. There was a lot of conjecture about which would be the better owner. Either way, it didn't look good. The holidays were upon us, and people couldn't do much except wonder if everything was happening for the last time: the last holiday party, the last awards-season push. We had no definitive information, only gossip and innuendo. We were told to stay the course, conduct ourselves professionally and proceed as if it was business as usual — something that's very hard to do when you have a house payment, kids in college and an aging mother in an expensive convalescent hospital.

I alternated between panic, sleeplessness and trying to stay calm. There are so many people who do such a specific task at a studio, I think it's hard to figure out what to do next. I've been here for many, many years, always on the film side. How do I reinvent myself and make myself employable?

There's a reason we all feel a sense of great loss. A studio lot is a great place to work. You've got your immediate colleagues, but you also have the security guards, cashiers, cooks. There are all kinds of people who make the lot work. There's a camaraderie. You count on seeing the same people every day. Now you wonder, "Am I never going to see this person again?"

After the first of the year, we finally got a real-world look at what our retention bonuses and severance packages would look like. At that point, many of us started actively looking for work. Those with less tenure and smaller severance packages wanted to jump ship first. Why wait to be pink-slipped and compete with thousands for the same handful of jobs when you can leave now and put this mess behind you? A lot are going to Netflix. This has been easy pickings for them.

Disney seems to have the upper hand over Comcast. My greatest worry is that the transition takes places far sooner than anticipated. And, say what you will about Rupert Murdoch, his empire and his politics, the man is one of the last of the great tycoons, a grandmaster of capitalism who possesses an uncanny sense of when to move, when to change and when to sell.

It's funny, I never felt like the Murdochs were connected to the film studio. They were never into "Hollywood." Rupert and his sons rarely ever went to premieres. That wasn't their thing. And from a business standpoint, I get why they are doing this. It's a brilliant move. I just wish they could be more transparent about what's next for us. Maybe they don't know. Worse, maybe they don't care. After all, once they sell, it isn't their problem anymore. Still, I wish they'd take a walk over to Moe's, News Cafe or the commissary cafeteria and take a look at the board where each month, each employee's anniversary of his or her years of service at the studio is listed. There are always dozens of names — 10 years of service, 15, 20, 30 years with the studio. That kind of loyalty and dedication deserves more than this.

A version of this story first appeared in the July 18 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.