Bumble Ward is out as PR chief at Twentieth Century Fox. "It was a mutual parting of the ways," she says. Her contract expires February 29, 2013, but she left the studio Monday. "We had different approaches."
After taking a break from publicity and shutting down her lucrative PR firm Bumble Ward and Associates in 2004, Ward returned to PR at Fox for what was to be a short-lived tenure. As head of the smallest PR department of any major studio (smaller than Fox Searchlight), Ward masterminded the PR campaign for Ridley Scott's "Prometheus" and set Ang Lee's "Life of PI" on its awards track, showcasing it at CinemaCon and booking it as the opening night of the prestigious New York Film Festival.
But hard-charging press agents and studios don't aways mix. From when she started August 29, 2011, Ward, 49, owned her own authority and did not necessarily play softball with the Fox brass. While marketing head Oren Aviv hired Ward (as well as equally short-lived digital marketing exec Ira Rubenstein, who left last month), it is no coincidence that Ward's departure follows that of studio co-chairman Tom Rothman.
Before she shuttered her agency, Ward handled a bevy of powerful directors, from Michael Bay, Quentin Tarantino and David O. Russell to Sofia Coppola, Paul Thomas Anderson and the late Tony Scott. And Ward inspired an infamous New Yorker profile in 2002. Any major PR firm would want her in their stable, and Ward is fielding considerable interest, but she has other ideas.
During her seven-year hiatus, Ward raised two kids, worked on her writing, blogged and tweeted and became a social media expert. That's where she's heading. "I've never been so giddy about the opportunities out there," she says. "There's a sweet spot with movies, directors and social media."