Disney TV Reorganizes to Focus on Streaming
Walt Disney Television’s Chairmen of Entertainment Dana Walden is reshuffling her executive team as the company becomes the latest big media company to announce a major reorganization. The reorganization also means that Walden will sunset Touchstone Television. RIP, Touchstone. With this move, Disney TV Studios joins companies like NBCUniversal, ViacomCBS, and WarnerMedia in the pivot to streaming video.
In the reorganization, Walden will consolidate the production and entertainment company’s content creation platforms to meet the demands of the streaming age. Disney TV Studios will consolidate from three studios to two: 20th Television and ABC Signature. The company announced the news in a press release on Tuesday, December 1, 2020.
Disney TV Restructures
Walden said in a statement unveiling the major restructure of Disney TV:
This has been an incredibly challenging but successful year. Our television studios produce many of the top-rated shows in the industry. ABC is now the No. 1 entertainment network and the Hulu Originals team launched their most successful slate yet of critically acclaimed, award-winning, high-performing shows. I am proud of our exceptional leadership team and all we have accomplished, but the media landscape is changing and this reorganization better positions us for the future.
The restructure of Disney TV will also see the creation of 20th Animation and Unscripted Programming teams to focus on expanding the volume of content produced in each area.
Karey Burke – who already has a successful career as the President of ABC Entertainment (making it the No. 1 broadcast network) – will take on a new role as President of 20th Television. In the press release, the company commented on her notable career:
Burke has a long and successful track record as both a network executive and a producer. Having spent the first half of her career at NBC, during the “Must See” TV era of the network, which included the development of “Friends,” “ER” and “Will & Grace,” she then moved into producing. She joined Freeform in 2012 as EVP, Development, where she oversaw the creation of “The Bold Type,” “grown-ish,” and “Good Trouble.”
Working with Burke, Carolyn Cassidy will be Executive Vice President of Development at 20th Television.
Jonnie Davis will continue as President of ABC Signature. He will continue his oversight of all creative and production operations on hit shows produced on ABC and Hulu. And hopefully, he will keep bringing the laughs to Walt Disney TV, we all need it.
The Studio’s official statement was:
Jonnie Davis will continue as President of ABC Signature, overseeing the studio that produced the No. 1 hit show for ABC and Hulu last season, with “Grey’s Anatomy” and “Little Fires Everywhere.” Prior to his current role, he was President of Twentieth Century Fox Television, where he oversaw the development of “Empire,” “Fresh Off the Boat,” “9-1-1,” and “This Is Us.”
Craig Hunegs – to whom ABC Signature and 20th Television previously reported – will take on a new role as President of Entertainment, Walt Disney Television.
Craig Hunegs will move from his role as President of Disney Television Studios to serve as President of Entertainment, Walt Disney Television, working alongside Walden across all business units. He will lead centralized Business Affairs, Production, Casting and Creative Talent Development & Inclusion teams. He’ll also oversee 20th Animation and a newly formed production unit for Unscripted Programming in a strategy to grow output for both genres. Prior to joining Disney in 2019, Hunegs was President, Business and Strategy, Warner Bros. TV Group, where he spent two decades helping to build out that company’s portfolio of celebrated content.
MarvelBlog readers may be interested in Hunegs increased role in the company. In his official biography, it says that he was involved in “all the DC Comics series on The CW and the DC Universe app.”
What does Hunegs at the helm of Disney TV mean for the future of Marvel?
Craig Erwich and Tara Duncan
Craig Erwich and Tara Duncan will oversee original content teams responsible for developing new shows.
Craig Erwich will take on a new oversight role as President of Hulu Originals and ABC Entertainment. The official statement from Walt Disney TV read:
Erwich has been at the helm of Hulu Originals for the past six years and now adds management of ABC Entertainment, which was previously run by Karey Burke. He will now serve as President of Hulu Originals and ABC Entertainment. During his tenure at Hulu Originals, Erwich led the team responsible for such smash hits as “The Handmaid’s Tale,” “The Act,” “Little Fires Everywhere,” “Ramy,” “Shrill” and many other high-performing Hulu shows. No stranger to broadcast television, Erwich spent 12 years as a high-level executive at the network previously known as FBC.
Tara Duncan will oversee original content for Freeform.
As President of Freeform, Tara Duncan continues to oversee original programming for the basic cable channel. Additionally, she will build a roster of creators of color to develop across platforms. Duncan joined the Disney team this year from an overall deal at Hulu, and before that was a creative executive at Netflix overseeing the hits series “Orange Is the New Black” and “Narcos.”
Both Erwich and Duncan will continue to report to Walden, and focus on building a roster of diverse creators at Disney TV.
Shannon Ryan will continue the role of President of Marketing for ABC Entertainment and Disney TV Studios.
As previously announced, the restructure also includes the centralization of marketing and publicity under Shannon Ryan, President, Content Marketing, Hulu and General Entertainment. Ryan will manage the creative marketing, publicity, media planning, events, talent relations and award strategies for programming created under Walden’s organization. Her team will collaborate closely with the Hulu and linear network marketing teams at DMED. Ryan joined Disney from FOX in 2019 where she was CMO of the Fox Television Group. She became President of Marketing for ABC Entertainment and Disney Television Studios; and in her first season overseeing marketing for the network, ABC became the No. 1 entertainment broadcaster of the year.
Bert Salke is going to return to producing and writing after his successful tenure leading Touchstone Television to develop multiple award winning programs. The press release had some kind words to say about Salke’s time at the studio’s helm:
With these changes, Bert Salke will transition from President of Touchstone Television to a new multi-year overall producing deal with Disney Television Studios. During his tenure, Salke oversaw development and production at the studio (previously known as Fox 21), which included iconic and celebrated programs “Homeland,” “Genius,” “Queen of the South” and “The Hot Zone.” Additionally, together with FX Productions, the studio produced “The Americans,” “Sons of Anarchy” and “Mayan M.C.” Touchstone has also been the studio home to Ryan Murphy Television, which produces “Pose,” “Ratched,” “The Politician” and the “American Crime Story” franchise.
The Chairman of General Entertainment Content for Disney TV Peter Rice commented, “Dana is a hall of fame television executive leading an all-star team of the best and brightest creative leaders in Hollywood.”
Read the full press release here.