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Nina Jacobson Replaced as Part of Disney Restructuring

Nina Jacobson is out and marketing head Oren Aviv is in as president of production, Walt Disney Pictures, as chairman Dick Cook announced the anticipated restructuring and downsizing of The Walt Disney Studios. Aviv will oversee the live-action development and film production slate.

Thus, there will be a strategic shift toward more Disney branded movies aimed at global synergy across all entertainment platforms. The studio will produce and distribute approximately 10 Disney live-action and animated films a year and two to three Touchstone films a year.

With this new global infrastructure in place the studio is expected to reduce its work force by approximately 650 positions worldwide (approximately 20%). "Cutbacks such as these are difficult on so many levels, and we will do everything in our power to make the transition as smooth as possible," said Cook.

However, Walt Disney Feature Animation, Pixar Studios, Miramax Films (led by Daniel Battsek), Buena Vista Music Group and Buena Vista Theatrical Prods. will not be affected by this reorganization.

Cook said, "Disney is the #1 name in filmed entertainment around the world. It's the name on the door, it's what we do best, and when we do it right, not only do moviegoers of all ages benefit from the finest in quality entertainment, but it lifts the entire company as well. The depth and breadth of great Disney movies range from PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN to CARS to THE CHRONICLES OF NARNIA, and we look to expand our global reach even more."

"Oren is an amazing talent and has been a key player in reshaping our Disney films with many, many successes," continued Cook. "In fact, NATIONAL TREASURE was a winning, original idea which he conceived and realized on film. In his new role, we look forward to capitalizing on his great taste as well as his creative vision.

"Nina Jacobson [president, Walt Disney Motion Pictures Group and an eight-year vet] will be leaving the company, and while she will certainly be missed, we greatly appreciate her many contributions and wish her well."

In another strategic move, The Walt Disney Studios has restructured several of its business units under two global organizations Buena Vista Worldwide Marketing and Distribution, and Buena Vista Worldwide Home Ent. Mark Zoradi has been appointed president, Walt Disney Motion Pictures Group and will oversee the distribution and marketing of all Disney and Touchstone Pictures films worldwide. Robert Chapek has been named president, Buena Vista Worldwide Home Ent., and will oversee the worldwide distribution and marketing of all the studio's films on home entertainment platforms.

"The consolidation of global marketing and distribution is extremely important as we continue to adapt to the vastly changing world. To lead this charge we have the best team in place with Mark and Bob," said Cook. "Mark is a consummate professional who along with his team has had unprecedented success in the international marketplace with 12 consecutive years surpassing the $1 billion dollar mark. No other distributor has crossed this performance threshold. Bob is an innovator in every sense of the word and has helped our studio achieve countless DVD successes, and that leadership will translate well into his new global responsibilities."

Another executive appointment will include Jim Gallagher as president of marketing for Buena Vista Pictures marketing.

Cook stated, "Jim is as smart as they come and has great taste and creative instincts, not to mention an incredible sense of humor. I'm thrilled he has taken on this very important role."

A 15-year veteran of The Walt Disney Co., Aviv was most recently promoted in April 2005 to president of marketing and chief creative officer of The Walt Disney Studios. During that time he was a key player in redefining and growing its worldwide Disney, Touchstone and Miramax brands. During his tenure, Aviv has also been responsible for marketing 34 $100 million dollar films as well as 13 $200 million dollar films ... an industry record. He has designed and guided the marketing campaigns for such hit films as PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: DEAD MAN'S CHEST (shattering all industry records with a opening weekend box office gross of more than $135 million), THE CHRONICLES OF NARNIA: THE LION, THE WITCH AND THE WARDROBE, CHICKEN LITTLE, THE INCREDIBLES, NATIONAL TREASURE, THE VILLAGE, PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: THE CURSE OF THE BLACK PEAL, FINDING NEMO, SIGNS, MONSTERS, INC., PEARL HARBOR, LILO & STITCH, THE SANTA CLAUSE 2, BRINGING DOWN THE HOUSE, SWEET HOME ALABAMA, REMEMBER THE TITANS, THE PRINCESS DIARIES 1 AND 2, FREAKY FRIDAY, GONE IN 60 SECONDS, UNBREAKABLE, THE ROOKIE, THE ROYAL TENENBAUMS, THE PACIFIER, MIRACLE and O BROTHER, WHERE ART THOU?

On the film production side, Aviv was exec producer of Disney's NATIONAL TREASURE. Based on his idea, for which he shared "story by" credit, the film grossed nearly $350 million dollars in worldwide box office. He received the same credit for the Disney comedy ROCKET MAN in 1995. Aviv joined the company in 1991 as vp president, creative services, and was promoted to svp of marketing and creative advertising in 1997. He was named president of marketing for Buena Vista Pictures in 2000. Prior to joining Disney, Aviv was director of special projects for CapCities/ABC, where he was responsible for television branding spots for hit ABC series, such as ROSEANNE, TWIN PEAKS and THIRTYSOMETHING. Before moving to Los Angeles in 1988, he served as creative director for Grey Ent. in New York City.

Most recently president of Buena Vista International, Zoradi has spent nearly all his career as a Disney executive. He's made a global impact overseeing BVI, which has shattered records by earning more than $1 billion at the international box-office for 12 consecutive years, generating $16.8 billion from 1995-2006. He has also been president of Buena Vista Home Ent. International from 1999 to the present. Zoradi started his Disney career as marketing coordinator for Walt Disney Home Video in 1980 at ground zero of the home entertainment boom. He next became marketing director for the Disney Channel, which was also in its infancy at the time.

He segued into domestic theatrical distribution as director of sales for Buena Vista Pictures Distribution in the mid-80s and also held the position of senior vice president and general manager of Buena Vista Television from 1987-1992. He was plucked from BVTV that year to set up a stand-alone international theatrical marketing and distribution organization. That organization became BVI, which today is comprised of 27 local country subsidiaries and three regional offices, and has been a consistent market leader during his tenure.

Since taking over as president in the fall of 2000, Chapek has led the organization to record-setting performances on diverse titles ranging from PEARL HARBOR to FINDING NEMO, as well as dominance of the direct-to-video business through the Disney Video Premieres line of sequels to classic Disney movie franchises. His establishment of the Disney DVD brand also paved the way for brand leadership in, and family adoption of, the emergent DVD technology. Chapek joined BVHE in May 1993 as director of marketing and held several titles at increased levels of responsibility in marketing at BVHE until his promotion to president in 2000. In this marketing capacity, he led the strategic and creative efforts on such record-setting titles as SNOW WHITE AND THE SEVEN DWARFS, THE LION KING, TOY STORY and THE SIXTH SENSE.

A 10-year veteran of Buena Vista Pictures Marketing (domestic), Gallagher was most recently svp of creative services. Since joining the company, he has contributed to the filmed marketing campaigns for several of Buena Vista's most successful motion pictures including PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN 1 AND 2, SWEET HOME ALABAMA, SNOW DOGS, THE ROOKIE, UNBREAKABLE, PEARL HARBOR, THE SIXTH SENSE, PHENOMENON, ARMAGEDDON and THE ROCK. He began his career with Disney in April 1996 as director, creative film services. He was promoted to vp in July 1997 and to svp in January 2001. Prior to joining Disney, he worked for MGM as director of audio visual advertising.

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