As previously rumored, Thomas Schumacher has left his post as head of Disney Feature Animation to become president, Buena Vista Theatrical Worldwide, the Disney unit that oversees Disney's live stage productions around the world. David Stainton will replace Schumacher as president, Walt Disney Feature Animation. Both divisions will fall under the auspices of The Walt Disney Studios and will work directly with chairman and CEO Michael D.
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In an effort to strategically streamline and organize its children's television animation programming, production and distribution under one business unit, Disney has moved Television Animation into the Disney Channel Worldwide division with former Television Animation executive vice president Barry Blumberg replacing David Stainton as president, Walt Disney Television Animation.
The Walt Disney Internet Group has entered into content arrangements with two European telecommunication companies to bring Disney Mobile branded wireless content to Italian and French consumers for the first time. As part of the agreement, TIM will be the first distributor in Italy for a range of Disney's wireless content including ring tones, logos, screensavers, wallpapers, picture messages and games, and Bouygues Telecom will bring branded wireless content to French consumers, beginning with ring tones and graphics.
William "Tex" Henson, who supervised animation on ROCKY & BULLWINKLE and was a force behind the popularity of CHIP 'N DALE, died Monday, December 2, 2002 of head injuries after being hit by a pickup truck in Dallas, Texas. He was 78 years old. Born in Dallas, Henson moved to California to join Disney Studios in 1944, where he was an animator on films such as SONG OF THE SOUTH, PECOS BILL and PETER AND THE WOLF. He was also one of the forces behind Chip & Dale's leap from bit players to outright stars. The chipmunk duo went on to star in 23 theatrical cartoons.
Tokyopop Releases Two New Cine-Manga Based On Disney Series. U.S. manga publisher TOKYOPOP continues its relationship with Disney with the release of two new Cine-Manga series for Disney's original television series LIZZIE MCGUIRE and KIM POSSIBLE. Each will launch as part of TOKYOPOP's developing Cine-Manga family, which currently includes CARDCAPTORS and the forthcoming AKIRA.
Based on the lackluster performance of its latest animated feature TREASURE PLANET, The Walt Disney Co. has lowered its fourth quarter earnings. Disney reported quarterly earnings of 11 cents per share and total income of $222 million. The company is now reporting earnings of 9 cents per share for the fourth quarter ended September 30 for a quarterly net income of $175 million. The adjustment changes its per-share earnings for the full year from 63 cents to 60 cents. TREASURE PLANET cost $140 million to make and has earned approximately $17 million in six days of release.
Among the notable animation home video releases for December 3 are Disney's LILO & STITCH and two excellent offerings in the Walt Disney Treasures collection, plus Miyazaki's MY NEIGHBOR TOTORO on DVD.
Disney chairman Michael Eisner outlined his strategy to revitalize his company in the December 9 issue of FORBES Magazine. Among other juicy tidbits, Eisner reveals that he has written a letter to the Disney board recommending a successor and implies that his choice is current president and COO Bob Iger. Eisner also details his revitalization plan for Disney, which may include selling The Mighty Ducks hockey team, 64 company-owned radio stations and other ancillary businesses with an aim to substantially reduce Disney's $13 billion debt over the next 18 months.
Walt Disney Television Animation Special Projects and ESPN have teamed to bring to life the syndicated comic strip IN THE BLEACHERS. Disney has created a series of 15-second animated shorts based on the Steve Moore sports strip that will run during select ESPN Original Entertainment programming. The shorts mark the network's initial foray into animation and feature a witty, ever-changing cast of characters in situations centered around athletics.
Yet another twist in the bitter battle for Winnie the Pooh royalties surfaced this week when Disney reportedly made an announcement that the granddaughter of Pooh creator A.A. Milne and the granddaughter of Pooh illustrator E. H. Shepard have decided to reclaim all rights to the characters. According to an AP report, Disney cited a clause in the 1998 Sonny Bono Copyright Extension Act that will allow the heirs to reclaim the international rights granted to Disney, as well as rights granted to Stephen Slesinger Inc. and grant all those rights exclusively to Disney starting in 2004.
The Internet rumors have been flying for weeks and now a recent LA TIMES report has stated that Tom Schumacher, president of Disney Feature Animation, may leave his post when his contract expires in June 2003. No word on what Schumacher will do if he departs, but he is reportedly in discussions with Disney to figure out what his role will be with the company. Schumacher has headed Disney Feature Animation since 1999, throughout a turbulent time for the division.
The long-running litigation over WINNIE THE POOH royalties took a startling turn as accountants hired by the court to audit Disney's records were officially fired on October 25, 2002. Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Ernest M. Hiroshige had determined that the accountants were biased in favor of Disney and their auditing methods unreliable. He has ordered that a new independent accounting firm be hired.
REUTERS reports that television mogul Haim Saban is in talks to buy the Jim Henson Co. from Germany's EM.TV. According to REUTERS sources, the sale price is hovering around $100 million, a deep discount from the $680 million (cash and stock) that EM.TV paid for the Muppet factory in February 2000. Since EM.TV put the Henson Co. on the block on 2001, both Viacom and Disney have been rumored suitors for the company but no deals were ever solidified, although Disney has been hovering around the property for years.
Just days after the announcement that former Disney Resorts president Paul Pressler has left to take a position as president and chief executive officer of Gap Inc., Disney has announced his successor. James A. (Jay) Rasulo, a 17-year veteran of The Walt Disney Company and chairman and chief executive officer of Euro Disney S.C.A. has been promoted to president of Walt Disney Parks and Resorts worldwide.
If you have a chance to see The Sweatbox, the inside, non-Disney created documentary of the painful making of The Emperor's New Groove, run -- don't walk -- to see it! Eric Lurio reports.
Mike and Sully will get a new look when U.S.-based manga publisher Tokyopop releases a graphic novel based on the Disney/Pixar property MONSTERS, INC. The 104-page paperback manga version of the hit CG-animated film, which features collectible stickers of the entire monster cast, will hit the shelves of bookstores and comic book retailers in October 2002, just after the film's North American DVD/VHS release.
SHREK producer John Williams and his company Vanguard Films have partnered with Walt Disney in a deal to provide multiple CG animated projects for the studio. Vanguard will fill the void left by Pixar Animation, which has made no plans to renew its agreement with Disney once the existing production deal is fulfilled with the delivery of Pixar's next three films -- summer 2003's FINDING NEMO, holiday 2004's THE INCREDIBLES and 2005's CARS.
Diana Longarzo has been named vice president of international strategy and business development for the Walt Disney Internet Group (WDIG). In this role, Longarzo will lead strategic product development and business development for WDIG's mobile and broadband businesses. Longarzo joins WDIG from Longarzo Consulting, a consultancy she founded that specialized in business strategy for entertainment and media companies such as Palm, Inc. and QBEO, Inc., an interactive television company.
The Animation Guild has informed AWN that animator Tom Ferriter has passed away at the age of 74. He started his animation career at Disney in 1955, and went on to work for Filmation, Hanna-Barbera, Krantz and Chuck Jones. He returned to Disney in 1976, where he remained until his retirement in 1990. Ferriter's credits include THE FLINTSTONES TV series and the feature films THE LITTLE MERMAID, THE GREAT MOUSE DETECTIVE, THE FOX AND THE HOUND and THE WHITE SEAL.
The law firm of Weiss & Yourman has filed a class action lawsuit on behalf of purchasers of securities of the Walt Disney Company between August 15, 1997 and May 15, 2002. The complaint alleges that Disney and some of its officers and directors violated the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 by failing to disclose to the investing public the existence, details and potential effects of a pending lawsuit over merchandising rights concerning WINNIE THE POOH.
If you live in the Los Angeles-area, you have the opportunity to see Walt Disneys 1959 classic animated feature SLEEPING BEAUTY in its fully restored, original Technirama 70mm format. Screening exclusively at Hollywood's El Capitan theater, this special widescreen print of the film also features a restored audio soundtrack that takes maximum advantage of the films six-track Stereophonic mix highlighting the film's score, which was adapted from the music of Tchaikovsky.
Buddy Baker, a 29-year Disney veteran who composed the musical scores for nearly 200 Disney feature films, television shows and theme park attractions, passed away from natural causes on Friday, July 26, 2002, at his home in Sherman Oaks, California. He was 84 years old. Baker first came to the Disney Studio in 1954 and went on to compose music for such popular television shows as DAVY CROCKETT and THE MICKEY MOUSE CLUB. His theatrical credits include the featurette DONALD IN MATHMAGIC LAND, plus memorable scores for the three original WINNIE THE POOH offerings.
Despite the strong box office performance of recent hits LILO & STITCH and THE ROOKIE, The Walt Disney Company has reported lower than expected earnings for the quarter and nine months ended June 30, 2002. Referencing the downturn in the international and domestic travel and tourism industry as well as the economy as a whole, Disney cited in particular the drop-off of attendance at its domestic theme parks and resorts, and the lack of television advertising dollars at the ABC television network.
Talking animals...why are we so attached to the talking animals? The Pimp, of course, has some ideas.