Excited about seeing Hayao Miyazaki's new film SPIRITED AWAY? Don't hold your breath. Disney has no plans of releasing the film in the U.S. In an Inside.com article, David Jessen, vice president of acquisitions at Disney's Buena Vista, said he has seen the film and that he likes it, but that other Disney executives have not. Disney currently has no official plans to release any more of Miyazaki's films in America, he said, adding "we are strategizing now worldwide." The reason for the move is the disappointing results of PRINCESS MONONOKE.
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Side Effects Software has announced that Walt Disney Feature Animation made a significant purchase of the company's Houdini 3D animation software package. Houdini has been used in many projects at the Walt Disney Company including FANTASIA 2000, GONE IN 60 SECONDS and TARZAN. "Houdini's flexible procedural paradigm helps our artists be more creative, while maintaining an efficient production environment," said John Carey, VP of technology at Disney.
Who is to blame for Disney's new direct-to-video plan of a sequel for every classic? Martin "Dr. Toon" Goodman thinks it is all of us.
Gary Sproule has been named vice president of finance and chief financial officer at Disney Interactive. He will oversee the worldwide finance function for the company, including strategic planning, controllership, operations, administration and information technology. Sproule joins Disney Interactive from Whatshotnow.com, where he was the chief financial officer and chief operating officer. Prior to Whatshotnow.com, Sproule was chief financial officer at both Magnet Interactive Communications and Electek Group.
Tom Fitzgerald, head of Theme Park Productions Inc., has been promoted to executive vice president, senior creative executive, for Walt Disney Imagineering. In his new role, Fitzgerald will run the day-to-day creative operations of Walt Disney Imagineering. He will continue his current responsibilities for Theme Park Productions, which produces film media for Disney's Theme Parks. Marty Sklar, vice chairman and principal creative executive of Walt Disney Imagineering, said, "When I hired Tom 23 years ago, I saw in him something special in the way of initiative and creativity.
The Disney Channel has formed a new management team, as a result of ABC Cable Networks Group's recent reorganization. Gary Marsh was named executive vice president, original programming and production; Andrea Taylor, senior vice president, marketing; and Jill Casagrande senior vice president, programming. "This team's creative vision and expertise in the marketplace will ensure Disney Channel's place as a leader in the creation of quality, kid-driven original product," said Rich Ross, general manager, Disney Channel. "This is the perfect team to build upon our already successful network.
As the mergers continue, Disney answers the AOL Time Warner and Viacom call and grows for the first time since the 1996 Capital Cities/ABC merger. On Saturday, July 21, 2001, the LA TIMES Sallie Hofmeister reported that the Walt Disney Co. will buy Fox Family for $3.3 billion plus assume $2.1 billion of the troubled ventures debt. Long in the rumor mill, this new acquisition is supposed to be final and announced within a few days according to Ms. Hofmeisters sources. Obviously the true value for Disney in this deal is obtaining the fifty international Fox Family channels.
Ted Berman, Disney animator and director of THE BLACK CAULDRON, passed away on Sunday, July 15, 2001. He was 81 years old. Berman started at Disney in 1940, and remained with the studio for 45 years. He started as a character animator working on BAMBI, ALICE IN WONDERLAND, FANTASIA, LADY AND THE TRAMP, PETER PAN, MARY POPPINS and 101 DALMATIANS. Berman was also a key member in creating the Disney television series, THE WONDERFUL WORLD OF COLOR and THE MICKEY MOUSE CLUB.
Toon Disney is adding PEPPER ANN to the channel's fall schedule. Produced by Walt Disney Television Animation, the series will make its Toon Disney premiere on Labor Day weekend. The show joins DISNEY'S DOUG, the preschool series RUPERT, MAGICAL WORLD OF TOONS, PRINCESS POWER HOUR and CHILLIN' WITH THE VILLAINS on Toon Disney's fall schedule. "We are delighted to welcome PEPPER ANN to Toon Disney," said Jonathan Barzilay, senior vice president and general manager of ABC Kids and Toon Disney.
The Disney Channel will premiere its new animated series, STANLEY, in September 2001 as part of a Playhouse Disney block. In addition to airing mornings on the Disney Channel, the series will air in primetime on the recently announced Playhouse Disney network scheduled to launch in early 2002. The interactive, learning-based series was created and executive produced by Jim Jinkins (DOUG) and David Campbell's (PB&J OTTER) Cartoon Pizza Productions, in association with the Disney Channel.
Douglas T. Parrish has been named senior vice president, technology and chief information officer for the Walt Disney Internet Group. In his new position, Parrish is responsible for overseeing the technology platform, infrastructure and applications for The Walt Disney Co.'s Internet properties. This includes networking infrastructure, Web hosting and serving, applications and tool development, and advanced and new technologies development.
Sanjeev Lamba has been named vice president, International, at Disney Interactive. Lamba will oversee development and management of Disney Interactive's business in territories outside North America, including Europe, Latin America, Asia Pacific and Japan. Lamba has been with The Walt Disney Company since 1993. He joins Disney Interactive from Disney Consumer Products in Japan, where he served as vice president, licensing and marketing. Prior to that, he was director of marketing for Disney Consumer Products' licensed business in the Asia Pacific region.
In an announcement made June 20, 2001, by Michael D. Eisner, chairman and CEO, and Robert A. Iger, president and COO, of The Walt Disney Company, Peter Schneider will step down as chairman of The Walt Disney Studios to start a new Broadway theater production and investment company funded in part by Disney.
Gerard Raiti goes behind the scenes of Disney's latest masterpiece, Atlantis: The Lost Empire. Think you've seen all the House of Mouse has to offer? Think again as Disney raises the bar.
According to industry sources and other published reports, Walt Disney Co. is planning cuts in both jobs and salaries at both their Burbank, California and Orlando, Florida Animation Feature studios. Coming on the heels of Disneys recent announcement of company-wide layoffs and staff reductions totaling 4,000 employees, these cuts further illustrate the fiscal realities of both the increasing cost and decreasing profitability of the studios current animated feature production unit.
DIRECTV Latin America announced on Friday, April 6, 2001 the official debut of the Disney Channel to all DIRECTV subscribers in Brazil. The Disney Channel is a new, 24-hour Portuguese television network with entertainment for kids and families created specially for the Brazilian market. The Disney programming block includes exclusive and original productions, a two-hour live, daily show, movies, animated and live-action series, concerts and special events.
TV-Loonland's CONNIE THE COW (52 x 7, produced by Spains Neptuno) has been sold to Disney U.K. for a spring 2002 delivery. After creating quite a buzz at MIPCOM Junior 2000, Munich's TV-Loonland announced at MIP TV that it had sold the pre-school animated series relating the experiences of a curious calf named Connie to Disney's U.K. arm. TV-Loonland has also had Disney success with their live-action series IN A HEARTBEAT.
Walt Disney Co. Latin America has hired Marcos Rosset as managing director, Brazil. He will head all of the company's businesses in the territory, including the Portuguese language Disney Channel that debuts on April 5, 2001. For the past 15 years, Rosset served as managing director of CIC Video, a co-venture between Paramount Pictures and Universal Pictures. There he oversaw all retail businesses, including interactive consumer products and rental/sell-through video.
Former Walt Disney senior VP for worldwide anti-piracy, Judy Denenholz, has filed a US$20 million lawsuit, alleging she was terminated after refusing to sign a fraudulent IRS audit. The suit also alleges that Disney's assistant general counsel Peter Nolan sexually harassed Denenholz since she joined the company in 1981. The suit claims that Disney's general counsel Lou Meisinger held a grudge over legal bills before he became Disney's general counsel. In 1990, Denenholz advised Disney that Meisinger's law firm was overcharging the studio for their anti-piracy work.
Walt Disney Co. has announced that its past decision to scrap its Go.com portal has been reversed. However, the Go.com portal will be a much more pared down version with Web searches handled by former rival GoTo.com. The Go.com home page now serves as a low maintenance starting point for the Walt Disney Internet Group's other sites like Disney.com, ABC.com and Movies.com. In the formation of Go.com, Disney purchased Infoseek and their search engine. Currently, Disney is looking to sell off assets associated with Infoseek.
Disney has placed an order for 13-episodes of a new animated series for "Disney's One Saturday Morning," entitled TEAMO SUPREMO. The new Walt Disney Television Animation show will join the ABC line-up in the fall of 2001. The series will follow a trio of pint-sized heroes -- Captain Crandall, Rope Girl and Skate Lad as they battle the forces of evil and homework. The series' style is based on the bright, colorful themes of the mid-1960s, the comic book-style of the live-action BATMAN and GREEN HORNET television series and the architectural concepts popularized at the 1964 World's Fair.
The Walt Disney Co. has purchased the rights to Winnie the Pooh for an amazing $350 million. Former rights holders Westminster School and the Garrick Club will receive $88 million each and the Royal Literary Society will gain $132 million. Disney first licensed the rights to Winnie in the 1960s and has been paying twice-yearly royalties to the owners. Disney will hold the copyright until it expires in 2026. The last relative of POOH creator A. A. Milne to hold a share in the copyright was Christopher Robin Milne.
Disney has signed a new licensing deal with Coca-Cola to place Mickey Mouse and other Disney characters on a new line of juices. No financial terms have been released for this 15-year marketing deal. However, Disney will receive royalty payments for Coke's use of all Disney characters on packages, in-store promotions and advertising. The first drinks, "Mickey's X-treme Coolers" and "Pooh's 100 Acre Wood Apple-Berry," will be sold in supermarkets in single-serve boxes and multi-serve plastic bottles.