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.
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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.
With the new Toy Story: The Ultimate Toy Box and Fantasia Anthology, Disney has clearly pulled ahead of the competition, putting together expansive bonus selections and features to showcase these great animated features. Gerard Raiti reports.
Walt Disney Studios has promoted Dean Hallett to executive VP and chief financial officer. Hallett, an 11-year veteran of Disney, previously served as senior VP and chief financial officer of the studio. He assumed that role in April, following the departure of Rob Moore. Hallett will continue to oversee all financial, strategic and operational aspects of the firm. As executive VP, he will help develop and expand strategy and management. Hallett joined Disney in 1990 as a manager in the corporate management audit department.
* Wednesday, March 7, 2001. Brentwood, California, U.S.A.
TEAM X Awards highlight public service announcements on tobacco awareness created by students. The event is organized by the Los Angeles Unified School District and AnimAction, Inc. Thirty-three awards will be presented to middle school students. Sponsors include Kids WB!, Fox Kids, Cartoon Network, Disney and Toon Disney. For more information contact AnimAction at: Tel.: (323) 464-1181; Fax: (323) 464-1191; E-mail: email@example.com; or Web: www.animaction.com.
New reports have the Walt Disney Co. throwing its name into the hat to help bail out German producer EM.TV & Merchandising by purchasing its Jim Henson Co. EM.TV acquired the Muppet makers last February in a cash and stock transaction valued at US$680 million. However, rumors have voiced former president and CEO Brian Henson's disapproval over the deal due to the devaluation of the company's stock. In the past, when the Jim Henson Co. was privately held, Disney and the Muppet masters had signed a licensing deal with each other that brought Henson-owned characters to Disney theme parks.
Walt Disney Co. has announced that it will close down the Walt Disney Internet Group and its Go.com portal. As a result, 400 out of nearly 2,000 employees will be laid off. Shares in the Walt Disney Internet Group will be converted in to Disney common stock. As a result, Disney will take a US$790 million second-quarter charge, or 37 cents per share, for the issuing of 8.1 million new shares in the entertainment mega-firm. In addition, Disney will also take a $25-$50 million charge for severance packages and other additional costs.
The Disney Channel has announced that it will produce its first animated sitcom entitled THE PROUD FAMILY. The series will chronicle the experiences of a 14-year-old African-American girl named Penny and her family. Co-executive producer Bruce Smith (SPACE JAM) created the series. Ralph Farquhar, co-creator of the UPN live-action comedy MOESHA, will serve as the other executive producer. The voice cast will include Kyla Pratt (LOVE & BASKETBALL) as Penny, Paula Jai Parker (THE WAYANS BROS.) as Trudy Proud and Tommy Davidson (IN LIVING COLOR) as Oscar Proud.
Toon Disney, the all-Disney cartoon channel, has announced their first original series, THE LEGEND OF TARZAN. The series will bow on the cable network in fall 2001. In the show, Tarzan (Michael T. Weiss, THE PRETENDER) will be reunited with his animal family and must defend the jungle from the encroachment of man. Other characters in the series will be Jane (Olivia d' Abo, THE WONDER YEARS), Professor Porter (Jeff Glen Bennett, THE WEEKENDERS), the well-meaning ape Terk (April Winchell, RECESS, PEPPER ANN) and Tantor the elephant (Jim Cummings, THE TIGGER MOVIE).
Disney's initiative to release their new animated feature THE EMPEROR'S NEW GROOVE in Spanish to theaters in Los Angeles has failed. Disney decided to place a Spanish dubbed GROOVE in theaters in 16 Latino communities alongside the English version [AWN 01/02/01]. This effort was the first time that Disney released a film in English and Spanish in the States at the same time. For years Disney has released Spanish dubbed or subtitled prints of their films to theaters that have requested them.
Walt Disney has decided to release their new animated feature THE EMPEROR'S NEW GROOVE in 16 Los Angeles theaters dubbed in Spanish. The experiment is part of Disney's plan to attract Latino buying power, which is estimated to reach US$452 billion nationwide next year. For years Disney has released Spanish dubbed or subtitled prints of their films to theaters that have requested them. However, most of those films were on their third run after they had been released in Mexico and other Spanish speaking countries.
The Walt Disney Co. has inked a deal with Japan's second-largest toy maker, Tomy Co. Ltd., to market, produce and distribute its toys and games in Japan. The exclusive deal does allow Tomy to sublicense certain products to other toy producers. The pact takes affect in April 2001. "This agreement completes a restructuring of our toy business that we began in September, when we established licensing arrangements with Hasbro and Mattel," said Andy Mooney, president of Disney Consumer Products Worldwide.
Great gift ideas for Disney buffs of all ages. Plus, the AWN store has plenty more Disney favorites available...
In celebration of the initial release of FANTASIA/2000 on VHS and DVD, Walt Disney is releasing the original FANTASIA on DVD. Hitting stores November 14, 2000, fans can own the magic and spectacle of both of Disney's masterpieces. The FANTASIA/2000 DVD will feature: a 48-minute making of documentary; two commentary tracks featuring artist Al Hirschfeld, executive producer Roy E. Disney and many of the filmmakers; the 1953 Oscar winning short film, TOOT, WHISTLE, PLUNK AND BOOM; and the never-before-released short entitled MELODY.
Q: What do some non-dancing cats and a llama with an attitude have in common? A: Mark Dindal. Here the director of Cats Don't Dance and Disney's upcoming major holiday release, The Emperor's New Groove, sits down with Joe Strike and talks and talks and talks...
Disney has ordered 21 episodes of a new toon series entitled, LLOYD IN SPACE, to air as part of the "Disney's One Saturday Morning" line-up on ABC. From the creators of DISNEY'S RECESS and RUGRATS, the series is the coming of age tale of Lloyd, a space station-bound alien teenager. Set to debut in 2001, the show features the voices of Courtland Mead (NYPD BLUE), Diedrich Bader (THE DREW CAREY SHOW), Ben Stein (WIN BEN STEIN'S MONEY) and John O'Hurley (Mr. Peterman on SEINFELD).
On Friday, October 27, 2000, four-year Sony Pictures veteran Bob Levin officially settled out the remaining 1 1/2 years of his contract and left his post as president of worldwide marketing for Columbia TriStar Pictures Group. His resignation came one day after Sony restructured the executive arm and gave chief of worldwide distribution, Jeff Blake, Levin's duties. According to insiders, there were tensions between Blake and Levin. Levin is best known in the animation community for playing a key cog in the phoenix run of Walt Disney animation.
Disney vice chairman Sanford "Sandy" Litvack has decided to leave the company at years end. The move has been long rumored since the very public fight in court between Disney and former Disney executive and now DreamWorks co-founder Jeffrey Katzenberg. Apparently, the feud weighed a great deal on Litvack. Disney chairman Michael Eisner said, "I regret Sandys decision, but I accept it and respect his desire to pursue new ventures." Litvack did not announce any specific new business plans.
The Walt Disney Co. has announced the recipients of the 2000 Disney Legends Awards in honor of individuals whose work has made a significant and lasting impact on the Disney legacy. Grace Bailey will posthumously receive the honor for a 40-year Disney career in which she served as head of the Ink and Paint department. Harriet Burns was the studio's first woman Imagineer and a pioneer in designing and building prototypes for Disney's theme park attractions. Joyce Carlson was a studio inker, who went on to build prototypes of IT'S A SMALL WORLD and other theme park attractions.
Disney vice chairman Roy Disney has shut down production on the CGI feature WILD LIFE. According to the online magazine INSIDE, Disney decided to bail on the film because it had "an inappropriate adult sensibility" for a Disney animated feature, "sexual innuendo" and a "gay-friendly" tone. Reportedly the film had already eaten through US$20 million, spurring Disney chairman Michael Eisner to request reviews of every project in development.
A British spec script about two rival gangs of gnome neighbours has been put on the fast track in Hollywood. The trade paper SCREEN INTERNATIONAL reports A GNOME'S STORY, written by Rob Sprackling and John Smith, has been acquired by Walt Disney Feature Animation and Rocket Pictures, the production outfit owned by pop star Elton John and David Furnish. The big-budget project "may use TOY STORY-esque digital effects." Disney has a first-look pact with Rocket, and is funding development on GNOME'S STORY.