Disney May Be Seeking to Limit Starz Control Over Online Distribution of Films

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Bloomberg reports that Disney and Starz are in negotiations concerning future exclusivity the network has to upcoming releases from Walt Disney Studios. Currently, the Starz cable network has first rights to live action films from Disney and wishes to continue the option for as long as five years, but at dispute is the digital rights to the films which Starz would would be able to farm out to online services such as Netflix, whereas Disney is reportedly looking to prevent Starz from having such capabilities.

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The Walt Disney Company to Contribute $100K to Red Cross Efforts in Haiti

The Walt Disney Company (NYSE:DIS) announced today it will contribute $100,000 in humanitarian aid to the victims of the earthquake in Haiti. The donation will be provided to the Red Cross International Fund to support Haiti’s relief efforts.

“We at the Walt Disney Company are deeply saddened by this tragedy and send our thoughts and prayers to the people of Haiti and their loved ones, which include our Cast Members and employees,” said Robert A. Iger, president and CEO, The Walt Disney Company.

“We hope this donation will help the Red Cross to provide immediate aid and relief to the thousands of people affected by this terrible tragedy,” Mr. Iger added.

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Photo: The New Face of Tom Staggs, Chairman of Disney Parks and Resorts

Or was that supposed to be The New Face of Disney Parks and Resorts, Chairman Tom Staggs?

Well, anyway, ever since we first learned the news that Tom Staggs (former CFO of the Walt Disney Company) and Jay Rasulo (former Chairman of Disney Parks and Resorts) were going all Freaky Friday on us  (that’s the Jodie Foster kind if you will), the atmosphere quickly became thick with questions and theories about the future of the parks (oddly, not so much for the bottom line) and speculation that Staggs was being groomed by Iger for bigger and better things.

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Disney Strengthens Bonds with Stan Lee’s POW! Entertainment

Building on an already successful three year creative and business relationship, POW! (Purveyors of Wonder) Entertainment Inc. (Pink Sheets: POWN), the advanced media and entertainment company led by comic book and motion picture icon Stan Lee, announced today it is deepening its ties with The Walt Disney Company.

“Enhancing our relationship with one of the world’s most creative and innovative entertainment companies makes perfect sense given all the exciting projects we have underway,” said Lee, Chairman and Chief Creative Officer of POW! “Disney has been a great partner for us and we look forward to working closely with them in the coming years. In addition to the huge creative opportunity this affords POW!, it also provides for the next positive stage in the expansion of the company itself.”

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Disney Board Nominates Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg to Join

BURBANK, Calif. — The Walt Disney Company (NYSE:DIS) Board of Directors has nominated Sheryl Sandberg, chief operating officer of Facebook Inc., to be a new independent director, effective upon her election at the Company’s next annual meeting.

“Sheryl is an outstanding executive who can add incredible value to what is already a diverse and highly experienced group of directors,” said John E. Pepper Jr., Disney’s chairman. “She brings great expertise in the online world, considerable international experience and a deep understanding of consumer behavior.”

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Update: WABC-TV Prepares for Cable Provider Standoff with StopCablevision.com

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Today, The Walt Disney Company registered a series of domain names revolving around one of its flagship television stations, WABC-TV in New York City. The domain names which include ILoveABC7.com, IWantMyABC7.com, SaveABC7.com and SaveABC7Now.com were also joined by StopCablevision.com

Unusual for Disney, the sites were already active, although it appears as though the content on the site — while not harmful in any way — was probably not meant for public consumption.

Under the title ABC/WABC Retransmission Consent, the page provides guidelines for how the company plans to address an upcoming negotiation with cable provider Cablevision beginning in January with a current contractual deadline of an unspecified date in March.

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Disney, Chase Launch Disney Rewards Visa® Debit Card

NEW YORK — Disney and Chase today announced a new offering in the Chase family of Disney Rewards Visa Cards, the Disney Rewardssm Visa Debit Card. The new card gives Chase checking account customers access to valuable Disney perks and rewards through the control and accountability of a debit card.

“This is an excellent new choice for Chase customers who prefer to make purchases with debit cards because of the immediacy and financial control it provides,” said Charlie Scharf, chief executive officer of Retail Financial Services for Chase. “The Disney Rewards Debit Card introduces a whole new world of Disney benefits to debit cardholders.”

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Disney Interactive Media Group (DIMG) President Steve Wadsworth to Open 2010 D.I.C.E. Summit

CALABASAS, Calif., Dec. 16 — The Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences (AIAS) announced today that Steve Wadsworth, President of Disney Interactive Media Group (DIMG) will keynote the D.I.C.E. Summit, which will take place at Red Rock Resort, Las Vegas, on February 17-19, 2010.

Wadsworth leads the Walt Disney Company segment that’s responsible for the global creation and delivery of Disney-branded entertainment and lifestyle content across all interactive media platforms, including online, mobile devices and game consoles. DIMG also provides digital media strategy, technology solutions and execution for Disney and its ABC and ESPN units.

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Roy E. Disney, Nephew of Walt Disney, Dead at Age 79

Walt Disney, left, with nephew Roy E. Disney. Courtesy of The Walt Disney Company.The LA Times has reported that Roy Edward Disney, son of Roy Oliver Disney and nephew to Walter Elias Disney, born January 10, 1930, has died just a few weeks shy of what would have been his 80th birthday, presumably related to his cancer.

You can read the LA Times obituary for Roy here.

The official press release from The Walt Disney Company follows:

Roy Edward Disney, son of Disney Studios co-founder Roy O. Disney, and nephew of Walt Disney, passed away today (12/16/09) at Hoag Memorial Hospital Presbyterian in Newport Beach, California, following a year-long battle with stomach cancer. He was 79 years old. Disney was a successful businessman, philanthropist, filmmaker, and award-winning sailor, who played a key role in the revitalization of The Walt Disney Company and Disney’s animation legacy. He was associated with the Company over a 56-year period, and from 1984 – 2003, served as vice chairman of the Company’s board of directors, and chairman of the Studio’s Animation Department. In recent years, he held the title of director emeritus and consultant for the Company.

As head of Disney Animation, Disney helped to guide the Studio to a new golden age of animation with an unprecedented string of artistic and box office successes that included “The Little Mermaid,” “Beauty and the Beast,” “Aladdin,” and “The Lion King.” He personally executive produced “Fantasia/2000,” a sequel to the 1940 Disney classic, and served in a similar capacity on a number of recent animated shorts, including the 2004 Oscar®-nominated “Destino,” based on storyboards and original art by the iconic artist Salvador Dali. In the area of live-action films, Disney and his wife, Leslie DeMeuse Disney, most recently executive produced the 2008 feature documentary, “Morning Light,” which followed a group of young sailors as they competed in the grueling Transpac race from Los Angeles to Honolulu.

(more…)

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The Magic Continues as Hong Kong Disneyland Expansion Breaks Ground

Groundbreaking ceremony for Hong Kong Disneyland expansion

To celebrate a significant step in the expansion of Hong Kong Disneyland, a groundbreaking ceremony was held today at the Hong Kong Disneyland Resort. John Tsang, Financial Secretary of Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China, and Jay Rasulo, Chairman of Walt Disney Parks and Resorts officiated the ceremony with representatives from the Government, The Walt Disney Company and the Hong Kong community in attendance.

The ceremony represents a major milestone in the Resort’s expansion plan. The expansion will bring the total number of attractions, entertainment and interactive experiences at the Park to more than 100, create 3,700 jobs during the construction phase and 600 new full-time jobs after expansion.

“Today marks the beginning of another exciting phase for Hong Kong Disneyland,” said Mr Rasulo. “The new themed areas will showcase the best in creativity, technology and story-telling. The planned attractions and rides will position our youngest Disney theme park for future growth and success.”
Mr. Tsang said that a larger park with more attractions will continue to draw the crowds and provide even more fun and excitement for visitors.

(more…)

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