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

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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.

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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.

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Disney Announces Annual Cash Dividend Per Share; Sets Date and Place for 2010 Shareholders Meeting

The Walt Disney Company (NYSE: DIS) board today declared an annual cash dividend of $0.35 per share, payable on January 19, 2010 to shareholders of record at the close of business December 14, 2009. The January dividend payment represents the 54th consecutive year of dividend payments to shareholders.

“While last year was a challenging one, our strategic focus has remained consistent and our execution disciplined,” said Robert A. Iger, president and CEO. “We are pleased to be able to continue returning capital to our shareholders through dividends while investing for future growth.”

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Marvel Shareholders to Vote on Disney Merger on December 31

After a few postponements, Marvel has finally set the date for its shareholders to vote for the acquisition by The Walt Disney Company on December 31. All those who own Marvel stock as of November 23 are eligible to vote at the meeting which will be held at the offices of Paul, Hastings, Janofsky & Walker LLP, 75 East 55th Street, New York, New York.

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Carolina Lightcap Named President of Disney Channels Worldwide; Gary Marsh Becomes CCO

BURBANK, Calif. (November 24, 2009) — Carolina Lightcap has been promoted to President, Disney Channels Worldwide, it was announced today by Anne Sweeney, Co-chair, Disney Media Networks and President, Disney/ABC Television Group, to whom she will report. A highly-regarded executive with more than 20 years in the media/entertainment industry, Ms. Lightcap joined The Walt Disney Company in 2000 and most recently served in the dual roles of senior Vice President, Programming and Creative Affairs, Disney Channels Latin America, and Chief Marketing Officer, The Walt Disney Company, Latin America. She will assume her new position within the Disney/ABC Television Group effective immediately and will relocate from Buenos Aires to Burbank.

A versatile and well-regarded executive who, during her career, has been based in Los Angeles, Miami and New York, Ms. Lightcap will be charged with shepherding Disney Channels Worldwide, the global leader in kid-focused, family-inclusive entertainment, through its next period of growth. The Disney Channel global executive team representing Programming and Production, Business Affairs, Business Planning and Development, Marketing, Brand Management, Advertising Sales and Radio Disney, will report to her.

And in recognition of his extraordinary and continuing contribution, Gary Marsh will assume the new title of Chief Creative Officer in addition to his current title of President, Entertainment, Disney Channels Worldwide, remaining in charge of all program development, creative and production, reporting to Ms. Lightcap.

In making the announcement, Ms. Sweeney stated: “Carolina has made enormous contributions to Disney over the past decade, especially in launching and building Disney Channel Latin America into the #1 cable channel in the region. She’s a highly respected member of our global team and her wealth of experience, leadership acumen and programming, marketing and franchise building skills make her the ideal executive to lead Disney Channels Worldwide into the future.”

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Is the University of Oregon Duck Swimming in Hot Water with The Walt Disney Company?

A trio of University of Oregon students: Brian McAndrew, Jamie Slade and Michael Bishon, also known as Supwitchugirl, have come into the limelight recently with a music video they produced and released on YouTube singing (and/or rapping) their praises of the school’s football team, the Oregon Ducks.

They’ve also produced a little bit of controversy and it may not be reasons that you’d immediately think of. The problem, some are finding, including the UO Athletic Department, is the prominent appearance in the video by the school’s mascot, the Duck (and often just the head of the Duck on someone’s body).

What this has to do with controversy (and — more importantly — Disney) is that the UO Duck, although not an identical twin by any stretch of the imagination, is a licensed version of Donald Duck. Donald was licensed to the University by Walt himself in a famous anecdote in which the deal was sealed with a simple handshake. Upon Walt’s death, when the question of the legitimacy of the claim came up, a photograph featuring Walt wearing a UO Letterman’s jacket featuring Donald was accepted as grounds for continuation of the deal, this time on paper.

What some are afraid of is that the unauthorized use of the mascot in the video may be subject to legal action by The Walt Disney Company as Disney would need to explicitly provide consent for anything beyond the already agreed upon use of Donald’s likeness. While the licensing contract details haven’t been revealed, some are concerned this may be the beginning of the end of the agreement altogether and have asked the students to remove the mascot from the video, a Herculean task which the students have respectfully declined.

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Shake-ups Continue as Disney CFO and Parks President Go All Freaky Friday

With Disney expected to report an fourth quarter earnings loss later this afternoon on this, the eve of Friday the Thirteenth, it’s now being reported that The Walt Disney Company CFO Tom Staggs and Disney Parks and Resorts President Jay Rasulo will be switching places within the organization.

The epicenter of this little shockwave comes from Nikki Finke who also made first note of the apparent forced exit of Dick Cook and the subsequent feelings of actor Johnny Depp towards the future of the already abandoned-by-many Pirates of the Caribbean:  On Stranger Tides ship.

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Third Shoe Drops as Disney Motion Pictures Group Prez Mark Zoradi Makes Exit

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – Mark Zoradi, who as president of the Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures Group handled worldwide marketing and distribution of films, resigned on Monday after 29 years at the company, the studio said.

Zoradi’s resignation comes amid a shake-up at the Walt Disney Co’s movie studio, as long-time chairman Dick Cook’s abrupt departure in September was followed in October by Cook’s replacement with television executive Rich Ross, who until then headed Disney Channels Worldwide.

Also last month Daniel Battsek, who ran Disney’s low-budget Miramax Films, also left after the company slashed the unit’s workforce and curtailed the number of films it would release.

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The Walt Disney Company Reports China OKs Shanghai Disneyland Project

BURBANK, Calif. — The Walt Disney Company today announced that the Project Application Report (PAR) for a Disney theme park in the Pudong district of Shanghai has received approval from the relevant authorities of the central government of China.

“China is one of the most dynamic, exciting and important countries in the world, and this approval marks a very significant milestone for The Walt Disney Company in mainland China,” said Robert A. Iger, president and CEO of The Walt Disney Company.

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Reuters: Shanghai Disneyland Still Awaiting Approval from Central Government

SHANGHAI/HONG KONG, Nov 2 (Reuters) – The Shanghai government may soon give preliminary details on plans for a new Disney theme park it hopes to develop, as it awaits Beijing’s formal approval for the project, a government source said on Monday.

The official Xinhua news agency cited Shanghai Mayor Han Zheng as telling a media briefing on Sunday that the city would hold a news briefing soon to reveal the latest developments concerning the proposed park.

“This project will surely go forward, but first it must be approved by the central government,” said the government source on condition of anonymity because he was not authorised to speak to the media.

“They will seek to clarify the situation with this upcoming news conference,” he said.

Rumors have swirled in Chinese media in the last two weeks that Shanghai could soon announce final plans to build a park with Walt Disney Co (DIS.N), possibly to coincide with a planned trip to the city later this month by U.S. President Barack Obama.

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