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

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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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Miramax Films to Lose President, New York Roots

It’s now being widely reported that troubled Miramax Films is following suit with Walt Disney Studios in that its President, Daniel Battsek, is set to resign in January. While it’s officially a ‘mutual’ move, some sources claim Battsek is being forced out due to bad performance by the label. This — of course — follows hotly on the heels of Dick Cook leaving the Walt Disney Studios just over a month ago.

In addition, Miramax, whose maximum number of films per year has already been significantly reduced by its parent company, is also being expected to relocate from its home in New York City to Los Angeles.

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Disney to Build New Production Facility at Golden Oak Ranch

LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) – The Walt Disney Co. plans to build a 12-stage production facility at its Golden Oak Ranch in the Santa Clarita Valley, northwest of Los Angeles, primarily to serve the production needs of ABC Studios.

Disney and ABC Studios have filed applications with Los Angeles County for Disney/ABC Studios at the Ranch, a high-tech soundstage and production facility. The facility, which would include six pairs of soundstages, would take up 56 acres in the western tip of the 890-acre Gold Oak Ranch.

Disney has only two soundstage facilities, one on the Disney lot, which has virtually no usable outdoor space, and one at its Prospect Studios.

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Disney Institute 2010 Open-Enrollment Schedule Now Posted Online

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla., Oct. 26  — The 2010 schedule for Disney Institute open enrollment programs is now available at www.disneyinstitute.com. Located under the Web site’s “Events” tab, the extended calendar offers increased flexibility for professionals who want to book training through the end of the coming year.

Open-enrollment programs include three- and five-day programs available at Walt Disney World Resort in Lake Buena Vista, Fla., and a series of one-day programs offered at Disneyland Resort in Anaheim, Calif. One- and three-day programs are dedicated to specific topics such as quality service, leadership excellence, people management, brand loyalty, and inspiring creativity. The five-day programs dedicate a day to each of the five core Disney Institute curricula.

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Tough Jobs: Taking the Store out of ‘The Disney Store’

With an economy in the red, The Disney Store appears to have carte blanche with a blue sky concept in which new and existing Disney Stores will feel less like a store and more like a miniature Walt Disney World. The New York Times recently explored some of the potential of the new retail-less shops as provoked by Apple co-founder and Disney board member Steve Jobs.

At a proposed cost of nearly $1M per store for the makeover, innovations include embedded chips in products that invoke interaction with the store’s environment. A concept that’s not too entirely off given the pending reality of RFID chips being introduced en mass to the retail market for inventory control and quick checkouts.

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