Disney Channel President Rich Ross Named New Chairman of Walt Disney Studios

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Rich Ross (Photo courtesy of The Walt Disney Company)BURBANK, Calif., October 5, 2009 — Rich Ross, President of Disney Channels Worldwide, has been named Chairman of The Walt Disney Studios, it was announced today by Disney President and CEO Robert A. Iger.

Ross will oversee worldwide production, distribution and marketing for the company’s range of live-action and feature animated film labels, including Walt Disney, Touchstone, Miramax and Disney/Pixar. In his new role, which he assumes immediately, he will also head Disney’s theatrical and music groups.

In his thirteen years at Disney, Ross has consistently created hit original programming, effectively expanded a worldwide creative and distribution organization, skillfully built the Disney brand with global franchises that work across borders and technology platforms and put in place a strong management team.

“Rich has an outstanding record of creating high-quality family entertainment that delights audiences around the world,” said Iger. “With his success in building the Disney brand across many of our businesses, his astute marketing sensibility, his proven ability in working effectively with talent and his skill at navigating complex global markets, I’m confident he’s the perfect leader for our studio group.”

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Report: Dick Cook Burned; POTC4 Now on Rocky Seas

A reader sent me a link to this article which, through various updates. states that Dick Cook is shopping the idea around town that he was forced out although — other than the obvious shock to several systems — has no apparent corroboration. The article is updated to include reported reactions from several, including Johnny Depp who cites Cook as a reason for the entire POTC franchise.

Thank you for the link.

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Disney Interactive Studios Acquires Wideload Games, Inc; Halo Creator Seropian

Wideload Games CEO Alexander SeropianBURBANK, Calif. — Disney Interactive Studios announced today it has agreed to acquire Wideload Games Inc., a Chicago-based producer and developer of original interactive entertainment. As part of the agreement, industry veteran and creative visionary Alexander Seropian, Wideload Games founder and CEO, will join Disney Interactive Studios in the newly created role of vice president of creative, leading the company’s global creative efforts. Seropian, who is relocating to Glendale, Calif., is renowned as the founder of Bungie Software and was among the creators of the highly successful Halo® series – one of the most successful video game franchises of all time. Seropian will report directly to Global Product Development Senior Vice President Jean-Marcel Nicolai, and be tasked with overseeing creative development across Disney Interactive Studios’ portfolio of video games.

“Wideload Games is among the premier small creative game development studios in the world. Wideload Games will be a great fit for our portfolio of internal studios, and Alex joining the global product development team provides the entire Disney game portfolio with a strong creative influence,” said Graham Hopper, executive vice president and general manager, Disney Interactive Studios. “Alex has built his reputation around the power of original thinking. In leading the studio that created Halo, he helped turn great storytelling, exceptional design and polished gameplay into the ‘killer app’ for Xbox. Alex’s leadership of our creative community will enhance our ability to be a magnet for the best talent in the industry and enable the company to take an even more significant role in developing industry leading products.”

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Disney-Marvel Deal has $140M Termination Fee

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – Marvel Entertainment Inc (MVL.N) would have to pay the Walt Disney Co (DIS.N) a termination fee of $140 million if it terminates a proposed merger with Disney, according to a securities filing on Friday.

The $4 billion merger agreement, announced on Monday, contains termination rights for Disney and Marvel, including Marvel’s right to stop the merger to pursue a “superior deal,” the Securities and Exchange Commission filing by Marvel said.

Marvel has agreed, however, not to solicit other merger offers, the filing said. It may be required to pay Disney a termination fee of $140 million under “specified circumstances,” the filing said.

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Disney CFO Tom Staggs to Speak at Bank of America Merrill Lynch 2009 Media, Communications and Entertainment Conference (Webcast)

Tom Staggs, senior executive vice president and chief financial officer, The Walt Disney Company (NYSE:DIS), will participate in a question-and-answer session at the Bank of America Merrill Lynch 2009 Media, Communications and Entertainment Conference on Wednesday, September 9, 2009 at 3:15 p.m. PDT / 6:15 p.m. EDT. To listen to a live Webcast of the session, please point your browser to www.disney.com/investors approximately five minutes prior to the start time. A re-play will be provided through Wednesday, September 23, 2009 at 4:00 p.m. PDT.

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Disney-Marvel Phone Call Updates and Reactions from the Fans

The investors call was short and sweet regarding the announced acquisition of Marvel Entertainment by Disney earlier this morning. With both Disney and Marvel execs on the line, Marvel remained mostly quiet as President and CEO of the Walt Disney Company Robert Iger and Disney CFO Tom Staggs held the conference call down.

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Disney to Acquire Marvel Entertainment (Updated With Video Announcement)

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Burbank, CA and New York, NY, August 31, 2009 — Building on its strategy of delivering  quality branded content to people  around the world, The Walt Disney Company (NYSE:DIS)  has agreed to acquire Marvel Entertainment, Inc. (NYSE:MVL) in a stock and cash transaction, the companies announced today.

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DATG, Hearst Corp and NBC Universal Announce Joining of A&E Networks and Lifetime Entertainment

New York/Burbank, August 27, 2009 – The Disney-ABC Television Group, Hearst Corporation and NBC Universal today announced an agreement for A&E Television Networks to acquire Lifetime Entertainment Services. The parent company will retain the name A&E Television Networks, LLC (AETN), and its subsidiary will retain the name Lifetime Entertainment Services, LLC. The closing of the transaction is subject to customary closing conditions and is expected to occur in 2009. Financial terms were not disclosed.

Abbe Raven, president and chief executive officer of AETN, will serve as head of the combined company following the closing. Raven has been recognized with numerous industry awards for building some of the most prominent brands in media including A&E Network, History and The Biography Channel, and for spinning them off into successful global franchises. Andrea Wong, president and CEO of Lifetime Entertainment Services, will continue to head the Lifetime Networks and will report to Raven following the closing. Robert DeBitetto, president and general manager, A&E Network and The Biography Channel, and Nancy Dubuc, president and general manager, History and History International, will both continue to report to Raven and run their respective networks.

The new agreement will, upon closing, consolidate three of the nation’s top cable networks under single management while preserving the distinct brand identities of each network. In addition, the combined company will be a global media content company reaching over 250 million homes worldwide in more than 140 countries around the globe. AETN will now include: A&E Network, History, Lifetime Television, Lifetime Movie Network, Bio, History International, Lifetime Real Women, History en Español, Military History and Crime & Investigation Network. Combining the resources, libraries and multiple platforms of 10 brands, including more than 20 Web sites, the new company will be well positioned to create new opportunities for expansion and cross-promotion, as well as build upon the record of success and strengths across a broad variety of audiences, platforms and programming. The combination of these businesses is also expected to yield substantial cost efficiencies.

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Jayne Parker Named Executive Vice President and Chief Human Resources Officer for The Walt Disney Company

Jayne Parker (Photo courtesy of The Walt Disney Company)BURBANK, Calif., August 24, 2009 – Jayne Parker has been named Executive Vice President and Chief Human Resources Officer for The Walt Disney Company (NYSE: DIS), it was announced today by Robert A. Iger, president and CEO, The Walt Disney Company. Ms. Parker will report to Mr. Iger and be responsible for areas that include leading Disney’s overall human resources strategy including global talent attraction, staffing and retention, leadership development, diversity, organizational design and cultural development, employee education and development, compensation and benefits and employee relations. The heads of human resources in Disney’s business units will report to Ms. Parker as well as to the leaders of their respective business units.

“Jayne demonstrated clear leadership and innovation while overseeing human resources, diversity and inclusion for Disney Parks and Resorts’ nearly 100,000 employees worldwide,” said. Mr. Iger. “I’m delighted that she will now apply her results-oriented practices to our entire organization in order to attract, motivate and retain experienced, knowledgeable and creative employees.”

“Disney is successful because of its people – their commitment, their creativity and their passion. I have thoroughly enjoyed my time with the Parks and Resorts division and am honored to now work on behalf of all Disney cast members and employees to continue to attract diverse talent and develop future leaders for all of our businesses,” said Ms. Parker.

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The Walt Disney Company Donates $100,000 to Red Cross Catastrophic Disaster Planning

LOS ANGELES, Aug. 17  — The Walt Disney Company has donated $100,000 to the American Red Cross of Greater Los Angeles in support of the organization’s Catastrophic Disaster Plan, a disaster preparedness project to feed and shelter 250,000 people following a major disaster, such as a large scale earthquake.

The Walt Disney Company’s donation aided the Red Cross in qualifying for a $1 million challenge grant. To date, the total committed donations to the Plan are nearly $5 million dollars.

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