ABC Owned Television Stations Group President Walter Liss Retires; WABC President Rebecca Campbell Named Successor

Esteemed television executive Walter Liss today announced his retirement as President, ABC Owned Television Stations Group.  He will immediately move into a consultancy role for the Station Group to assist in the transition.

In commenting on the announcement, Robert A. Iger, president and CEO of The Walt Disney Company said, “I’ve worked with Walter for almost 25 years, and I know him to be a one of a kind person: a great executive who knows his business well and has always had a passion for it. He is a no-nonsense guy, who ran the best station group in the country, and loved every minute he spent in the station business! We are all grateful for his leadership, his contributions and his friendship, and we are thankful for ensuring our stations are so well-positioned for the future. Although he has definitely earned the right to retire, he will be sorely missed.”

“I’ve been in this wonderful business for over 50 years.   More than 30 of those years have been with the best Company in the world…The Walt Disney Company,” added Mr. Liss.  “Early next year I’ll go to work on my golf game.  All those guys on the Champions Tour better watch out.”

Walter C. Liss was appointed president, ABC Owned Television Stations Group, in May 1999.  In this role he had chief management responsibility for the 10 ABC owned television stations and for the Group’s ABC National Television Sales rep firm.

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ESPN Signs on Playdom to Develop ESPN-Branded Sports Games for Social Media Networks

ESPN Interactive today announced that it has reached a two-year agreement with Playdom, one of the leading social gaming companies, to develop ESPN-branded sports genre games for social media platforms.  The first two in development are slated to launch this Fall.

“Our deal with Playdom marks ESPN’s first major presence into the social gaming space,” said Raphael Poplock, vice president, games and revenue strategy and development for ESPN Digital Media.  “The sports genre for this category of games has gone virtually untapped thus far, and through this agreement, we have an opportunity to be in front of a highly engaged audience and at the forefront of what is currently the fastest growing games category out there.”

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ABC Unveils 2010-11 Primetime Schedule

NEW FALL AND MIDSEASON SERIES – DRAMA

“BODY OF PROOF”
Dr. Megan Hunt (Dana Delany) was in a class of her own, a brilliant neurosurgeon at the top of her game. But her world is turned upside down when a devastating car accident puts an end to her time in the operating room. Megan resumes her career as a medical examiner, determined to solve the puzzle of who or what killed the victims. Her instincts are sharp, but she’s developed a reputation for graying the lines of where her job ends and where the police department’s begins. It turns out her career isn’t the only thing that will need to be rebuilt; Megan’s family has taken a backseat to her ambition, and now she’s discovering there’s a lot of work to do when it comes to dissecting her relationships with the living.

Dana Delany stars as Dr. Megan Hunt, Jeri Ryan as Dr. Kate Murphy, Geoffrey Arend as Dr. Elliot Gross, John Carroll Lynch as Detective Bud Morris, Windell Middlebrooks as Dr. Curtis Brumfield, Nic Bishop as Peter Dunlap and Sonja Sohn as Detective Samantha Baker.

“Body of Proof” is from ABC Studios. Christopher Murphey wrote the pilot, which was directed by Nelson McCormick. Murphey and Matt Gross serve as executive producers.

“DETROIT 1-8-7”
What does it take to be a detective on America’s most dangerous streets? Get ready to be part of the action when a documentary crew rolls with some of Detroit’s finest, offering an insider’s glimpse behind the curtain of a Homicide Unit. The cameras unearth the crisis and revelation, heartbreak and heroism of these inner city cops — moments of raw exposure when they address us directly, as well as private moments when they forget they’re being filmed.

There’s the damaged but driven Detective Louis Fitch, a wily homicide vet who is the most respected — and most misunderstood — man in the division; Detective Damon Washington, Fitch’s new partner, who finds the first day on the job is a trial by fire, complicated by the imminent birth of his first child; Detective Ariana Sanchez, sexy, edgy and beautiful, who has emerged from a rough background to become a rising star in the department; Narcotics undercover cop John Stone, a streetwise smooth talker, clever and quick with a smile made for the movies, who is teamed with Sanchez — a combustible pairing rife with conflict and sexual tension; Sergeant Jesse Longford, a 30-year veteran struggling with his impending retirement from the force and the city he loves, who, together with his partner, Detective Aman Mahajan — a fully Americanized son of Indian immigrants — form an amusing mismatch of experience and enthusiasm, intellect and instinct, old school and new world, but whose combined skills have never encountered a case that couldn’t be cleared; and all are headed by Lieutenant Maureen Mason, a strong-willed single mom struggling to balance home and work.

The men and women of Detroit Homicide are as smart and tough as they come. They have to be, working the neighborhoods of the once and future Motor City, a rebounding bastion of middle America still saddled with the highest murder rate in the country.

“Detroit 1-8-7” stars Michael Imperioli (“The Sopranos”) as Detective Louis Fitch, Jon Michael Hill as Detective Damon Washington, James McDaniel (“NYPD Blue”) as Sergeant Jesse Longford, Aisha Hinds (“True Blood”) as Lieutenant Maureen Mason, Natalie Martinez as Detective Ariana Sanchez, D.J. Cotrona as Detective John Stone and Shaun Majumder as Detective Aman Mahajan.

The series is produced by ABC Studios. The pilot was written by Jason Richman. Executive producers are Richman, David Hoberman, Todd Lieberman and David Zabel. Jeff Nachmanoff directed the pilot.

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ESPN’s Chris Berman to Receive Star on Hollywood Walk of Fame

Chris Berman © ESPNSix-time National Sportscaster of the Year Chris Berman of ESPN, will be honored Monday, May 24, with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame as a tribute for his more than 30 years of contribution to the sports television industry. Over the past three decades, Berman has become one of the preeminent sports commentators of his generation. He has been with ESPN since October 1979 — less than a month after the network launched.  ESPN announced last month that Berman had signed a contract extension that will keep him at the network.

This year, the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce selected just 28 names from more than 200 nominations. Other honorees set to cement a place in Hollywood history in 2010 are director James Cameron, actors Russell Crowe, John Cusack, Colin Firth, Adam Sandler, Emma Thompson and Mark Wahlberg, and musicians Bryan Adams, Van Morrison, Ringo Starr, the band ZZ Top and Roy Orbison (posthumously).

“A star on Hollywood Boulevard is an iconic honor that has literally blown me away,” said Berman.  “It speaks to 30 years of hard work for thousands of ESPN employees, and I am proud to represent each and every one of them.  I can assure you that this will be the only time that my name will be in a sentence with the likes of Clarke Gable and John Wayne.”

Berman is the leading voice and face of ESPN’s National Football League studio coverage as host of Sunday NFL Countdown, Monday Night Countdown and halftime of Monday Night Football, the most-watched series on cable. He has also anchored ESPN’s annual NFL Draft telecast since 1987. His prognosticating alter-ego – the “Swami” – has provided weekly NFL predictions and observations on SportsCenter since 1979.  He also does Major League Baseball play-by-play, hosts the Major League Baseball Home Run Derby and hosts ESPN’s U.S. Open golf coverage.  A regular on SportsCenter for its first 11 years, he continues to anchor the show a handful of times a year.

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Disney XD’s Summer Anthem, ‘In the Summertime,’ by Adam Hicks and Daniel Curtis Lee Premieres May 29

Daniel Curtis Lee, Adam Hicks and Hutch Dano in the Disney XD summer anthem, 'In the Summer Time' (Jaimie Trueblood / Disney XD)A jammin’ hip hop spin on a classic song, “In the Summertime,” with rap lyrics, performed by teen actors Adam Hicks and Daniel Curtis Lee (of the hit comedy series “Zeke and Luther”), will debut as Disney XD’s summer anthem on SATURDAY, MAY 29 (8:00 a.m., ET/PT). The music video for the song, a cover of the instantly recognizable classic released in 1970 by British pop-blues band Mungo Jerry, will rotate throughout the Disney XD summer schedule.

Hicks and Lee’s remake of “In the Summertime” will have its Planet Premiere on Radio Disney FRIDAY, MAY 28. The music video will also be available on DisneyXD.com and the Disney XD YouTube channel on Saturday.

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‘Kingdom Hearts Birth By Sleep’ to be Released September 7, PSP Bundle Pack Available

Square Enix, Inc., the publisher of SQUARE ENIX(R) interactive entertainment products in North America, announced today that KINGDOM HEARTS Birth by Sleep will be available at North American retailers on September 7, 2010. KINGDOM HEARTS Birth by Sleep brings to life unexplored worlds from everyone’s favorite Disney stories, and will be appearing exclusively on the PSP(R) (PlayStation(R)Portable) system.

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Brad Garrett Joins Second Season of Playhouse Disney’s ‘Special Agent Oso,’ Premiering July 10

Buffo the Buffalo as voiced by Brad Garrett on Disney Channel's 'Special Agent Oso' © DisneyAcademy Award-winning comedy legend Mel Brooks, Emmy Award-winning Brad Garrett and famed Notre Dame football coach Lou Holtz guest star in the second season of Disney Channel’s Emmy-nominated Playhouse Disney series, “Special Agent Oso,” starring Academy Award nominee Sean Astin. The season premieres on SATURDAY, JULY 10 (8:00–8:30 a.m. ET/PT), with new episodes every Saturday throughout July and August.

The season will include the introduction of two new special agent characters: Buffo the water buffalo, voiced by Brad Garrett, is a slightly clumsy and excitable inventor charged with creating all of Oso’s special agent gadgets. And Oso finds a new sparring partner in special agent Musa, a mysterious stuffed animal ninja who has taken a vow of silence and dons a traditional keikogi.

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First Look: Aflac ‘Toy Story 3′ Television Commercial

Below is the tv advertisement that began running today featuring the Aflac duck in his 50th commercial. The joint venture between Aflac and Disney/Pixar helps to promote Toy Story 3 by placing the beloved duck smack dab in the middle of Sunnyside Daycare.

This is the second advertisement in which the Aflac duck meets the stars of a Disney/Pixar film, the first being a commercial that co-promoted UP.

Video courtesy of Aflac

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Walt Disney World’s 2011 Princess Half Marathon Gets New, Earlier Dates

Disney Parks has announced that the 2011 Walt Disney World Princess Half Marathon weekend has been moved a week earlier to February 25 – 27, 2011 from March 4-6.

Registration for the event is scheduled to open on July 6.

For more information on the event, visit the official web site.

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Video: Star Wars Weekends Television Commercial

Disney Parks has just released this tv ad that’s running in the Orlando market to promote Star Wars Weekends at Disney’s Hollywood Studios which commences at Walt Disney World this Friday, May 21.

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