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.”
Production has begun on “Starstruck,” a music-filled Disney Channel Original Movie starring Sterling Knight (“Sonny With A Chance”) and introducing Danielle Campbell. Slated to premiere in 2010, the movie is filming in and around Los Angeles at landmark locations including Hollywood Boulevard, Sunset Boulevard, the Hollywood Sign, Grauman’s Chinese Theater and the Venice Boardwalk.
The story follows Jessica Olson (played by Campbell), a down-to-earth girl from the Midwest who collides (literally) with Hollywood’s teen heartthrob, pop star Christopher Wilder (played by Knight). They wind up on a love-struck adventure in Southern California, but their bond is tested when she returns home and he publicly denies their relationship.
Still flying from winning their Creative Arts Emmy the day before, the cast of Disney Channel’s Wizard of Waverly Place held a panel on Sunday in which thousands of fans were treated also to a brief runway fashion show showing off a clothing line inspired by the show, the premiere of the third season (which airs October 9) and a performance by Disney recording artist Honor Society. Hosted by Radio Disney’s Ernie D, the only cast member unable to appear was David DeLuise who had broken his clavicle at the awards ceremony.
A primetime special for preschoolers and their families, “Mickey Mouse Clubhouse Choo Choo Express,” starring Disney’s beloved Sensational Six – Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Goofy, Donald Duck, Daisy Duck and Pluto – premieres SUNDAY, OCTOBER 25 (7:00-7:45 p.m., ET/PT) on Disney Channel. In the colorful special of this Emmy Award-nominated series, Mickey and pals climb aboard the Clubhouse Choo Choo Train for a snow-filled adventure. Grammy Award-winning alternative rock band They Might Be Giants and the Sensational Six themselves each perform a new song in the special.
All-new episodes of Disney•Pixar’s “Cars Toons,” an animated short series directed by Academy Award©-winner John Lasseter with Rob Gibbs co-directing and starring Lightning McQueen’s rusty friend Mater, will debut beginning FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 20 on Disney Channel, Disney XD and ABC Family. They are titled “Unidentified Flying Mater,” “Monster Truck Mater,” “Heavy Metal Mater” and “Tokyo Mater.”
Mark Mothersbaugh (“Devo”) composed the music for three episodes and BT (“The Fast and the Furious”), a prominent composer of dance and electronic music, scored “Tokyo Mater.”
The four new stories follow the popular shorts that began debuting in October 2008 and which have reached 22.9 million Kids 2-11, or 56% of all kids in that age group in the U.S., and 67.5 million total unique viewers.
“Cars Toons” are directed by John Lasseter, (“Cars,” “Toy Story 2,” “A Bug’s Life” and “Toy Story”) and co-directed by Rob Gibbs (“Cars,” “Finding Nemo,” “Monsters, Inc” and “Toy Story 2″). Kori Rae (“The Incredibles” and “Monsters Inc.”) is the producer. Victor Navone (“Cars,” “The Incredibles,” “Finding Nemo” and “Monsters, Inc.”) co-directed the episode “Tokyo Mater.”
In “Unidentified Flying Mater,” premiering Friday, November 20 on Disney Channel, Mater meets a cute little bucktoothed UFO named Mator, takes him out for a night of fun and they quickly become best friends. But when Mator is captured by the military, Mater and Lightning McQueen come to the rescue.
Zack, Cody, London, Bailey and Woody are lost at sea in a new one-hour special episode of “The Suite Life on Deck,” premiering FRIDAY, OCTOBER 2 (8:00-9:00 p.m., ET/PT) on Disney Channel. Viewers go around the world to the S.S. Tipton’s ports of call during a week-long programming event.
In “Lost At Sea,” Zack, Cody, London, Bailey and Woody find themselves stranded on a deserted island when Woody accidentally hits the release lever on a lifeboat and the gang drifts out to sea. Zack hops into action, putting his survival tactics to use, while London takes it all in stride, believing that they have found a remote five-star resort. When Mr. Moseby realizes that the kids are missing, he sets off on a search to find them.
Disney Channel will celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month with programming events for preschoolers, kids, tweens and families beginning TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 15. Included is a Playhouse Disney mini-marathon and new episode of its Emmy and Imagen Award-nominated series “Handy Manny.”
Wilmer Valderrama of “Handy Manny” and Maria Canals-Barrera of the hit Emmy-nominated series “Wizards of Waverly Place” will host interstitials highlighting Hispanic traditions. The interstitials will also feature kids from around the nation sharing cultural traditions such as La Arana, Los Pollitos, salsa dancing and Quinceañeras.
The programming line-up includes:
The Disney/ABC Television Group received 19 Daytime Emmy Awards at the 36th Annual Daytime Entertainment Emmy Awards presented this weekend, August 29th and 30th.
ABC’s “The View” received four Daytime Emmy Awards and made history when the honor of Outstanding Talk Show Host was bestowed on Barbara Walters, Whoopi Goldberg, Joy Behar, Elisabeth Hasselbeck and Sherri Shepherd. It was the first time in the 36 year history of NATAS that multiple talk show hosts were bestowed this honor. The women of “The View” have been nominated for 12 consecutive years in this category; this was their first win.
Other wins for ABC’s “The View” include Outstanding Directing in a Talk Show/Morning Program for Director, Mark Gentile; Outstanding Achievement in Hairstyling and “Outstanding Achievement in Makeup.
Wiztober returns for the second year with a new Halloween and wizard-themed programming lineup hosted by the stars of the Emmy-nominated hit series “Wizards of Waverly Place” — Selena Gomez, David Henrie, Jake T. Austin and Jennifer Stone. The month is highlighted by the Season Three premiere of “Wizards of Waverly Place” on FRIDAY, OCTOBER 9 (8:00 p.m., ET/PT).
Last year’s Wiztober delivered TV’s No. 1 rank in Total Day among Tweens 9-14.
“Wiz-tober” kicks off with a special encore presentation of “Wizards of Waverly Place The Movie” on THURSDAY, OCTOBER 1 (8:00 p.m., ET/PT), leading into an entire month of magic-filled movies, including the popular Disney Channel Original Movies “Halloweentown” and “Twitches” (and their sequels), and two installments from the popular “Harry Potter” feature film series, among others. The month also delivers the premiere of a brand new Halloween-themed episode of Disney Channel’s “JONAS” and spooky episodes of “The Suite Life On Deck” and “Wizards of Waverly Place.”
Beginning Wednesday, September 16, kids can log on to DisneyChannel.com and get printable instructions for “Call in Your Haunt,” where fans can record their own spooky haunted house sound effects. Select entries can be heard online in the Wizards of Waverly Place Haunted House, and will air on Disney Channel during the programming event.
Following the premiere episode of the new season of “Wizards of Waverly Place,” new episodes will air Friday nights throughout October. In the new season, Alex’s best friend, Harper, moves in with the Russos.
Meanwhile, Alex pursues her dream of becoming an artist and designs her own art studio inside a miniature dollhouse. Justin, in his last year of high school, plans to savor every senior year moment and to try his hand at monster hunting, and Max hones his wizard skills and becomes a serious contender in the Russo kids’ quest to become the sole heir of the family’s wizard powers.
The schedule is as follows: