The nonfiction specials division of Buena Vista TV Prods. has been folded as a result of the merger of Disney’s TV production arm and ABC Entertainment.
Division topper Paul Villadolid, senior veep of specials and nonfiction programming, and his No. 2, veep Jim Felber, have exited the Mouse House.
The division most recently produced the Emmy-nominated PBS multi-parter “The Irish in America” and the “20th Century” anthology project for Showtime, which encompassed retrospective films on various topics from such helmers as Robert Zemeckis, Norman Jewison and Garry Marshall.
It was also home to a pet project of Roy Disney’s, the syndicated “Disney’s New True Life Adventures” nature and wildlife docu series that revived the studio’s Oscar-winning docu shorts banner from the 1940s and ’50s.
But even before the Disney-ABC merger plan was unveiled in July, the specials department was seen internally as a prime target for elimination due to general belt-tightening efforts throughout the Mouse House. With the merger, ABC’s existing specials staffers were viewed as more in sync with the specific needs of the Alphabet web.
Villadolid, who’d been with Disney TV since 1992, and Felber are said to have been approached by other docu production outfits and nonfiction-oriented cable channels.