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Mouse closing 2 dot-coms

US Weekly site pushes out MrShowbiz, Wall of Sound

So much for the idea that creating a strong brand on the Web is the ticket to survival.

Planning to give a bigger brand more exposure on the Internet, the Mouse House plans to shutter popular movie and music news sites MrShowbiz.com and WallofSound.com in the fall, replacing them with a beefed up dot-com for mag US Weekly.

Disney acquired a 50% stake in the entertainment glossy from publisher Wenner Media in February. At the time, Disney said that the magazine would be heavily cross-promoted by other Disney properties, especially ABC shows such as “The View” and “Good Morning America.”

Thus it makes sense for Disney to make the publication its official source of entertainment on the Web. However, two stalwart Internet brands that were born online bite the dust. In March, MrShowbiz attracted 2.2 million unique visitors, according to Jupiter Media Metrix.

Layoffs are possible at both MrShowbiz and WallofSound, a Disney spokesperson said. It is unknown just how many people work for the sites. But pinkslips won’t be handed out until the company’s voluntary separation program of 4,000 staffers is completed in the coming weeks.

MrShowbiz, which recently underwent an extensive redesign and relaunch, and WallofSound are based in Seattle.

While the Walt Disney Internet Group will keep the Seattle office open for technology developments, and ESPN.com and ABCNews.com staffers, all entertainment content and related staff will be relocated to Los Angeles.

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