×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Disney, Fox Employees Grapple With Day One Transition on Two Hollywood Lots

What kind of a boss will Disney be?

That’s a question facing employees at 20th Century Fox, Fox Searchlight, National Geographic Partners, FX Networks, and other assorted parts of Rupert Murdoch’s former media empire. Wednesday was their first full day as staffers of the Walt Disney Co. and the initial moves have done little to assuage anxieties. Many employees arrived at Fox’s Century City lot expecting the worst. The Fox and Disney merger is expected to result in as many as 4,000 lost jobs.

The ax has yet to fall, but many staffers believe that pink slips could be handed out this week. There are rumors that some employees will be asked to stay on for a transitional period while others will be given severance packages almost immediately. Employees who are staying on expect to be told who they will report to by Thursday.

Murdoch’s new Fox Corp. held on to the 20th Century Fox lot in the sale process. Disney has a seven-year lease with Fox Corp. to continue housing the 21st Century Fox businesses that it has just acquired. The bifurcation of the consolidated Disney-Fox operation has led to speculation about where the senior executives will settle over the long term: Burbank or Century City?

Walt Disney Studios president Alan Bergman and chairman Alan Horn were expected to be on the lot for meetings. Dana Walden, chairman of Disney Television Studios and ABC Entertainment, started her day on the Fox lot.

So far, communication has been limited to a note from Disney CEO Bob Iger, which seemed to allude to the deep staffing cuts to come.

“Our integration process will be an evolution, with some businesses impacted more than others,” Iger wrote. “We’ve made many critical decisions already, but some areas still require further evaluation. We may not have answers to all of your questions at this moment but we understand how vital information is, and we’re committed to moving as quickly as possible to provide clarity regarding how your role may be impacted.”

Iger has visited Fox’s offices for one-on-one and group meetings in the months leading up to the sale’s close, but he was not seen on the lot on Wednesday.

Employees were also contacted by human resources with a link to a portal detailing Disney’s organizational structure and outlining key benefits.

On Monday, shortly before the sale was finalized, Fox staffers received a note from Murdoch, who thanked them for being part of the studio’s history. It was one of the first solo letters staffers had received from the mogul in months — he typically co-signed his missives with sons Lachlan and James.

“For decades we have been a catalyst for change, driven by an aversion to complacency, a sense of curiosity about the world and an abiding embrace of bold ideas,” Murdoch wrote. “Together, over decades we have charted new territories, served customers across continents and shaped a bright future for our businesses.” He also emphasized that he sees both businesses poised to “flourish in years to come.”

Lachlan Murdoch appears to be moving aggressively into the future, one that will see him try to leverage Fox News, Fox Broadcasting, and Fox Sports into a media player that will lean heavily on sports and breaking news. For the foreseeable future, Fox Corporation will be sharing space with FX Networks, Searchlight, and whatever becomes of the 20th Century Fox film and TV production operations. That could be awkward, as staffers wondered if communal areas such as the commissary will be accessible to both Fox Corp. and Disney employees.

Lachlan Murdoch made it clear who owns the physical space. Greeting employees driving to the lot on Wednesday was a banner that read: “Welcome to Fox.”

Murdoch is set to host a town hall for Fox Corp. employees on Thursday morning. Fox Corp. also announced plans for an investor conference to be held on May 9. Disney is preparing for an investor presentation on April 11 to detail its post-merger plans for launching the Disney Plus service by year’s end.

More Biz

  • Sony Pictures logo

    Sony Pictures Profits Rise to $489 Million but Music Profits Tumble

    Profits at Sony Pictures rose to $489 million for the financial year running to the end of March 2019. That compares with $376 million in the previous financial year. The pictures division result was achieved despite a fall in revenue. That dropped from $9.13 billion in the preceding financial year to $8.87 billion in the [...]

  • Los Angeles Ballet

    MovieCoin Startup Accused of Reneging on Ballet Gift

    Los Angeles Ballet filed suit against MovieCoin on Thursday, accusing the film finance startup of trying to pay a $200,000 pledge in worthless tokens. MovieCoin was founded in 2017 by producer Christopher Woodrow, the former CEO of Worldview Entertainment and Vendian Entertainment. The company offered the chance to invest in films using a blockchain-based token. [...]

  • CBS Viacom

    CBS and Viacom Move Closer to Merger Talks

    The CBS Corp. board of directors is moving closer to initiating acquisition discussions with Viacom, according to multiple sources close to the situation. The move has been expected for months, although there may still be obstacles on the road to a reunion for the two sides of the Redstone media empire. Price could still be [...]

  • Ken Basin Liz Miller

    Paramount TV Ups Ken Basin to Head Business Affairs, Hires Liz Miller as Production SVP

    Paramount Television announced that Ken Basin has been elevated to head of business affairs for the division, and Liz Miller has been hired as senior vice president of production. David Goldman, the previous head of business affairs, has left the company to pursue other opportunities. Basin will report to Nicole Clemens, the president of Paramount [...]

  • eOne Names Bill Wilson Senior VP

    eOne Names Bill Wilson Senior VP

    Entertainment One (“eOne”) has tapped Bill Wilson as Senior Vice President Digital Operations and Innovation, Music, the company announced today. Wilson will oversee all aspects of digital strategy across the company’s music business, including label service, talent management, music publishing and live entertainment, according to the announcement.  Wilson will be based in New York City and [...]

  • Santa Fe Studios Netflix

    Santa Fe Studios Competes With Other New Mexico Stages for Streaming Business

    Albuquerque Studios entered the spotlight last October when it was purchased by Netflix. While the complex is clearly the jewel in the crown of New Mexico’s production infrastructure, with eight soundstages totaling 132,000 square feet, 100,000 square feet of production offices, a large backlot and support space, it’s not the only modern studio facility in [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content