Disney Television entertainment chief Dana Walden is reshuffling her executive team as she consolidates the company’s programming operations. The moves will see Disney streamline its three distinct studios into two and integrate programming teams at ABC and Hulu.
Karey Burke will move from her role as head of ABC Entertainment into a new position as president of studio 20th Television. Craig Erwich, longtime head of originals at Hulu, will add oversight of ABC Entertainment to his purview. Burke and Erwich will continue to report to Walden.
Craig Hunegs will transition from president of Walt Disney Television Studios to president, Walt Disney Entertainment, where he will work closely with Walden across all business units in her portfolio. Hunegs will lead 20th Animation and a new unscripted production unit, and will continue to oversee business affairs, production, casting and inclusion for the company.
As part of the streamlining of studio operations, Disney will fold Touchstone Television, previously known as Fox 21 Television Studios. Bert Salke, longtime head of that unit, will leave the company, transitioning into a producer deal. Touchstone’s operations will fold into 20th.
Jonnie Davis will continue to serve as president of studio ABC Signature. Tara Duncan will continue in her role as president of Freeform and will build out a new roster of creators of color who will develop content across all Disney-owned platforms.
Carolyn Cassidy, who had served as president of 20th Television, will become exec VP of development at the studio. Touchstone Television’s Jane Francis will become exec VP of series at 20th. Both execs will report to Burke.
“This has been an extraordinarily difficult year, to say the least, and I am so grateful to you all for stepping up to meet challenge after challenge,” Walden wrote in an email to staff. “Our industry has been altered forever, and we are reorganizing to position ourselves strongly for the future and create an even better experience for our creative partners.”
The moves come roughly three weeks after Walden’s boss Peter Rice announced a reorganization of his Disney General Entertainment Content division, one that included Shannon Ryan taking oversight of publicity and marketing as president, content marketing, Hulu and general entertainment. Those moves were part of a larger and ongoing restructuring at Disney in the wake of Bob Chapek’s appointment to succeed longtime Disney CEO Bob Iger.
Rice said in a statement, ““Dana is a hall of fame television executive leading an all-star team of the best and brightest creative leaders in Hollywood. This new organization under Dana will allow us to compete amidst a transforming industry by attracting the best talent, encouraging creative risk and facilitating the creation of groundbreaking series.”
Read the full memo from Walden to staff below:
In a few moments we will be announcing changes to the business units under my purview. This has been an extraordinarily difficult year, to say the least, and I am so grateful to you all for stepping up to meet challenge after challenge. Our industry has been altered forever, and we are reorganizing to position ourselves strongly for the future and create an even better experience for our creative partners.
The changes announced today follow the recent reorganization at The Walt Disney Company, which was designed to accelerate growth in its direct-to-consumer businesses. As part of that plan, the Company separated content creation from distribution and commercialization. Our role is to supply breakthrough original content to Disney’s best-in-class streaming platforms Disney+ and Hulu, linear networks and third-party platforms; and to choose the original content that will fuel the Hulu Originals, ABC Entertainment and Freeform programming slates.
I am very lucky to be working with a group of leaders who are both gifted executives, and caring and compassionate people. Throughout the planning for today’s announcement, we spent countless hours evaluating the best structure for our businesses and our teams. We believe that is what we have achieved. And, our new simplified structure will facilitate clarity of responsibilities and stronger partnerships with our talented colleagues inside Disney Media & Entertainment Distribution.
Here is how we are evolving our organization:
Disney Television Studios will be consolidated into two studio teams led by Karey Burke and Jonnie Davis.
Karey will move over from her role as President of ABC Entertainment and become the President of 20th Television, reporting to me. As part of this restructure, the Touchstone Television banner will sunset and its operations will be rolled into 20th Television. Working with Karey at the newly expanded studio, Carolyn Cassidy will serve as Executive Vice President, Development; and Jane Francis moves from Touchstone Television to become Executive Vice President, Series.
Jonnie will continue as President of ABC Signature, but will now report directly to me.
Bert Salke will transition from President of Touchstone Television to a new multi-year overall producing deal with Disney Television Studios.
Tara Duncan will continue as President of Freeform and will be responsible for building a roster of diverse creators to develop series across all platforms.
Craig Erwich will continue leading the Hulu Originals team and will additionally assume responsibilities previously held by Karey Burke at ABC Entertainment. He will now serve as President of Hulu Originals and ABC Entertainment.
Craig Hunegs will move from his role as President of Disney Television Studios to President of Entertainment for Walt Disney Television, working with me across all areas. He will lead newly centralized Business Affairs, Production, Casting and Creative Talent Development & Inclusion teams. He’ll also oversee 20th Animation and a newly formed production unit for Unscripted Programming.
And as previously announced, Shannon Ryan will serve as President, Content Marketing, Hulu and General Entertainment, managing the creative marketing, publicity, media planning, events, talent relations and awards strategy for all the programming created across our group.
The release below further details our new structure.
These are exceptional creative leaders who have strong relationships throughout our industry and have already accomplished so much. I am certain they will continue to foster an environment where creators, showrunners, producers, directors and talent can do their very best work, and I am confident that their leadership will inspire all of you to do the same.
I know there is discomfort with change, but I am optimistic about our future and am looking forward to working with you as we embark on this new chapter together.