The Walt Disney Company’s television division is shrinking its staff amid the ongoing reorganization, Variety has learned. Though the scope of the layoffs is unclear, no further rounds are expected after Thursday through the end of the calendar year.
This comes after the announcement earlier this week that Disney Television entertainment chief Dana Walden would consolidate the group’s programming and studio operations, which in turn follows efforts by Disney’s general entertainment content chairman Peter Rice last month to establish a new structure following the company’s decision to split off the content creation team from distribution and commercialization activities.
That all stems from the top — Disney CEO Bob Chapek made a sweeping restructuring announcement in October that created a new distribution and monetization arm under Kareem Daniel and emphasized the entertainment conglomerate’s focus on streamlining and amplifying its direct-to-consumer ambitions.
News about upcoming layoffs is not entirely unexpected, given the sunsetting of the Touchstone Television brand (nee Fox 21 Television Studios) and folding it into 20th TV.
Among those who are leaving Disney in the studios division are Dan Kupetz, who had just joined 20th Century Fox Television, now 20th TV, as executive vice president of business affairs and operations in January after over 15 years at CBS Television Studios. Also at 20th TV, executive vice president of comedy and drama development Jennifer Gwartz, who was named to the post just over a year ago, and head of comedy Cheryl Dolins are also departing.
On the network side, ABC Entertainment’s head of current series programming Vicki Dummer, executive vice president of programming strategy and scheduling Andy Kubitz, senior vice president Jennifer Mayo and movies and miniseries head David Marko are also understood to be departing the Disney-owned broadcaster.
Earlier on Thursday, Radio Disney said it would cease operations. Last week, Walt Disney’s 10-K disclosure revealed that Disney’s theme parks and resorts segment would increase its layoff count to 32,000 from 28,000 through March 2021.
And Thursday evening, ABC News president James Goldston sent a memo to staff to discuss the cuts that will impact a low single-digit percentage of its 1,400 employees in the new year, calling it a “difficult decision” but one that is “necessary as we adapt to changes in our business and how the company is organized.”
As the pandemic continues to take its toll on the industry, Disney has been hit on all sides, from its theme parks to studio entertainment to live sports broadcasts. The one bright spot, Disney Plus — which has attracted 73.7 million paying subscribers in its first 11 months on the market — underscores the company’s drive to focus on monetizing and streamlining its streaming efforts.
Representatives for Disney did not respond to comment.