Insider info! We love it. Especially when we’re talking about what’s going on at what formerly were two true television behemoths. (But are soon to become one that’s even – erm – behemothier.)
by Michael Schneider
When the Walt Disney Company unveiled much of its new TV networks organizational structure Monday, it didn’t come with many surprises: As expected, Peter Rice will assume oversight as chairman of Walt Disney Television and co-chair of Disney Media Networks once the company closes its acquisition of 21st Century Fox.
Under Rice, as previously reported, Dana Walden has been named chairman of Disney TV Studios and ABC Entertainment, while John Landgraf will continue to oversee FX Networks and FX Productions as chairman. National Geographic Partners chairman Gary Knell, Disney Channels Worldwide president/COO Gary Marsh and ABC News president James Goldston will also answer to Rice.
With long-time 21st Century Fox execs taking over key Disney TV oversight, Burbank’s about to feel a lot more like Century City. And that’s clearly Disney CEO Bob Iger’s goal: “The strength of 21st Century Fox’s first-class management talent has always been a compelling part of this opportunity for us,” he said in a statement.
But Monday’s announcement still leaves plenty of burning questions when it comes to how things will eventually shake out once the deal is finalized and Rice, Walden, Landgraf, and Knell officially put on their Mouse ears. Here’s what to keep an eye on in the coming months:
What changes will Walden make to ABC Entertainment, and how does that impact Channing Dungey?
Walden will have oversight over several divisions, including studios, the Freeform network and the ABC-owned TV stations group. But ABC Entertainment will be by far the most high profile. Walden and Dungey worked together in the past, but with Walden as the seller (as head of 20th Century Fox TV) and Dungey as the buyer (ABC runs 20th shows including “Modern Family” and “Fresh Off the Boat”), in addition to being competitors. That’s made for an adversarial situation, but now they’re on the same team. What does Walden want out of Dungey? Or does she want her own person running ABC? The Alphabet network is off to a tepid fall, landing in fourth place among adults 18-49 during premiere week.
Will ABC Studios and 20th Century Fox TV be merged, and when?
For now, both studios will continue to operate separately under ABC Studios president Patrick Moran and 20th Century Fox TV presidents Jonathan Davis and Howard Kurtzman, with all three executives reporting to Walden. But in the long term, it doesn’t really make sense to keep two different infrastructures — the whole point of mergers like this one are the financial savings once operations are merged….