EXCLUSIVE: The rebuilding of Disney Television Animation, which started in 2008 with the hire of Nickelodeon veteran Eric Coleman as SVP Original Series, continues. Coleman has assembled his new executive team, which includes Michael McGahey, Khaki Jones and Jonathan Schneider. Additionally, the division’s project Gravity Falls has been picked to series at Disney Channel for a spring 2012 premiere, while freshman Disney Channel series Fish Hooks has been renewed for a second season.
Since its September premiere, Fish Hooks, which features 2D animation characters set against photo-real backgrounds, has unseated Disney TV Animation’s other hit, Phineas and Ferb, as TV’s No.1 animated series among kids 6-14. The series was created by and is co-executive produced by illustrator Noah Z. Jones, developed by Alex Hirsch and executive produced by Maxwell Atoms. Hot up-and-comer Hirsch, a recent Cal Arts graduate, created Gravity Falls, a stylized animated comedy about twin siblings who are thrust into the mysterious town of Gravity Falls, Oregon. Hirsch is voicing the show along with Jason Ritter and Kristen Schaal. Under Coleman, Disney TV Animation, which supplies Disney Channel, Disney XD and the upcoming Disney Junior, has been focusing on creator-driven series, in which the project’s creator also runs the series to maintain the original creative vision.
Reporting to Coleman will be McGahey, who has been named VP development. He most recently served as Executive Director, Development, for Disney XD. Prior to that, he was SVP of the feature film department at Klasky Csupo, Inc., VP at Deep River Prods . and Director of Development at Friendly Pictures. Also reporting to Coleman is Jones who has been named to the newly created position of VP Current Series, A 20+ year Turner Broadcasting veteran, Jones was most recently VP Original Series at Cartoon Network. Schneider, who will report to McGahey, joins as director from Nickelodeon where he was Manager, Animation Development.