EXCLUSIVE: The Mighty Ducks franchise will continue without Gordon Bombay. Emilio Estevez, who reprised his role from the 1992 movie and its 1994 and 1996 sequels in Season 1 of The Mighty Ducks: Game Changers, will not be back for the Disney+ series’ upcoming second season, I have learned.
I hear Disney Television Studios’ ABC Signature, which produces the hockey-themed sequel series, made the decision not to pick up Estevez’s option for Season 2 after weeks of back and forth with his team over the show’s Covid vaccination requirement. Reps for the studio and Estevez declined comment.
Heading into Season 2, The Mighty Ducks: Game Changers — like many Disney TV Studios series — has adopted a mandatory vaccination policy for the cast and crew in Zone A, which was included as an option in the most recent Return-to-Work agreement between the Hollywood studios and major unions. (Zone A includes all actors and crew members who come into direct contact with them.)
According to sources, Estevez, through his reps, has declined to provide assurances that he would comply with the policy. With the two sides at an impasse as the Season 2 scripts were being written and the planned early 2022 start of production was looming, I hear the studio made the call to not exercise the actor’s option and the scripts will be adjusted to continue the story without the character.
Meanwhile, sources close to Estevez indicate that creative differences may have played a role in his exit.
While not a blanket policy yet, the Zone A vaccination mandate has emerged as an industry standard, with its adoption footprint steadily expanding. Netflix has made Zone A vaccines mandatory on all productions in the U.S. Disney TV Studios has introduced the policy on new series going forward as well as a number of existing ones, including The Mighty Ducks: Game Changers.
Estevez starred alongside Lauren Graham and Brady Noon in Season 1 of The Mighty Ducks: Game Changers. The series is set in present-day Minnesota, and the Mighty Ducks have evolved from scrappy underdogs to an ultra-competitive, powerhouse youth hockey team. After 12-year-old Evan Morrow (Noon) is unceremoniously cut from the Ducks, he and his mom (Graham) set out to build their own team of misfits to challenge the cutthroat, win-at-all-costs culture of youth sports today. With the help of Estevez’s Gordon, they rediscover the joys of playing just for love of the game.
Graham and Noon will be back for Season 2, leading the cast that also includes Maxwell Simkins, Swayam Bhatia, Luke Islam, Kiefer O’Reilly, Taegen Burns, Bella Higginbotham and DJ Watts.
Dominic Patten contributed to this report.
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