After the exodus of top Fox film executives and the shutting down of the respected Fox 2000 label as Walt Disney Studios absorbed the 20th Century Fox movie operations, the focus shifted to the TV side.
As we reported, outside of TV distribution (domestic and international), which was expected to undergo reductions to eliminate redundancies, the combined Disney-Fox TV operations had been spared of layoffs, with the 20th Century Fox TV, Fox 21 TV Studios and ABC Studios teams left intact so far. (I hear a handful of pink slips may be coming today or Monday).
In an internal memo on Friday, Craig Hunegs, President of Disney Television Studios, who oversees those production units, indicated they will continue to function as stand-alones, with no current plans to consolidate them as some had feared. He also confirmed that supplying Disney’s upcoming direct-to consumer platform would be a main priority for the studios.
“As we go forward, each of our studios – ABC Studios led by Patrick Moran, 20th Century Fox Television led by Jonnie Davis and Howard Kurtzman and Fox 21 led by Bert Salke – will continue to carve out unique identities with their own distinctive creative taste,” Hunegs wrote. “I’m here to help bring it all together, to have us work seamlessly as a group. It’s a time of rapid, fundamental change in television and I’ll work with all of you to make sure we have what we need to grow and succeed. I’ll also focus hard on making DTS the absolute best place to work for talent, for executives and for all our employees.”
Earlier in the day, Hunegs’ boss, Disney Television Studios and ABC Entertainment chairman Dana Walden, also sent an internal memo rallying the TV troops after a difficult day for their film counterparts. “Day three, and the energy and excitement inside our newly merged organization is palpable!,” she wrote.
The top Disney TV executive, Walt Disney TV chairman Peter Rice, sent his internal memo yesterday. In it, he talked up the two sides of the company and all the people who work for them. “I’ve found that Disney and Fox are at their heart, remarkably similar businesses,” he wrote on Thursday. “They’re two of the world’s great storytelling companies. Both are populated by extremely talented people driven by a deep commitment to the highest quality artistry and a truly innovative approach to the business of entertainment.”
Here are today’s emails from Hunegs and Walden.
For those of you I haven’t met, I’m Craig Hunegs, President of Disney Television Studios. I feel so fortunate to join Disney, to work for Peter and Dana and to lead our exceptional TV studios.
I’m sure you agree, it’s a truly unique time to create television and we enter it with great strength. Across our studios, we have an unmatched roster of executives and talent, the highest quality programs and an exciting lineup of development projects. Disney has networks and streaming services with an insatiable need for high quality, diverse programs. We have unprecedented opportunities for our creators to tell stories and touch audiences.
As we go forward, each of our studios – ABC Studios led by Patrick Moran, 20th Century Fox Television led by Jonnie Davis and Howard Kurtzman and Fox 21 led by Bert Salke – will continue to carve out unique identities with their own distinctive creative taste. I’m here to help bring it all together, to have us work seamlessly as a group. It’s a time of rapid, fundamental change in television and I’ll work with all of you to make sure we have what we need to grow and succeed. I’ll also focus hard on making DTS the absolute best place to work for talent, for executives and for all our employees.
An important measure for us will be the compelling, breakout series we create for our sister platforms, ABC, Disney+, Freeform, FX, Hulu and NatGeo. Our relationship with them will figure hugely in our success, and across creative and business affairs we will aim for a true, friction-less partnership.
I feel incredibly lucky to do what we do. We touch and entertain audiences all over the world and together we can do it in an even more impactful way.
Over the coming weeks, I look forward to meeting and getting to know each and every one of you.
Day three, and the energy and excitement inside our newly merged organization is palpable! I’m so happy to be starting this journey with all of you. To say I’ve been looking forward to this week would be an enormous understatement, and I want to start by thanking you for the warmth, thoughtfulness and goodwill many of you have already extended to your new colleagues.
Over the past few months, I have had the good fortune of getting to know some of you on the Disney side, and throughout my 26 years at Fox I’ve been lucky to work with many of you for decades. The combined companies represent a dream team of executives and staff, and we all share the same goal – to be the best by creating the best environment for our people and our extraordinary creative partners.
When you look across the Disney Television Studios, ABC Entertainment, the ABC Owned TV Stations and Freeform, many of us have already worked together in the past. Our companies have a long history of teaming up to do spectacular things together. Look no further than multiple Emmy and Golden Globe winner Modern Family for an example of the extraordinary work that resulted when we joined forces. That happened when we were completely separate companies – just think about how much we can achieve now that we are united. There is no greater bonding experience than shared success, and I know that going forward we will have much to celebrate together.
I am genuinely thrilled to be embarking on this new chapter in my career with a stellar leadership team — Karey, Craig, Tom and Wendy — who understand that a winning business starts with a winning culture. The five of us realize that bringing our businesses together will require strategy and patience. Please know that we are all here for you and that we too are experiencing both the exhilaration and anxiety that accompany change.
Throughout my own transition to becoming a Disney employee, I have been thoroughly impressed with The Walt Disney Company’s Human Resources team. They are compassionate and highly skilled executives who are here to help us all through the integration. Each business unit has a dedicated HR business partner, with whom you can be connected through your supervisor. They’ve provided this five minute video that highlights how you can think about and embrace change. I hope everyone will take the time to watch it.
Finally, I am almost overwhelmed by the excitement I feel for our future. We are now positioned to win, big time, and I am grateful to Bob and Peter for giving me this opportunity. I am especially proud to be working with all of you.