In a flurry of management restructuring, Walt Disney Company has shuffled its senior ranks both at home and abroad. In North America, Anne Sweeney takes over as president of Disney/ABC Cable Networks, while on the international scene, David Hubert becomes senior VP and managing director for European broadcasting at Walt Disney Television International, and David Snyder becomes senior VP, programming and creative development for European broadcasting. In addition, Mike Watts has left his post as managing director of World Productions to become VP and managing director of Buena Vista Productions-Europe.
The new international team has outlined its ambition to establish long-term joint ventures with respected producers outside the U.S. Already, Disney has broken new ground by joining forces with the BBC on a 13-part kids drama called Microsoap. Snyder also revealed that Disney is making another 13-part drama co-pro with the Australian Children’s Television Foundation for Channel 7 Australia called The Crash Zone. According to Snyder, the plan is for Disney to find partners that are willing to thrash out the parameters for production over the long term, then let the creatives find the right projects to fit those requirements. He has high hopes for continued work with the BBC, and has developed a similar arrangement with the CBC in Canada. In the longer term, there are plans to find French and German partners.
Watts, who joined BVP last month, stressed that working with independent producers is also a big part of the company’s plans. He highlighted Disney’s work with U.K.-based Media Merchants on distributing the format for ITV’s hit kids show Art Attack across Europe. Watts says, ‘My aim is to increase the scale and scope of BVP-Europe, working with our team of locally-based producers and further developing relationships with co-production partners. In addition to the above shows, WDTI also outlined its plan to launch Eddie Murphy’s foamation series The PJs and the teen comedy Zoe Beans at MIPCOM.