EXCLUSIVE: Disney Channel is looking for the next generation of kids programming talent. A new program introduced today will give writers an opportunity to inspire and develop original shows for Disney Channel and Disney XD-branded platforms. Disney Channel Storytellers, which is open to professionally represented writers, is a 20-week salaried program in which three participants will have a live-action script commissioned as a series pilot, with mentoring from concept and writing to network pitching and pilot production. Other work experience in the program includes pitching ideas to programming execs, writing original scripts and polishing other scripts, and the creative development of digital content for multiple platforms.
After running Radio Disney for the last 15 months, Sean Cocchia has been been brought back to the mothership company Disney Channels as SVP, Business Operations and General Manager. Radio Disney’s VP marketing Phil Guerini has been elevated to VP and General Manager, taking over for Cocchia. Cocchia, who had been SVP of business planning and development for Disney Channels Worldwide, was named SVP and GM of Radio Disney in October 2010 when he replaced Michael Riley, who had moved to run corporate sibling ABC Family. The move was orchestrated by then-Disney Channels Worldwide President Carolina Lightcap. She has since left the company, with her successor Gary Marsh, President and Chief Creative Officer of Disney Channels Worldwide, behind the new reorganization. Disney Channels Worldwide includes Disney Channel, Disney XD, Disney Junior and Radio Disney. Reporting to Cocchia are Disney Media Sales and Marketing, Business Planning and Strategy, Radio Disney and the business functions of both Disney Junior and Disney XD channels. He reports to Marsh.
Disney announced today it has reached an agreement to launch a free-to-air ad-supported Disney Channel in Russia early next year. The joint venture with media holding company UTH Russia will see UTH’s Seven TV channel become Disney Channel, with Disney owning a 49% stake and UTH 51%. At launch, the network will reach about 40 million households, or about 75% of the measured audience in Russia. It will feature family programming including Disney’s signature shows as well as original Russian content. The move comes after a similar effort by Disney was blocked in 2008; the Wall Street Journal reported that Russian regulators OK’d this one after Disney boss Bob Iger met with Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin. “He endorsed the partners that we’re working with and the strategy,” Iger told the WSJ about the meeting. When it launches, it will be the 101st network in Disney Channels Worldwide’s group that currently reaches 325 million households globally.
EXCLUSIVE: Carolina Lightcap has stepped down as president of Disney Channels Worldwide after two years on the job. The channels’ president, Entertainment and Chief Creative Officer Gary Marsh will add her responsibilities to his current ones. His new title will be president and Chief Creative Officer, Disney Channels Worldwide. In his new expanded role, Marsh will have full creative oversight and leadership responsibility for Disney’s global kids TV business comprised of more than 100 entertainment channels and feeds that are available in 169 countries and 35 languages. “We’re sorry that Carolina has decided to leave us and appreciate her many valuable contributions over the years,” said Anne Sweeney, co-chair, Disney Media Networks & President, Disney/ABC Television Group. “Gary Marsh has been the driving creative force behind Disney Channels’ remarkable growth for the past 15 plus years, responsible for some of the most iconic and successful franchises in our history including Hannah Montana, Wizards of Waverly Place, High School Musical, Phineas and Ferb, That’s So Raven, Shake It Up and many others. He not only understands the zeitgeist of kids’ culture, he helped create it. Our business couldn’t be in better hands.”