Disney Television Studios Consolidate Into Two Studios:
Karey Burke Takes on New Role as President of 20th Television
and Jonnie Davis Continues as President of ABC Signature
Craig Hunegs Named President of Entertainment, Walt Disney Television
Craig Erwich Expands Oversight as President of Hulu Originals and ABC Entertainment
Tara Duncan Oversees Original Content for Freeform and Will
Build a Roster of Diverse Creators Producing for All Platforms
Shannon Ryan Oversees Marketing and Publicity Teams
Dana Walden, Chairman of Entertainment, Walt Disney Television, announced today a restructure of the expansive television production and original content businesses under her purview. As part of the restructure, the number of Disney Television Studios will reduce to two, sunsetting the Touchstone label; original content teams at ABC and Hulu Originals will be consolidated under one leader; and 20th Animation and Unscripted Programming teams will be spun out into separate units to focus on expanding the volume produced by each area.
The restructure follows the strategic reorganization at The Walt Disney Company to accelerate the Company’s growth in its direct-to-consumer businesses. As part of that plan, the Company separated content creation from distribution and commercialization enabling the content teams to focus on fueling the Company’s distribution platforms with a primary focus on Disney+ and Hulu. Walden’s studio teams will supply breakthrough content to these best-in-class streaming platforms, as well as linear networks ABC, Disney Channel, Freeform, FX and National Geographic, and third parties. Original content teams will choose and manage the programming slates for Hulu Originals, ABC Entertainment and Freeform.
“This has been an incredibly challenging but successful year. Our television studios produce many of the top-rated shows in the industry. ABC is now the No. 1 entertainment network and the Hulu Originals team launched their most successful slate yet of critically acclaimed, award-winning, high-performing shows. I am proud of our exceptional leadership team and all we have accomplished, but the media landscape is changing and this reorganization better positions us for the future,” said Walden. “The changes we are announcing today are in service of three goals: rightsizing our organization, streamlining functions across our studios and original content teams, and strengthening our partnerships with the extraordinary creators who call Disney Television Studios their home.”
As part of the restructure, Disney Television Studios will be consolidated into two studio teams, falling under the banners of 20th Television and ABC Signature. This means the Touchstone Television banner will sunset and its operations will be rolled into 20th Television. Karey Burke will become President of 20th Television. She will move over from her role as President of ABC Entertainment, which became the No. 1 broadcast network with entertainment programming under her oversight.
Burke has a long and successful track record as both a network executive and a producer. Having spent the first half of her career at NBC, during the “Must See” TV era of the network, which included the development of “Friends,” “ER” and “Will & Grace,” she then moved into producing. She joined Freeform in 2012 as EVP, Development, where she oversaw the creation of “The Bold Type,” “grown-ish” and “Good Trouble.” Working with Burke at the newly expanded studio, Carolyn Cassidy will be Executive Vice President, Development; and Jane Francis moves from Touchstone Television to become Executive Vice President, Series. Both will report to Burke.
Jonnie Davis will continue as President of ABC Signature, overseeing the studio that produced the No. 1 hit show for ABC and Hulu last season, with “Grey’s Anatomy” and “Little Fires Everywhere.” Prior to his current role, he was President of Twentieth Century Fox Television, where he oversaw the development of “Empire,” “Fresh Off the Boat,” “9-1-1” and “This Is Us.”
The studio teams under Burke and Davis will be responsible for picking creative partners, helping them to identify the right projects and all facets of production. Both Burke and Davis will report directly to Walden.
With these changes, Bert Salke will transition from President of Touchstone Television to a new multi-year overall producing deal with Disney Television Studios. During his tenure, Salke oversaw development and production at the studio (previously known as Fox 21), which included iconic and celebrated programs “Homeland,” “Genius,” “Queen of the South” and “The Hot Zone.” Additionally, together with FX Productions, the studio produced “The Americans,” “Sons of Anarchy” and “Mayan M.C.” Touchstone has also been the studio home to Ryan Murphy Television, which produces “Pose,” “Ratched,” “The Politician” and the “American Crime Story” franchise.
“We feel incredibly fortunate that Bert has chosen to set his production company up with Disney Television Studios,” said Walden. “He has impeccable taste and no one works harder or is more committed to creators, whether they are new voices or long-established hit makers. Writers can feel his passion and dedication, and that creates an environment where they can do great work.”
Craig Hunegs will move from his role as President of Disney Television Studios to serve as President of Entertainment, Walt Disney Television, working alongside Walden across all business units. He will lead centralized Business Affairs, Production, Casting and Creative Talent Development & Inclusion teams. He’ll also oversee 20th Animation and a newly formed production unit for Unscripted Programming in a strategy to grow output for both genres. Prior to joining Disney in 2019, Hunegs was President, Business and Strategy, Warner Bros. TV Group, where he spent two decades helping to build out that company’s portfolio of celebrated content.
Craig Erwich and Tara Duncan will have oversight of the original content teams responsible for choosing and managing development slates and greenlighting shows. Erwich will oversee Hulu Originals and ABC Entertainment, and Duncan will oversee Freeform. Both will continue to report to Walden.
Erwich has been at the helm of Hulu Originals for the past six years and now adds management of ABC Entertainment, which was previously run by Karey Burke. He will now serve as President of Hulu Originals and ABC Entertainment. During his tenure at Hulu Originals, Erwich led the team responsible for such smash hits as “The Handmaid’s Tale,” “The Act,” “Little Fires Everywhere,” “Ramy,” “Shrill” and many other high-performing Hulu shows. No stranger to broadcast television, Erwich spent 12 years as a high-level executive at the network previously known as FBC.
As President of Freeform, Tara Duncan continues to oversee original programming for the basic cable channel. Additionally, she will build a roster of creators of color to develop across platforms. Duncan joined the Disney team this year from an overall deal at Hulu, and before that was a creative executive at Netflix overseeing the hits series “Orange Is the New Black” and “Narcos.”
As previously announced, the restructure also includes the centralization of marketing and publicity under Shannon Ryan, President, Content Marketing, Hulu and General Entertainment. Ryan will manage the creative marketing, publicity, media planning, events, talent relations and award strategies for programming created under Walden’s organization. Her team will collaborate closely with the Hulu and linear network marketing teams at DMED. Ryan joined Disney from FOX in 2019 where she was CMO of the Fox Television Group. She became President of Marketing for ABC Entertainment and Disney Television Studios; and in her first season overseeing marketing for the network, ABC became the No. 1 entertainment broadcaster of the year.
Peter Rice, Chairman, Disney General Entertainment Content – to whom Walden reports – commented, “Dana is a hall of fame television executive leading an all-star team of the best and brightest creative leaders in Hollywood. This new organization under Dana will allow us to compete amidst a transforming industry by attracting the best talent, encouraging creative risk and facilitating the creation of groundbreaking series.”
A home to incredible storytellers, last season Disney Television Studios produced the No. 1 program on nine different networks: ABC’s “Grey’s Anatomy,” Fox’s “9-1-1,” NBC’s “This Is Us,” Freeform’s “grown-ish,” FX’s “American Horror Story,” TBS’ “American Dad!,” National Geographic’s “Barkskins,” USA’s “Queen of the South” and Showtime’s “The Chi.” Source: The Nielsen Company, A18-49, L7 data.