Disney cuts ABC & Freeform execs as largest wave of lay-offs hits Mouse House

ABC and Freeform execs are among the casualties of Disney’s second round of lay-offs taking place this week, as the media giant seeks to cut 7,000 jobs.

Julia Jarmon, Freeform’s SVP of development, is exiting, with the network’s development and current now being consolidated under Jamila Hunter, EVP of original programming & development.

Also departing from Freeform is Alix Lee, director of development & programming, and Sarah Tomassi Lindman, SVP of content planning & strategy, with scheduling for Disney’s cablenets to be combined.

ABC exits & timelines

Other departees include ABC exec Stacey Adams, who was SVP of current programming & head of current drama. Head of drama Brianna Bennett, who has been leading development, will now add current to her remit.

Dana Sharpless, 20th Television’s SVP and co-head of current programming is also leaving, with Steve Sicherman now expected to run the department by himself, while VP of production Nicole Ettinger and executive director of comedy development Stephanie Rosenthal are also out.

Dana Walden

ABC Signature’s VP of drama development, Brenda Vogel, VP of comedy Jenny Fritz and drama development managers Gabrielle Gold and Max Henke are also understood to have been axed.

Disney Entertainment co-chairmen Alan Bergman and Dana Walden told staff via a memo that staff affected by the lay-offs would be told before Thursday.

“We wanted to share that notifications will continue in many areas of the company over the next several days. In addition, restructuring in various businesses will continue for the next couple of months, and we do anticipate there will be further impacts before the summer, as previously shared.

“Each team is in a different place in this process, and your leaders will be sharing more context for your group soon.”

They added: “These are hard decisions and not ones we take lightly – but every decision has been made with considerable thought and we are doing everything we can to make sure this process is conducted with respect and compassion.”

Marketing merger

The Mouse House is also dissolving the Disney TV Studios marketing department, with divisions such as ABC and Hulu now responsible for their own show marketing going forwards.

As part of those changes, senior execs exiting include: Steven Melnick, SVP of marketing; Sharon Merle-Liberman, SVP marketing & promotions for 20th Television; and Sonia Borris, SVP marketing for ABC Signature & 20th Television Animation.

Meanwhile, Disney is merging the music departments at 20th Television and ABC Signature under 20th TV’s EVP & head of music Jeremy Summers, with ABC Signature’s Dawn Solér exiting as a result.

These latest lay-offs follow the first round of redundancies in March, which saw Hulu’s SVP of production, Mark Levenstein, and Freeform’s SVP of production management & operations, Jayne Bieber, among those exiting.

The creative acquisitions division was also closed as CEO Bob Iger seeks to slash $3bn from content spend and overhaul content operations, with a return to third-party sales in the works.

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