Disney TV Layoffs: Cuts In Animation, Syndication, Marketing, PR & Unscripted Lead Day 2 – 2nd Update

UPDATED: Day 2 of Disney’s second wave of layoffs has involved staff reduction in first-run syndication, unscripted/alternative as well as marketing and communications.

Disney TV Animation, responsible for 1,200 half-hours of animated content, including Marvel’s Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur, is the latest division to be hit as it also merges the current and development teams. This has led to the departure of a number of executives including Khaki Jones, SVP Current, who has been with the company for nearly 13 years, as well as a number of director level roles.

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Disney’s first-run syndication operation has been dissolved. Departing as part of that is Brent Jones, director and head of production finance & operations for first-run syndication.

Also leaving are VP Kim Harbin, a respected communications executive who has been at Disney for 25 years, as well as Tom Connor, VP Creative Marketing. Their functions will be absorbed by the marketing divisions of the brands that carry the syndicated shows.

Once a major force in the space, Disney-ABC’s syndication division was split into two a couple of years ago, with off-network sales moving to the DMED division that is now being dismantled. The first-run syndication unit, which remained within Disney Entertainment, is now going away. Like other media companies, Disney has largely pulled away from that increasingly challenging daytime syndication business over the past couple of years, with its most recent hit, Tamron Hall, moving under ABC News oversight in 2021.

In PR, in addition to Harbin, leaving are two other well-respected veterans: Patti McTeague, SVP Disney Branded Television Publicity and a fixture in Disney kids and family television for more than two decades, including a long tenure at Disney Channels Worldwide; and Lisa Schreibfeder, Director, Communications and PR, Disney+, the top publicity executive at the streamer, who has been at Disney for 22 years.

The marketing team at Disney+ has been hit, with Trevor Kelley, SVP of marketing; Chris Bettes VP, Global Marketing; Angie Poston, VP, Marketing Strategy, and Natalie Benson, director digital marketing all leaving.

On the production side, departing as part of the layoffs is Ryan Aguirre Executive, Director, Publicity, at Disney Television Studios.

At Hulu, Scott Donaton is leaving his post as SVP Marketing in a reorg, with Marketing EVP Barrie Gruner assuming oversight of brand marketing, while continuing to shepherd content marketing.

On the unscripted side, impacted are Alicia Martino, VP, Alternative Series at Walt Disney Television Alternative and Marc Buhaj, VP, Unscripted Series and Specials, Disney Branded Television. Martino is in talks to remain at the studio with a production deal.

Also leaving are Claire McCabe, VP, Brand Partnerships and Kids and Meghan de Boer, Executive Director, Brand Partnerships and Kids. The pair were promoted last year as part of a restructuring of Disney Branded Television’s unscripted and non-fiction arm.

George Monas, an unscripted production executive at Freeform, is also departing.

Martino, who has worked on series including the early seasons of The Bachelor and The Bachelorette and CBS’ Love Island, was part of the Rob Mills-run Walt Disney Television Alternative studio, developing unscripted series and specials for ABC and other Disney platforms.

Buhaj, who was behind the recently announced Disney+ docuseries Ed Sheeran: The Sum Of It All, oversaw a non-fiction slate of documentaries, formats and specials for Disney+, and unscripted series and specials for Disney Channels. His team is being reduced, with the remaining members reporting to Disney Branded Entertainment EVP Charlie Andrews.

A Disney veteran of over 15 years, Buhaj was previously was SVP, Programming and General Manager of Disney XD.

The second round of Disney layoffs kicked off yesterday, impacting ABC and Freeform’s executive ranks, with each of the networks consolidating development and current under the same executives, resulting in several prominent departures. Also affected were Disney Television Studios marketing, which was dissolved, with its leaders and a number of team members leaving; and the 20th Television and ABC Signature music operations, which were combined, along with Disney cable networks’ scheduling activities. There were also a number of development and current executives as well as coordinators at the two studios and ABC that departed.

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