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Rich Ross restructures Disney movie studio

November 11, 2009 | 12:32 pm

RossWilliams Rich Ross is putting his mark on Walt Disney Studios, bringing over a technology guru from Pixar and promoting the home entertainment chief to a newly created job. In addition, Jim Gallagher, the president of marketing, has left the studio.

The moves reflect Ross' attempt, in close coordination with Walt Disney Co. Chief Executive Bob Iger, to remake the studio to better reflect the new ways audiences are viewing movies in theaters, at home and on digital devices.

"The studio restructuring will embrace new possibilities and opportunities and find innovative ways to provide quality entertainment that is readily available," Ross said in a statement.

Bob Chapek, formerly president of home entertainment, has been promoted to the newly created role of president of distribution, in which he will oversee distribution across all platforms, including movie theaters, DVDs, pay TV and digital. In recent years, Chapek has led the studio's digital initiatives, particularly with Apple Inc.'s iTunes Store. Apple Chief Executive Steve Jobs is the largest individual shareholder of Walt Disney Company stock. Chuck Viane, previously president of distribution, will continue to oversee theatrical distribution and will now report to Chapek.

Greg Brandeau, who oversaw technology at Disney-owned animation studio Pixar from 1996 through 2001 and again starting in 2004, is taking the newly created role of chief technology officer.

Alan Bergman, a 13-year studio veteran who is currently president of Walt Disney Studios, retains that job and adds oversight of "studio franchises," an emphasis that reflects former Disney Channel chief Ross' emphasis on brands that can be utilized through the Disney company's many businesses.

Production President Oren Aviv, whose future has been the subject of much speculation in the industry, retains his job overseeing development of live-action movies.

Gallagher's departure leaves Disney without a president of marketing. According to a person familiar with the studio's plans, a replacement will be named later and report directly to Ross.

Since the ouster of former studio Chairman Dick Cook in September and his subsequent replacement by Ross, two other top executives already have left the company: Daniel Battsek, president of specialty label Miramax, and Mark Zoradi, president of the Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures Group.

-- Dawn C. Chmielewski and Ben Fritz

Photo: Rich Ross with Robin Williams at the premiere of "Old Dogs" at the El Capitan theater in Hollywood. Credit: Kevin Winter/Getty Images.

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