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Layoffs underway at Walt Disney Studios amid consolidation of operations [UPDATED]

January 14, 2010 |  9:35 am

[Updated at 10:45 a.m.: An earlier version said stage productions were affected, but that information could not be confirmed.]

Walt Disney Studios has further streamlined its distribution and marketing operations.

Twenty-three-year domestic distribution veteran Chuck Viane will take on added responsibilities for international sales across 70 countries. In communications, another studio veteran, Heidi Trotta, senior vice president of studio communications, is transitioning to a consulting role, as former theme parks publicist John Nicoletti takes over as vice president of global communications. He will be joined by Paul Roeder as director of global communications.

Christine Cadena, senior vice president of marketing, will take on a new role as senior vice president of multicultural initiatives.  Michelle Sewell has been promoted to senior vice president of global publicity, overseeing both domestic and international publicity departments, and she will be responsible for executing worldwide publicity campaigns for Disney's live action and animated movies. Sewell is to report to the studio's head of marketing, a position Walt Disney Studios Chairman Rich Ross has yet to fill after ousting Jim Gallagher and his boss, Mark Zoradi.

Disney confirmed that it is continuing its "reorganization of the workforce," with dozens of jobs lost from its home entertainment division. 

"Our industry is evolving rapidly," said Ross in a statement. "In order to remain at its forefront, we are adapting our organization to be more agile, creative and responsive."

A round of layoffs has begun at Walt Disney Studios today as part of a continued, sweeping restructuring of operations under Ross.

Attempting to rein in costs, the Burbank studio has been consolidating operations within its theatrical and home-entertainment divisions.

The cost-savings move comes as Ross and his boss, Disney Chief Executive Bob Iger, have continued, since last fall, to remake the studio, streamlining its business units and ousting a number of top executives in production, marketing and distribution while clamping down on the costs of making and promoting movies.

Nearly four years ago, Disney undertook a similar belt-tightening move when it combined its domestic and international theatrical and home-entertainment marketing and distribution units, resulting in 650 employees losing their jobs and saving Disney about $100 million in overhead.

Update: (12:10 a.m., Jan. 15): For more on the layoffs and the appointment of Sean Bailey as Disney's president of production, see the story in today's Times.

-- Dawn Chmielewski and Claudia Eller

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