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Disney TV Unit Changes Executive Lineup

Reorganization: With new chairman at helm, the president of the prime-time series division will exit while two VPs move into production deals, sources say.

June 08, 1998|BRIAN LOWRY | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Walt Disney Co. is cleaning house at its division responsible for producing prime-time television series, the latest in a string of executive changes at the studio.

Sources say Walt Disney Network Television President David Neuman will leave the company, while his two top lieutenants, Executive Vice President Peter Aronson and Senior Vice President David Himelfarb, segue from their executive positions into producing deals at Disney.

Changes have been anticipated since the studio named Lloyd Braun, a former Brillstein-Grey Entertainment executive, chairman of Buena Vista Television Productions in March--news that leaked to reporters before Neuman and his staff were notified they would be getting a new boss.

Word of the reorganization came down late Friday. A Disney spokeswoman declined comment, and replacements have yet to be determined.

The shift comes after the period in which studios develop and sell new programs for the coming television season. The networks set their lineups in May, and a flurry of personnel moves usually follows.

Disney placed just three new programs on next fall's prime-time schedule, including only one new show for ABC, which the studio owns. By contrast, CBS and NBC both loaded their respective rosters with programs they produce, hoping to share in syndication revenue from potential hits.

Disney has already become ABC's near-exclusive source of children's programming, and Braun's mandate is to forge closer ties with ABC in prime time while continuing to supply the other networks as well. Half of Disney's eight regularly scheduled series next fall will air on ABC.

Neuman was brought to Disney two years ago by then-TV chief Dean Valentine, who left to become president of the UPN network in September. Other recent changes affecting Disney's TV operations include the departure of Disney/ ABC Cable Networks President Geraldine Laybourne and ABC Broadcasting President Steve Burke.

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