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FutureStarrDisney Layoffs Begin With Hulu Freeform Executives
Disney began their initial round of layoffs this week, intending to trim up to 7,000 staffers as part of a streamlined restructuring announced by CEO Bob Iger in February.
Mark Levenstein, SVP Production for Hulu and Jayne Bieber, SVP Production Management & Operations for Freeform are among the first executives to be let go. Elizabeth Newman VP of Development overseeing Creative Acquisitions at Disney Television Studios is another departing executive.
Disney is set to begin the first round of layoffs this week as part of an ongoing restructuring that could see 7,000 jobs cut by year's end, according to CEO Bob Iger's memo sent out earlier today. These measures are meant to save the company over $5 billion dollars, according to Iger's words in a memo sent out to employees.
Disney Entertainment will implement cost-cutting measures across a number of departments, such as ESPN, Parks, Experiences and Products. These changes aim to achieve a more efficient, coordinated and streamlined operation by eliminating wasteful expenditure.
It's unclear how many of the cuts will affect Hulu, Freeform or FX; however it appears that several senior executives from those divisions have been let go. Mark Levenstein - Senior VP production for Hulu - and Jayne Bieber - Senior VP production at Freeform/Onyx Collective have both been let go.
Carol Turner will lead a consolidation initiative that unites production operations across Disney TV Studios, Hulu, Freeform and FX under her direction. Reporting directly to Eric Schrier - Disney Television Studios & Global Original Television Strategy for Disney Entertainment - she will assume all executive roles that have been eliminated as part of a consolidated approach towards scripted television for the company.
On Monday, executives such as Levenstein and Bieber were laid off. Levenstein had been with Disney since 2009 and served as Vice President in the production department at ABC before adding Freeform to her portfolio in 2018. Newman, the head of Creative Acquisitions for 20th Television when it was founded in 2021, also saw her team disbanded.
These cuts are part of the larger restructuring that Iger initiated with Bob Chapek in November 2022. He ousted Daniel, who had served as Chapek's top lieutenant, and restructured Disney to give financial control back to creatives while creating Disney Media and Entertainment Distribution division.
In addition to the restructuring, Iger also took a tough stance on production and announced an "Amazon Prime-like" membership model that will cost consumers less. He explained that the company will focus on brands and franchises instead of general entertainment, while creating curated content across different platforms.
Last week, Disney CEO Bob Iger announced in a staff memo that layoffs would begin this week as part of an overall restructuring. This marks the first of three waves of cuts across various Disney divisions with over 7,000 job losses expected. Disney expects to save around $5 billion over several years by restructuring operations and taking cost-cutting measures.
Deadline reports that the first round of cuts have begun this week, with several Hulu Freeform executives being let go. These include Senior Vice President Mark Levenstein for Hulu and Jayne Bieber - Senior VP Production Management and Operations for Freeform/Onyx Collective.
These layoffs are the result of consolidation efforts within production operations at Disney TV Studios, Hulu, Freeform and FX under Carol Turner, executive vp production at ABC Signature. Turner will now assume an expanded role with Network and Platform scripted television production across Disney Entertainment being consolidated under her direction.
Nissa Diederich (EVP and head of production for 20th Television), Nick Lombardo (SVP and head of production at FX), Elizabeth Newman (based in 20th Television where she oversaw creative acquisitions for the studio operation) are also leaving.
According to sources, the layoffs are part of a strategic realignment that will see Disney restructure their business and adopt a more efficient, coordinated and streamlined approach. This restructuring includes eliminating siloed production divisions and focusing on creating original content.
At present, it remains uncertain what percentage of Disney's workforce will be affected by these layoffs. More televised cuts are expected this week with the largest round expected in April.
It is essential to note that Disney has not made this move alone; many TV companies have done the same in recent years as it becomes more cost-effective to operate a single production division.
In a statement, Iger said the cuts are necessary to create an efficient, coordinated and unified approach to Disney's business operations. These restructurings will enable the company to continue growing its audience while generating additional revenue.
Disney Layoffs have begun this week as part of a companywide initiative to save over $5 billion. This is the first of three rounds of cuts scheduled over the next three months, culminating with the largest round in April and another before summer break.
Disney is embarking on a comprehensive cost-cutting initiative as it looks to streamline operations, prioritize brands and franchises, and produce more curated general entertainment content. All these steps are essential in maintaining its leadership position in the streaming industry - which is becoming increasingly competitive.
Mark Levenstein and Jayne Bieber, vice presidents of production management and operations respectively at Freeform, have been let go as part of Disney's initial round of layoffs. Both had been employed by the studio for more than a decade.
Though the exact number of layoffs was not immediately known, sources indicated they included Bieber and Levenstein's production teams. They will be replaced by Carol Turner - Executive VP Production at ABC Signature.
Newman's acquisitions team is also being affected, according to sources. She co-ran the department with Jordan Moblo when it launched in 2021 and secured rights to both emerging and bestselling media that can be developed across Disney's multiple platforms.
She has been a Disney veteran for fourteen years and was previously employed as a producer on the Disney Channel before joining Freeform.
Another notable departure is Elizabeth Newman, the former Creative Acquisitions manager for Disney Television Studios. Previously a CAA TV lit agent, she joined Disney as an executive in late 2019.
Disney is looking to reduce its workforce in order to implement strategic realignments. CEO Bob Iger believes these cost-saving measures are necessary in order to create a more organized and productive approach across the business.
As part of an overall initiative to save more than $5 billion, the company is taking several cost-saving measures across all divisions, including eliminating siloed production departments. These actions are scheduled to commence this week and be completed in three rounds, reducing its overall workforce by 7,000 personnel by April 30.
Disney is on the brink of a series of job cuts. The first wave of layoffs is expected this week as CEO Bob Iger prepares to slash his workforce by 7,000. Iger announced in February that the cuts would be made as part of a streamlined restructuring focusing on three divisions: Disney Entertainment, ESPN and Parks, Experiences and Products.
A few notable staffers are leaving the company as the first round of layoffs kicks off, including Mark Levenstein (head of production and postproduction at Hulu) and Jayne Bieber (senior vp production at Freeform/Onyx Collective). Elizabeth Newman’s entire acquisitions team is also leaving.
The first wave of layoffs is being phased in, starting with a consolidation of production operations across Disney TV Studios, Hulu, Freeform and FX under Carol Turner. She takes on an expanded role in network and platform production for scripted television across Disney Entertainment, which will be consolidated under her with Nissa Diederich (exec vp and head of production at 20th Television) and Nick Lombardo (senior vp and head of production at FX).
According to sources, the cuts began Monday as the VP of Development overseeing Creative Acquisitions, Elizabeth Newman, left. She was originally launched in 2021 to identify and secure rights of books, podcasts, news stories and other IP that could be developed for Disney’s platforms such as ABC, Hulu, Freeform, FX and Disney+.
This is a common practice for TV companies that are consolidating production teams, as streaming has become more and more popular. It’s a challenge for media companies that have to restructure their operations to stay competitive in an increasingly crowded market.
Besides production, the cuts are affecting a number of roles at the company, including those in corporate communications and business operations. Those are likely to be the biggest victims of the layoffs.
In a memo to employees, Iger said that these cuts were a necessary step in creating a more “effective, coordinated and streamlined” approach to the company’s business. He said senior leaders have been evaluating their operational needs since he announced the cuts in February.