Patrick Moran Out, 20th's Jonnie Davis In as ABC Studios President

As part of the Disney TV Studios restructuring, Carolyn Cassidy has been promoted to run 20th TV alongside Howard Kurtzman.
GettyImages; Courtesy of 20th TV
From left: Patrick Moran, Jonnie Davis, Carolyn Cassidy

There's a change atop of ABC Studios.

Patrick Moran — who was promoted to president at the Disney-owned TV studio in 2016 — has been let go, as has executive vp business operations Howard Davine. 20th TV president of creative affairs Jonnie Davis — who ran the now Disney-owned studio alongside Howard Kurtzman — has been promoted to lead ABC Studios in Moran's place. Carolyn Cassidy, who most recently served as executive vp current series at 20th TV, has been promoted to replace Davis and will run the studio alongside president of business operations Kurtzman.

In moving to ABC Studios, Davis is taking 20th's senior vp business affairs Josh Sussman with him. Sussman has also been promoted to exec vp business affairs at his new home at ABC Studios.

Bert Salke will remain as president of Fox 21 TV Studios.

The moves were announced Wednesday by Disney TV Studios president Craig Hunegs, who was tapped to run the combined studios in March following a 20-year run at Warner Bros. TV. Davis, Cassidy, Kurtzman (and Salke) all report to Hunegs, who still reports to Disney TV Studios and ABC Entertainment chairman Dana Walden. Read Hunegs' memo to staff, below.

"This exceptional group is uniquely qualified to continue building our position as the strongest studios in the industry and the very best home for talent,” Hunegs said in a statement.

Sources say Moran, who first joined ABC Studios in 2010 as head of drama, had been looking to leave his post given the influx of executives who became part of the Disney fold following its $71.3 billion Fox acquisition. With that mega-deal, Disney inherited 20th TV and all of its executives as well as Walden. Moran previously reported to Ben Sherwood, who departed Disney after Peter Rice and Walden were brought in. Moran had worked alongside a number of executives who ran the studio's network counterpart including Paul Lee, Channing Dungey and Karey Burke. Not helping Moran was the fact that ABC Studios was unable to hold on to its top drama and comedy showrunners as both Shonda Rhimes and Kenya Barris decamped for Netflix after negotiating early exits from their respective deals with ABC Studios. Rhimes, sources say, was ready to move on to something new, while Barris had a strained relationship with Disney. Neither departure should be placed squarely on Moran's shoulders as the executive was well-respected by top showrunners and others within the Disney fold.  

During Moran's tenure, he helped develop series including Scandal, How to Get Away With Murder, Quantico, Once Upon a Time, Black-ish and American Crime, among others. He also launched ABC Signature, the studio's boutique division focused on streaming and cable fare. Before joining ABC Studios, Moran coincidentally worked as senior vp drama at 20th TV, where he oversaw the development of hits including Glee, Bones and Prison Break.

"I have enormous respect for Patrick and Howard and for all they have achieved in their careers at ABC Studios," Hunegs said in the memo. "Patrick has developed and overseen many landmark series and has an excellent slate of new shows. I have known Howard for many years and he is one of the most accomplished and effective business affairs executives in our industry, having made a number of groundbreaking deals and run an excellent business. Together they have brought to ABC Studios a wonderful group of writers, producers and executives and made a lasting contribution to the Walt Disney Company."

Davine, meanwhile, reported directly to Moran and had been with ABC Studios for decades.

For Davis' part, he joined 20th in 2008 as senior vp comedy and rose through the ranks before running the studio alongside Kurtzman. During his tenure with 20th, he helped develop This Is Us, Modern Family, New Girl, Fresh Off the Boat and the studio's recent expansion into animation that includes Fox's upcoming Bless the Harts, Duncanville, Hulu's Solar Opposites and Apple's Central Park.

"Jonnie is a great leader with infectious energy and optimism, as well as an incredible partner to our creators," Hunegs said. "The award-winning quality, diversity and sheer number of series he developed and oversaw at 20th, along with the relationships he has with writers, producers, directors and actors, are second to none. Together with Josh, a gifted business affairs strategist, Jonnie is poised to take ABC Studios to even greater levels of success."

Cassidy, meanwhile, joined 20th in 2009 and most recently served as exec vp current series, running that department since 2015. She has worked on series including This Is Us, Empire, 911 and Modern Family and has relationships with top showrunners including Lee Daniels, Liz Meriwether, Dan Fogelman, Steve Levitan and Seth MacFarlane (with the latter still shopping his overall deal).

"Carolyn is an absolute star creative executive with extraordinary leadership skills, a deep understanding of the studio and great relationships with our creators and entire company," Hunegs said. "We are thrilled that Howard will continue alongside her, as together they make a formidable team. With Fox 21 Television Studios remaining under Bert Salke and Vibiana Molina overseeing business affairs, these three dynamic companies have the exceptional leadership to ensure Disney Television Studios remains a world-class studio and the best home for creators and great storytelling."

Sussman, meanwhile, has served as senior vp business affairs at 20th since 2016. Before that, he worked in business affairs at Electus.

Here is Hunegs' memo to staff: 

Dear colleagues, 
 
We will shortly be announcing changes to our leadership at ABC Studios and Twentieth Century Fox Television.  
 
Jonnie Davis, who has done fantastic work leading the creative team at 20th, is moving to ABC Studios as President, effective immediately. Josh Sussman, a gifted and creative deal maker, will also move from 20th to ABC Studios as Executive Vice President, Business Affairs, reporting to Jonnie.  
 
At 20th Century Fox Television, we are really pleased to announce that Carolyn Cassidy has been promoted to President, Creative Affairs. She will run the studio together with Howard Kurtzman, President, Business Operations. They are exceptional leaders.  
 
Patrick Moran and Howard Davine will be stepping down from their current roles and I have enormous respect for all they have achieved in their careers at ABC Studios. Patrick has developed and overseen many landmark series and has an excellent slate of new shows. I have known Howard for many years and he is one of the most accomplished and effective business affairs executives in our industry, having made a number of groundbreaking deals and run an excellent business. Together they have brought to ABC Studios a wonderful group of writers, producers and executives and made a lasting contribution to The Walt Disney Company. 
 
From the launch of Disney Television Studios just over 100 days ago, Dana and I have worked with you to make our studios a home for the most talented people to create the most compelling and entertaining television. In our early days, DTS has added promising new shows, continued to win awards and brought to our studio even more of the best creators. We thank all of you for your excellent work and for creating a new spirit of collaboration. 
 
I know that change can be difficult in the short term. Dana and I will do our best to communicate with you often, with transparency and clarity. We promise you that the years ahead will be filled with creating great television, with great people, having much fun along the way. The best is unquestionably yet to come.   
 
Warmly 
 
Craig