Disney reorganizes new-media execs

Changes intended to centralize global digital operations

SAN DIEGO -- Disney is reorganizing its gaming and Internet executive ranks following the merger last month of the two divisions.

An internal memo from Steve Wadsworth, head of the merged unit now called Disney Interactive Media Group, outlined the new corporate structure.

The most noteworthy move is the retirement of Mark Handler, formerly head of Walt Disney Internet Group International, though Handler will continue to work for the company for the next six months.

The e-mail also noted Graham Hopper will continue on as head of the gaming side, Disney Interactive Studios, while Paul Yanover will expand his oversight of Disney Online, which contains the Internet and mobile initiatives, to a global basis.

Wadsworth is handing off Disney's suite of virtual worlds to Lane Merrifield, co-founder of Club Penguin, the kid-centric virtual world acquired by Disney last year for $350 million. Previously a consultant to Disney, both he and Club Penguin will be folded entirely into Disney Online, where he reports to Yanover.

The changes are intended to centralize all of Disney's global digital operations and interconnect various branded experiences on any platform, whether via online, handsets or consoles.

No layoffs were made in the restructuring, though Disney is still evaluating its personnel in the newly configured unit.