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Disney is launching an in-house production unit for unscripted programming and has tapped ABC’s Rob Mills to lead it.
Mills has been upped to executive vp unscripted and alternative entertainment, Walt Disney Television, expanding his role from ABC, where he oversees unscripted series and specials and late night programming. In the new post, he’ll lead the newly formed Walt Disney Television Alternative and add oversight of Hulu’s unscripted originals and ABC’s daytime programming.
He’ll report to Walt Disney TV Entertainment president Craig Hunegs on the studio side and Hulu Originals and ABC Entertainment president Craig Erwich for development and production of alternative programming.
“Rob Mills is one of the premier developers of unscripted programming in the industry,” said Hunegs. “We are excited to expand his role to run a new business unit devoted to creating alternative hits for every Disney platform and to produce more of this dynamic programming than ever before.”
Added Erwich, “Rob is a respected and accomplished innovator in the unscripted business and his success is reflected in the countless hours of compelling content he has long championed. This promotion is not only a well-earned next step in his career, it also demonstrates our commitment to the type of groundbreaking programming that Rob’s team is known for.”
Mills’ promotion comes amid ongoing restructuring in the executive ranks at Disney (and other media giants). In December, Hulu head of originals Erwich added oversight of ABC Entertainment in a shake-up that saw ABC Entertainment president Karey Burke move to 20th Television and Touchstone TV (formerly Fox 21) be folded into 20th. Fox 21 head Bert Salke stepped down and signed a producing deal.
“I am honored to be leading this new enterprise as our company continues its efforts to grow the direct-to-consumer business and build on our success at ABC,” said Mills. “I am incredibly grateful to [Disney TV Studios and ABC Entertainment chairman] Dana Walden, Craig Erwich and Craig Hunegs for this tremendous opportunity and look forward to collaborating with the talented teams within this expanded portfolio to develop and produce a higher volume of culturally defining unscripted television.”
Mills joined ABC’s alternative division in 2003 and was senior vp alternative series, specials and late night prior to his promotion. He has oversight of ABC’s signature reality franchises The Bachelor, Dancing With the Stars and American Idol, along with the network’s robust roster of game shows and late night talker Jimmy Kimmel Live. He’s also had oversight of specials like the Oscars, the Live in Front of a Studio Audience sitcom re-creations and the Disney Family Singalong specials.
Disney joins Fox and NBCUniversal in launching an in-house alternative production arm, signaling further integration in an area of the TV business where outside studios still supply most unscripted programming. Walt Disney Television Alternative will take its place alongside scripted counterparts ABC Signature and 20th Television under the Walt Disney TV umbrella.
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