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More than 5,300 Disney Cast Members along with their family members and friends took to the lanes last month to help make this year’s Junior Achievement (JA) Bowl-A-Thon a striking success.

Disney fielded 695 teams across seven Central Florida bowling alleys Feb. 27-March 1, raising nearly $200,000. The funds will benefit the nonprofit which provides financial literacy programs for students in grades K-12 in Orange and Osceola county schools.

Collectively, Disney and its Cast Members are the largest corporate contributors to JA’s annual fundraising event. This long-standing support has helped to raise nearly $4 million over 21 years.

“For more than 20 years, Walt Disney World Cast Members, with their family members and friends, have supported Junior Achievement of Central Florida,” said Nancy Gidusko, director of Corporate Citizenship, Walt Disney World Resort. “Whether it’s rolling strikes or gutter balls, everyone has a great time for a great cause.”

Throughout the year, Disney VoluntEARS also can be found facilitating JA programs that teach about managing personal finances, how to start a business, developing critical thinking skills and more to students in grades K-12 in Orange and Osceola county schools.

“As our largest corporate partner, Walt Disney World Resort and its nearly 75,000 Cast Members provide both financial and volunteer support that allows Junior Achievement of Central Florida to provide critical programming for students throughout our region,” said Kathy Panter, president of Junior Achievement of Central Florida. “Each year more than 10,000 students receive classroom instruction in our core areas of entrepreneurship, work readiness and financial literacy to prepare them for their own economic success.”

– See more at: http://aboutwaltdisneyworldresort.com/releases/2015/04/01/disney-voluntears-raise-nearly-200000-to-benefit-kids-in-junior-achievement-programs/#sthash.OQpR8FNp.dpuf

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ABC Family continues to expand its reality slate with three new unscripted series, “Startup U,” “Next Step Realty: NYC” and “Monica the Medium,” announced today by Tom Ascheim, President, ABC Family and Karey Burke, Executive Vice President, Programming and Development, ABC Family. These unscripted series join recently greenlit series “Becoming Us” (formerly “My Transparent Life”) and “Job or No Job,” which will all premiere this summer.

“ABC Family will become a brand known as much for character-driven docu-dramas as we are for our character-driven scripted dramas and comedies,” said Tom Ascheim, President ABC Family. “This summer will be chock-full of unscripted fare on the network as we build momentum with these three new series.”

Karey Burke, Executive Vice President, Programming and Development, ABC Family added, “From Silicon Valley where a diverse group of savvy entrepreneurial students are chasing their dream to be their own boss and launch a successful start-up to New York City where drama knocks daily at a realty firm specializing in finding starter digs for young people to a college co-ed who can communicate with the dead, we’ve got addictive reality covered.”

“Startup U” is an unscripted, one-hour series from the producers of “House of Food” that follows a group of entrepreneurial millennials as they embark on a semester at Draper University in Silicon Valley. Led by billionaire founder and venture capitalist Tim Draper, the 7-week program teaches the fundamentals of launching a startup company under the mentorship of America’s business leaders. In the end, students pitch their ideas to a panel of hungry venture capitalists with the hope that they’ll receive a life-changing investment to launch their business. To date, more than 150 Draper graduates have received funding totaling more than $15 million from mogul investors and Tim Draper himself.  Brimming with innovation and determination, “Startup U” pulls back the curtain on what it takes to achieve success in the most innovative and competitive marketplace in the world. Viewers join a group of savvy millennials as they suffer through hard lessons and grab opportunities with both hands, all in the pursuit of their dreams. “Startup U” is produced by Ugly Brother Studios, a Sky Vision partner. Mike Duffy, Tim Duffy and Tim Draper serve as executive producers. “Startup U” starts production this month in San Mateo, CA.

From Lincoln Square Productions, comes “Next Step Realty: NYC,” a business-based docu-series following the passionate and ambitious employees of Next Step Realty. The Manhattan-based real estate firm specializes in helping recent college graduates find their apartments in New York City while navigating interpersonal and professional conflicts in the workplace. Danielle Rossen (“What Would You Do?”) serves as the executive producer. “Next Step Realty: NYC” is currently in production in New York, NY.

“Monica the Medium,” is a fascinating look at Monica, a junior at Penn State navigating friends, family, relationships…and the fact that she’s a medium and can talk to dead people. Her uncommon vocation provides an endless supply of emotional and engaging stories, with a unique millennial perspective. The show is produced by Dave Caplan’s Trooper Entertainment in association with Lionsgate TV. Caplan will serve as executive producer alongside Malachi McGlone. “Monica the Medium” is currently in production in State College, PA.

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Plans for a lively 2015 Radio Disney Music Awards, music’s biggest event for families, include scheduled appearances by youth culture music stars including presenters Fifth Harmony and Carly Rae Jepsen. Tickets to the event, set for SATURDAY, APRIL 25 at Nokia Theatre L.A. LIVE in Los Angeles, are on sale at AXS.com/RDMA. A 30-minute pre-show originating from the red carpet and a 90-minute awards show telecast will be presented on multiple platforms around the world beginning Sunday, April 26 (7:30 p.m., ET/PT) on Disney Channel U.S. Highlights will also be available on Radio Disney, the Radio Disney App, the WATCH Disney Channel app and RadioDisney.com.

Presenters announced today are:

  • Chart-topping pop group Fifth Harmony (Epic Records) – Ally Brooke Hernandez, Normani Kordei, Dinah Jane Hansen, Camila Cabello, Lauren Jauregui
  • Multi-platinum, Grammy-nominated artist Carly Rae Jepsen (Interscope Records)
  • Actress Chelsea Kane (ABC Family comedy “Baby Daddy”)
  • Sweety High’s Sweet Suspense – Millie Thrasher, Summer Reign, Celine Polenghi
  • Country artist Kelsea Ballerini (Black River Entertainment)
  • Stars of ABC’s hit series “black-ish” – Marcus Sribner, Yara Shahidi, Miles Brown and Marsai Martin
  • Stars of the Disney Channel Original Movie “Teen Beach 2” – Grace Phipps, Garrett Clayton, Chrissie Fit, Jordan Fisher

The 2015 Radio Disney Music Awards will feature performances by some of the biggest artists in music and the presentation of the uniquely Radio Disney “ARDY” statuette winners, as voted on by fans globally. Walt Disney Records will release a compilation album of 15 tracks featuring nominees and nominated songs on Tuesday, April 21.

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The Disney Parks Blog revealed that changes are coming to Disneyland’s music performances on Disneyland’s 60th anniversary, July 17th. Here is what the Disney Parks Blog had to say:

First, the beloved musical acts in Disneyland park will increase the number of performances throughout the day, and second, the iconic Disneyland Band will premiere a new sound – with new musical arrangements and themed performances – along with more musicians and high-energy choreography. These enhancements will provide a new level of musical entertainment throughout the day.

There was no further information regarding which musical acts would be leaving and/or added. Disney Parks Blog promised further details would be released in the days leading up the July 17th.

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In the case, Kimble v. Marvel, Stephen Kimble is trying to gain additional rights for his patent of the web-shooting glove that has commonly been used in several iterations of Spider-Man toys. Kimble assigned the patent in exchange for a royalty fee. Marvel ended up paying Kimble over $6 million dollars. However, when the patent expired in 2008, Marvel believed they no longer had to pay the royalty fee.

The precedent of not paying a royalty fee once a patent expires was set by a 1964 Supreme Court ruling in the case Brulotte v. Thys Co in a case involving a harvesting machine. Kimble and his lawyers are claiming that this precedent should be overturned.

The Supreme Court is expected to rule on the case by the end of June.

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Netflix & Marvel Television announced today that Cheo Hodari Coker will serve as executive producer and showrunner of the anticipated series, “Marvel’s Luke Cage.” Coker is writing the first two episodes of the series that will premiere in 2016, everywhere that Netflix is available.

Most recently, Coker served as a co-executive producer on the second season of “Ray Donovan,” and prior to that was a supervising producer on the critically-acclaimed, fourth season of the drama “SouthLAnd.” Coker was a part of the “SouthLAnd” team that earned the show a 2012 Peabody Award. Coker also garnered a 2013 NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Writing for a Dramatic Series for his work on that show. Coker’s feature film credits include Fox Searchlight’s rap biopic “Notorious.” He authored the book “Unbelievable: The Life, Death, and Afterlife of The Notorious B.I.G.” as well. Coker started his writing career in journalism and was a staff writer at the Los Angeles Times and contributed to VIBE, Rolling Stone, Essence, among other publications. He is a graduate of Stanford University.

It was previously announced that Mike Colter (“The Good Wife,” “American Horror Story: Coven”) will play the charismatic lead character, Luke Cage, in the series.

“Marvel’s Luke Cage” is produced by Marvel Television in association with ABC Studios for Netflix.

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Tomorrow ESPN launches a new ESPN.com, a website that has been re-engineered to deliver a more personal, elegant and lively sports experience to fans with greater personalization and functional design across devices – anytime, anywhere.

15034707ISG_WES_3Device_HOMEPAGE[1]Already the world’s largest sports website as measured by reach and engagement, ESPN will, for the first time, publish its flagship digital property in “editions” – launching in the U.S. and U.K. simultaneously, with multiple versions to roll out over the next 12 to 18 months.

The new ESPN.com is responsively designed to adjust to the user’s device and platform and its creation incorporates feedback from sports fans during extensive research and testing. The design is the result of a mobile-first approach that allows ESPN.com to deliver a consistent experience for sports fans on computer, tablet or handset.

Built on a completely new technology infrastructure and engineered to deliver sports content at real-time speed, the new ESPN.com will enable ESPN content groups to continue to serve fans with sports scores, news, and powerful storytelling in innovative ways.

“Digital media is more important than ever to ESPN, and this new platform for our sites and content will let us to do more than ever before to serve fans globally, locally and personally,” said John Skipper, President, ESPN and co-Chairman, Disney Media Networks. “Through hard work, smart risk-taking and a consistent belief and embrace of the internet and other emerging platforms and technologies ESPN has established and maintained a lasting leadership in an industry that changes, seemingly, by the week.”

Added John Kosner, executive vice president of ESPN Digital and Print Media, who has led the ESPN.com since 2003, “Our digital, technology and design teams have created a new ESPN.com that is elegant, intuitive and fast. Our product and technology teams have built a global platform that allows our content creators to program locally in any market and make the most of all the ways in which fans consume sports. It is purposefully familiar to our native ESPN app and shares aesthetic elements with other ESPN TV and print experiences. And this is just the beginning – a first stage of an iterative approach that will allow us to continue to enhance ESPN.com over time.”

Notably, the new site debuts new levels of personalization and the “ESPN Now” section as central pillars to the user experience, alongside ESPN’s leading news, feature, analysis and commentary.

The ESPN Now section is powered by a dedicated editorial team, charged with capturing and curating a stream of up-to-the-minute sports moments and conversations as they’re happening. Content in ESPN Now includes short, snackable content including breaking news, must-see and in-game video, audio clips, social responses, insightful statistics from ESPN Stats & Info and more, all of which are easily shareable. First introduced in the ESPN App, ESPN Now provides a way to capture the immediacy of sports today, while maintaining the editorial standard required by ESPN.

The new site also introduces a powerful new personalization engine to the site, allowing each individual fan to always have direct access to the content that matters most in a dedicated way alongside the main news section and “Now.”

The simultaneous launch of and the new UK edition of the site (ESPN.co.uk), marks the first of multiple editions outside the U.S. It is a result of a global foundation of technology and product development that will power multiple sites with locally relevant and personalized content driven by ESPN teams around the world. This approach of building globally and programming locally allows ESPN to serve sports fans anytime, anywhere with a consistent, personal experience on a worldwide scale.

ESPN: 20 Years on the Web

The re-launch of ESPN.com marks the 20th anniversary of ESPN’s debut on the web at www.ESPNSportsZone.com, through a collaboration with Starwave, on April 1, 1995. Since then, the growth of the site has been astounding.

In 1998, ESPN.com saw 1.2 million visits per day, making it the most-visited sports website in the U.S.  In 2014, ESPN.com saw 24.7 million visits in the average day, and more than 9 billion across the entire year. On a recent day this year – March 10, 2015, the first day of NFL free agency – ESPN.com had 2.3 million visits in one hour (4:00 pm and 5:00 pm ET).

In January 2015, ESPN digital properties – which include content across web, apps and video – had 126.5 million monthly unique visitors worldwide, the most ever in the global sports category. Between June 2014 and January 2015, ESPN digital content reached more than 100 million global unique visitors each month, making it the No. 1 digital sports property in the world.

ESPN.com 20th Anniversary Content

Celebrating its first 20 years online, ESPN.com began this week a series of articles, Top 20 rankings and visual galleries that tell the story of the site’s origins and how it has evolved over the last two decades, as well as a look ahead to the next 20 years.

20th anniversary content on the site includes a gallery of screenshots looking back at ESPN.com’s design through the years, an info graphic that explores the data behind the site, and an essay by Steve Wulf, a former editor at ESPN The Magazine and one of the first contributors to ESPN.com, who provides a behind-the-scenes look at the early days of ESPN.com.

Top 20 lists from the ESPN.com staff include rankings of the top athletes, news stories, moments in sports, teams and more over the last 20 years. Looking ahead, FiveThirtyEight.com will examine the odds of various sports records being broken in the next 20 years.

ESPN Audio will also produce a special edition podcast exploring the site’s history and the broader theme of the impact of the Internet on sports over the past 20 years.

Advertising

The new ESPN.com will allow ESPN to continue to push digital advertising industry forward and provide greater scope for flexibility and innovation. It will be a showcase for advertisers and marketers with impactful new ad units, prominent video placements and the ability to deliver seamless solutions for advertisers across devices while leveraging the strengths of sports and ESPN – the live experience, video, mobile, social and scale.

Chevrolet is an advertising sponsor for the launch of the US site.  ESPN is working with a range of other advertisers who will be unveiling new creative on the site in the coming days and weeks.

Advertising on the site was designed to deliver high-impact units and effective solutions for advertisers based on a new Universal Advertising Package (UAP), which offers the best advertising experience for each device, screen and orientation. The approach streamlines creative delivery and ad serving on the new ESPN, and ensures the best representation for brands, no matter the device. The move is designed to enable advertisers to take advantage of the increased effectiveness of multiplatform campaigns compared to single-platform.

When advertisers provide a full slate of UAP assets, Ads will be synched on the page – only one advertiser will feature on a page at any one time – meaning brands will no longer compete for attention against other advertisers. Advertising will also be integrated into the site to make them as viewable as possible, rather than sitting outside the navigation and editorial content.

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ABC Family has picked up its first scripted saga-to-series, “Shadowhunters,” from The Mortal Instruments franchise, announced today by Tom Ascheim, President, ABC Family and Karey Burke, Executive Vice President, Programming and Development, ABC Family. The series will go into production this May in Toronto.

Based on the bestselling young adult fantasy book series The Mortal Instruments by Cassandra Clare, “Shadowhunters” follows 18-year-old Clary Fray, who finds out on her birthday that she is not who she thinks she is but rather comes from a long line of Shadowhunters – human-angel hybrids who hunt down demons. When her mother Jocelyn is kidnapped, Clary is thrown into the world of demon hunting with mysterious Shadowhunter Jace and her best friend, Simon. Now living among faeries, warlocks, vampires and werewolves, Clary begins a journey of self-discovery as she learns more about her past and what her future may hold.

“’Shadowhunters’ is a big epic saga that will resonate with viewers who come to ABC Family for the ‘Harry Potter,’ ‘Hunger Games,’ and ‘Twilight’ franchises,” said Ascheim. “A New York Times bestseller for 122-consecutive weeks, with over 35 million copies in print worldwide, ‘Shadowhunters’ is the perfect story to share with our audience.”

Burke continued, “Clary is a strong, dynamic and captivating character that our audience will immediately identify with. They will want her to succeed and will root for her on her journey to become who she was always meant to be. The series has a passionate fan base and an expansive universe that can sustain multiple seasons to come.”

“I’m excited to see ABC Family bring the world of the Shadowhunters to life. As a huge fan of long-form television drama, I can’t wait to see the story unfold and for the fans to have more time with the world and the characters,” added book author, Cassandra Clare.

“Shadowhunters” is produced by Constantin Film, and Ed Decter serves as executive producer and showrunner.

Cast to be announced at a later date.

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Reports indicate that Disney has purchase a script for a live-action Mulan adaptation written by Elizabeth Martin and Lauren Hynek. In 1998, Disney produced an animated version of the Chinese legend.

This is one of many adaptations of Disney’s animated catalog in the works including Jon Favreau’s The Jungle Book, Tim Burton’s Dumbo, and Bill Condon’s live-action adaptation of Beauty and the Beast.

The animated Mulan grossed over $300 million worldwide and was produced at Disney’s now defunct animation studios in Florida.

No casting, production information, or release date has been announced for this project.

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This past weekend, the four actors who play the Johnson family children on ABC’s comedy “black-ish”, kicked off their summer break together at Walt Disney World Resort in Florida following the wrap of the show’s first season. “black-ish” stars Anthony Anderson and Tracee Ellis Ross as the parents of four children played by Yara Shahidi as Zoey Johnson, Marcus Scribner as Andre Johnson, Jr., Miles Brown as Jack Johnson, and Marsai Martin as Diane Johnson.

The show, which has new episodes airing through May, has become the season’s No. 1 new comedy in adults 18-49 and swept the 2015 NAACP Image Awards’ television comedy categories, including Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series for Shahidi.  To celebrate the show’s success, Shahidi, Scribner, Brown and Martin took their break time together along with their actual parents to get an early start on Walt Disney World’s Coolest Summer Evercelebration.  

Some of their vacation highlights included:

  • Receiving a personal welcome from Mickey and Minnie Mouse.
  • Riding the playful Seven Dwarfs Mine Train at Magic Kingdom
  • Experiencing a fan moment when Martin got to meet her favorite Disney character, Princess Tiana from Disney’s Princess and the Frog
  • Previewing the live Frozen Summer Fun experience with princesses Anna and Elsa at Disney’s Hollywood Studios
  • Training in Jedi skills and testing them against stormtroopers in honor of Scribner’s Star Wars-obsessed character on the show
  • Learning about 400 years of African-American achievement at “Re-Discovering America: Family Treasures from the Kinsey Collection,” an exhibit at Epcot which features rare art, documents, books and artifacts amassed by philanthropists Bernard and Shirley Kinsey.
  • Experiencing a star moment when they had their picture taken by Goofy in front of the “black-ish” billboard at Disney’s Hollywood Studios

“black-ish” airs Wednesdays at 9:30|8:30c on ABC with new episodes airing through May and the season repeated throughout the summer.