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Disney Delays Digital Production Unit Stage 9; Not Risking Inflaming Guilds: Report

Disney has delayed the formal debut of a separate digital production unit called Stage 9, charged with developing original online and mobile series, reports THR, citing sources. The unit, based in a separate office in Burbank, has been in operation unofficially since February last year, and was working on four shortform episodic programs. The first one is scheduled to launch next month, and others in the rest of the year. The five-person unit is is run by Natalie Vansant, director of biz dev and strategy at Disney (NYSE: DIS). The division reports to Mark Pedowitz, president of ABC Studios.

As to why this happened, the story says Disney does not want to “risk inflaming the guilds with a venture intended to grab digital revenue — a sore point in strike negotiations.” ABC Studios has restricted its original online efforts to extensions of its TV series, including shorts derived from “Lost” and “Ugly Betty.”

The first series to come out of Stage 9 was supposed to be “Squeegies,” a shortform comedy about window washers from online production company Handsome Donkey.