Disney's Sklar exits Imagineering job for parks

Started by Kristof, February 17, 2006, 01:06:16 PM

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The executive shake-ups continued at the Walt Disney Co. on Wednesday as the company adjusts to its recent $7.4 billion acquisition of Pixar Animation Studios.
Marty Sklar, a 50-year veteran at Disney, stepped down as vice chairman and principal creative exec for Walt Disney Imagineering in the wake of Pixar executive vp John Lasseter being named principal creative adviser of the theme park division. In his new position, Lasseter reports to Disney CEO Robert Iger, bypassing parks and resorts management.

Sklar will serve as Walt Disney parks and resorts Imagineering ambassador, a role as yet undefined.

"I knew that as my 72nd birthday and my 50th Disney anniversary approached, I would look for new challenges," Sklar wrote in a memo to Disney employees. "So when Jay Rasulo (chairman of Walt Disney parks and resorts) asked me to talk about the future, I was 'all ears' to a challenging proposal Jay made. It not only seems to be one of those ideas that is overdue, but it was clear to me that I am the perfect casting (perhaps the only candidate) capable of originating and organizing this assignment."

Describing the new assignment as a "blank sheet of paper," Sklar wrote that he planned to recruit new talent at colleges and universities, develop traveling exhibitions to promote the talents -- present and past -- of Imagineering and speak at conferences and conventions.

Sklar's former position is not expected to be filled, according to an Imagineering spokesperson.

"This has been in the works for some time," the spokesperson said. "We have a very strong creative team in place. For the past 10 years we have been working with Pixar as we take the stories from their films and bring them to our theme parks. We have had a very strong creative relationship with Pixar."

When Lasseter and Ed Catmull, the newly appointed president of Pixar and Disney animation studios, toured the Walt Disney Co. divisions after last month's acquisition announcement, the two visited briefly with Imagineering staff.

In a memo to WDI staff regarding Sklar's new position, Rasulo emphasized the talents of the group's creative leadership, noting that they all "look forward to the energy and insight Imagineering will get from John Lasseter in his new role as principal creative adviser."