DisneyToon Ups Four

As it gears up to take up some of the slack from the recently shuttered Walt Disney Animation Japan, DisneyToon Studios has announced the promotion of four key players at its Los Angeles facility. Ellen Gurney has been named Sr. VP of creative affairs, Karen Malach is elevated to the newly created position of 3D development producer, Jennifer Blohm has been appointed director of digital production and Sheila Kelly takes up the post of manager, production.

Gurney expands her duties to oversee the creative executive team, creative affairs and development for the studio’s burgeoning line of DVD/video premieres and theatrical releases. She is currently overseeing sequels to Mulan and Tarzan, as well as 20 other projects in various stages of development, 16 of which are currently in or about to begin production.

Prior to her promotion, Gurney served as VP, video premieres. She joined Disney in 1993 as a development assistant for Walt Disney Television Animation and was rapidly promoted to manager. She subsequently became director of creative affairs for the division. In her ten years with the studio, she has guided development on such projects as Return To Neverland, The Little Mermaid II,

101 Dalmatians II, Pocahontas II and Beauty and the Beast: The Enchanted Christmas.

In her new role, Malach will identify and develop new processes for producing 3D content for the studio’s DVD/video premieres and theatrical releases. She will continue to report to Karen Ferguson, VP of digital production.

Malach "fell into animation" when a friend told her about an opening at Rankin/Bass Prods. in New York City. She began there as a production secretary immediately after college graduation and worked her way up to associate producer for Thundercats. She joined Walt Disney Television Animation in Aug. 2000 as director of digital production, where she worked on television series, DVD/video premieres and theatrical releases.

Blohm, currently serving as producer for Mulan II, will segue full-time into her new role when the production wraps. She will also report to Karen Ferguson.

Previously, Blohm served as an associate producer on The Real Adventures of Johnny Quest for Hanna-Barbara. She then moved to Columbia Tri-Star Children’s Television as associate producer on their flagship series Jumanji, then to Cornell/Abood producing animated commercials. Since joining Disney in 1998, she has served as producer on Mulan II, associate producer on The Tigger Movie, and worked in management as director of production.

As manager, production for DisneyToon Studios, Kelly is responsible for the day-to-day guidance in implementing and standardizing the overall production process. She will work closely with associate producers, production managers, production coordinators and production associates and report directly to Michelle Pappalardo-Robinson, VP of production.

Kelly joins the production management group after serving five years in various capacities at the studio, working on such projects as The Hunchback of Notre Dame II, Cinderella II and Piglet’s Big Movie. She joined Disney in 1997 after relocating to Los Angeles from Boston.