Disney Finally Closes Its $71.3 Billion Acquisition of 21st Century Fox

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

At long last, Disney has completed its $71.3 billion acquisition of 21st Century Fox’s film and TV assets.

With the deal wrapped up, Disney will take over ownership of 20th Century Fox film and TV studio, cable networks FX, FXX and National Geographic, and certain cable and international television assets. Disney also acquires Fox’s 30 percent stake in Hulu, giving it majority control. The new assets should strengthen Disney’s position as a content behemoth, especially as it launches Disney+ later this year, its own streaming competitor to Netflix.

“This is an extraordinary and historic moment for us–one that will create significant long-term value for our company and our shareholders,” Disney CEO Bob Iger said. “Combining Disney’s and 21st Century Fox’s wealth of creative content and proven talent creates the preeminent global entertainment company, well positioned to lead in an incredibly dynamic and transformative era.”

Meanwhile, what’s left of 21st Century Fox will be a portfolio of news, sports and broadcast businesses formed into a new company called Fox Corporation. These include Fox News Channel, Fox Business Network, Fox Broadcasting Company, Fox Sports (including cable networks FS1, FS2, Fox Deportes and Big Ten Network) and its local TV stations. That new company debuted on the NASDAQ Stock Market on Tuesday under the symbol “FOXA.”

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Disney will now have to start what figures to be an arduous process of merging the two giant companies, which is expected to result in massive layoffs. The company has already set some of its senior leadership under the new structure, which include Peter Rice and Dana Walden coming over from Fox.

Walden will serve as chairman of the newly-named Disney Television Studios, which encompasses ABC Studios, ABC Signature, 20th Century Fox TV and Fox 21. Under Walden, John Landgraf and Gary E. Knell will serve as chairmen of FX and Nat Geo Partners, respectively, while Ben Sherwood, the co-chair of Disney Media Networks and the president of the Disney-ABC Television Group, will leave the company.

On the film side, Emma Watts, as well as several other Fox film executives, will make the move to Disney’s studio entertainment management team. Watts will report directly to Disney studio head Alan Horn and will serve as vice chairman for 20th Century Fox Film and president of production at Fox. Nancy Utley and Stephen Gilula will stay on as co-chairmen for Fox Searchlight and will also report directly to Horn, along with Elizabeth Gabler, who will serve as president of production at Fox 2000. Current Fox film CEO Stacey Snider will not be joining the new company; many in the industry believe she’s a candidate to eventually take over Warner Bros. following the sudden exit of CEO Kevin Tsujihara on Monday.

During its annual shareholder meeting on March 7, Iger confirmed they’ll keep the Fox name on at least some of its newly-acquired assets. “We will continue to make the movies under the Fox brand and Fox Searchlight brand. FX will keep its name too.”

Also Read: After Kevin Tsujihara’s Ouster, What’s in Store for Warner Bros.?

The acquisition of Fox’s film studio also means that key Marvel properties — including the X-Men, Deadpool and Fantastic Four — are finally back under Marvel Studio’s control, as the comic book powerhouse charts its course after next month’s “Avengers: Endgame.” That film is widely expected to be the last movie for some of the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s key actors including Chris Evans and Robert Downey Jr.

Other key Fox properties that Disney now owns include the “Avatar” and “Alien” franchises, and TV series “The Simpsons” and “Family Guy.”

Hulu will become part of Disney’s three-pronged effort in the streaming arena, to go along with the upcoming Disney+ and the sports offering ESPN+, which launched last April and has already surpassed 2 million paid subscribers. Hulu figures to be the home for most of the Fox programming assets that don’t fit under Disney’s family-friendly brand. This will be the first the streaming service is majority owned by a single company, with Comcast and WarnerMedia collectively owning the other 40 percent (though both are launching their own streaming services within the next two years).

Disney is expected to formally unveil its plans for Disney+ at an April 11 Investor Day event at its Burbank studio.

Disney now has 90 days to find a buyer for the 22 regional sports networks it gained from Fox, which was part of its agreement with the Department of Justice to sign off on the deal. Known bidders for the networks include MLB, Amazon, TEGNA and Sinclair Broadcasting. Disney already sold one of them, when the New York Yankees — along with Amazon and Sinclair – reportedly agreed to buy the YES Network.

Fox and Disney had originally agreed on a $54.2 billion all-stock deal in Dec. of 2017, before Comcast offered an unsolicited bid in an attempt to outflank Disney, which eventually upped its offer by almost $20 billion in a cash-stock split. Fox’s stake in European pay-TV company Sky PLC was supposed to be part of the deal, but Comcast ended up out-bidding Fox for control of the company. Fox, with Disney’s sign-off, eventually sold its stake to Comcast.

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The Simpsons’ Al Jean reflects on Hans Moleman, who was definitely yelling “Boo-urns”

Read on: The A.V. Club.

With a city as well-populated as Springfield, it can be difficult to decide which of the many colorful background Simpsons characters is your favorite. We’re willing to bet, though, that creaky Hans Moleman is near the top of most people’s lists. The s…

‘The Simpsons’ Boss Al Jean Believes Michael Jackson Used Cameo ‘to Groom Boys’

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

Al Jean says he “strongly” believes Michael Jackson used his classic — and now pulled — cameo in Season 3 of “The Simpsons” to “groom boys.”

The “Simpsons” showrunner spoke in detail to The Daily Beast about Jackson’s “Stark Raving Dad” guest role, telling the publication at South by Southwest (SXSW), “It wasn’t just a comedy to [Jackson], it was something that was used as a tool.”

Below are the relevant excerpts from the wide-ranging interview, which readers can find in full here.

Also Read: Corey Feldman ‘Can No Longer’ Defend Michael Jackson After ‘Leaving Neverland’ (Video)

Daily Beast: The very first episode of Season 3, “Stark Raving Dad,” featuring the voice of Michael Jackson made some news recently when it was revealed that you decided to remove the episode after watching the Jackson documentary “Leaving Neverland.” That must have been a difficult decision for you, seeing as you wrote it and it was your first episode at the reins.
Al Jean: Yes. It wasn’t something that makes me happy. It’s something I agree with completely. What saddens me is, if you watch that documentary–which I did, and several of us here did–and you watch that episode, honestly, it looks like the episode was used by Michael Jackson for something other than what we’d intended it. It wasn’t just a comedy to him, it was something that was used as a tool. And I strongly believe that. That, to me, is my belief, and it’s why I think removing it is appropriate. I lose a little bit of money financially, it’s not something that’s great personally to lose one of the most successful things I ever did, but I totally think it’s the right move. I don’t believe in going through and making judgments on every guest star and saying “this one was bad, that one was bad,” but the episode itself has a false purpose, and that’s what I object to about it now.

DB: And the false purpose was what?
AJ: I think it was part of what he used to groom boys. I really don’t know, and I should be very careful because this is not something I know personally, but as far as what I think, that’s what I think. And that makes me very, very sad.

Also Read: ‘The Simpsons’ Producers Pull 1991 Michael Jackson Episode in Response to ‘Leaving Neverland’

Last week, fellow “Simpsons” executive producer James L. Brooks said the episode featuring Jackson will be permanently shelved.

“It feels clearly the only choice to make,” Brooks told the The Wall Street Journal.

Brooks told the Journal that though he went into “Leaving Neverland” wanting to believe that Jackson was innocent, he came away convinced that “the documentary gave evidence of monstrous behavior.”

The four-hour documentary details the accounts of Wade Robson and James Safechuck, who say Michael Jackson sexually assaulted them over several years beginning when they were young boys.

Also Read: Anti-Abuse Group Sees Spike in ‘Grooming’ Searches After Michael Jackson Doc ‘Leaving Neverland’

The Jackson estate called the documentary “the kind of tabloid character assassination Michael Jackson endured in life, and now in death.” The estate is suing HBO for $100 million, accusing the network of violating a non-disparagement clause included in an agreement to air Jackson’s Dangerous World Tour live back in 1992.

Brooks told The Wall Street Journal that the reason the episode wasn’t shelved sooner is because Jackson was acquitted in his 2005 sexual abuse trial, but that the documentary convinced him. He said also that the “The Simpsons” production team was “of one mind on this.”

The third season episode, “Stark Raving Dad,” features Jackson as the voice of a man in a mental institution who believes he is Michael Jackson. For contractual reasons, Jackson wasn’t credited when the episode originally aired, but his participation was confirmed several years later.

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‘The Simpsons’ Producers Pull 1991 Michael Jackson Episode in Response to ‘Leaving Neverland’

‘The Simpsons’ Producers Pull 1991 Michael Jackson Episode in Response to ‘Leaving Neverland’

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

The executive producer of “The Simpsons” says a 1991 episode featuring a character voiced by Michael Jackson will be permanently shelved in response to the HBO documentary “Leaving Neverland.”

“It feels clearly the only choice to make,” James L. Brooks told the The Wall Street Journal.

Brooks told the Journal that though he went into the film wanting to believe that Jackson was innocent, he came away convinced that “the documentary gave evidence of monstrous behavior.”

The four-hour documentary details the accounts of Wade Robson and James Safechuck, who say Michael Jackson sexually assaulted them over several years beginning when they were young boys.

Also Read: After ‘Leaving Neverland,’ We Need to Reassess Michael Jackson

The Jackson estate called the documentary “the kind of tabloid character assassination Michael Jackson endured in life, and now in death.” The estate is suing HBO for $100 million, accusing the network of violating a non-disparagement clause included in an agreement to air Jackson’s Dangerous World Tour live back in 1992.

Brooks told The Wall Street Journal that the reason the episode wasn’t shelved sooner is because Jackson was acquitted in his 2005 sexual abuse trial, but that the documentary convinced him. He said also that the “The Simpsons” production team was “of one mind on this.”

The third season episode, “Stark Raving Dad,” features Jackson as the voice of a man in a mental institution who believes he is Michael Jackson. For contractual reasons, Jackson wasn’t credited when the episode originally aired, but his participation was confirmed several years later.

Also Read: Gavin Arvizo, Michael Jackson’s 2003 Accuser, Is Considering Law School, Family Friend Says

Fox Television, which distributes “The Simpsons,” did not immediately respond to a request for comment from TheWrap.

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‘The Simpsons’ Pulls Episode Featuring Michael Jackson Voice, Cites ‘Leaving Neverland’ Doc

Read on: Deadline.

An episode of The Simpsons featuring the voice of pop singer Michael Jackson is being pulled from circulation amid the fallout from HBO’s shocking Leaving Neverland documentary.
“I’m against book burning of any kind,” producer Jim Brooks told the…

Watch Luke Perry’s Cameo on ‘The Simpsons’ as Krusty the Clown’s ‘Worthless Half-Brother’ (Video)

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

Back during the height of his popularity on the Fox primetime hit “Beverly Hills, 90210,” Luke Perry made a guest appearance on another network show, “The Simpsons” — as Krusty the Clown’s “worthless half-brother.”

In the 1993 episode “Krusty Gets Kancelled,” Bart and Lisa try to help Krusty after his show gets the ax — and reach out to some of his celebrity pals, including Bette Midler and Perry, to host a telethon to revive the clown’s career.

Appearing shirtless as “Sideshow Luke Perry,” the young star manages to upstage Krusty’s balloon animal with an elaborate “19th-century carousel.”

Also Read: Luke Perry, ‘Riverdale’ and ‘Beverly Hills, 90210’ Star, Dies at 52

And Krusty, who has described Perry as “worthless” earlier in the episode (see the clip below), imagines getting revenge by shooting Perry into a brick wall and mangling his good looks.

Perry, an actor who broke out as a bad boy in the 1990s Fox teen drama “Beverly Hills, 90210,” died Monday at age 52 after suffering a massive stroke last week.

Perry, who was starring on The CW teen drama “Riverdale” as the father of lead character Archie (K.J. Apa), is best known for playing the brooding Dylan McKay on Fox’s ’90s teen drama “Beverly Hills, 90210” from 1990 to 1995 and again from 1998 to 2000.

His other notable small-screen credits include HBO prison drama “Oz,” the titular role on Showtime’s post-apocalyptic series “Jeremiah” and NBC’s short-lived ensemble drama “Windfall,” about a group of friends who win the lottery. He also had roles in “Body of Proof” and “John from Cincinnati.”

Watch his vocal cameo on the season 4 episode of “The Simpsons” above.

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‘The Simpsons’ Renewed for Seasons 31 and 32 on Fox

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

Fox will stay in business with its animated first family, “The Simpsons,” well after Homer and Marge move over to Disney.

The network has renewed the long-running sitcom for two more seasons — numbers 31 and 32, respectively — which will push the show past the 700-episode mark.

The two-year pickup keeps Fox in business with one of its biggest TV franchises as it readies its move over to Disney once the company’s acquisition of 21st Century Fox’s film and TV assets is closed in the next few months. Disney is set to get “The Simpsons” studio 20th Century Fox, which also owns fellow animated sitcom, “Family Guy.”

Also Read: 20 Years After Its Debut, ‘Family Guy’ Showrunners Explain How Those Cutaways Keep the Show Fresh

The show is already the longest-running scripted series in TV history, surpassing “Gunsmoke” last season. It first debuted in 1989, during George H.W. Bush’s presidency. On Sunday, “The Simpsons” will air its 652nd episode — “I’m Dancing as Fat as I Can” — which features a voice cameo from Netflix’s Ted Sarandos. By the end of the 32nd season, “The Simpsons” will have produced 713 episodes.

During its last couple of seasons, “The Simpsons” found itself dealing with criticism over its character Apu, whose future has followed the show since the November 2017 release of the documentary “The Problem With Apu.” The film studies the effects of what star and director Hari Kondabolu believes to be negative stereotypes perpetuated by the popular animated East Indian character. The fictional Apu Nahasapeemapetilon who has a thick Indian accent and runs a convenience store, is voiced by a white man, Hank Azaria.

“The Simpsons” is a Gracie Films Production in association with 20th Century Fox Television. James L. Brooks, Matt Groening and Al Jean are the executive producers. The series stars Harry Shearer, Dan Castellaneta, Nancy Cartwright, Yeardley Smith, Julie Kavner and Azaria.

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