Alex Hirsch, a graduate of Disney founded CalArts has made a huge impact in animation while not even being over 30. His first Disney role was working on Disney Channel’s Fish Hooks, but gained greater fame when he created Gravity Falls in 2012. The show, which became a fan favorite though its airing on Disney Channel and Disney XD, was based on Hirsch's own childhood experiences with his twin sister during their summer vacations. Cosplay, internet memes, and fan fiction followed while the series became a cornerstone of Disney XD’s lineup.
Then Hirsch did something more mysterious than anything that happens in his series. He announced that he is ending the series after Season 2: “The first thing to know is that the show isn’t being cancelled- it’s being finished. This is 100% my choice, and its something I decided on a very long time ago. I always designed Gravity Falls to be a finite series about one epic summer- a series with a beginning, middle, and end. There are so many shows that go on endlessly until they lose their original spark, or mysteries that are cancelled before they ever get a chance to payoff.”
Of course Disney would have preferred for the show to continue. Will Hirsch return to the Disney family with his next project? Who knows… But I can tell you that many Disney executives hope that the answer is yes.
Scott Trowbridge leads a portfolio of teams and initiatives at The Walt Disney Company. He heads a first-of-its-kind franchise-based studio that oversees the global strategic and creative development of the Star Wars franchise in Disney’s Parks & Resorts around the world. In addition, Scott also acts as the overall portfolio creative executive for the Disneyland Resort. Before that he oversaw Disney’s research and development arm as well as their Blue Sky Studio.
Why, you may ask, would Scott, whose major tangible contribution to the Disneyland Resort was some attraction enhancements for the park’s 60th anniversary, be entrusted with such a major project such as Star Wars Land? It is because of his pre-Disney work.
From 1992 to 2007 Scott worked for the folks behind Universal’s theme parks and played a key role in the creation of Universal Islands of Adventure. He also laid the groundwork for the Wizarding World of Harry Potter which took the themed entertainment industry into new heights of immersive storytelling. Disney wants to replicate the success of Harry Potter with perhaps one of the few franchises bigger than the boy wizard. Star Wars Land will be more than a collection of Star Wars themed attractions, it will be an experience that brings you into the world of Star Wars.
How will Trobridge execute inside a much larger bureaucracy than what he dealt with at Universal? Will Scott’s Universal sensibilities mesh with the more restrained Disneyland form of storytelling? Will all the Star Wars attractions get you wet in what has become a Universal tradition? These questions will be answered upon the lands opening at the Disneyland Resort and Disney’s Hollywood Studios. If successful, he will join the ranks of Joe Rhode and Tony Baxter as Imagineers that the fans fawn over. Let’s hope that the force is strong with Scott.
Maria Elena Lagomasino
Maria Elena Lagomasino was named to the board of The Walt Disney Company. She is currently the Chief Executive Officer and Managing Partner of WE Family Offices, a global family office serving high net worth families, and has held these positions since March 2013. She has a long history of positions in the financial sector, but perhaps most interesting is her long history in serving on other cooperate boards. She served as a director of the Coca-Cola Company from 2003 to 2006 and from 2008 to the present, and she has served as a director of Avon Products, Inc. since 2001. She is also a director of the Americas Society and served as a Trustee of the National Geographic Society from 2007 to 2015.
Some might say she was brought on to maintain a Latina voice since Monica Lozana, who has been a director since 2000, has to step down due to term limits that are part of the company’s corporate governance guidelines. Of course, Disney would never cheapen a director by saying they are there to fill a racial token. In Disney’s word’s, they say “Ms. Lagomasino contributes to the mix of experience and qualifications the Board seeks to maintain primarily through her experience in leading a variety of firms in the wealth management industry and her experience on other public company boards. In leading firms in the wealth management industry, she has gained a deep understanding of finance, investment and capital markets and experience in leading complex organizations and in evaluating the strategies of businesses in a variety of industries with varying size and complexity. Her experience at JP Morgan Private Bank included management of that firm's international operations and this experience contributes an understanding of conducting business internationally, particularly in Latin America. Through her service on other public company boards, she brings to our Board extensive experience with and a keen understanding of global brands as well as her ability to use her experience in providing insight and guidance in overseeing executive management, including executive compensation.”
Serving under Susan Arnold on the compensation committee, Ms. Lagomasino will have to balance the needs of retaining successful leaders while restraining excessive executive compensation which has been a growing concern in the corporate world. With her wide-ranging experience, it will be interesting to see what perspective she brings to the table.