As Dana Walden prepares to take over Disney TV Studios and ABC Entertainment, she’s found a new network lieutenant. Channing Dungey is out after nearly three years in the job; Karey Burke will serve as president of entertainment.
Burke was already inside Disney as head of original programming at Freeform; she takes over the ABC job immediately. Once Disney’s acquisition of 21st Century Fox production assets is completed, Burke will report to Walden, the chairman of Disney TV Studios and ABC Entertainment.
The news isn’t a surprise, as Walden was expected to make changes to the Disney/ABC structure. It’s understood that Walden and Dungey aren’t close, and it wasn’t likely that they’d be working together. ABC said it was Dungey’s decision to step down from the role, and insiders noted that Dungey’s contract was coming up, and the exec was ready to try something new.
“I’m grateful to Channing for her significant contributions and unwavering dedication to the success of ABC over the past 14 years,” Walt Disney Co. chairman/CEO Bob Iger said in a statement. “I’ve thoroughly enjoyed having the opportunity to work with and mentor Channing; her curiosity, passion and creativity will ensure she is successful in whatever path she chooses going forward.”
Dungey made history as the first African-American entertainment president at a major U.S. broadcast network. And more recently, she earned praise for her quick decision to cancel “Roseanne,” despite its immense ratings, after star Roseanne Barr posted racist comments on Twitter.
“I’m incredibly proud of what the team and I have accomplished over the years, and all the meaningful and impactful programming we’ve developed,” Dungey said. “This job has been the highlight of my career. While I’ve loved every moment, and knew I could call ABC home for many years to come, I’m excited to tackle new challenges… knowing that Karey is taking over, a person that I like and respect so deeply, makes passing the baton a lot easier.”
During her tenure at ABC, Dungey developed series including “The Good Doctor,” “The Rookie,” “Single Parents”, “Speechless,” “Scandal,” “How To Get Away With Murder,” “black-ish,” “Designated Survivor,” “American Crime,” “Nashville,” “Once Upon A Time,“ “Private Practice,” “Criminal Minds,” and others.
Dungey took over ABC Entertainment in February 2016 after the network parted ways with then-ABC Entertainment Group president Paul Lee. Coincidentally, Lee came to ABC from ABC Family, the network now known as Freeform. That’s the path that Burke now takes.
“Over the past four years at Freeform, and throughout her career, Karey has proven herself a gifted leader with a strong track record of developing unique programming,” Iger said. “Karey’s attention to, and intimate knowledge of, the audience, and a commitment to quality will be a great addition to the creative team at ABC.”
Burke had been with Freeform since October 2014, and helped oversee the network’s growth in the young adult space with series like “Grown-ish,” “Siren,” and “The Bold Type.”
Over her career, Burke has also been a producer and partner at companies including Dark Toy Entertainment (“Go On”) and Ashton Kutcher’s Katalyst Entertainment (“The Beautiful Life”).
Coincidentally, she also was previously a production partner with Jamie Tarses, who served as ABC Entertainment president in the late 1990s.
Burke began her career at NBC, where she rose through the ranks helping develop shows such as “Friends,” “Freaks and Geeks,” “Scrubs,” “Ed” and more.
Freeform will announce Burke’s replacement at a later date.
“ABC is a beloved brand, and I am honored to continue the legacy left by Channing of excellent storytelling that touches so many people’s hearts,” Burke said. “As for Freeform, we are coming off our strongest and most profitable year yet, and I am deeply proud of our bold, inclusive programming and brand.”