ABC veteran Keli Lee has left the international arm of ABC Studios as Disney considers the future of the London-based content unit, Variety has learned.
Sources said Disney has told the creative community that there “has been a re-evaluation of ABC Studios International” and that it is re-assessing “the creative direction” of the business.
There have been changes in Disney’s international operations in the wake of its acquisition of 21st Century Fox assets in March. Numerous film and TV staffers at both entities have moved around as the combined business takes shape, and ahead of the wider international rollout of the Disney Plus streaming platform next year.
Lee had served as managing director at ABC Studios International. A longtime ABC staffer and former senior casting exec, she relocated from the U.S. to London to take the newly created role in 2015. Her task was to drive Disney and ABC more deeply into local and international production and co-production.
The London shakeup, which has also led to the departure of staffers on Lee’s team, follows a reorganization in the U.S. that saw top creative and business leaders Patrick Moran and Howard Davine exit ABC Studios. Jonnie Davis, a 20th Century Fox TV alum, was named president of ABC Studios in July.
Disney has told international producers that projects underway with Lee and the former ABC Studios International banner are now being handled out of the studio’s Burbank offices. ABC execs Stephanie Leifer and Tracy Underwood are said to be dealing with ongoing shows.
On Lee’s watch, ABC Studios International inked a deal with Australia-based Hoodlum. The pair joined forces on Ioan Gruffud-starrer “Harrow,” which was recently renewed for a third season. It was also involved with Australian drama “The Gloaming” for SVOD service Stan, and “Reef Break,” for ABC in the U.S. and French free-TV broadcaster M6. ABCSI had also been developing Lucy Lui-produced anthology series “Unsung Heroes,” about pioneering women who shaped history.
Lee had also inaugurated a U.K. version of the ABC Discovers initiative to unearth new British-based talent. She joined ABC in 1991 and was upped to head of casting in 2005 prior to segueing to the London post.
A Disney spokesman declined to comment.
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