Disney Promotes April Carretta to Head of Communications, Direct to Consumer

Veteran home entertainment publicity executive April Carretta has been promoted to head of communications, direct to consumer, for Disney Media & Entertainment Distribution, The Walt Disney Co. announced Sept. 21.

Carretta leads communications globally for Disney’s direct-to-consumer video streaming businesses. In her new role, she oversees proactive and integrated communications, including consumer, content publicity, international, crisis communications and incident management, as well as internal employee communications.

Carretta, a 20-year veteran of the business, reports to Heather Hust Rivera, SVP of Communications for Disney Media & Entertainment Distribution. 

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 Carretta joined Disney in 2019 through its acquisition of 20th Century Fox. She initially led communications for Disney’s Platform Distribution organization, playing a key role in shaping communications across all of DMED’s third-party media sales efforts for distribution, content sales agreements, affiliate marketing for direct-to-consumer services and linear media networks, global theatrical film distribution, and other Disney properties including Disney Music Group and the El Capitan Theater.

Prior to joining Disney, Carretta spent nearly four years as SVP of global communications and partnerships for 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment, as a key member of publicity chief James Finn’s team. She had been recruited to  spearhead integrated marketing, corporate communications, global partnerships and next-gen technology initiatives at the studio, the latter a key priority for then-division head Mike Dunn.

Prior to Fox, Carretta had enjoyed a more-than-eight-year run at the Edelman agency, most recently as SVP of digital and consumer marketing. There, she oversaw strategic communications and digital marketing plans for the agency’s largest accounts, including Walmart, Best Buy, Quaker Oats, Unilever and Dairy Management Inc. (DMI).

From 2005 to 2007, Carretta was manager of worldwide publicity at Sony Pictures Entertainment under SVP of worldwide publicity Fritz Friedman.

Disney Direct to Consumer is part of Disney Media & Entertainment Distribution, which manages The Walt Disney Co.’s content commercialization and distribution ecosystem. DMED is responsible for the monetization of content from the company’s content engines — Studios, General Entertainment and Sports. This includes P&L management and operations of the company’s portfolio of streaming services; its linear television channels the ABC-owned stations; theatrical film distribution; content licensing and distribution; and global advertising sales.

Looking Back: 2011 – Slow Recovery From the Recession

Ten years ago, home entertainment executives were more upbeat than they had been in years. The business posted its first positive quarter since the start of the 2008 global economic meltdown. With a 20% year-over-year sales gain, Blu-ray Disc was rejuvenating the physical disc business, while 3D Blu-ray was the talk of CES. And studio marketers were enthralled with the prospect of digital distribution, with a consortium of studios and other companies launching UltraViolet, a cloud-based “digital locker” that lets consumers stream and download purchased content to multiple platforms and devices. David Bishop, at the time president of Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, called UltraViolet “a major game changer.” The nascent streaming business, meanwhile, stumbled when Starz Entertainment ended content license renegotiations with Netflix, which meant the service would soon lose access to Disney and Sony Pictures movies.

Veteran Home Entertainment Executive Fritz Friedman Honored as ‘Influential’ Filipino-American

Home entertainment industry veteran Fritz Friedman has been named one of the 75 most influential Filipino-Americans for 2020.

The list of 75 Most Influential Filipino-Americans (MIFA) of 2020 was announced Oct. 18 by Blogtalk Hollywood and the MJ Racadio podcast. The annual list marks Filipino-American History Month (FAHM), a celebration of the first Filipinos arriving in Morro Bay along the central coast of California Oct. 18, 1587.

Friedman, who for more than three decades ran publicity at what ultimately became Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, came in at No. 3 on the list.

He is joined on the list by such luminaries as four-time Emmy Award winner Lisa Lew (No. 5), Grammy Award winner Bruno Mars (No. 8), and Oscar-nominated actress Hailee Steinfield.

Friedman currently serves as president of The Fritz Friedman Company, a Los Angeles and San Diego-based production and strategic marketing communications company. Among his past and current clients are Dean Devlin/Electric Entertainment (Independence Day: Resurgence); Invoke, a Boston-based market research technology firm; big data company Parrot Analytics; and Sony Pictures Entertainment, where he worked with the worldwide chief diversity officer in the area of diversity and inclusion and targeted marketing.

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Friedman is also working on several productions, including The World of Fear, an anthology of ghost stories around the world for digital platforms with his co-producers Rick Dugdale (“Blackway”) and Tony Award-winner David Henry Hwang (“M. Butterfly”).  He is also producing Korematsu vs. the US, a biopic about Japanese American civil rights pioneer Fred Korematsu who was imprisoned for refusing to enter internment camps for Japanese Americans during World War II.

Additionally, Friedman is an associate producer for Open Door, a documentary chronicling the true — and little known — story of how Philippine President Manuel L. Quezon permitted more than 1,200 Jewish refugees fleeing the Holocaust of Nazi Europe to enter the The Philippines.

He has also associate produced several films, including The State of Marriage, a documentary on marriage equality, and Kid Kulafu, the live-action biopic on world boxing champion Manny Pacquiao.

Friedman is an adjunct professor emeritus at The Annenberg School for Communications and Journalism of The University of Southern California, where he taught advanced strategic public relations and marketing. He is also a member of the Vassar College President’s Circle, which advises the college administration on matters academic and financial.

Among the several boards on which he sits are the board of directors of Loyola Productions (chairman), the Jesuit media production company, and the Advisory Board of The Filipino American Library. He also serves on the board of advisors for Pac-Arts, which produces the annual San Diego Asian American Film Festival.

Friedman also sits on board of trustees of Boston College High School.

California Gov. Jerry Brown appointed Friedman to his second three-year term on the Board of California Humanities (the California Commission on the Humanities). Former Democratic National Committee Chair Rep. Debbie Wasserman-Schultz appointed Friedman to the DNC’s Credentials Committee for the 2016 Democratic National Presidential Convention. Friedman continues to be heavily involved with various projects for the AAPI Caucus of the DNC in support of the Biden-Harris Campaign 2020.

In September 2014, Friedman exited Sony Pictures Entertainment after 34 years, where he most recently served as SVP of worldwide publicity and corporate communications for two divisions — Sony Pictures Home Entertainment (SPHE) and Sony Pictures Worldwide Acquisitions. He oversaw the worldwide publicity, corporate communication and media initiatives for the corporation’s multi-billion-dollar-a-year global home entertainment company creating and executing some of its most innovative and successful publicity campaigns including those for Close Encounters of the Third Kind, the “Spider-Man” and “Men in Black” franchises, The Social Network,  22 Jump Street and The Equalizer as well as such iconic television hits as the “Seinfeld” and  “Breaking Bad” TV-on-DVD series. Additionally, he helped launch two Sony divisions — Sony Pictures Worldwide Acquisitions and Affirm films.

Friedman also formulated and executed the global media campaigns that successfully launched several revolutionary technical innovations including the DVD, Blu-ray Disc, 3D and digital distribution formats.

Friedman has a long history of philanthropic and civil rights activities, including lobbying efforts to help gain veterans benefits for more than 18,000 Filipino Veterans of World War II. For this he was given a Presidential Citation by The Philippine Government which was awarded by President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo at Malacanang Palace in Manila. He was also a member of the California Commission on Asian and Pacific Islander Affairs, Chair of the Vassar College Asian Pacific Islander Alumni Association, and is the co-founder and President Emeritus of The Coalition of Asian Pacifics in Entertainment (CAPE), the largest entertainment organization for Asian Americans in the world.

He has also been honored with several awards, including The Apl de Ap International Foundation’s “Spirit of Inspiration” Award, The CAPE Founders Award, The Philippine Bar Association’s Community Service Award and the Asian Pacific Islander Legal Center’s “Corporate Impact Award.”

A Boston native, Friedman is a graduate of Vassar College, where he was an Asian Studies Major. He received a master of arts degree in communications degree from the Annenberg School for Communications at the University of Pennsylvania.

Fritz Friedman: Reflecting on the ‘Glorious Image’ of John Singleton

I am deeply shocked and saddened by the untimely death of my friend, the legendary director John Singleton, whom I have known since 1991 when his iconic film, Boyz n the Hood, was released.

Just a couple of weeks ago he had asked me to go to the Sony Lot to help him pick several photos from Boyz to be used at The Academy Award’s 90th Anniversary show next year. This was to have been followed by lunch (my treat, he said!).

I was privileged to have overseen the worldwide home entertainment publicity for this groundbreaking film (and for several of his subsequent films distributed by Columbia Pictures).

John was always appreciative. Over the years we developed a unique bond – he always called me “Fritzy” – laughing, talking about film and the importance of diversity and just having silly fun. He was smart as a whip, well-read and well-versed in literature and film history.

John was also exceedingly generous with his time and so very patient with my countless asks like speaking at my public relations class at The Annenberg School at the University of Southern California, or making a special appearance at various diversity events.

If his schedule permitted it, he was there.

From my perspective, John never took for granted the blessings bestowed on him, and his unique cinematic vision and deep sense of humanity were profoundly intermingled in his art.

It was my honor to have arranged for John to receive his well-deserved star on The Hollywood Walk of Fame. This photo captures that happy day when he received his Star. And now when I think of John, this glorious image is what will appear in my heart.

Requiescat in pace.

Fritz Friedman is the former SVP of worldwide marketing at Sony Pictures Home Entertainment.