BURBANK, Calif. (AP) _ Walt Disney Co. said today it had signed an exclusive film and TV production deal with Dawn Steel, the former Columbia Pictures movie chief who left after Sony bought Columbia and hired Jon Peters and Peter Guber to run it.

''I have known Dawn for over 12 years and, based on our close working relationship, I have only the greatest respect for her abilities and accomplishments,'' said Michael Eisner, chairman of Walt Disney.

Ms. Steel's move to Disney had been rumored in Hollywood since shortly after Sony bought Columbia last September. She stayed on for only a few months after Sony paid $3.4 billion for the studio, then bought Guber and Peters (''Batman,'' ''Rain Man'') out of their contracts with Warner Bros. in a settlement estimated to have cost Sony as much as $500 million.

Disney said Ms. Steel would ''develop other projects for the company'' besides her TV and film productions. ''We believe her interests and ambitions outside these areas have great merit,'' Eisner said in a press statement.

The additional projects were not described.

Ms. Steel and her production company, Steel Pictures, will be based in Burbank, where Disney has its headquarters, beginning immediately, the company said.

Before joining Columbia, Ms. Steel was president of production for Paramount Pictures, where she was involved with hits such as ''Flashdance,'' ''Top Gun,'' ''Beverly Hills Cop II,'' ''The Accused'' and ''Fatal Attraction.''

Jeffrey Katzenberg, chairman of Walt Disney Studios, and David Hoberman, president of Disney's Touchstone Pictures, noted that Ms. Steel's long associations with moviemakers were significant assets for Disney.

Katzenberg praised her ''extensive background in production and excellent instincts for quality.''

In November 1987, Ms. Steel replaced David Puttnam as president of Columbia Pictures, the highest position ever held by a woman in Hollywood. Successes such as ''Ghostbusters II,'' ''When Harry Met Sally ...,'' and ''Look Who's Talking'' were released during her tenure.

Those movies were already under way when she was hired, however, and the verdict is still out on how projects she undertook will fare at the box office.

Films she initiated and have yet to be released include ''Postcards from the Edge'' (Meryl Streep, Shirley MacLaine, Dennis Quaid, Gene Hackman, Richard Dreyfuss), ''Awakenings'' (Robert DeNiro, Robin Williams) and ''Flatliners'' (Kiefer Sutherland, Julia Roberts).