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Headline News AXN Expands, Tom Davidson Named General Manager

Sony Pictures Entertainment (SPE) continues to expand its global cable and satellite networks portfolio with the launch next month of AXN in six European countries -- Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Romania and Bulgaria. As part of that expansion, Tom Davidson has been named new network's gm, based in Budapest, according to Darren Childs, svp of international networks, Sony Pictures Television International (SPTI).

Headline News Fox Searchlight & DNA Films Sign Multi-Year Production Deal

The partners behind the summers surprise hit 28 DAYS LATER, Fox Searchlight Pictures and DNA Films have announced a five-year, $50 million joint production and distribution deal, reported the HOLLYWOOD REPORTER. DNA Films operates on unused U.K. lottery funds and first needed approval by the U.K. Film Council before the agreement could be signed. The new joint venture will remain with the name DNA Films and producer/exec Andrew Macdonald has been hired to head up the company.

Headline News Big Idea Bought by Classic Media, Files Bankruptcy

By Rick DeMott | Thursday, September 4, 2003 at 12:00am

Big Idea Prods has announced an agreement with Classic Media LLC to purchase the companys assets. As required by the deal, Big Idea has filed a Chapter 11 bankruptcy case in the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Northern District of Illinois.

Headline News FCC Media Ownership Changes on Hold

Opponents of the FCC approved changes in media ownership regulations got a reprieve Sept. 3, 2003 when a federal judicial panel temporarily blocked the rules from taking effect as they were scheduled to the following day, Sept. 4. A three-judge panel of the Third U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania issued a stay order preventing the regulatory agency from loosening ownership rules pending further proceedings.

Headline News Bird Studios Flies Into London

Former EYE Animation creative director Ian Bird has opened Bird Studios, a CG/3D animation production studio in London. The studio is working on various feature film, commercial and music video productions. It recently wrapped on the animated video for Iron Maiden entitled, WILDEST DREAMS. Bird Studios animation team storyboarded and animated the video from director Howard Greenhalghs script. The team at Bird is comprised of award-winning animators and illustrators with backgrounds in film, BBC, documentaries, history of art and classic comic illustration.

Headline News Mar Vista Entertainment Launched

Whamo Ents partners Joseph Szew, Fernando Szew and Mar Gaya, along with PorchLight Ents Michael Jacobs and Anchor Bay Ents George Port, have formed Mar Vista Entertainment, reported DAILY VARIETY. The new company will produce and distribute family and children's productions. Joseph Szew will serve as president/ceo and his brother will be managing director. Based in Barcelona, Gaya will be the director of European operations. Jacobs, former svp of worldwide sales for PorchLight, will serve as president of production and distribution.

Headline News Animators Weathering The Blackout

It took a while for AWN to hear from animation and vfx people in New York City and areas in the U.S. affected by the massive power blackout on Aug. 14, 2003. Between downed power grids, tied up telephone lines and the subsequent attack of the BIG computer virus, communication is just now returning to normal. However, a few brave souls managed to share how their shops were disrupted in our increasingly power-hungry industry and lessons they learned for the next outage.

Quiet Man

Headline News Cyper Ent Consolidates Name, Splits Stock, Adds Ani Vet & Partner

Dae Joong Kim, a veteran animation director for 36 years, has joined Cyper Entertainment Inc., subsidiary of JRE Inc., based in Seoul, Korea. Considered one of the top OEM animation directors in Korea, he has worked on many different animated TV shows such as SUPER MARIO, FUTURE BOY CONAN, CAPTAIN HARLOCK, GALAXY EXPRESS 999 AND NADIA, among others.

"Mr. Kim is a valued addition to our team as we prepare for several large film and television productions. We are excited to have him in our service," said Duk Jim Jang, president of JRE.

Headline News VanBorssum Responds to Cornerstone Allegations

The following is a statement from Jason VanBorssum in response to a story about the demise of Cornerstone Animation that appeared in the AWN Flash and on the AWN.com Website on August 12, 2003. AWN is happy to present all sides as the parties make themselves available for comment.

Statement by Jason VanBorssumAugust 15, 2003

Headline News Saban Seals Deal In Germany

The sale is complete, U.S. billionaire Haim Saban took control of German broadcaster ProSiebenSat.1 by acquiring a majority stake from the insolvent parent house KirchMedia. The deal was finalized August 9, 2003 with Kirchs creditor banks and the transaction is expected to be completed this week. Saban acquired 36% of the share capital of ProSiebenSat.1, which gives him and his investors 72% of the companys voting rights.

Headline News Cornerstone Animation Takes Hit

Cornerstone Animation is missing one of its cornerstones with the recent departure of president/ceo Jason Marshall VanBorssum, who unexpectedly cleaned out his office at the studio in Glendale, California, leaving company files in disarray and its workers unpaid, AWN confirmed with founder/chief creative officer Larry Whitaker. Although we have been forced to shut our doors, we have not filed bankruptcy to date.

Headline News Mercury Filmworks Opens Third Studio in Ottawa

Vancouver-based Mercury Filmworks is broadening its digital production scope in Canada with the addition of an Ottawa-based animation studio. Under the direction of former Funbag animation director Jerry Popowich (KING, UNDERGRADS, FREAKY STORIES, WATERSHIP DOWN, NEVER ENDING STORY, THE SIMPSONS, THE CRITIC, PINK PANTHER, TALES FROM THE CRYPT KEEPER), Mercury Filmworks new studio will offer design, pre-production and digital animation capabilities.

Headline News Atari May Be Up for Players in Stock Market

Atari Inc. (Nasdaq: ATAR) has filed a registration statement with the Securities and Exchange Commission for a proposed offering of $125 million of common stock. In the proposed offering, shares will be sold by Atari and by Infogrames Entertainment, S.A., which owns approximately 88% of the outstanding Atari shares. Atari and Infogrames will grant the underwriters an option to purchase additional shares of its common stock valued at up to $18.75 million to cover over-allotments.

Headline News 12 Explore Buy in CINAR

As embattled Canadian childrens producer/distributor CINAR Corp. continues to work with the Quebec Securities Commission to have CINAR shares re-listed on the stock exchange, the company has signed 12 confidentiality/ standstill agreements with parties interested in taking part or all of the company. A CINAR statement said, Any major developments in this regard will be communicated to shareholders, regulatory authorities and the public as appropriate.

Headline News Electronic Arts’ LA Studio to Rival Major Effects Houses

With Electronic Arts consolidating its west coast operations in the Los Angeles area, its new 250,000 square-foot Playa Vista campus will rival those of the major visual effects houses. EA will begin moving staff from the current studio in Bel Air into its new space by the end of this year, hoping to complete the move by early 2004.

Headline News ASIFA-Hollywood Starts Virtual Archive

During the living tribute to voice over master Daws Butler at the ASIFA-Hollywood meeting July 30, 2003 in Glendale, the animation society announced it has embarked on an ambitious project to expand the offerings of the current ASIFA-Hollywood Animation Center in Burbank to include a virtual archive, museum, library and research facility for the benefit of the animation community and general public.

Headline News Twothousandstrong Moves Up, Julia Lennon Moves In

The creative design/production company twothousandstrong, led by creative director Craig Tozzi, has moved into its new headquarters, a 4,800 square-foot loft space in Venice, California, and added Julia Lennon as new head of sales/new business development.

Headline News Saban Powers Up to Buy ProSieben, Take Two

Now rumors AWN reported on two weeks ago about POWER RANGERS-powered billionaire Haim Saban making another run to buy ProSiebenSat.1 Media have been confirmed. A group of investors led by Saban have submitted a revived bid to buy a majority stake in the broadcaster from insolvent German media group KirchMedia. Saban has made a better offer to acquire 72% of ProSiebens vote-wielding ordinary shares at an estimated cost of$575 million plus an additional $225 million for a 16.5% stake held by KirchMedia and German publisher Axel Springer.

Headline News British Trio Starts Corsham Entertainment

Corsham Entertainment, a new TV and film production company in the U.K., has been formed by Oscar-winning Gary Kurtz (producer of AMERICAN GRAFFITI, STAR WARS, THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK and DARK CRYSTAL), Richard Bazley (a lead animator on Disneys HERCULES and POCAHONTAS plus Warner Bros.' OSMOSIS JONES and THE IRON GIANT), and writer Alastair Swinnerton (co-creator of THE BASKERVILLES and LEGOs BIONICLE).

Headline News Paradise Financial Group Launches New Toon Firm

Paradise Financial Group has launched a new animated production firm called Paradise Family Pictures LLC. The El Segundo, California-based company will produce animated 3D TV and feature film projects for the worldwide market. The new company will have three divisions: development, production and marketing. An international sales division will launch in May 2004. The toon house is in production on two 22-minute shows, COOL CAT ROCKY and IT'S A VERY MERRY JOLLY CHRISTMAS. Both projects will be completed early 2004.

Headline News IBM & Threshold Sign Feature Pact

IBM and Threshold Digital Research Labs have signed a four-year, multi-million dollar deal to increase Thresholds production output. The pact puts in place an IT commitment to help Threshold produce computer-animated movies, location-based entertainment, primetime TV animation and visual effects for feature films.

Headline News Ellipse Animation Sold to Comic Book Firm

Ellipse Animation, the animation branch of television production and distribution company Studio Expand, has been sold to French comic strip and comic book publisher Dargaud, reported THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER. Studio Expand is owned by Vivendi Universal's French pay TV arm Canal Plus. No monetary terms were announced. This move is part of Vivendi Universal's initiative to cut its debt by selling off some of its assets. The remaining divisions of Studio Expand will be sold separately.

Headline News DPS Aligns with Vanguard to Power CG Features

Digital Productions Solutions (DPS), the animation unit of IDT Media, has entered into a joint venture with Vanguard Animation to co-produce and co-own all Vanguard properties, as well as buy a minority stake of Vanguard in the eight-figure range. The announcement follows on the heels of DPS's acquisition of a majority stake in Film Roman Inc.

Headline News Saban Setting Sights on ProSiebenSat.1 Again

It looks like media mogul Haim Saban has some money left over from his recent $100 million contribution to charities in the U.S. and Israel to make a second attempt to buy ProSiebenSat.1. Saban pulled out of the deal to buy Kirch Media in June 2003. Now rumors are circulating that the POWER RANGERS-powered billionaire is making another run at buying only the broadcaster asset from Kirch's creditors.

Headline News ESC to Become VFX Fixture at Warner Bros.

Northern California-based VFX house ESC Entertainment was originally funded by Warner Bros. to handle the bulk of the work on the MATRIX trilogy, which cost more than $100 million. But now the studio has decided to expand ESC's role by having it take a lead or secondary role in all of its event films, VARIETY reports.

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