Three months after stepping down as head of Cinar, Peter Moss as been appointed to the newly created position of vice president of programming for Corus Television. Beginning May 1, 2002, Moss will be responsible for enhancing programming across all Corus services by developing strategic approaches to program development, acquisition and partnerships. "Peter has an outstanding track record in both public and private television broadcasting as well as production," said Paul Robertson, president of Corus Television.
Design studio B1 Media has moved its headquarters to a new facility in Studio City, California, more than doubling the size of its previous space, and has added several new staffers to its growing talent base. Previously partnered in multimedia company Barbed Wire, Joshua Hatton has moved to B1 as an animator involved in 2D and 3D animation and motion graphics working on DVD, broadcast design and games. Game producer Jason Friedlander joins B1 from MTV's ROAD RULES where he was responsible for developing and writing game competitions.
Film Roman, Inc. continues to expand, this time into the visual effects arena. The company best known for THE SIMPSONS has announced plans to acquire visual effects house VanHook Studios and to form a new visual effects division called Forum Visual Effects, to be based out of Film Roman's North Hollywood studios.
Global entertainment company peppermint has signed a deal with DIC Entertainment to distribute their eclectic catalogue throughout Asia. Peppermint will have exclusive distribution rights for 59 different titles, representing 1174 episodes, in Asian territories, including Malaysia, Indonesia and South Korea. DIC's catalog of animation and children's entertainment includes the animated series THE HURRICANES, which follows a soccer team as they tour the world, as well as the popular series' INSPECTOR GADGET and SONIC THE HEDGEHOG.
Now under Disney ownership, Fox Kids Europe (FKE) has announced that Buena Vista International Television (BVI-TV), a division of The Walt Disney Company, will service distribution for FKE's Saban library beginning May 1, 2002. The Saban library contains more than 6,300 episodes of children's programming including major franchises such as SPIDER-MAN, POWER RANGERS, X-MEN, DIGIMON, THE INCREDIBLE HULK and INSPECTOR GADGET. FKE owns the television rights in Europe and the Middle East to all children's programming in the Saban library.
Canadian-based media and entertainment company Corus Entertainment Inc. announced that it has successfully completed the sale of Klutz to Scholastic Inc. Klutz was sold for approximately US$43 million in cash plus a three-year earn-out based on revenue. The proceeds of the sale will be used to repay debt. Corus acquired Klutz, a publisher of children's books and related products based in Palo Alto, California, through its acquisition of Nelvana Limited in November 2000. âº
3D animator and visual effects artist Mark Glaser has launched Sway, a 3D animation and digital effects studio serving the commercial and film industries. A two-time Clio Award winner, Glaser was a former CG supervisor at Digital Domain and was co-founder and visual effects supervisor for Station X Studios. Glaser's specialties include photo-real rendering and 3D animation. His credits include spots for Dodge, Nike, Chevy, Sony and Duracell.
French animation studio Xilam has taken over the film and video game rights for the original property KAENA, following the liquidation of Chaman Production by a French court. For nearly 4 years, Chaman Production has been working on the feature-length film and the accompanying video game, but the company was not able to secure a publishing partner and was forced into liquidation. Xilam will take over the CGI production on the film, which is scheduled for release at the end of 2002.
The National Network (TNN) has announced plans to launch an adult animation block of programming in the 2003 season. Headlining the block is GARY THE RAT, a half-hour original animated series starring Kelsey Grammer as the voice of the title character. Gary is a New York attorney who is so unscrupulous and immoral that he wakes up one morning to discover that he's turned into a rat. Rob and Mark Cullen are the writers and creators of the series and serve as co-executive producers, along with Grammer. The series is produced by Grammnet Productions.
Mike and Liz Young of Mike Young Productions (MYP) and Bill Schultz, former nine-year veteran executive vice president of Film Roman, have formalized their current working relationship by announcing the formation of a new partnership. "Although the name on the door says Mike Young Productions at the moment, the studio has for the past four years been the mind-meld of three experienced producers -- all of whom are passionate about the business and the art of animated programming," said Mike Young.
The three animation divisions that make up the newly formed Vancouver-based SecondSun Entertainment, are merging under one roof. As of May 1, 2002 3D division Brainchild Studios, 2D division Delaney & Friends Productions and Interactive Game Division Furious Entertainment will begin operation in a combined production and administration facility. SecondSun's new office will be in the heart of British Columbia's film and TV studio district, 15 minutes from Vancouver, in the city of Burnaby.
Jeff Stabenau, founder and former president of Crush Digital, has launched a new company, Blink Digital, to offer content preparation services for a broad range of digital media. DVD authoring will be the focus of the new company, a division of Liberty Livewire, but it will also offer preparation, conversion and optimization services for streaming media, interactive television media and archival digital media formats. Stabenau and former Crush Digital technical director Michael Ory, have been joined at Blink Digital by many other former Crush Digital staff.
Neon Noodle Productions, the U.S. representative and marketing company for Global Animation, has shuttered their Marina Del Rey-based Spectrum Studios. 10 employees from the motion-capture studio have been laid off, confirmed a company spokesperson. In addition, Neon Noodle announced that they have let go the majority of the employees at their Encino-based location and will be operating with a skeletal staff. The company cited the events of September 11th and 2001's threatened actors' strike as reasons for the staff cuts.
Portland, Oregon-based animation house Will Vinton Studios has been named in a lawsuit brought by a janitor who claims that the creators of the animated series THE PJS used his likeness for one of the characters in the now defunct series.
In an effort to further enhance its console development capabilities and game creation for the next-generation consoles, Activision, Inc., has acquired Northern California-based software developer Shaba Games LLC. Under the terms of the agreement, Shaba has become a wholly owned subsidiary of Activision, with Shaba's equity holders receiving 258,621 shares common stock in connection with the acquisition.
The newly formed alliance of Canadian production company CinéGroupe and animation producer Film Roman Studios has begun production on SCI FI Channel's first-ever animated series TRIPPING THE RIFT. The CG-animated series is based on the short film of the same name, with thirteen half-hour episodes slated to debut in first quarter 2003 as part of SCI FI's regular Friday primetime line-up of original series.
Canadian entertainment company Cinar Corp. has released its audited financial statements for the year ended November 30, 2001 and reported a loss of C$42 million (US$26.5 million). The loss is due to a number of items related to the company's ongoing financial trouble, including improper claims for government incentives, which have been subsequently disallowed by both the Canadian and Provincial authorities, as well as monies reportedly embezzled by Micheline Charest and Ronald Weinberg, the cofounders of the company.
Canadian production company CinèGroupe and animation producer Film Roman Studios have entered into a strategic alliance to produce new animated programming. CinèGroupe head of U.S. entertainment Ken Katsumoto and Peter Schankowitz, president of television programming and development at Film Roman, made the announcement on Wednesday, March 27, 2002. The first joint production will be announced next week.
As a follow-up to Barbie's direct-to-video debut in Mattel's BARBIE IN THE NUTCRACKER, CGI animation company Mainframe Entertainment has been contracted to animate the second direct-to-video Barbie feature, BARBIE AS RAPUNZEL. Scheduled for a fall 2002 launch, BARBIE AS RAPUNZEL will feature the voices of Anjelica Huston as the evil stepmother, Cree Summer as Penelope the dragon and Kelly Sheridan reprising her role as Barbie. In this new adaptation of the classic fairytale, Barbie portrays an artist who paints her way out of the castle tower to save her beloved prince.
The RTV family entertainment company has licensed an extensive non-exclusive program package to tv.nrw, the provider of regional television programs in North Rhine Westphalia. The package includes among others the animation series TIMOTHY GOES TO SCHOOL, DONKEY KONG COUNTRY, MARVIN THE TAP-DANCING HORSE, SEVEN LITTLE MONSTERS and TALES FROM THE CRYPTKEEPER along with several live-action series. The deal with tv.nrw, which RTV plans on being a long-term cooperation, underlines RTV's desire to be an important provider of up-market entertainment for children and families.
Disney Feature Animation president Thomas Schumacher confirmed that more cuts are scheduled in the Mouse House Feature Animation division. According to the LOS ANGELES TIMES, Disney plans to lay off up to 265 employees at its Burbank facility over the next year. The cuts will reduce the staff to about 1,000 by May 2003 and are part of Walt Disney's ongoing restructuring of its animation division. When the company-wide cuts were announced in April 2001, approximately 200 animation employees were laid off from the Burbank facility and animation salaries were reportedly cut by 30% to 50%.
Canadian-based animation company Bardel Animation has a new digital production division comprised of two core departments utilizing Flash and 3D Maya. "Traditional animation is by no means dead," said Bardel's president Barry Ward. "It's alive and well and living digitally.
Miami-based Latin American distribution outfit Salsa Entertainment has concluded several deals with leading broadcasters throughout the Latin American region. Puerto Rican broadcaster Telemundo has picked up the live-action/animation preschool series SALTYS LIGHTHOUSE (40 x 30 min) from Sunbow Entertainment.
Animation producer and distributor TV-Loonland has sold three preschool properties LITTLE GHOSTS (39 x 7 min), CONNIE THE COW (52 x 7 min) and HENRY'S WORLD (26 x 11 min), to public broadcaster France 5. The channel, which until recently was called La Cinquième, is recognized for being France's primary broadcaster of preschool programming and for providing its young audiences with television that promotes learning through play. LITTLE GHOSTS is a co-production between TV-Loonland and its subsidiary, UK animation studio Telemagination.
Gullane Entertainment has joined forces with independent animation company Collingwood O'Hare Entertainment to create a new animated preschool series called YOKO! JAKAMOKO! TOTO! UK broadcaster CiTV commissioned 52 five-minute episodes of the series. YOKO! JAKAMOKO! TOTO! is inspired by traditional Spanish, Latin American and African art and music and tells the tale of the friendship between Yoko (a bird), Jakamoko (an armadillo) and Toto (a monkey) solely through music and action.