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Animation Producer Buzz Potamkin Passes

Buzz Potamkin, one of animation’s most beloved producers, passed away from pancreatic cancer on Sunday, April 22nd.

Buzz Potamkin, one of animation’s most beloved producers, passed away from pancreatic cancer on Sunday, April 22nd. The much-liked and talented Potamkin founded many animation companies throughout the years, including Perpetual Motion, Southern Star Productions, Visionary Media and Buzzco.

Potamkin produced hundreds of TV commercials, including the Hawaiian Punch series. In 1979, his successful production of The Berenstain Bears Christmas Tree led to a series of prime time and daytime cartoons based on the famed children’s books. In 1981, Potamkin produced the famous “I Want My MTV” ad campaign. He founded and ran Southern Star Productions from 1984 to 1991 (series included CBS Storybreak, Peter Pan, Teen Wolf). In 1990 with Roy Disney as executive producer, Potamkin produced the TV Academy’s Cartoon All-Stars to the Rescue, the only animated program to be telecast simultaneously on all four major TV networks . Buzz also served with Disney as honorary executive producer for the UNICEF Animation Consortium .

Potamkin briefly worked at the Walt Disney Company in 1991 before joining Hanna Barbera as Executive Producer & Head of TV (through 1996) where he championed the World Premiere Shorts (“What A Cartoon“) unit, which led to Dexter’s Laboratory, Johnny Bravo, Cow and Chicken, and The Powerpuff Girls. Among his many projects at Hanna Barbera, Potamkin was Executive Producer of the Dr. Seuss’ special Dayzie-Head Maysie (1995). After Hanna Barbera, Potamkin served on the board of Visionary Media which produced the cutting edge web series WhirlGirl and produced and directed the direct-to-video film, Buster & Chauncey’s Silent Night (1998), through his own company, Project X.

His awards include four Clios, the MTV Video Award, more than 20 ASIFA commendations, the Cannes Gold Lion, the Venice Silver Lion, the Cable Ace, the Peabody, the Scott Newman Award, two New York Festival Gold Medals and three Silver Medals, The Child in Our Time Award from MIFED, two Humanitas and seven Emmy nominations.

Fred Seibert, on his Tumblr page, shares his experiences working with Potamkin on the MTV launch campaign, writing, “It’s fair to say that I wouldn’t have the animation career I have today without his tutoring, support and depth of knowledge and wisdom.”

Jennifer Wolfe's picture

Jennifer Wolfe is Director of News & Content at Animation World Network.