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Animation Vet Phil Roman to Helm New Fortitude Films

Fortitude Films has bought a studio in Burbank, California, and tapped legendary animator/director/producer to turn it into a full-service animation division, overseeing development of 2D and 3D features and series projects.

Lisa Maria Butkiewicz, the creative head for Fortitutde Films, said, "Phil Roman brings a wealth of experience in business, coupled with creative talent that is second to none. He has worked on some of the biggest animation success stories of all time."

Roman garnered several Emmy Awards for mega hit properties THE SIMPSONS, KING OF THE HILL and various GARFIELD specials under the Film Roman banner. Founded in 1984 with four employees, Film Roman went public in 1996 with a workforce of more than 500. Roman departed a few years later to re-start under his own shingle in 1999 while his original company is now owned by IDT Entertainment. Roman will continue to develop and produce projects through Phil Roman Ent. in Burbank.

Butkiewicz producing partner, Steve Delaportas, said, "Phil Roman has been a cornerstone in American animation for years, were just thrilled that he can be part of Fortitudes future."

Roman, a Los Angeles Entrepreneur of the Year winner, told AWN he admired Delaportas entrepreneurial initiatives, calling him a great businessman covering all the bases that includes distribution and licensing and merchandising capabilities within his other business enterprises. Even though the animation field seems saturated, Roman said Delaporta has correctly determined, There is a need in specialized areas, such as Christian and Latino markets for animated entertainment.

Today you must do things in a non-traditional way, Roman offered. The networks have taken away the business, insisting on owning everything.

We are building something from the ground up, which is exactly what I like to do, he said. Roman said he has tremendous respect for Butkiewicz and Delaportas, and is looking forward to being partners with them in the new venture. They were introduced by Dr. Ted Baehr, a leading figure in the Christian entertainment/publishing arena.

Roman will work out of both companies, keeping his Phil Roman Ent. offices, which has a number of commitments, including a series of interstitials currently in production.

Roman started is an animator at The Walt Disney Co. on SLEEPING BEAUTY, went on to work in commercial animation and then major productions for Chuck Jones, Ralph Bakshi and Bill Melendez, before starting his own studio.

A fresh Hollywood player, Fortitude Films ( beat out seasoned production pros to secure the screen rights to SHADOWMANCER, a fantasy novel by real-life Anglican vicar G.P. Taylor, which is often compared to the HARRY POTTER property. Butkiewicz and Delaportas have purchased the screen rights to SHADOWMANCER and have inked a deal with Universal Pictures to develop and distribute SHADOWMANCER for the big screen.

Taylors second book, WORMWOOD, was released in the U.S. two weeks ago and Fortitude controls the property and is considering studio offers. Fortitude also recently purchased the old Fleetwood Mac recording studios in Phoenix, Arizona.

The producers are repped by Barry Hirsch of Century City-based Hirsch, Wallerstein, Matlof & Fishman.