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Staff Cuts At Cookie Jar Finalized

KIDSCREEN Magazine reports that 80 full-time employees of the newly merged DIC Ent./Cookie Jar Group have been let go. Plans to restructure the company came earlier in August, following the July acquisition.

Most positions were eliminated effectively immediately, according to Cookie Jar CEO Michael Hirsh. Some departures will occur as far away as six months from now to finish up current projects. The company now employs between 230 and 240 people, including staff at CPLG the European licensing agency that was part of the DIC acquisition.

Cuts were made in finance, business affairs, executive administration and production divisions. The company will be reshaped into entertainment production and licensing arms. Cookie Jar's creative team will now lead production on all new series, while DIC licensing head Kirk Bloomgarden (now Exec. VP of Worldwide Consumer Products and Marketing) will oversee all licensing and merchandising.

Except for a revival of INSPECTOR GADGET, all DIC projects are being halted. Before the merger, Cookie Jar had 10 series in production. Hirsh wants to keep that number up, and expects to see the consumer products side expand, driven by the combined offices in Burbank, California.

International operations are being consolidated as well, moving staff to one building where both Cookie Jar and DIC operate, including reducing three offices in Paris to one.

Cookie Jar has added "broadcaster" to its list of services, now owning a one-third interest in KidsCo and the Saturday morning DIC block on CBS in the U.S. Hirsh likes the prospects of the KidsCo partnership, but is evaluating the low-rated CBS venture.

Hirsh and Taylor are bringing boys action series META JETS and Christmas special GOTTA CATCH SANTA CLAUS to MIPCOM in October.