The Nickelodeon Kids and Family Games Group, recently formed to provide its audiences with innovative gaming experiences, made several new key management appointments. David Bergantino has been named VP of Premium Games Production; Shaan Kandawalla, VP of Retail and Licensed Games; and Pete Banks, VP of Engineering. The announcements were made by Dave Williams, SVP and GM, Nickelodeon Kids and Family Games Group, to whom the team will continue to report.
Disney animation exec Andrew Millstein has been named general manager for Walt Disney Animation Studios, and industry effects production veteran Jim Morris will take on a parallel role as general manager for Pixar Animation Studios
Both executives will be responsible for guiding overall operations of their respective studios, and will continue to oversee all aspects of production related to animated features, short films and special animated projects. They will report directly to Ed Catmull, president of Walt Disney and Pixar Animation Studios.
LAIKA/house President/Executive Producer Lourri Hammack has hired Ben Fischler as Visual Effects Supervisor for LAIKA/house.
In his new position, Fischler will drive the look and push the visual quality of projects within the LAIKA/house CG Department.
Fischler joined LAIKA/house after leaving DreamWorks Animation, where he worked as a Production Lighter on projects including: MADAGASCAR, MADAGASCAR 2: ESCAPE 2 AFRICA, BEE MOVIE, SHREK 2, SHREK THE THIRD, and OVER THE HEDGE.
Baby Networks have expanded their London-based executive team by hiring Ralf Kies as Director, Licensing & Merchandising. In this role Kies will be overseeing the off-air strategic commercial development of the BabyTV brand across home entertainment, licensing and merchandising, FMCG promotions and retail partnerships on a worldwide basis.
Additionally Kies responsibilities include developing broadcast partnerships for Baby Networks Ltd. portfolio of audiovisual content through syndication of programming to international TV channels.
Word coming from the Bay Area is that the Totoro Forest Project auction at Pixar was a stellar success. The world's top film animators, comic book artists and illustrators came together after creating original works of art inspired by the iconic animated film My Neighbor Totoro for an auction to benefit the Totoro No Furusato (Totoro's Homeland) National Fund
DECODE Enterprises, the distribution subsidiary of DHX Media, has promoted Josh Scherba from Director of Sales to VP, Distribution.
In his new role, he will continue to head the sales team for DECODE Enterprises' distribution catalogue which includes programming from DHX's production subsidiary's DECODE Entertainment, Halifax Film and Studio B Productions as well as acquired third party series.
Entertainment and development company W!LDBRAIN has hired Marge Dean as general manager of W!LDBRAIN Animation Studios. Dean will replace Andrea Mansour, who will be leaving the company this fall to relocate to Atlanta with her family. Dean will report to Charles Rivkin, President and CEO, and will work out of the San Francisco office beginning September 8.
W!LDBRAIN has inked an overall exclusive deal with animation veteran Danny Antonucci, creator of ED, EDD N EDDY, one of the highest-rated and longest-running original cartoons on Cartoon Network. Under the exclusive pact, Antonucci will develop original television series, feature film and new media projects for W!LDBRAIN. The development slate reflects a variety of projects that appeal to kids and adults.
Steve M. Rezayat is joining the Society for the Promotion of Japanese Animation as Chief Financial Officer.
Rezayat will be joining former Chief Financial Officer and current Chief Executive Officer Trulee Karahashi in the guidance of the organization that runs the nation's largest anime and manga convention, Anime Expo.
Rezayat is a seasoned financial management executive with 36 years of experience and holds a Master's degree in Management and a Bachelor's degree in Accounting.
Smoke & Mirrors New York, in an on-going expansionary effort, has added 3D Generalist Wei Louie to their CG department.
VFX software developer The Foundry has appointed Richard Shackleton as the new product manager for Nuke, its compositing system. Shackleton has more than 15 years experience of product development in the visual effects/editing markets, having previously worked in similar roles with well-known manufacturers, including The Foundry. He takes over from Matt Plec, who has become Nuke product designer.
Animax Broadcast Japan, a joint venture between Sony Pictures Ent. Japan and four major Japanese animation studios -- Toei Animation, Sunrise, TMS Ent. and Nihon Ad Systems -- announced that Masato (Mark) Oda has been appointed deputy president and general manager of the Japanese anime channel.
British independent distributor, rights owner and producer of programming for children, Abbey Home Media, has appointed Stephen Moore as a partner and shareholder.
Set up in 1989 by Anne and Ian Miles, Abbey Home Media specializes in distributing programming for preschool franchises. These franchises currently include HORRID HENRY from Novel, SESAME STREET from Sesame Workshop, THE MAGIC ROUNDABOUT from Pathe, SPOT from Penguin and PADDINGTON BEAR and THE WOMBLES from Cookie Jar's FilmFair Catalogue.
IMAX industry veteran Patricia Brandino has joined 3D Entertainment Distribution in the newly created position of VP, Film Sales. Effective September 7, Brandino will be responsible for theatrical sales of the company's current and future film catalogue in North America, including Jean-Michel Cousteau's DOLPHINS AND WHALES 3D released domestically at IMAX 3-D theatres earlier this year. She will report directly to Francois Mantello, the chairman of 3D Entertainment and its distribution unit.
Video game industry veteran Geoff Keighley has been named executive in charge of video game publisher relations for Spike TV. In his new position, Keighley will spearhead the network's year-round video game programming strategy, as well as manage Spike's editorial relationships with game publishers.
Nickelodeon/MTVN Kids and Family Group has named Jane Gould to the position of VP, Consumer Insights. The announcement was made by Ron Geraci, SVP, Research and Planning, Nickelodeon/MTVN Kids and Family Group, to whom Gould will report in New York.
Producer/director/writer Jack Olesker, creator of the MIGHTY MORPHIN' POWER RANGERS television series, has been named President of KEN Creative Studio, the India/U.S. production arm of KEN Group, the Bangalore, India-based multinational conglomerate.
Olesker's immediate task will be to develop a slate of original animated feature films and television series for distribution in the U.S. and internationally, and to be produced jointly in the U.S. and India.
On the occasion of the official Disney tribute to the animation legend who passed away in April, AWN offers remembrances from those who knew and were influenced by him.
Senior Colourist Simon Bourne has joined Framestore's award-winning Telecine team. Bourne took up his TK tools at Noel Street at the beginning of August, working alongside Framestore veterans Dave Ludlam and Steffan Perry.
Smoke & Mirrors New York has added award-winning VFX Supervisor/Flame Artist Nicholas Seresin to its growing roster of talented artists. Most recently, Seresin was a vfx supervisor/Flame and Inferno artist at London-based The Moving Picture Company. Prior to MPC, Seresin operated the flame for film, TV and commercials projects at The Mill.
Steve Anker, dean of the School of Film/Video at California Institute of the Arts announced that Laura Heit will join Paul Vester as a co-director of the Experimental Animation Program.