Barry Diller has resigned as co-chairman/CEO of Vivendi Universal Entertainment to end investors' concerns about him also being head of USA Interactive. USA Interactive just unveiled plans to buy control of online service Expedia.com in a deal valued at $3.3 billion. Most of Diller's investments rest with USA Interactive where he is CEO/chairman. "My executive role was never intended to be permanent," Diller said in a statement.
Jerry Offsay will step down as president of programming for Showtime Networks at the end of the year. The search has begun for his successor at the cable net owned by Viacom. Offsay commented in a statement, "Last summer I announced to Matt [Matthew Bank, chairman/CEO of Showtime] that after my 50th birthday I intended to leave Showtime." He said they decided to make the announcement now, although his birthday is in December, to facilitate naming a successor and to make an orderly transition.
Independent animation studio Mike Young Productions (MYP) is expanding with key hires in areas of development and distribution. Regis Brown joins as VP of international sales, responsible for launching a new distribution arm for the company. His sales slate includes HE-MAN AND THE MASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE in key international territories, JAKERS! THE ADVENTURES OF PIGGLEY WINKS, a co-production with PBS WLIW and Entara Ltd., and PET ALIEN, a co-production with Antefilms Production, for TF1.
Visual effects artist Steve Meyer joins Zoic studios in Culver City, California to work on the television series BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER and TWILIGHT ZONE as well as commercial and broadcast projects. Meyer joins Zoic from Radium, where he collaborated with Andrew Orloff, Loni Peristere, Steve Schofield and Chris Jones who launched Zoic in the fall of 2002. At Radium, Meyer did visual effects for Re/Max, McDonalds, Best Western, Chevy and Budweiser, as well as music videos for Sheryl Crow and Linkin Park. Meyer also worked on SMALLVILLE, BUFFY and HBO Films LIVE FROM BAGHDAD.
An Oscar nomination has indeed transferred into real business for Ireland's Darragh O'Connell and Cathal Gaffney of Brown Bag Films. Give Up Yer Aul Sins came out of nowhere it seemed to capture the Academy's heart last yearby this year it has transformed itself into a phenomena. Article includes QuickTime movie clips.
Veteran marketing exec Steve Sohmer has left the ABC network as its EVP of marketing, advertising and promotion according to the HOLLYWOOD REPORTER. No replacement has been announced and the executives in each department will report for now to ABC Entertainment Group chairman Lloyd Braun. The network declined to comment on his departure. Sohmer was hired last summer to promote ABC's fall schedule, including his successful campaign for new sitcoms like 8 SIMPLE RULES FOR DATING MY TEENAGE DAUGHTER.
Editor Robert Pennington joins Northern Lights Post's roster of talent at the company's recently launched visual effects/design division. Pennington recently finished editing two feature length independent films, THE LIFE AND TIMES OF ROBERT WILSON (working title), a documentary about the famed experimental theater director, and A TALE OF TWO PIZZAS, a romantic comedy directed by Vincent Sassone starring Vincent Pastore, Frank Vincent and Patty D'Arbanville. Pennington's recent commercial assignments include a montage-driven, two-spot image campaign for Ford Motor Co.
Jan Nagel joined the jadooWorks marketing team as a consultant it was announced by CEO Rajiv Marwah. Along with Elizabeth Koshy, North American marketing director of jadooWorks, Nagel will provide business development and marketing services in Southern California. Since 1991, Nagel has done marketing and business development for production studios including Dream Quest Images, Calico Entertainment and VirtualMagic Animation. She also is president of Women In Animation.
Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment veteran exec Mike Dunn is taking over as president of the unit responsible for the sales, marketing and distribution of all Fox film and television programming on DVD and VHS in North America. He replaces Pat Wyatt who resigned a few months ago to produce anime DVD premiere movies. Dunn, who was EVP of sales and marketing after a 16-year career with Fox, will report directly to Fox Filmed Entertainment chairmen Tom Rothman and Jim Gianopulos.
Sesame Workshop adds Jaime Greenberg as VP of philanthropic development to spearhead efforts to gain support from foundations, corporations and individuals for the Workshop's programs and initiatives. Greenberg answers to Sherrie Rollins Westin, EVP of corporate affairs, education and development. Previously, Greenberg was at pubcaster Thirteen/WNET New York, where she led fundraising efforts for their national and local productions as well as education outreach projects.
Gerhard Zeiler, CEO of RTL Television in Germany since November 1998, is also now CEO of parent company and pan-European broadcaster RTL Group. He replaces Didier Bellens who departed recently to head Belgacom, a Belgian state-owned telecommunications company. Zeiler plans to run the Group headquartered in Luxembourg, and the channel in Cologne. Zeiler has been a member of the board of the Bertelsmann Foundation since September 2002 as well as on the board of M6 for the past year. Bertelsmann owns 90% of RTL, so some had speculated a Bertelsmann insider would likely take over RTL.
It's musical chairs again at Fox Kids Europe as Paul Taylor lands in Marc-Antonie d'Halluin's chair, replacing the exiting d'Halluin as new group managing director of channels and EVP. This takes effect March 17, reporting directly to Bruce Steinberg, CEO of FKE. Taylor will be responsible for local channel operations throughout Europe, working with the country managing directors to maximize opportunities for the company's integrated structure. He will also oversee pan-European advertising sales operations.
R!OT Santa Monica has promoted Diana Young from associate producer to visual effects producer for commercials and music videos. Young, a 10-year post-production vet, joined R!OT in 1999. Previously she worked at 525 Post Production, the Post Group in Hollywood and Pascal Video. Her credits at R!OT include spots for Skittles, Hamburger Helper, Suzuki and Skyy Blue and she co-produced a two-minute montage that kicked off THE X-FILES final season.
Martin Weigold, CFO of Fox Kids Europe, will remain seated in his position for another two years in the game of musical chairs underway at the broadcaster ever since the Walt Disney Company bought a majority interest in FKE. Weigold has been with FKE since 1999. Previously Weigold was VP of finance at Walt Disney TV Int'l and served on the board of Super RTL, the German free-to-air broadcaster.
Steven Andrew has been chosen to replace exiting controller of children's and youth programming Janie Grace at ITV. He will report to ITV director of programs, Nigel Pickard. Andrew spent five years at Granada Kids, one of the largest producers of kids programming in the U.K., and was responsible for many programs broadcast on CiTV (the children's segment of ITV). This is Pickard's first appointment since he rejoined the British broadcaster after a recent stint at the BBC.
Mark Ordesky's dedication and love for THE LORD OF THE RINGS trilogy and the success of the film franchise to New Line Productions' bottom line has been rewarded by his promotion to XVP/COO. In the new post, he will remain in Los Angeles overseeing the operations of the production staff. Fine Line Pictures' execs and acquisitions staff will continue to report to Ordesky as well. Ordesky started at New Line Cinema a decade ago as a script reader and worked his way up the ladder.
Sony Computer Entertainment America has promoted Frank O'Malley from director to VP of sales. With more than 35 years of business experience and 24 in sales directly, O'Malley is credited with having played a key role in developing and expanding the company's retail and distribution infrastructure and relations, especially responding to the introduction to the PlayStation game console in 1995. He will oversee all sales relations in North American for the PlayStation business, reporting directly to Jack Tretton, EVP of SCEA.
Former Harvey head Rick Mischel takes the reigns as CEO of Mainframe Entertainment, the pioneering computer animation studio in Canada. He replaces Brett Gannon, who stepped down as president in October 2002 for medical reasons. Mischel will be based at the company's headquarters in Vancouver, overseeing production, development, distribution, licensing, operations and business affairs. "We are looking to Rick to expand our computer graphics animation expertise beyond television and into new areas such as feature films.
Animation industry veteran Max Howard has joined SecondSun Entertainment's board of directors. Howard is chairman/CEO/founder of Melwood Pictures, a Hollywood-based producer of animation and live-action films. Formerly he was president of feature animation at Warner Bros., a SVP at The Walt Disney Co. and, most recently, a producer at DreamWorks where he helped develop and produce SPIRIT, STALLION OF THE CIMARRON amongst the DreamWorks slate. While he was at Warner Bros., the studio produced THE IRON GIANT, QUEST FOR CAMELOT and SPACE JAM.
Disney director Steve Trenbirth joins Mad Cow Pictures founder Steve Sagovac as co-owner of the Australian animation company. Before directing JUNGLE BOOK 2, Trenbirth was animation director on Disneys Annie Award nominated LADY & THE TRAMP 2 and Annie Award winning LION KING 2. Mad Cow offers Flash and traditional animation services, specializing in character design/development, storyboards, Leica reels and is developing its own projects including OOSTEVEN: PLAYGROUND PRIVATE EYE and LEEROY & LOU-ANNE.
In response to the greater number of adults tuning into Cartoon Network, the channel has moved Mike Lazzo from SVP of programming to SVP of its ADULT SWIM programming franchise. And in a move that's been in the works for some time, it was confirmed by a Cartoon Network spokesperson that Linda Simensky, SVP of original animation, will move from Turner headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia to the Cartoon Network Studio in Burbank, California to look after new programming initiatives for 2003.
Paul Golden is onboard at Vinton Studios in Portland, Oregon to spearhead its commercial division as the new president of advertising. Golden's mandate is to encourage the advertising community to turn to Vinton Studios for its variety of abilities including CGI, cel animation, live-action and motion graphics. "I want to correct the general misperception that we're all about clay," said Golden. He also plans to emphasize the individual directors and their unique styles rather than the studio as a whole.
Burbank, California-based Craig Murray Productions has brought on board Richard Redfield as president/executive creative director of CMP/West, to oversee its operations in West Los Angeles. CMP and CMP/West specialize in creating motion picture trailer, TV and print campaigns. Redfield is a veteran trailer producer with more than 200 campaigns to his credit. Most recently, Redfield was a creative director at Harley's House where he directed the advertising efforts on such films as OCEAN'S ELEVEN, AUSTIN POWERS IN GOLDMEMBER and TWO WEEKS NOTICE.
AOL Time Warner announced today that it is replacing Jamie Kellner, who headed its networks, with Philip I. Kent, a Turner Broadcasting System veteran, who rejoins Turner as its chairman/CEO. He will report to Jeffrey Bewkes, Chairman of AOL Time Warner's Entertainment & Networks Group. Jamie Kellner, who has led Turner for the past two years in Atlanta, will return to California and continue as chairman/CEO of The WB Network through the end of his employment agreement in the summer of 2004, according to the AOL Time Warner release.
Former HIT Entertainment licensing executive Stephen Gould joins Saban Consumer Products Europe (SCPE) as licensing director of its U.K. arm. Gould reports to Ian Downes, managing director for SCPE, the consumer products division of Fox Kids Europe. Gould is responsible for sales, promotions, marketing and advertising Fox Kids Europe-owned and third party properties in the U.K. and Ireland. He will also source new properties for European representation and be involved with deals with SCPE's six other European offices.