Sidney Clifton has been promoted to senior vice president and head of development and programming at independent animation company Film Roman, Inc. Clifton has already placed five projects into fast track development, while she oversees script development on the animated series TRIPPING THE RIFT, currently in production with CinéGroupe and the Sci-Fi Channel.
Digital artist/designer Nico Puertollano has been added to the staff of New York-based Rhinoceros Visual Effects and Design. Prior to joining the staff, Puertollano had worked for Rhinoceros and a number of other companies as an independent artist and designer. As a freelance artist with Rhinoceros, Puertollano worked on a variety of projects including the short animated film FROM THE 104TH FLOOR, commercials for Phoenix Mutual, Arbys and Bengay, as well as projects for Sony, USA Networks, Samsung Digital and others.
Disney chairman Michael Eisner outlined his strategy to revitalize his company in the December 9 issue of FORBES Magazine. Among other juicy tidbits, Eisner reveals that he has written a letter to the Disney board recommending a successor and implies that his choice is current president and COO Bob Iger. Eisner also details his revitalization plan for Disney, which may include selling The Mighty Ducks hockey team, 64 company-owned radio stations and other ancillary businesses with an aim to substantially reduce Disney's $13 billion debt over the next 18 months.
Animation and live-action production company Super 78 has hired former Creative Capers art director Robert Rose as CG supervisor. After working as a freelance art director for a number of years, Rose joined Creative Capers Entertainment where he enjoyed a successful six-year tenure as art director/technical director. While at Creative Capers, Rose led the CGI design team and was instrumental in pre-visualization development for Universal Studios SITTING DUCKS, and also worked on the feature films 101 DALMATIANS, MR. MAGOO, THE TIGGER MOVIE and BOUNCE.
Sony Pictures Imageworks is enhancing its visual effects department with the hire of three new visual effects supervisors: Mark Stetson, Kevin Mack and Richard Hoover. Mark Stetson began his career on STAR TREK: THE MOTION PICTURE, and has worked on such films as BLADE RUNNER, THE RIGHT STUFF, GHOSTBUSTERS and DIE HARD. He won an Oscar and a BAFTA Award in 2002 for visual effects on THE LORD OF THE RINGS: THE FELLOWSHIP OF THE RING. Kevin Mack won the Academy Award in 1999 for Best Visual Effects with WHAT DREAMS MAY COME and has supervised effects on DR.
Panique au Village "The Cake" caused a riot of laughter at Annecy 2001 where it won for best TV program. Now this certifiably crazy show is coming to television. Philippe Moins reports on the insanity.
Former vice president of Greenlight International B.V., Lynn Chadwick has been appointed Nelvanas director of sales for Northern Europe. Based in the companys London office, she will drive sales and development with key customers in the United Kingdom, Ireland and the Netherlands. Prior to her position at Greenlight, Chadwick served as vice president, international at Salter Street Films International. She oversaw the establishment and significant growth of their international division, establishing Salter Street as a leading Canadian producer and supplier of television content.
Santa Monica-based visual effects studio R!OT has promoted Ken Nakada to the post of director of visual effects. In his new role, Nakada will oversee all of the studios activities related to the production of visual effects for feature films, episodic television, commercials and music videos. His role will include managing the department, providing creative oversight for current projects and planning for long term growth. Nakada will also continue to perform his previous duties as a matte painter and compositor.
Executive producer Michele Jeffers has joined digital visual effects studio Radium as head of the companys episodic and features division. She will be based in Radium's Santa Monica office. Jeffers has served as visual effects production manager at top effects houses and studios including Dream Quest Images, Sony Development, Banned from the Ranch, 20th Century Fox and Paramount Pictures.
Veteran animation and visual effects producer Andrea Mansour has joined independent animation studio Wild Brain, Inc. as head of commercials. Mansour will be responsible for all sales and management of Wild Brain's commercial division, developing new business opportunities, recruiting creative and production talent and overseeing commercial marketing efforts for the company. Prior to joining Wild Brain, Mansour was a creative program director with Sapient, a design and consulting firm in San Francisco.
In the wake of last week's announcement of the departure of Michael Hirsh, CEO of Nelvana, Corus Entertainment Inc. announced that it will combine the operations of Nelvana and its television division into one integrated business unit under the leadership of Paul Robertson. "As president of Corus Television, Paul has consistently delivered outstanding financial results and programming schedules, always with customer service as a top priority," said John Cassaday, president and CEO of Corus Entertainment.
Toronto-based visual effects house GVFX has named Ron OBrien president and chief executive officer. OBrien will be responsible for overseeing all of GVFXs daily global business activities including the offices in Los Angeles and Vancouver. Working closely with John Gajdecki, founder and effects supervisor of GVFX, OBrien will oversee GVFXs business and corporate strategy, and manage all business development, marketing and operational interests.
The Internet rumors have been flying for weeks and now a recent LA TIMES report has stated that Tom Schumacher, president of Disney Feature Animation, may leave his post when his contract expires in June 2003. No word on what Schumacher will do if he departs, but he is reportedly in discussions with Disney to figure out what his role will be with the company. Schumacher has headed Disney Feature Animation since 1999, throughout a turbulent time for the division.
Philip H. Knight, co-founder of Nike, Inc., has become the majority shareholder of Portland, Oregon-based Vinton Studios after making a financial investment in the company. The amount of the investment was undisclosed. In addition, Knight will join Vintons board of directors. "Phil Knights investment and board involvement is a tremendous boost to our strategic plan to take Vinton Studios to the highest competitive level in both entertainment and commercial production," said Vinton CEO and president Jeff Farnath.
London-based 4Kids Entertainment International has completed an expansion of its operations that encompasses the promotion of key management and the appointments of new executives. Promoted to the position of commercial director is Helen Howells, who will focus on the company's sub-agent relationships as well as oversee its marketing and creative areas. Howells assumes her new position with 4Kids Entertainment International after serving as director of international licensing. She joined the company in 2000.
The Producers Guild of America's New Media Council recently put together a panel of industry heavy hitters to discuss Producing Animation in the 21st Century. Greg Singer was there to take down the details
Karl Cohen has found a copy of Winsor McCay's long lost lesson on animation. Read about what it contains and what these tidbits mean to animation's history.
John Calley, chairman and CEO, Sony Pictures Entertainment has announced that company veterans Amy Pascal, chairman, Columbia Pictures; Jeff Blake, president, worldwide marketing and distribution, Columbia TriStar Motion Picture Group; and Yair Landau, president, Sony Pictures Digital Entertainment have been promoted to vice chairmen, Sony Pictures Entertainment (SPE). As vice-chairmen of SPE, they will share all day-to-day responsibilities formerly belonging to the COO, while retaining their current roles and titles within their divisions. All three report to Calley.
FUTURAMA writer Patric Verrone was recently honored with the fifth annual Animation Writing Award from the Animation Writers Caucus (AWC) of the Writers Guild of America, west. The award, which is intended to honor writers who have advanced the literature of animation in film and/or television through the years, and who have made outstanding contributions to the profession of the animation writer, was presented to Verrone by WGA,w president Victoria Riskin.
Canadian computer animation company Mainframe Entertainment has announced that company president Brett Gannon is temporarily stepping down from his post and will be taking an extended medical leave due to an undisclosed illness. Gannon's responsibilities will be taken over by CFO George Lawton, who is based in Canada, and Los Angeles-based Mark Fleischer, president Mainframe USA. According to Mainframe, Gannon intends to return to the company once fully recovered.
Corus Entertainment has announced that Michael Hirsh, founding partner and CEO of Nelvana Ltd., is stepping down from his post, although he will remain with the company in an advisory capacity. Hirsh started Nelvana in 1971 with his two founding partners, Patrick Loubert and Clive Smith, who had both left the company at the end of 2001. Nelvana was sold to Corus Entertainment in 2000. "No other company is better positioned to lead the industry into the next decade and I look forward to working with my successor to ensure Nelvana's continued success," said Hirsh.
Based on the success of live-action spots for AT&T, Verizon, PBS and others, Studio V-12 has recently launched a separate commercial division to handle the growing workload. Continuing its expansion, V-12 announces the addition of director Linzi Knight. Knight joins the current V-12 roster of Juan Delcan, V-12 Co-Founder David Hwang and Daryl Goodrich. After training in Toronto as a graphic designer, Knight spent five years pursuing design opportunities in Europe where she worked in top European design firms like Grapus in Paris and Meta Design in Berlin.
In 1959 at the request of Bill Snyder, a successful animation distributor, Gene Deitch arrived in Prague to oversee the production of several animated specials based on classic children's books. He was surprised to find an impossible production system, and is even more surprised to find himself still there to this day
Former Fox Family Channel and Fox Kids Network president Maureen Smith has joined TLC Entertainment as a partner in the network. She joins co-founders and partners George Taweel and Rob Loos. Among Smith's most immediate objectives are to increase the company's library of intellectual properties, oversee marketing and brand management for each, and to fully exploit its media assets across all applicable platforms including television, home video, video on demand, publishing and feature films.
Michael T. Nicolaou has joined Blur Studio as general manager. Nicolaou will oversee day-to-day operations at the visual effects, animation and design studio and participate in the implementation of the studios long-term expansion, including its planned move into feature film production. Nicolaou comes to Blur Studio from the high-tech firm Boxx Technologies. Previously, he served as a regional director for technology solutions provider Intergraph Corporation.