Veteran media executive Allan Grafman joins Archie Comics Entertainment as president to expand the company's worldwide operations. His mandate is to increase the media exploitation of such characters as Archie, Betty, Veronica, Jughead, Sabrina the Teenage Witch and Josie and the Pussycats. Several Archie characters have been developed for films and TV shows, which Grafman will pursue as well as opportunities in video, video games, music, live events and licensing. Grafman led the turnaround and restructuring of Hallmark Entertainment where he served as XVP.
CINAR Corp. has named former WWF Entertainment head Stuart C. Snyder its new president and CEO. Snyder has extensive management experience in video, television, film, animation and live-action entertainment, as well as contacts in the production and distribution communities plus retail and licensing. The CINAR board is counting on Snyder to return the entertainment division to profitability and broaden the range of family products.
Janie Grace, controller of children's and youth programming at ITV, a leading broadcaster in the U.K., has quit '"by mutual agreement" shortly before the arrival of new director of programs Nigel Pickard. Grace leaves the position after two and a half years but declined to comment on her reasons for leaving. Grace and Pickard were colleagues at TVS in the '80s. She went on to head up Nickelodeon U.K. while Pickard took charge of CiTV, the children's arm of ITV. Grace later replaced Pickard at CiTV when he went on to the BBC.
Candyce Ayn-Lund has signed on as director of business development for Atlanta-based animation firm DAGNABIT! and will represent the company to the advertising and entertainment markets. Most recently, Ayn-Lund was director of new media and broadcast development for the Atlanta studio of NY-based design house Click3X. Prior to joining Click3X, Ayn-Lund was an account manager at post-production facility Crawford Communications, where she oversaw many long and short format projects for CNN, TNT, Cartoon Network, TCM, Turner South and Turner Sports. DAGNABIT!
Digital visual effects studio Radium has upped producer Sascha Flick to senior producer/Los Angeles. Based in Radium's Santa Monica, California location, Flicks new position expands her reach to managing awarded projects and bidding new projects, as well as working closely with the senior production staff to maintain the cohesive structure between the San Francisco and Santa Monica offices.
Children's entertainment group Entertainment Rights has expanded its sales team and appointed Matthew Ashcroft as sales executive responsible for developing business in the key markets of Japan, Korea, Taiwan, China, India, Australia and New Zealand. Ashcroft's most recent position was sales executive for Fireworks International, the international distribution arm of Canadian based Fireworks Entertainment, where he was responsible for pay and free TV sales to Asia and Latin America.
John F. Hardman has been promoted to senior vice president, Kids' WB!, replacing Donna Friedman Meir, who has decamped the network to head up kids' programming and production for National Geographic Television & Film. Hardman has been with Kids' WB! for four years, and most recently served as vice president, programming and development. In his new capacity, Hardman will oversee all aspects of the development, scheduling and programming of animated and live-action series for the broadcast network.
Anthony Tabtong has joined Charlex as senior character animator, adding his talents to Charlex's growing 3D department. Tabtong moves to the company after four years at Curious Pictures as a senior 3D character animator. At Curious Pictures, Tabtong worked on spots for Nicktoons, Disney, Lugz, AT&T, Applebees, HBO and Target, among others. His past experience includes character animation for video games.
Andrea DAmico has been appointed vice president of visual effects sales for Ascent Media, and will act as a liaison between the Ascent Media Creative Services companies, including Encore and R!OT, that provide visual effects services for feature films and television. DAmico will also continue in her role as executive producer of visual effects with R!OT, Santa Monica.
Tremendous! Entertainment, Inc., a leading TV and film producer, distributor and rights acquisition company, is expanding its sales and distribution arm with the appointment of Jane Durkee as its new program sales executive. Based in Minnesota at Tremendous! Entertainments headquarters, Durkee will report to president Colleen Steward Needles and work closely with Germaine Deagan Sweet, vice president of sales and co-productions, to continue expanding the companys growing distribution efforts by selling the companys programs in both domestic and international markets.
Donna Friedman Meir will be leaving her position as executive VP of Kids' WB! as she has been named president of kids' programming and production for National Geographic Television & Film. The announcement was made by National Geographic Television & Film president Tim Kelly. "Donna has the talent and expertise to bring the best of National Geographic to the next generation and further expand our reach into the kids' entertainment market.
The exodus from AOL Time Warner continues with the announcement that Ted Turner has decided to step down as vice chairman of AOL Time Warner. This follows the highly publicized departure of chairman Steve Case, who earlier this month announced his departure from the company amid criticism from shareholders. AOL's stock has fallen 70% since it acquired Time Warner in 2001. Turner was rumored as a possible replacement for Case, but the newly-created position of chairman and chief executive officer went to CEO Dick Parsons.
The Board of Directors of AOL Time Warner Inc. has unanimously elected CEO Dick Parsons to the newly-combined position of chairman and chief executive officer. The appointment will become effective at the May 16, 2003 annual shareholders meeting, which is when Steve Case will step down as chairman, as previously announced. AOL's stock has fallen 70% since it acquired Time Warner in 2001, a consequence many stockholders had blamed on Case, a major architect of the merger. Case will remain a director of the company and will continue to co-chair the merger strategy committee.
Joan Kim captures the flavor of the Ottawa International Animation Festival 2002 in pictures and quotes.
Citing issues that have arisen out of the merger of AOL Time Warner, merger architect Steve Case has decided to step down as chairman of the company, effective at the annual shareholders meeting in May 2003. Case notified CEO Dick Parsons and the Board of Directors of his decision over the weekend of January 11, 2003.
Dr. Steve Sullivan has been promoted to research and development director at Industrial Light & Magic (ILM). Sullivan, who most recently headed up a computer vision team within the R&D group, has been instrumental in developing systems for matchmoving, image-based modeling and rendering, and motion-capture. In 1996, Sullivan received a PhD. in Electrical and Computer Engineering from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, with an emphasis on automatic object modeling, recognition and surface representations.
Nickelodeon animation head Albie Hecht has been appointed president of the cable channel The New TNN. In his new position, Hecht will oversee TNN as it repositions itself as television's first entertainment network for men, building upon its existing predominantly male audience composition. As part of this transition, Diane Robina will leave her current role as general manager of the network.
In the second part of our interviews with the creatives behind Lilo & Stitch, Andrew Osmond speaks with master animator Andreas Deja about animating Lilo, Hawaii and cartoon punch-outs.
Kevin Prendiville, former visual effects supervisor at Ring of Fire, has joined The Syndicate as the studio's new VFX supervisor and lead flame artist. Previously, Prendiville was the Henry artist at Hollywood-based visual effects house Novocom, where he worked on commercials for Discover Card, AT&T, Miller Lite, Chevy Blazer, Levis, Allsport and Mountain Dew. His music video work at Novocom included clips for Michael Jackson and Lenny Kravitz, and a special effects heavy Garth Brooks track that won the Country Music video of the year award in 1995.
Raiding the pool of talent left after Mill Film removed itself from the feature effects business, Cinesite Europe, Ltd. has appointed Mill Film's former managing director Antony Hunt as managing director and former director of miniature effects at Mill Film José Granell as visual effects supervisor/director of models. These senior staff members join CG artists Simon Stanley-Clamp, Andy Kind, Ivor Middleton and Royston Wilcocks, all also formerly of Mill Film. Cinesite Europe, Ltd.
As previously rumored, Thomas Schumacher has left his post as head of Disney Feature Animation to become president, Buena Vista Theatrical Worldwide, the Disney unit that oversees Disney's live stage productions around the world. David Stainton will replace Schumacher as president, Walt Disney Feature Animation. Both divisions will fall under the auspices of The Walt Disney Studios and will work directly with chairman and CEO Michael D.
Patrick Kennedy has been promoted to executive vice president of Sony Pictures Digital, with overall responsibility for the company's Digital Networks Division. In his previous role as senior vice president of Sony Pictures Digital, Kennedy was responsible for the formation of the Digital Networks Division, which officially launched in April 2002. The division, an integral component of the Sony Pictures Digital organization, is charged with becoming the leading creator and distributor of digital entertainment services to consumers on all devices.
Fox Kids Europe N.V. (FKE) has announced that Bruce Steinberg will succeed Ynon Kreiz as chief executive officer. Kreiz had previously announced his resignation effective in December 2002, and Steinberg will take over the position immediately, reporting directly to the supervisory board of Fox Kids Europe.
As Disney's summer hit Lilo & Stitch reaches DVD, it is a strong contender for the Oscar, plus it has TV and direct-to-video sequels already in production. Andrew Osmond talks to the creators of Lilo & Stitch, Chris Sanders and Dean DeBlois, about their monstrous creation.
Pat Wyatt has left her post as president of Fox Home Video and Consumer Products, with the aim of starting up an independent production company specializing in anime, with a focus on original direct-to video properties. The company will also produce theatrical features, according to VARIETY. The name and details of the company are forthcoming. Wyatt told VARIETY her intentions are to reconnect with her family roots in Japan by "bringing eastern culture to the west." Wyatt has presided over the Home Video unit for the past five years.