Tom Atkin has decided to step aside as founding exec director of the Visual Effects Society (VES) at the end of his current contract on July 31, 2004. Atkin said he is returning to his entrepreneurial roots. He founded VES in 1993 and helped guide its growth to its current 900 global members, nine festivals worldwide and an annual awards show. The VES will begin the search for a successor. "I have been so honored to be a part of the Visual Effects Society for the past 10 years," Atkin said. "My passion for this organization is equivalent to the child I never had.
Meridith Brown has joined Curious Pictures in New York City as exec producer, head of production to supervise all aspects of production at the TV series and commercial production company, reporting to the four partners. She will oversee all aspects of live action, animation and post-production.
Warner Bros. Online has officially launched its wireless initiative with the appointment of industry veteran Doug Dyer to the post of vp, wireless, Warner Bros. Online. Under Dyer's direction, Warner Bros. Online will expand its wireless business beyond licensing into developing, producing, publishing and marketing its own content to mobile operators and handset manufacturers. Dyers newly formed team includes U.K.-based Justin Richardson and Tokyo-based Tomomasa Iwanade.
Multi-Emmy Award winner Chris Zapara (BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER) has been named a supervising visual effects artist at Eden FX, having recently worked as a 3D supervisor at Zoic Studios. He produced models, animation and vfx for the finale of the hit show. Before that he was a 3D supervisor with Area 51 (2000-2003), where he produced animation and vfx for DUNE and CHILDREN OF DUNE, for which he received Emmys.
Responding to the rapid growth in its visual effects and high definition divisions, R!OT Manhattan has boosted its staff through several key personnel moves. Luis Ribeiro has been promoted to the newly created post of exec producer, and Susan Giattino to business manager. Ribeiro previously held the title of sr producer; Giattino was production manager. Additionally, the company has hired Angela Botta as sales representative and Colleen Garvey as producer.
Carmine Russo has been promoted to svp of International Sales JAKKS Pacific Inc., a leading multi-brand company that designs and markets a broad range of toys and leisure products.
Russo, formerly coo of Toymax International Inc., joined JAKKS Pacific as svp of research and development, following the acquisition of Toymax by JAKKS in 2002. At JAKKS, Russo has worked to integrate Toymax's toy and seasonal lines into JAKKS' operations. In addition, Russo has been actively working to expand JAKKS' TV games line and to develop JAKKS' NASCAR-branded radio control vehicles.
To support the evolution of its home video sales department, FUNimation Prods. Ltd. has brought aboard Larry Griffin as sr national sales manager. Griffin, formerly the west coast regional sales manager for Pioneer Entertainment USA, brings more than 15 years of home video experience to FUNimation. He is known for his expertise in the anime industry, which will assist FUNimation as the company continues to increase its dominance in the growing anime market.
Paris-based Marathon has promoted David Michel from creative director to svp of animation. He will be responsible for new business development, especially North American activities. Michel will also continue exec. producing Marthons flagship series, Martin Mystery and Totally Spies, which he co-created with fellow exec. producer Vincent Chalvon-Demersay.
Universal Pictures has promoted John Swallow to evp of production technology. He will continue to report to presidents of production Mary Parent and Scott Stuber. Swallow was named svp of production technology for Universal in January 1998, having first joined the studio in Nov. 1996 as vp of production technology. Over the years, he has been responsible for supervising the production technology for such films as THE GRINCH, THE MUMMY, THE MUMMY RETURNS, THE LOST WORLD: JURASSIC PARK, THE FAST AND THE FURIOUS and OCTOBER SKY.
Sesame Workshop has promoted Renee Mascara to vp, international TV distribution. She will be responsible for managing Sesame Workshop television program sales, including SESAME STREET co-productions. Mascara will also oversee the creation of an internal resource system measuring broadcaster data as it relates to the organizations program time slots and ratings.
P. Jayakumar has been elevated to coo and Tiersa Christine has been moved up to director of production of Toonz USA, the Burbank-based studio's operations in India, headed by president/ceo Bill Dennis.
AWN has confirmed that Cartoon Network vp of original animation Linda Simensky has announced to the company that she will be leaving her post to join PBS Kids. Simensky is an eight -year veteran at Cartoon Net, having been a major part in sheparding some of the channel's key brands, including the POWERPUFF GIRLS. Before arriving at Cartoon Network, Simensky was the first director of animation at Nickelodeon. She also founded the New York chapter of Women in Animation.
In an anticipated move, John Calley has left his position as chairman/ceo of Sony Pictures Entertainment (SPE) to concentrate on producing films, and has entered into a first-look production deal based at the Sony Pictures lot. Calley will remain on SPE's operating committee as well as SPE's board of directors.
Broadway Video DesignLab has hired Lisanne McDonald, an exec producer with broad experience spanning vfx, design and live action for film and television. She reports directly to managing director Karen Stewart.
Prior to her permanent position with DesignLab, McDonald was a freelance producer with the company.
McDonald has produced broadcast design and network branding and re-branding packaging projects, in addition to episodics, talk shows, commercials, documentaries and new media applications.
R!OT Manhattan has promoted Tom McCullough to visual effects supervisor. In his new role, McCullough will design, budget and oversee visual effects work for commercials, episodic television and broadcast graphics. He will also provide on-set visual effects supervision. McCullough will retain his post as senior inferno artist and will remain involved in hands-on visual effects production. A multi-talented artist, McCullough is also skilled in 3D animation.
Don Levy has been promoted to svp of marketing and communications, Sony Pictures Digital (SPD). In his new position, Levy will continue to direct the corporate communications, marketing and public relations for SPD's operating units, including Sony Pictures Imageworks, Sony Pictures Digital Networks, Sony Pictures Animation and Sony Online Entertainment. In addition, Levy will continue to be responsible for the coordination of marketing and brand strategy between Sony Pictures Digital and Sony Pictures Entertainment, Sony Electronics and others.
Mel Alcock has joined Fox Kids Europe (FKE) as exec director of commercial sales to oversee the generation of advertising sales and sponsorship revenue for all Fox Kids channels and online and interactive operations throughout Europe and the Middle East. Alcock will work together with Fox Kids local Managing Directors and Sales Directors.
Lisa Cleff rejoins Global brand communications group ATTIK, in San Francisco, California, as vp of business development and marketing.
Jamie Kellner, founding architect of The WB Television Network, is turning over the leadership reigns of The WB to longtime colleagues Garth Ancier, Jordan Levin and Jed Petrick when he steps down as chairman/ceo at the end of the 2003-04 television season, it was announced Sept. 30, 2003 by Kellner and Barry Meyer, chairman/ceo Warner Bros. Entertainment.
Ancier will become chairman of the network, taking over Kellner's big picture, forward thinking, strategic planning responsibilities as well as having the network's cfo and general counsel report to him.
Warner Bros. technical operations has promoted Darcy Antonellis to evp, distribution & technology operations, and Chuck Dages to evp, emerging technology. Both Antonellis and Dages will report directly to technical operations president Chris Cookson.
Industry veteran Jere Hausfater has joined Miramax Films as evp/co-head of Miramax International. Based in Los Angeles, Hausfater will report to Miramax Films coo Rick Sands, and will work alongside Stuart Ford in heading Miramax International. He will also work in conjunction with Agnes Mentre, who heads Miramaxs acquisitions group, to acquire product for sale and distribution outside of North America. Additionally, Hausfaters business affairs background will be tapped to help Miramax develop European co-financing structures.
The Digital Animation & Visual Effects School has added Ron Thornton to its team of instructors. Thornton was a founder of the legendary Animation house Foundation Imaging in Valencia, California, and a pioneer in the use of computers for vfx. His credits include BABYLON 5Babylon 5 (for which he won the Emmy for best visual effects), STAR TREK VOYAGER, DEEP SPACE 9 and ENTERPRISE. He was recently nominated for his work on the series finale of BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER.
Jan Carlee, a director with broad experience spanning animation and visual effects for feature films and commercials, has joined Wild Brains director roster. He will direct projects for commercials, television and film, as well as be an integral part of Wild Brains on-going development efforts in the feature film arena.