Yet another animation player has struck out on his own. Following the news last week of former TV-Loonland head of programming John Bullivant forming his own company to create and develop character based projects, UK animation scriptwriter Alastair Swinnerton has announced he has left Skryptonite, the animation production company he co-founded five years ago. Swinnerton has now set up a new company called BA20 Entertainment in order to develop and market animation properties in a style similar to that of LEGO's BIONICLE, which Swinnerton helped create.
Animation and digital visual effects studio Sparx* has brought on Manuel Le Hir and Guillaume Marien. In their new sales development roles, Le Hir and Marien will be working alongside the co-founders of Sparx*, Guillaume Hellouin and Jean-Christophe Bernard. "In the face of a fast-developing market, we wanted to acquire additional resources that would help boost the studios growth while respecting its original values. We chose these two particular personalities for their remarkable career track records, their huge management talent and their corporate spirit," said Hellouin.
DIC Entertainment announced today that they have signed Nancy Bassett to head up all of their licensing and merchandising sales initiatives worldwide. Bassett comes to DIC from Viacom Consumer Products where she was the vice president of worldwide sales for Paramount Pictures' licensing division. During Bassett's tenure with Viacom she served as the general manager of Viacom Consumer Products Canada and as managing director of Hamilton Projects. Bassett also held executive positions at Alliance Atlantis Entertainment and Sega of Canada.
Television executive John Bullivant has launched Kickback Media, a new executive production and development outfit. According to Bullivant, the aim of Kickback is to create, develop and finance character and design-based intellectual properties. The television activities will focus predominantly on the children's market and will include both animation and live-action content.
Goodspot Design and Goodspot Editorial has appointed Lisa Cleff to the position of vice president of sales and marketing for both divisions. Cleff joins newly appointed executive producer Mandy Martin, with whom she enjoyed a successful working relationship during their time together at design studio Attik/San Francisco. Prior to joining Goodspot, Cleff served as director of sales and marketing for R!OT Design in Manhattan. Her entree into the world of broadcast design came during her three years as U.S. director of business development at Attik.
Award-winning Los Angeles based writer and producer, Atul Rao, will be joining Toonz Animation India as the story editor and co-art director for its upcoming 3D series ADVENTURES OF HANUMAN. Rao and his family will join Toonz in India in November 2002. Starting as a staff writer at Nelvana Entertainment, Rao wrote for animated hits such as BABAR, CAREBEARS, BEETLEJUICE and TINTIN and then spent four years as producer, head writer and performer for Canadian cable network YTV.
PowerHouse Studios, Inc., a group of affiliated companies in the technology, entertainment, game, healthcare and education industries, has appointed Jay Elliot as CEO. Elliot will be responsible for overseeing the entire PowerHouse operation from its headquarters in Los Angeles. As a member of PowerHouse's Board of Directors, Elliot has recently overseen the acquisition of Agate Technologies, Inc. as well as entertainment development partnerships with Bluetorch Media, Nuvo Studios and Thrilling Entertainment.
Warner Bros.' Lorenzo di Boneventura has stepped down from his position as executive VP of motion pictures to take a role at the studio producing independent films. As reported in VARIETY, di Boneventura, who was promoted to the position of exec VP less than two months ago, said he wanted to move to indie producing to "stretch his creative muscles," which were apparently atrophying under the strains of heading a major motion picture studio.
Diana Longarzo has been named vice president of international strategy and business development for the Walt Disney Internet Group (WDIG). In this role, Longarzo will lead strategic product development and business development for WDIG's mobile and broadband businesses. Longarzo joins WDIG from Longarzo Consulting, a consultancy she founded that specialized in business strategy for entertainment and media companies such as Palm, Inc. and QBEO, Inc., an interactive television company.
VARIETY reports that veteran Turner exec Betty Cohen will leave the company to shop a multi-platform program targeted to young adults and teens. Cohen, who began with Turner in 1988 in the on-air promotions department at TNT, went on to oversee the creation and launch of Cartoon Network and served as its senior executive for ten years. In June 2001, she stepped down from her position as president of Cartoon Network Worldwide, but stayed within the AOL/ Time Warner family to develop projects like the one she has on the market.
Animator Dave Lombardi has joined ComputerCafe, after previously working with the animation and visual effects studio on the teaser-trailer for the upcoming film THE HULK. Lombardi recently completed work for ComputerCafe as animation supervisor on effects for SPY KIDS 2. His credits span film, television and music videos, and includes work on the STAR TREK series DEEP SPACE NINE and VOYAGER, as well as commercials for Sony Vaio and music videos for Ludacris and Janet Jackson.
Santa Monica, California-based visual effects studio Radium has hired executive producer Darby Walker-Curts and operations manager Paul Abatemarco, reuniting the pair who worked together at R!OT from 1997-2000. Darby Walker-Curts was executive producer of Telecine at R!OT, where she oversaw numerous projects including music videos for Dave Matthews, Jewel, Bryan Adams, Natalie Imbruglia and Incubus, as well as commercials for such noted directors as Nico Beyer, Danny Ducovny, Samuel Bayer, Herb Ritts and Marcos Siega.
After seven years with Rhythm & Hues Studios in Los Angeles, Ian Hulbert has joined Toronto-based visual effects and animation studio TOPIX as senior animation director. Hulbert will head the 3D character animation team at the studio, which has created effects and animation for such diverse projects as Atom Egoyan's Oscar-nominated film THE SWEET HEREAFTER, commercials for companies like Coca Cola, Kraft Foods, Chrysler, Budweiser, Discover Card and Post Cereals, and music videos for artist such as David Bowie, Sheryl Crow, Sarah McLachlan and Mary J. Blige.
Paul Grimshaw, former executive producer of Industrial Light + Magic Commercial Productions (ILMCP), has joined San Francisco, California's The Orphanage as vice president and executive producer of the commercial and music video division. Grimshaw's mission includes developing the live-action component of the current business unit, with the goal of making the entire division a key player within the industry. Grimshaw will be assisted in this plan by John Benson, the executive producer for The Orphanage in Los Angeles. Benson established the L.A.
Entertainment Rights, the global childrens entertainment group, is expanding its U.S. office with the appointment of Fabiola Flores Cortes as sales manager for Latin America, handling all sales of the ER catalogue in this region. She will join Gillian Kirby, who is responsible for ERs business in the USA and Canada, in the New York office.
Cinesite Hollywood has named Jeffrey Baksinski manager of the 3D department. Baksinski has been the motion/tracking supervisor in the visual effects department at Cinesite since 1998, where his responsibilities included supervising camera reconstruction, virtual set modeling and the creation and application of pipeline and procedures on such films as RED PLANET, 13 GHOSTS and WINDTALKERS.
Gene Deitch shares his personal letters with E.B. "Andy" White regarding the production of Charlotte's Web, an experience White called, "one of my nightmares."
Janet Hill has been named to head up West Coast communications for MTV Networks, which includes the channels MTV, VH1, Nickelodeon/Nick at Nite, TNN, TV Land and CMT. In her new position, Hill will be responsible for all internal and external communications for MTV Networks in its West Coast offices, which includes business, trade and consumer publicity.
Patti Burke, former head of production for Walt Disney Imagineerings Theme Park Productions, has been appointed head of Palo Alto-based PDI/DreamWorks. "Patti is the ideal leader to drive PDI/DreamWorks future, and we are thrilled to have her on board. Her extensive production and management experience are key at a time when we are expanding the company at a very rapid pace as well as planning a move to a brand-new facility in Redwood City, California," said Ann Daly, DreamWorks Head of Feature Animation.
Visual effects artist Kate ONeill has joined the creative team of New York-based animation, visual effects and design company Black Logic. "Kate had been freelancing for us for quite a while, and we were attracted to the ease with which she approaches her work," said executive producer Ivan Molomut. "Kate's talent and personality is a perfect fit for the effects/CGI team we have assembled and our clients love working with her." ONeill has been freelancing as a Flame/Inferno artist since 1995.
Senior designer John OCallaghan and producer Danielle Amaral have joined the in-house creative team at New York-based digital effects and production house Charlex. Both were most recently with ATTIK NY, where OCallaghan served as a lead designer and Amaral supervised production and post-production. OCallaghan was a senior designer and studio manager at ATTIK NY, where he created conceptual designs for broadcast as well as directing live-action.
Design, animation and visual effects studio Hornet, Inc., has added veteran director and visual effects supervisor Christopher Scollard to its New York commercial roster. Scollard's current work for Hornet includes directing spots for Mattel via Foote Cone & Belding Worldwide, as well as two game openers that the New York Jets will use during the upcoming football season. Scollard noted, "Because Hornet is a small company that is growing, it provides a unique opportunity for me. I had that opportunity once at Blue Sky.
Sony Pictures Animation heads Sandra Rabins and Penney Finkelman Cox have made the first executive hire for the newly created division. Nate Hopper, former VP of production at Twentieth Century Fox, has been named vice-president of creative affairs for Sony Pictures Animation. In his new position, Hopper will work closely with writers and directors in developing the companys CG animated features.
Fox Kids Europe (FKE) has announced that chairman and CEO Ynon Kreiz will leave FKE at the end of his employment agreement on November 23, 2002. In the remaining period, Kreiz will continue supporting the integration of certain FKE operations into majority shareholder The Walt Disney Company. Kreiz has successfully managed FKE since its inception in 1997. He led the expansion of FKE across Europe and the Middle East and during his tenure FKE initiated a successful IPO on the Euronext Amsterdam stock exchange.
Pow Wow Productions recently added five new animation directors to its roster: illustrator Sheila Aldridge; Tim Biskup, art director/designer for Cartoon Network's TIME SQUAD, and creator of his own short FREDDY SEYMORE'S AMAZING LIFE for Nickelodeon; David Brewster, supervising animator for feature films including OSMOSIS JONES, THE ROAD TO EL DORADO and THE PRINCE OF EGYPT; John Corbitt, illustrator and cartoonist whose work has appeared in TIME Magazine and the Chicago Tribune; and Miles Thompson an illustrator and painter who has worked on the animated series DEXTER'S LABORATORY and JOHNNY