The children’s entertainment industry is sitting back wondering what may come of a flurry of developments and rumors swirling around key industry players Fox Children’s Network, Saban Entertainment and Marvel Entertainment.
The top story involves reports that News Corporation is considering spinning off its FCN as a public company in what is being speculated as a bid to create a separate global kids unit.
At the same time, FCN has completed a major development deal with Marvel and toy manufacturer Toy Biz (see story page 12). And Saban, which has a marketing and distribution deal with Fox, recently made a number of significant organizational and top-level executive changes.
The moves at Saban affect the company across the board with the consolidation of a number of key business activities domestically and internationally. The changes include the elimination of Saban’s Children’s Entertainment Group and the departure of the group’s president, Peter Dang.
The changes are being introduced to better manage and control the expanding business activities at Saban, according to Saban chairman and chief executive officer Chaim Saban.
They come at a time when Saban has aggressively moved outside the kids business and into broader family fare after picking up the live-action video rights to such properties as The Addams Family, Casper and Richie Rich.
The key changes at Saban involve:
- Michel Welter, formerly senior vice president business affairs of Saban International, is now president of Saban Enterprises International, a new division of Saban that will oversee international licensing, merchandising and promotion.
- Olivier Spiner, formerly with the French production and distribution company Créativité et Développment, becomes senior vice president Saban International, based in Paris.
- Elie Dekel, formerly senior vice president marketing and promotions, is now executive vice president marketing and advertising, assuming overall responsibility for all advertising, promotions, marketing, publicity, interactive, consumer products, and retail and sales development.
- Eric Rollman moves from senior vice president production to executive vice president of Saban Animation. Rollman will supervise all of Saban’s animation activity, which involves some 400 half-hours of animated programming this year.
- Sam Ewing, supervising producer on a number of Saban projects over the past several years, is vice president of international co-productions, a newly created position.
- Peter Schmidt becomes executive vice president of Saban Domestic Distribution, Saban’s New York-based domestic television sales option. The division has just launched the Saban Kids Network, a nationally syndicated children’s programming block.
- Susanne Lee joins Saban as senior vice president of Saban Merchandising. Lee had been with The Walt Disney Company for the past eight years. Saban enters the 1996-97 U.S. television season with 12 series on the go, three on the Fox Children’s Network, two on the United Paramount Network and seven in national syndication.