Sidney Kaufman, former president and owner of Los Angeles-based Total Licensing Services (TLS), has closed his shop and made the move to Nelvana to head up its worldwide licensing division.
Kaufman, an industry veteran of 15 years, opened the doors of Total Licensing Services four years ago when he left his position as executive vice president of MCA/Universal Licensing (now Universal Studios Consumer Products Group). At that time, he says, the syndication market was thriving and many of the owners of properties he’d handled while working at MCA/Universal joined the roster at TLS. The market for an independent like himself was wide open. Today, he says, the licensing market is much more predictable, which is the reason he cites for the shutdown of TLS earlier this year.
‘In order to be a successful independent [licensing agent], you need to have a reliable output of product, and running a small business-acquiring the product, selling it and managing it-was a task that got to be increasingly difficult,’ says Kaufman. His sense of timing worked to his advantage late last year when he heard that Nelvana was looking for an executive to head up its licensing department.
‘Sid has a terrific background [in licensing and merchandising], and we think he brings a lot of experience to the office,’ says Michael Hirsh, co-chief executive officer at Nelvana.
Part of Kaufman’s mandate is to build the merchandise business of Nelvana and help promote its properties through cross-promotional licensees. His first priority is to find cross-promotional partners for six animated series-Franklin, Anatole, The Dumb Bunnies, From the Files of Flying Rhinoceros, Guardians of the Legend and Birdz-that Nelvana is producing for CBS’s Saturday morning schedule this fall (see story page 34).
Kaufman will also be assessing what he views as Nelvana’s ‘underexploited’ properties, in particular, Babar and Pippi Longstocking, and developing specific strategies for them on a market-by-market basis.
And as to the fate of TLS clients, such as Mr. Magoo, Bananas in Pajamas and Lisa Frank, Kaufman says their futures will lie with the individual owners of each property, but, he adds, many of them are considering staying with him in his move to Nelvana. If that happens, Nelvana will become the owner of the merchandising rights. Pursuing the merchandising rights for properties not produced by Nelvana is an area the company is interested in exploring, Kaufman says, but only in a limited scope.