Warner Bros. Animation has completed its year-long consolidation from three separate units (Feature Animation, Television Animation and Classic Animation) to one, with the elimination of its Classic Animation department and the merger of TV and Feature. One executive and 10 animators lost their jobs in the downsizing last month in Burbank.
Gone is 17-year veteran producer Kathleen Helppie, who oversaw commercials (including the MCI Michael Jordan spots), short subjects (such as the recently completed Looney Tunes Little Go Beep) and special projects (including 3-D theme park films). The department’s annual repackaging of classic Looney Tunes shorts for television was eliminated with the exclusive shift of all classic animated series to the Cartoon Network this past September.
‘Bugs and Tweety are alive and well,’ says Warner’s senior VP of corporate communications Barbara Brogliatti. ‘We combined Warner Bros. Feature Film with Warner Bros. Television Animation over six months ago, and now we have just finished the process by folding Classic Animation into that. Now there is one entity known as Warner Bros. Animation.’
The studio is finishing up its Osmosis Jones feature and beginning work on Justice League, a TV series for Cartoon Network. Brogliatti says the studio will continue to do films, commercials and an occasional Looney Tunes short.
‘We used to have an overhead business model, not unlike Disney, which has thousands of animators in overhead,’ Brogliatti explains. ‘We’ve simply shifted to a run-of-production business model.’