ABC Australia (Sydney, Australia, 61-2-9950-3999): Australia’s pubcaster has tapped ex-Beyond Distribution GM Marena Manzoufas to join as head of programming for ABC TV. Manzoufas will direct the long-term strategic direction of the network, supervising all acquisitions and building relationships with domestic and international distributors.
Big Idea Productions (Chicago, Illinois, 312-669-1427): As it prepares to build on the success of the Veggie Tales video franchise, Big Idea has brought Dan Phillips aboard as VP of production. In his new position, Phillips will oversee the studio’s ongoing production activities, as well as scouting for new projects to add to the slate. Phillips hails from DreamWorks, where he last served as digital supervisor for The Road to El Dorado.
DIC Entertainment (Burbank, California, 818-955-5400): With toon projects such as X-Men, The Tick and The Avengers under his belt, writer/producer Eric Lewald has joined DIC as senior VP of creative affairs. Lewald will supervise all development activities at DIC, as well as working with story editors and writers and liaising with broadcasters and rights-holders.
Fox Kids UK (London, England, 44-207-554-9030): Ian Finnegan has been promoted from deputy managing director to managing director, and he will oversee programming, on-air promos, marketing and distribution.
Gullane Entertainment (New York, New York, 212-463-9623): David Snyder takes on responsibility for the company’s production, distribution and development business as senior VP of entertainment. Snyder joins the company from London, England-based Walt Disney Television International, where he held the post of senior VP of programming and creative development.
Peppermint (Munich, Germany, 49-89-982-470-830): The German distribution outfit has nabbed ex-KircheGruppe acquisitions exec Angelika Merkl to guide its pick-up strategy as head of television acquisitions.
Playmates Toys (Costa Mesa, California, 714-428-2000): Lou Novak has jumped the Mainframe Entertainment ship to join Playmates as president. In his new role, Novak will head up Playmates’ U.S. operations and will be looking to integrate the company’s proprietary toy and electronics concepts with popular licenses. Novak comes from a solid toy background, having held senior management positions at Galoob, Mattel and Coleco. Most recently, though, he served briefly as Mainframe’s CEO.
Portfolio Entertainment (Toronto, Canada, 416-483-9773): Marina Cordoni has been upped from VP to senior VP of distribution.
Sega of America (Redwood City, California, 415-701-6000): Mike Fischer has exited Namco, where he served as both director of marketing and director of business development, to join the Sega team as group director of product marketing for the Entertainment division.
Sesame Workshop (New York, New York, 212-595-3456): Maura Regan has been upped from director of international licensing for Asia-Pacific and Canada to VP of international licensing and new business development for the Products and International Television Distribution division. Regan will oversee brands like Sesame Street and Dragon Tales, as well as growing Sesame’s theme park activities.
Silver Lining Productions (New York, New York, 212-977-1558): Beefing up its core executive team to manage its growing property portfolio, Silver Lining has hired Syma Sambar as director of licensing. Prior to joining, Sambar served as VP of content for Skoodles, Inc., and she previously spent eight years at Nickelodeon in a variety of roles, including senior product manager of software. Hailing from Eden Toys, where she served as director of marketing for seven years, Jennifer Rossanno has also come aboard as director of marketing and publicity. Lastly, ex-director of Australia’s Yoram Gross Studio Tim Brooke-Hunt has been brought on as a consultant to devise a strategy for international co-productions and new business development.
Spectra International (Montreal, Canada, 514-525-7732): André Bélanger has come aboard to head up the company’s brand-new toon production unit as president of Spectra Animation. Prior to the move, Bélanger served as president of the youth and animation division at Coscient Group, where he spearheaded co-productions such as The Pirate Family and Marsupilami.
Teletoon (Toronto, Canada, 416-956-2060): Broadcasting vet Len Cochrane has joined the Canadian animation specialty channel as president, replacing John Riley, who recently left to head up Astral Television Networks. Cochrane has served for the past 11 years as president of The Family Channel, gradually growing the net’s reach from 309,000 to 4.3 million.
Universal Studios (Universal City, California, 818-777-2100): Robert Rubin has been appointed executive VP of the new Universal Pictures Franchise Development (UPFD) division. The unit has been established to direct and manage Universal Consumer Products Group (UCPG), Universal Home Entertainment Productions (UHEP) and Universal Pictures Visual Programming (UPVP), as well as to synergistically develop multi-tentacled properties within Vivendi Universal.
Universal Studios Consumer Products (Universal City, California, 818-777-1000): Hand in hand with the creation of Universal Pictures Franchise Development, the studio’s merch unit has undergone a bit of executive shuffling. Tim Rothwell’s remit has changed from senior VP of merchandising/licensing and retail development to senior VP of merchandising and marketing, and Amy Taylor broadens her role to include responsibilities for the creative group as VP of marketing and creative. Lastly, Jeremy Laws has been promoted from VP executive director to VP of media licensing.
Walt Disney Company (Burbank, California, 818-560-1000): To plumb opportunities in the emerging technologies arena, Disney has formed a new unit called Buena Vista Game Entertainment Studio and installed Jan Smith as president. A 14-year Disney veteran, Smith has been serving as president of Disney Interactive, a remit that she’ll keep along with her new Game Entertainment Studio duties. Some platforms that are tapped for initial exploration include wireless devices and digital set-top boxes.
Warner Bros. Consumer Products (Burbank, California, 818-954-7890): Michael Harkavy has been upped from VP of worldwide publishing, Kids’ WB! music and interactive entertainment to senior VP of international content and creative affairs. As such, he will strive to secure prime media placement for WB properties in international markets, as well as guiding the editorial and creative direction of the publishing, interactive and Kids’ WB! music departments.
Will Vinton Studios (Portland, Oregon, 503-225-1130): Jeff Farnath has joined the CGI prodco as president and CEO. He previously served as senior VP and CFO at Walt Disney Feature Animation and Theatrical Productions.