Big Idea Productions (Lombard, Illinois, 630-652-6000): As it expands into TV production and steps up its feature film activities, Big Idea has also beefed up its creative affairs team by hiring Gail Schenbaum as senior VP and Karen DiNoto as VP of the department. The duo will be charged with identifying and developing new live-action and animated film, TV and direct-to-video projects. Prior to joining Big Idea, Schenbaum worked as a creative consultant with the likes of Scholastic, Warner Bros. and PBS. Also coming off a consultancy stint, DiNoto counts the Jim Henson Company and The Hallmark Channel among her former clients.
Cartoon Network (Atlanta, Georgia, 404-885-2263): In the wake of Dea Connick-Perez’s departure from the animation station, Terry Kalagian has been promoted from VP of research to VP of programming for both Cartoon Net and classic toon channel Boomerang. Putting to use the deep knowledge of kid viewing patterns and animation preferences she gleaned from five years of research, Kalagian will oversee scheduling, acquisitions and program operations.
Fox Kids Europe (London, England, 44-207-554-9000): Sheldon Lazarus has been tapped to head up a new pan-European special programming department for developing a library of shows that delve into regional kid culture in the areas of music, film, TV, videos, games, technology, fashion and celebrities. The programming, which will air globally, is designed to let kids know what’s hot in other countries around the world. Lazarus has a wealth of experience in producing TV docs and entertainment news programs, most recently heading up the entertainment division at Planet 24, which produced Britney Laid Bare.
Learning Express (Ayer, Massachusetts, 978-889-1000): Sesame Workshop’s former president of global consumer products and international television sales Joe Diaz has joined the 131-store toy chain as president. In his new capacity, Diaz will scope out domestic and international franchisees and provide these partners with training and operational support.
MGM Consumer Products (Santa Monica, California, 310-449-3000): Licensing vet Lisa Westfield-Avent will tackle a new global remit with her promotion from VP of domestic licensing to VP of worldwide licensing and retail development. Key territories that Westfield-Avent will target for greater penetration include Asia, Australia/New Zealand and Latin America. She will be supported in her global growth efforts by MGMCP’s new executive director of international licensing Eric Karp, who lost his director of international consumer products position at Fox Family Worldwide in the Disney buyout shuffle.
On the retail development side, executive director Jonathan Linn has come aboard from Disney Consumer Products, where he established crucial partnerships and promotions with retailers including Wal-Mart, Target, Macy’s, JCPenney and Kmart as director of both retail business development and girls apparel. Helping him out as manager of retail development will be David Bernstein, who held the same title at Universal Studios and worked with some of these very same retailers to promote Josie and the Pussycats, Curious George and Jurassic Park III.
PBS Kids (Alexandria, Virginia, 703-739-5000): Laura Ferry Rice has joined as director of cause marketing and licensing and will be a key player in launching a new PBS Kids merch program that will include branded educational products and services. Rice hails from Hewlett-Packard, where she served as global alliance manager of strategic partnerships.
Portfolio Entertainment (Toronto, Canada, 416-483-9773): AAC Kids’ former VP of television production Suzanne French has resurfaced to fill in for Portfolio development executive Lila Rose, who is scripting Pastor and the P.I. for CTV. Acting as interim VP of development, French will make sure that kids TV projects like Carl Squared and Jerry’s Insane Fish stay on track in Rose’s absence.
Telemagination (London, England, 44-207-434-1551): The TV-Loonland subsidiary has promoted Denise Green from production manager to its only in-house producer. Green will get her feet wet in her new position with Something Else (26 x 11 minutes) and Pongwiffy (26 x 11 minutes).
Claire Watson has come aboard to replace Green as production manager. Watson has a wealth of experience working on international co-pros, most recently serving as production coordinator and office manager on Bounty Hamster, a preschool toon from Peafur Productions, Silver Fox Films and Winchester Television.
Warner Bros. Consumer Products (Burbank, California, 818-954-7890): Moving from one tricky licensing region to another, Pilar Zulueta will shift her international merchandising expertise from Italy to the Middle East and Africa as she takes on the mantle of senior VP and GM of WBCP’s Europe, Middle East and Africa licensing operation. Working with licensees, retailers and promotional partners, Zulueta will oversee regional sales and marketing initiatives related to key product categories like toys, apparel, publishing, music and interactive. Prior to the promotion, Zulueta served as VP and GM of the Southern European business, with a specific focus on the Italian market. email@example.com