Entertainment Rights (London, England, 44-208-762-6200): In a bid to further synergize its upper ranks, ER has promoted Jane Smith from managing director of distribution to group commercial director responsible for overseeing marketing and global brands, licensing and merchandising, home entertainment and creative. Working closely with Smith on global brand development will be Anya Hollis, who has joined ER as director of marketing and global brands. Hollis hails from Ragdoll, where she managed the development of pedigree property the Teletubbies and helped launch new preschool series Boohbah as head of marketing.
Fireworks Entertainment (Toronto, Canada, 416-360-4321): Global TV veteran Gerry Noble is taking over the reins from outgoing CEO Jay Firestone, who is leaving the TV and film production arm he launched in 1996 (and which was bought by CanWest Global in 1998) to pursue other business opportunities. Noble has been given a mandate to shift Fireworks’ TV production focus away from Europe to concentrate on building and strengthening partnerships in North America.
Kid Galaxy (Manchester, New Hampshire, 603-645-6252): Taking over as the specialty toyco’s president and CEO is Jim Markley, who managed his own toy consulting firm and served as Tyco Asia’s managing director prior to joining Kid Galaxy. His new company’s product portfolio includes a line of long-limbed, posable characters called Bendos and the My First RC line for preschoolers.
NATPE – National Association of Television Program Executives (Los Angeles, California, 310-453-4440): As the U.S. trade organization struggles to reinvigorate the international programming market it holds each year in January, Rick Feldman has come aboard to replace Bruce Johansen as president and CEO. Johansen resigned in January after NATPE’s last run in New Orleans, which attracted fewer attendees and saw more companies boycott the show floor in favor of hotel suites. Feldman, who’s been working in the TV business for more than 20 years, is coming off a stint as executive VP and COO of USA Broadcasting.
PBS (Alexandria, Virginia, 703-739-5000): Executive director of the PBS Sponsorship Group Ellen Flahive has been named VP of sponsorship sales. She’ll be targeting major corporations and ad agencies to secure underwriting agreements for PBS programming.
Playhut Entertainment (City of Industry, California, 909-869-8083): Finding North American licensing opps for Playhut’s anime imports and original kids shows should keep newly-appointed director of licensing Pamela Harris busy in the coming months. Harris used to oversee merch programs for brands including Gravity Games and Tiger Beat Magazine as director of licensing for publishing company Primedia. She will dive right into devising licensing strategies for Playhut’s portfolio of shows in development, which includes: Bird Island, a 52-ep sci-fi toon about a war between humans and aliens on an island inhabited by talking birds; and Little Signz, a preschool animated series about traffic signals and signs that come to life.
Russ Berrie and Co. (Oakland, New Jersey, 201-337-9000): Jeffrey Bialosky has come home to roost after a 10-year hiatus during which he served as senior VP of product development and licensing for the competition – Commonwealth Toy & Novelty. Bialosky steps into the senior VP of plush product development position at Russ.
Sesame Workshop (New York, New York, 212-595-3456): As the Workshop continues to put more emphasis on its international public policy, educational and research initiatives, group VP of international TV and licensing Martha Van Gelder’s role has been redefined. As senior VP of international, Van Gelder will work on building a stronger network of local business relationships in the territories Sesame Workshop is looking to target for expansion in the next two years, including India (for a major co-pro initiative), Latin America (for pan-regional programming localization) and Brazil (for co-production and merchandise). She will also oversee a team of country managers who will develop functional regional expertise in their respective territories.
Sony Pictures Consumer Products (Culver City, California, 310-244-7788): Christiane Friess has been upped from executive creative director to VP of creative. In her new role, Friess will work directly with SPE’s theatrical marketing and production teams on creative branding strategies for SPCP properties including Charlie’s Angels 2: Full Throttle and Astro Boy.
Sony Pictures Television International (Culver City, California, 310-244-4000): Kim Hatamiya has joined the team as senior VP of sales and marketing and will work on building marketing support for the unit’s three main areas of operation: TV & film sales, international channels and local production. Hatamiya most recently served as senior VP and GM of Mindrocket Media/JP Kids (the prodco behind The Famous Jett Jackson).
Vee Pee Films (Fairfield, Connecticut, 203-332-0184): Having worked directly for MTV Networks and Nickelodeon Studios in directing and producing roles since 1996, Michele Band has joined the live-action production division of Virtual Persuasion to work for…none other than Nickelodeon. Band just wrapped a series of short films for Noggin’s The N and some teen interstitials for Nick, and she’s currently writing, producing and directing a series of ‘Celebrity Play-Along’ interstitials for Nick Jr.
WonderGroup (Cincinnati, Ohio, 513-357-2950): Penny Schenk has come aboard as the youth marketing agency’s director of consumer promotions, and will work with a roster of clients that includes Heinz, General Mills and Toymax. Schenk previously served as director of marketing at Evenflo.
Youth Marketing International (Monroe, Connecticut, 203-459-1562): Leaving the world of comic books behind, Joel Ehrlich has vacated his senior VP of advertising and promotions position at Warner Bros. Consumer Products/DC Comics to join the in-school marketing company as president and COO.