4Kids Entertainment (New York, New York, 212-758-7666): Nadia Saah has been brought aboard to manage licensing and brand-building efforts for properties including Pokémon and Kirby: Right Back at Ya! Saah hails from Discovery’s consumer products division, where she served as director of licensing.
Acclaim Entertainment (Glen Cove, New York, 516-656-5000): As the company restructures to take a more global approach to its gaming business, Paul Eibeler has been tapped to lead all domestic efforts as president and COO of Acclaim North America. A software industry veteran, Eibeler consulted with Microsoft’s Xbox launch team before joining Take-Two Interactive Software as president and director.
Beyond Distribution (Sydney, Australia, 61-2-9281-1266): The company’s international sales force has a new GM in the form of Fiona Crago, who has moved over from her GM of business and legal affairs position at Beyond International.
CiTV (London, England, 44-207-843-8000): Estelle Hughes has left her deputy head of acquisitions and co-productions position at CBBC to join rival U.K. kidcaster CiTV as head of programming. Working with controller of children’s and youth Steven Andrew, Hughes will strive to secure the best and brightest kids programming in order to wrestle some share away from the BBC.
DIC Entertainment (Burbank, California, 818-955-5400): The animation house is bulking up its global consumer products division with three hires and a couple of promotions. Overseeing the creative development and execution of DIC’s licensed merch programs as VP of creative will be Vincent Marchica, an ex-Disney Consumer Products VP of creative. Also coming over from Disney to fill the position of senior designer is Kathy DeGennero, who used to be a character art supervisor at the Mouse House. And Heather Fuscellero has jumped ship from her manager of business development and licensing gig at Vivendi Universal Games/Universal Interactive to join DIC as director of retail.
In promotion news, Cindy Davis has been bumped from director to VP of domestic licensing, and Ryan Gagerman moves up from director of consumer products for toys and publishing to executive director of international licensing.
Discovery Kids (Bethesda, Maryland, 301-986-0444): Six-year Discovery veteran Jim Rapsas has been upped from director of development and executive producer to VP of kids program development. He’ll be working on creating shows for Discovery Kids, the same-name Saturday morning block on NBC, and the Ready Set Learn! block on TLC.
FUNimation Productions (Fort Worth, Texas, 817-788-0627): To help move its anime vids based on properties including the many-tentacled Dragon Ball franchise and Yu Yu Hakusho, FUNimation has recruited Tony Vandeveerdonk as director of home video sales. Vandeveerdonk used to serve as senior national sales manager for Pioneer Entertainment, the company that brought Pokémon to the U.S. video market.
Hasbro (Pawtucket, Rhode Island, 401-431-8697): Kenneth Romanzi takes over the day-to-day management of the toyco’s U.S. toys division as president. Romanzi hails from the packaged goods sector, most recently working as president and CEO of Ultimate Juice Company, a US$130-million premium juice manufacturer.
HIT Entertainment (London, England, 44-207-554-2500): European activities for Thomas the Tank Engine should kick into a higher gear under the direction of new senior brand manager Lu Maclean. Maclean has been involved with the Thomas brand for more than three years, having followed the property from Gullane to HIT. Beefing up the Thomas team will be Katy Sorkin (who has left her account manager position at sports licensing company Giraffe to join as associate brand manager) and product manager Deirdre Heaney (who hails from Disney Consumer Products, where she used to serve as product development manager).
HIT Entertainment U.S. (New York, New York, 212-463-9623): In a move to consolidate its U.S. brand and marketing teams, HIT has given operational responsibility for both units to chief marketing officer Matt Bostwick. Working with Bostwick as senior VP of HIT’s U.S. brand business group will be Jamie Cygielman, formerly VP of marketing for Barbie at Mattel.
HIT’s global business will be strengthened by a couple of key promotions. Christina Miller has been upped from VP of product development for HIT U.S. to senior VP of global creative, and Nicole Blake moves up from director of marketing for HIT U.S. to VP of global marketing.
Jakks Pacific (Malibu, California, 310-456-7799): Jennifer Richmond has been bumped up from VP of licensing to senior VP of licensing and media. One of Richmond’s current projects is managing the translation of Story Hat/AAC Kids boys action TV property Dragon Booster into merchandise including action figures, playsets, craft toys, vehicles and Tongue Tape. AAC Kids was still hammering out a U.S. broadcast deal for the series at press time, but Jakks will debut its master toy line at the Fall Mass Market Toy Expo in October.
The Mercer Group (New York, New York, 917-237-0388): Ex-Honest Entertainment executive VP Hamp Hampton and partner Alejandra Denda have launched a new entertainment and marketing firm with affiliated offices in L.A., London and Buenos Aires. The company specializes in consulting services that include business planning, talent representation and licensing program and TV development, and initial clients include Dream Street Productions, FableVision and Little Airplane Productions. For more info on the company, check out its website at www.the-mercer-group.com.
MTV Networks International (New York, New York, 212-258-8000): MTVNI is gearing up for another growth spurt and has moved senior execs into several new positions as a first step. Alex Ferrari moves over from his CFO post at MTV Networks to become COO, while president and chief executive of MTVN Europe Brent Hansen will also be charged with increasing international content development as president of creative. Jonathan Patrick will pull double duty as both general advertising sales director for MTV Europe and executive VP of global marketing partnerships for MTVNI. Glenna Patton adds marketing to her existing PR remit as senior VP of marketing and communications, and Rebecca Barrs shifts into consumer products as VP of marketing and consumer products for MTVNI’s International Program Enterprises division.
MZB Berger (Long Island, New York, 718-472-7500): Rosemary Sharp has been tapped to launch and head up a new accessories and gifts division at the timepiece manufacturing company. Sharp is coming off an 11-year stint at the Colibri Group – most recently serving (appropriately) as president of the clock and gift division.
Selling the new division’s products into retail channels will be VP of sales and major accounts Lisa Schwartz, who joins MZB Berger from Lantis Eyewear, where she was VP of sales for the Family Optics unit.
NHK (Tokyo, Japan, 81-3-5455-2084): Katsuji Ebisawa has been reupped as president of Japan’s mighty public broadcaster for another three years. To start off his third term, Ebisawa will play a lead role in the introduction of digital terrestrial service in Japan by December.
Sesame Workshop (New York, New York, 212-595-3456): Anne Gorfinkel will be making a difference in her new remit as VP and executive director of educational outreach, charged with mapping out and launching needs-driven public service initiatives that have grassroots tentacles reaching into communities, schools and health & childcare facilities. Gorfinkel used to be the Workshop’s VP of project development and management.
Target (London, England, 44-207-323-7900): The U.K. distributor has brought Ian Moffitt aboard as head of programming. Formerly Tiger Aspect’s business development manager, Moffitt will initially focus on building up Target’s portfolio of acquired programming. He’s also charged with continuing to drive a recent expansion into the kids arena that started with the acquisition of distribution rights to CiTV’s revamped preschool series Meg and Mog.
United Media (New York, New York, 212-293-8500): Helene Gordon has been promoted from executive director of licensing in charge of sales to VP of sales.
Universal Television Distribution (Universal City, California, 818-777-1000): The studio has consolidated its State-side and international marketing teams under a new global marketing and creative services umbrella that will be led by Deb Brenner. As senior VP of worldwide marketing and creative services, Brenner will develop and launch print and on-air campaigns, creative services, advertising, media strategies, affiliate relations and promotions.
Warner Bros. Animation (Burbank, California, 818-954-6000): With television projects like Mucha Lucha, What’s New Scooby-Doo?, Baby Looney Tunes and Static Shock under his belt, Christopher Keenan moves up from VP to senior VP of creative affairs at the studio. He will continue to develop and supervise the production of animated TV series, direct-to-video projects and toon specials & shorts.
Warner Bros. Consumer Products (Burbank, California, 818-954-7890): Michael Brown has been bumped up from director of international retail business development for Asia Pacific to VP of international retail business development. And Gustavo Antonioni moves up to VP of retail business development and creative and brand assurance for Europe, the Middle East and Africa. Working in the same region, Antonioni was previously executive director of marketing services and retail business development.
WizKids (Bellevue, Washington, 425-641-2801): The collectible miniature games company behind HeroClix has launched a book division that will be helmed by president Mort Weisman. Being careful not to tread on an existing deal with Penguin Putnam, which publishes MechWarrior sci-fi and Mage Knight fantasy titles, WizKids Publishing will put out novels, comic books and kids books based on WizKids’ portfolio of properties.