4Kids Entertainment International (London, England, 44-207-297-5980): 4Kids’ overseas offshoot is taking advantage of its spacious new London locale by filling some empty seats. Coming aboard as head of promotions is Jimena Castaneda, who previously served as head of consumer products in Latin America for Warner Bros. Ali Taylor joins as head of retail after a seven-year stint specializing in brand licensing at The Beanstock Group, where she helped establish the mary-kateandashley consumer products program across Europe. And finally, ex-Granada Ventures creative manager Emma Crisp steps into a new role as 4Kids International’s brand assurance manager. Crisp will head up the management of all creative materials produced out of London.
Across the pond in 4Kids’ New York head office, Julie Dill has been brought on as director of marketing and licensing. She will initially oversee the Yu-Gi-Oh! property, working with existing licensees to pinpoint brand expansion opportunities.
The Cookie Jar (Montreal, Canada, 514-843-7070): Veteran TV exec Sam Ewing will need to brush up on his French as he moves into a new post as Cookie Jar’s head of distribution, based in Montreal. The position was recently vacated by Louis Fournier, who’s leaving the kids entertainment industry to spend time with his family and pursue personal projects. Ewing, who’s been busy developing projects for a production outfit called Pastis International Television that he co-founded with Jean-Luc Silbereis a couple years ago, will start off securing European and North American sales for Shaftesbury Films’ tween adventure series Dark Oracle and Arthur spin-off Postcards from Buster.
Building out his sales force, Ewing has hired Olga Romero as Cookie Jar’s Latin American sales pointperson, a remit that includes the Carribean and U.S. Hispanic programming markets. Romero previously worked as an assistant to both Toper Taylor and former Fox Family president of production Eric Rollman.
Reuniting with former bosses Taylor and Michael Hirsh, Jim Weatherford will head up Cookie Jar’s Asian operations in Japan as director, sourcing programming and maintaining Hirsh and Taylor’s longstanding business relationships in the Far East. Prior to joining the Jar, Weatherford was Nelvana’s main man in Japan, and he was largely responsible for discovering hit property Beyblade.
Finally, Cookie Jar’s programming and licensing arm has picked up Fonda Snyder as its senior VP of creative development. Tapping into the relationships she forged in the publishing and educational arenas while heading up L.A.-based prodco Storyopolis, Snyder will be on the lookout for new properties.
Copyright Promotions Licensing Group (London, England, 44-208-563-6102): In the wake of managing director Steve Manners’ recent departure, Vickie O’Malley has been upped from retail and sales director to fill the MD position and will be responsible for overall management of the licensing agency, as well as marketing and sales. Andrew Carley, meanwhile, will step into O’Malley’s old post. Carley hails from Copyright Promotions Sport, where he developed licensing and retail programs for England’s Football Association.
DIC Entertainment (Burbank, California, 818-955-9400): After logging in seven years as a senior account executive at Warner Bros., Cindy Elfenbein has been poached by DIC to serve as executive director of retail consumer products. She’s charged with increasing the number of retail buyers for DIC properties Strawberry Shortcake and Trollz, and in her short time with the company, Elfenbein has already secured a back-to-school apparel deal with Wal-Mart for Strawberry Shortcake.
Disney Channel (Burbank, California, 818-569-7500): On the heels of Michael Eisner being voted out of his CEO position by Disney’s shareholders, there’s been some major upper management upheaval at Disney/ABC. Starting at the top, ABC Cable Networks president Anne Sweeney has been named president of Disney-ABC Television and co-chair of Disney Media Networks with George Bodenheimer, who will continue to head up ESPN and ABC Sports. Sweeney, meanwhile, will add overseeing ABC Entertainment, ABC Daytime, ABC News and Touchstone Television to her existing responsibilities.
After eight years with Disney Channel, Rich Ross has also been promoted from president of programming entertainment to president of Disney Channel Worldwide. In his new position, Ross will look after Disney Channel, Toon Disney, 22 international Disney feeds and some global merchandise programs.
After bringing The Office and Changing Rooms to American audiences as CEO of BBC America, Paul Lee has joined the Disney fold as president of ABC Family.
Burning Man enthusiast and former Ragdoll VP of business affairs and development David Levine has moved to the West Coast to become Disney Channel’s executive director of programming planning and will manage strategy development for Disney Channel and ABC Family’s Jetix block.
And lastly, Blue’s Clues producer Penelope Jewkes has joined as director of program planning, charged with filling preschool destination Playhouse Disney’s 45-hour weekly schedule.
First Family Entertainment (Los Angeles, California, 310-285-5282): Former Walt Disney Television president Dean Valentine has joined forces with ex-president of MGM Home Entertainment and Consumer Products Richard Cohen and Artisan Entertainment’s former executive VP and chief strategic officer Nicolas Van Dyk to start up this new direct-to-video studio. Serving as senior partner, Valentine will oversee the development and production of four to five live-action family projects a year, with a primary objective of serving the African-American and Hispanic markets. MGM Home Entertainment has already snapped up video and DVD distribution rights to the shop’s long-form slate.
MGA Entertainment Films (North Hills, California, 818-894-2525): On the heels of announcing that a live-action/animated Bratz feature film is in development at Twentieth Century Fox for a Q4 2005 debut, MGA Entertainment has hired animation veterans Jay Fukuto and Ellen Levy-Sarnoff to start up its direct-to-video, film and TV development division.
Fukuto, a former VP of creative affairs at Disney Animation, will join the unit as VP and get started developing TV and DTV series for Bratz and Alien Racers. Working alongside Fukuto, ex-DIC VP of creative affairs Levy-Sarnoff will serve as senior director of creative for Bratz entertainment, developing and overseeing production of DTV, TV series, commercials and theatrical releases based on the Bratz brand.
PBS Kids (Alexandria, Virginia, 703-739-5000): Gearing up for the fall launch of its PBS Kids developmental products, the public broadcaster has hired Dawn Ciccone as associate director for cause marketing and licensing. Ciccone will work with licensor Small World Toys to manage the line, which will include String Me A Story and Create-A-Place, as well as helping PBS and its member stations earn revenue for programming and services through new marketing and licensing initiatives. Ciccone joins PBS after serving as a consultant for San Diego, California-based John Boggs and Associates, a marketing and promotions company that works with professional athletes.
PorchLight Entertainment (Los Angeles, California, 310-477-8400): New business cards are on order for top-performing sales execs at Jay Jay the Jet Plane’s production house. Director of worldwide sales Stephanie Slack and VP of international sales Adam Wright have both been promoted to share the title of senior VP of worldwide sales. Slack will focus on the U.S., Canada, the Middle East, Africa, Turkey, Benelux, France, Italy and Portugal, while Wright will manage Latin America, Japan, Australasia, the U.K., Germany, Spain, Greece, Israel and Asian pay-TV.
Russ Berrie and Company(Oakland, New Jersey, 201-337-9000): After careful consideration, Andrew Gatto has been chosen to head up the plush manufacturer that lost its leader when namesake founder Russ Berrie passed away last year. Gatto, who will take on the mantle of president and CEO, has more than 30 years experience in the toy industry under his belt, most recently doing a stint as senior VP of product development and important and strategic sourcing at Toys ‘R’ Us. While there, he established a global private brands division and created two lead-off brands – Animal Alley Plush and Home Depot Tools.
ShoPro Entertainment(San Francisco, California, 415-371-1422): Dan Marks has been upped from director to VP of international licensing and sales. Marks is sure to start racking up more frequent flyer miles with the promotion, since he’ll now be managing ShoPro’s licensing and TV sales activities outside of Asia and North America.
Brought in to manage existing programs and business development opportunities for the company’s properties in the U.S., Carol Roeder has joined as director of domestic licensing. Roeder hails from Intervisual Books, where she served as executive VP.
Target Entertainment (London, England, 44-207-344-1950): To help ramp up its character-led brand business, Helen Howells has been put in place as director of international licensing. The former commercial director at 4Kids Entertainment will focus on finding new international merch opportunities for acquired kids properties such as Meg & Mog and Funky Valley, as well as Target’s multi-genre catalogue.
United Media (New York, New York, 212-293-8506): The licensing agency has poached former Sesame Workshop VP of licensing Tina Ellis to join as VP of sales for domestic licensing. Ellis will be charged with growing the company’s activities in core categories such as apparel, gifts & stationery and publishing for recently signed properties Jakers! The Adventures of Piggley Winks (Mike Young Productions) and Arthur (The Cookie Jar).
Walt Disney International Asia-Pacific (Hong Kong, 656-548-9287): Taking on an all-encompassing role that will see him oversee business expansion plans and identify new opportunities in the region, Doug Miller has been promoted to executive VP and managing director of both Walt Disney International and Walt Disney Television International for Asia-Pacific. Miller hails from the TV side of the Mouse House’s operations, serving as senior VP and managing director of Walt Disney Television International, Asia-Pacific for the last two years. His achievements include launching Disney Channels in Hong Kong, New Zealand and South Korea, as well as rolling out Playhouse Disney Channels in Indonesia, Hong Kong and Singapore.