Abbey Home Media Group (London, England, 44-207-563-3933): John Vasta has been pegged to head up licensing efforts at the indie preschool production studio behind Wide Eye, a co-pro with King Rollo Films that will continue airing on the BBC throughout 2004 and is ripe for a consumer products run. Prior to joining Abbey’s team, Vasta was brand manager at Gaffney International Licensing in Australia and licensing manager at Fox Kids Europe consumer products division Active Licensing UK. Looking ahead a bit, Vasta will also be developing merch programs for retro show SuperTed and classic Mother Goose.
ABC Cable Networks (Los Angeles, California, 818-569-7789): ABC-TV’s former VP of development and production, Donna Ebbs, will switch over to the cable team to work as VP of original movies for ABC Family and Disney Channel. In addition to looking for dramatic and comedic adult-driven family movies, Ebbs is readying for the September debut of Pop Rocks, a telefilm starring Gary Cole and Sherilyn Fenn about a family man haunted by his past as part of the hottest hairband in the ’80s.
And Matthew Palmer has joined as senior VP of marketing for the Disney Channel. Leaning on knowledge and expertise he picked up serving as VP of strategic marketing at Discovery Communications, Palmer will be charged with managing the development of on-air promotions, on-line content and off-channel creative projects.
Anschutz Film Group (Los Angeles, California, 310-887-1052): Gearing up for the holiday 2005 release of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, the first movie in a Chronicles of Narnia trilogy being produced by Anschutz Film Group holdings Walden Media and Bristol Bay Productions with the Walt Disney Company, AFG has brought in consumer products and marketing maven Chris DeMoulin as executive VP of marketing. The appointment was a natural extension of the strategic and merchandising consulting services DeMoulin was providing to Walden. In his new role, DeMoulin will oversee marketing, publicity, promotions, product placement, licensing, video games and home entertainment for projects created by Walden and Bristol Bay.
Cartoon Network (Atlanta, Georgia, 404-885-2263): Mark Lazarus has evidently passed muster as interim head of the animation division, a post that was added onto his head of entertainment remit after a restructuring last year. Lazarus been given responsibility for the toon unit permanently and will continue to oversee its content, marketing and ad sales efforts.
All of Cartoon’s original kids series, specials and MOWs will now be under the guiding hand of Harvey Birdman: Attorney At Law co-creator Michael Ouweleen, who takes on an expanded role as senior VP of development and creative direction. In addition to overseeing programming in the pipeline, Ouweleen directs on-air promotions and operation, as well as program franchise packaging work.
And lastly, one of the network’s first employees has been upped to VP of original series. Khaki Jones will oversee the creative direction of more than 12 original series and provide guidance on existing original programs. A 17-year vet at Turner Broadcasting, Jones most recently worked as senior director of original animation and oversaw the development of series such as Codename: Kids Next Door and Ouweleen’s Harvey Birdman: Attorney At Law.
Cookie Jar Entertainment (Montreal, Canada, 514-843-7070): Building up its presence in Asia, the Jar has appointed Michael Wrenn as its creative executive in Tokyo. Reporting to CJE’s Asian office director Jim Weatherford, Wrenn will work directly with designers, writers, producers and directors to create and develop new projects for the company. Wrenn was previously at Japanese toon house Wilco Dream Studio, where he oversaw the development of animation properties as a creative developer.
DC Comics (La Jolla, California, 619-551-1164): An executive shift at the home of Batman and Superman sees Cheryl Rubin promoted from VP to senior VP of brand management. Rubin will continue to supervise creative and merchandising activities for DC Comics and MAD Magazine properties. Rubin started her career at the comic publisher 17 years ago as a licensing sales manager.
DIC Entertainment (Burbank, California, 818-955-5400): Juanita Palomino has left her director of domestic sales gig at Viacom Consumer Products to join DIC as VP of domestic licensing. She’ll start off working to increase the at-market presence of home-run girls brand Strawberry Shortcake, as well as securing the best product partners for new property Trollz.
Entertainment Rights (London, England, 44-208-762-6260): Richard Pink’s boundless enthusiasm will be put to work at ER, where he’s landed a head of licensing post. The former UK licensing manager for Kellogg’s (who’s also a part-time thespian) is currently prioritizing untapped properties in the company’s library for merch development. He’s also managing ER’s existing programs and coming up with a gameplan for an up-market retail rollout for Basil Brush.
Helping him on this front will be Basil’s new brand manager Jessica Manu, who hails from Egmont Books, where she served as marketing manager for preschool licensed product. And ex-HIT Entertainment marketing manager Nicola Duhig, who worked on Thomas the Tank Engine and Barney, will now turn her attention to Little Red Tractor in her new brand manager position at ER.
FUNimation (Fort Worth, Texas, 817-788-0627): Lisa Arlen has been recruited to enhance the anime property specialist’s retail relationships and promo efforts as director of marketing. Arlen, who was HIT’s brand business manager for Barney and The Wiggles prior to joining FUNimation, will also help develop a new production and distribution division focusing on preschool and children’s TV programs.
Gund (Edison, New Jersey, 732-248-1500): Marking the first time the 106-year-old plush manufacturer hasn’t chosen a founding-family member to take the reins, Jim Madonna has been upped from senior VP of sales and marketing to president. Madonna promptly bumped Edward Hayes up from senior VP of operations and COO to executive VP and COO.
MGM Consumer Products (Santa Monica, California, 310-449-3000): Just in time for the Pink Panther’s 40th anniversary, MGM has poached marketing exec Carol Laumen from Mattel Canada to serve as VP of worldwide retail development. Working for the company’s consumer products and interactive group, Laumen will focus on the new Pink Panther theatrical release, as well as TV properties Tiny Planets and Stargate Atlantis. She will also oversee global retail partnerships for MGM’s range of licensed consumer products.
NeoPets (Glendale, California, 818-551-4338): The on-line virtual pet community is counting on Judit Nagy’s web market expertise to help her identify and craft new marketing opportunities with the site’s ever-growing roster of immersive advertisers and licensing partners. Coming off a five-year stint as senior market research manager for Yahoo!, where she worked with Fortune 500 advertisers on creative marketing initiatives, Nagy’s desktop nameplate at NeoPets will read director of global market research.
Ragdoll (Stratford-upon-Avon, England, 44-175-363-1800): Andrew Kerr will be relocating to England following his promotion from VP of marketing and strategic alliances to senior VP of global licensing and marketing. Once settled, Kerr plans to focus his attention on growing the Boobah merch program internationally, including working with the U.S. team and other worldwide partners.
Sony Pictures Consumer Products (Culver City, California, 310-244-7788): The merch and branding team behind Spider-Man Merchandising LP will be headed by a new marketing exec at Sony Pictures Consumer Products. Elise Barkan has been named director of marketing for theatrical properties and will spearhead global marketing efforts for upcoming films Bewitched and 2005 holiday release Zathura. Barkan came to SPCP from Tunis Incentive, where she developed new business and promotional programs for clients like Sports Illustrated and Disney.
TokyoPop (Los Angeles, California, 323-692-6700): TokyoPop moves a step closer to translating Japanese-inspired graphic novels onto the big screen with the addition of former Wes Craven Production president Rene Garcia as VP of film and television.
TV-Loonland (London, England, 44-207-434-2237): With three years as head of production under her belt, Beth Parker has been promoted to head up TV-Loonland’s Telemagination animation studio. She will take the reins from Marion Edwards, who left the company in March to pursue freelance animation and production consultancy work. Parker will continue to work on TV-L programs such as Little Ghosts and Cramp Twins, as well as overseeing the studio’s first feature film Heidi, set for a spring 2005 release.
Wal-Mart (Bentonville, Arkansas, 479-273-4000): Looking to expand its portfolio of private brands, Wal-Mart has poached Karen Stuckey from Sara Lee. The former group president of branded apparel casualwear and emerging business is the retailer’s new senior VP of product development, and she’ll oversee the design, quality standards and positioning of Wal-Mart merchandise across its stores in the U.S.
Warner Bros. (Burbank, California, 818-954-6000): The president of Six Feet Under’s Greenblatt Janollari Studio has found a new home at the WB. David Janollari will reign as the network’s president of entertainment, overseeing prime-time programming and shows on Kids’ WB! Janollari worked with WBTV before setting up shop with Bob Greenblatt in mid-1997. He joins the WB after the abrupt departure of CEO Jordan Levin, who left in order to avoid being demoted to president of entertainment. Levin will instead continue his relationship with the WB through an independent production deal.