360ep Entertainment Properties (Princeton, New Jersey, 516-365-2287): On the heels of hanging their indie shingle in the fall, ex-Marvelites Bill Jemas and Russ Brown have chosen Teresa Focarile to help staff up their creative studio with freelance designers, artists and writers, cherrypicking from the considerable stable of U.S.-based talent she amassed while working as a literary rep for the Gersh Agency in New York. Focarile will then guide this team through the launch of several initial properties as websites, comic books and manga series.
4Kids Entertainment (New York, New York, 212-758-7666): Robert Mitchell has left his director of custom publishing and promotions position at DC Comics to help drive more eyeballs to the Fox Box Saturday morning kids block. As VP of marketing and promotions for the 4Kids Production subsid, Mitchell will work with the company’s various divisions to come up with innovative initiatives that build the block’s value in the consumer market.
4Kids International (London, England, 44-207-297-5980): Across the pond, Helen Haider has joined as senior VP of retail and will lead a charge to develop closer collaborative relationships with retailers in the U.K., a strategy that 4Kids is aiming to replicate worldwide. Haider is coming off an eight-year stint at Hasbro, where she most recently served as brand manager for Action Man, My Little Pony and Star Wars.
Cartoon Network (Atlanta, Georgia, 404-885-2263): Marc Buhaj has switched hemispheres to join the Cartoon mothership in Atlanta as VP of programming and scheduling for Cartoon Network and Boomerang. The former executive director of programming and acquisitions for Turner Entertainment Networks Asia demonstrated his chops by orchestrating the launch of Indian kidnet Pogo in record time last January, and he will now oversee strategic programming and content for the State-side Cartoon Network and its classics-driven sister station Boomerang.
IDT Entertainment (Newark, New York, 973-438-1000): Now that it has acquired a complete infrastructure of multimedia production and distribution facilities, IDT is ramping up a full slate of animated TV and film projects, including 2006 feature Yankee Irving. And the company has poached DreamWorks Animation’s former head of digital production to spearhead all of this activity. Working as president of animation production, Janet Healy will oversee budgets, staff and production schedules for the company’s toon projects.
Jim Henson Company (Hollywood, California, 323-802-1500): To grow its programming portfolio, Henson has re-hired Halle Stanford as head of children’s television and lured Eric Poticha away from his VP of movies and miniseries position at Fox Television to join as VP of television. Under his new remit, Poticha will be charged with developing comedy and drama series, miniseries, TV movies and Muppet projects for Disney. Stanford returns to Henson from her own kids creative company, 7 Crows Stories, which consulted on projects including Krypto and Baby Looney Tunes for WB Animation. She will kick off her second run at Henson overseeing the development and production of animated and live-action programming for preschoolers and older kids across TV and direct-to-video. She will also manage the Henson end of a new co-production partnership with HIT Entertainment.
Marvel Enterprises (New York, New York, 212-576-4000): To guide an international push for its Super Hero properties, the comic conglom has promoted VP of consumer products and retail development Paul Gitter to senior VP of consumer products.
Nickelodeon UK (London, England, 44-207-462-1011): Knowing how to get laughs is an essential skill when it comes to entertaining kids, which is why former Paramount Comedy Channel GM David Lynn should do well at Nick UK. Lynn has been hired as the kidcaster’s senior VP and managing director, and as such, he’ll oversee broadcasting operations for Nick UK, Nicktoons, Nick Jr. and one-hour time shift service Nick Replay.
In a parallel move, nine-year Nick veteran Howard Litton has been bumped up from program director to senior VP, GM and director of channels. In his new position, Litton will continue to guide the creative development of the channels, including all business planning and programming and production endeavors.
Russ Berrie and Company (Oakland, New Jersey, 201-405-7977): It takes a lot to lure someone away from a career in chocolate, but former president of Ethel M Chocolates Lynn Moran has made just such a move to join plush manufacturer Russ Berrie as executive VP of sales. Moran plans to build a more diversified distribution infrastructure for Russ’s products that will include mass, specialty, department stores, drug and grocery chains and resort shopping outlets. And she’ll be working hard with these partners to come up with unique marketing and promotional initiatives that can grow Russ’s US$389-million annual business.
Sesame Workshop (New York, New York, 212-595-3456): Charged with spreading the word about the Workshop’s Sesame Street brand in the U.S. through promotions, additional licensees and product sales, Michele Schuessler has joined as marketing manager of global consumer products. Schuessler hails from Scholastic, where she served as associate marketing manager, responsible for creating strategies for licensing partners. Risa Nelson has been upped from director of international licensing for Europe to assistant VP of international licensing. She will continue to focus her efforts on the European region, initially drumming up more licensees for Sesame Street.
Sony Pictures Consumer Products (Culver City, California, 310-244-7788): With marketing and consumer products goals so closely aligned in film property planning these days, SPCP’s decision to broaden George Leon’s role to executive VP of worldwide consumer marketing seems like a good one. As executive VP of worldwide promotions and product placement, Leon has masterminded global promos for blockbuster franchises including Spider-Man and Men in Black, building relationships with players in licensing, promotions and retail merchandising along the way. Now he’ll take on the additional responsibility of supervising Sony’s licensing division, with Bewitched and Fun with Dick and Jane as his first projects in the new role. It remains to be seen what shape the team will take once Sony merges with MGM, which has an established consumer products team of its own under the guiding hand of senior VP Travis Rutherford.
Sony Pictures Television International (Culver City, California, 310-244-4000): To help nurture licensing, production and channel opportunities in China, SPTI has snagged Ken Lo to serve as VP of business development for Asia, based out of SPTI’s regional headquarters in Hong Kong. Prior to this new appointment, Lo was managing director of market entry consulting firm BDC & Company.
Twentieth Century Fox Licensing & Merchandising (Los Angeles, California, 310-369-1000): As content opportunities in the wireless medium continue to proliferate, Fox has recruited Leighton Webb to make sure it’s taking full advantage of the market’s potential as VP of wireless licensing. Webb hails from AOL, where he most recently managed the portal’s games channel as GM and executive director.
Viacom Recreation (Charlotte, North Carolina, 704-561-8100): Leisure destinations such as Broadway shows, theme parks and touring stage shows represent big business for Nick, and Tim Fisher and Howard Smith are taking on even bigger roles in directing these profit centers. With 30 years experience opening and running amusement parks, Fisher will now oversee operations of the division’s 11 park holdings as executive VP of parks. With an equally impressive 18-year track record with the company, Smith will work as senior VP of Nickelodeon/
Paramount Recreation to manage Viacom’s interests in the Bubba Gump Shrimp Company, Broadway and touring theatrical productions, and non-operating theme park licensing including Universal Studios parks and Dreamworld in Australia. He’ll also continue to oversee the development of Nick’s premier hotel, Nickelodeon Family Suites, which is set to open in Orlando this summer.
These two job expansions come on the heels of Paramount Parks and Viacom Consumer Products being consolidated under the purview of Nick Networks president Herb Scannell in October. This restructuring saw Leigh Anne Brodsky move up from executive VP of Nick Consumer Products to president of Nickelodeon and Viacom Consumer Products. And Al Weber got bumped up from president of Paramount Parks to president of Viacom Recreation.
Viz (San Francisco, California, 415-644-9238): Making an extreme jump from social sciences and humanities to manga and anime, Dudley Jahnke has joined Viz as director of publishing sales. With a solid background in books and journals as director of sales for M.E. Sharpe, Jahnke is ready to oversee Viz’s publishing operations, managing sales, courting new retailers and dealing directly with the company’s national publishing house, Simon & Schuster.
Walt Disney Television Animation (Burbank, California, 818-560-2110): Gearing up for the Disney Channel launch of Disney American Dragon: Jake Long this quarter, the toon studio has poached Klasky Csupo Entertainment exec Meredith Metz as its new VP of creative affairs. In addition to overseeing the development of WDTVA projects for Disney Channel and the Jetix blocks on ABC Family and Toon Disney, Metz will be charged with managing the division’s current production slate. Aiding her is Lisa Salamone Smith, who moves up from VP to senior VP of production after 10 years with the company to oversee worldwide animation production.
Word World Entertainment (New York, New York, 212-219-7666): With its Word World literacy program for preschoolers selling through at FAO Schwarz, and with development underway on a TV show that has already been presold to TVO in Canada, the company has recruited Alex Kay to help manage this growth as president and COO. Kay has advised companies at top financial management firms like Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette and Salomon Brothers for the last 15 years.
Yoram Gross EM.TV (Sydney, Australia, 61-2-9519-1366): Ever since their son was two years old, Sandra and Yoram Gross have been waiting for Guy Gross to join the family business. Now, after establishing himself as a film composer and serving as director of Guy Gross Music for the past 15 years, Guy Gross has joined his parents’ toon house as producer and director.