BKN International (London, England, 44-207-269-8680): As the company continues to implement its expansion plans in the East, Amelia Bedford has joined as the newest homefront recruit. Coming straight off a stint as a senior brand manager for Angelina Ballerina and Barney at HIT Entertainment, Bedford takes up residence in BKN’s London office, and will manage all of the company’s Brit-based licensing activity as U.K. brand manager.
Cosgrove Hall Films (Manchester, England, 44-161-882-2515): Drawn to Anthony Utley’s preschool programming knowledge and track record for putting together international co-pros, Cosgrove has poached the BBC Worldwide director of television distribution to head up its operations as managing director. Utley is in the process of moving to Manchester and will take up the post early this month. One project that will likely benefit from his guidance is Roger to the Rescue, a 2-D/CGI toon for preschoolers that needs co-pro partners and/or presales to head into production. The 26 x 10-minute series centers around the young son of a lighthouse keeper, who conjures up a vivid imaginary world in which he’s a gadget-inventing superhero.
DIC Entertainment (Burbank, California, 818-955-5400): Experienced retail development VPs are certainly a hot market commodity, and DIC has snagged Carol Laumen to play that role in its consumer products efforts. Laumen, who used to occupy the same position at MGM Consumer Products, will build relationships with retailers and work with these partners to support merch programs for Trollz, classic Trolls, Strawberry Shortcake and its SS Baby spin-off range.
FremantleMedia (London, England, 44-207-691-6000): Making a move from merch to TV, Simon Spalding is also going halfway around the world to oversee the company’s Eastern TV production businesses as director of operations for Asia-Pacific. He had been based in the U.K. as CEO of FremantleMedia Licensing. The Fremantle formats are alive and well in the region, so Spalding will have to jump right into production on season two of Indian Idol and a version of The Apprentice for Singapore.
Working out of Fremantle’s London HQ, Claire Baker has joined the Licensing Worldwide team as head of retail for the U.K. Baker, who will focus on cultivating stronger ties to buyers in toys & games, apparel, publishing, gifts, housewares and food, used to be a marketing manager for Warner Home Video’s family entertainment and television divisions.
FUNimation Entertainment (Fort Worth, Texas, 817-788-0627): As the company continues to shift its executive ranks around in the wake of being bought by Navarre, Larry Griffin moves up from senior national sales manager to director of home video sales.
IDT Entertainment (Newark, New Jersey, 973-438-1000): The company that gobbled up Mainframe, Film Roman and Anchor Bay last year is still in aggressive expansion mode. And its latest two hires should significantly reinforce its move into producing animated TV series and feature films. Former Vanguard Animation president and COO Neil Braun has been brought in as president of feature films and television. And Jerry Davis, a veteran producer and creative affairs exec who has worked on Robots, Ice Age, Iron Giant and Toy Story, has been set up as chief creative officer of animation features.
These high-profile recruits couldn’t be joining at a better time since IDT is just finishing voiceovers on its first CGI theatrical project Yankee Irving, which Christopher Reeve developed and was directing when he passed away last October. IDT plans to distribute the full-length flick, slated to debut in early fall 2006, and the company recently signed a two-year deal with Twentieth Century Fox to make that happen.
Lego Systems (Enfield, Connecticut, 860-749-2291): They say the best executives know their businesses inside and out, and Brian Specht definitely has that going for him. The 24-year Lego veteran started off as a molding operator in 1981, but he’s held positions in manufacturing, supply chain management, sales, human resources and customer development over the years. Now Specht will put his broad expertise to work as VP of operations.
MTV Networks International (New York, New York, 212-654-3000): Charged with scouting for undiscovered creative talent and concepts around the world, as well as working more closely with non-U.S. Nick channels on key in-house series, Nina Hahn joins as VP of international development. Hahn had been working as an independent consultant with the development team at The N.
And based out of MTVNI’s London office, Cristina Brun moves up from manager to director of program sales. In her new role, Brun will sell Nick programming in Central and Southern Europe.
Nickelodeon Australia (Sydney, Australia, 61-2-9200-1765): Katrina Southon is going home to replace former GM Catherine Nebauer (who relocated to Singapore this spring to become senior VP and president of Nick Asia-Pacific). Southon has been based in London for the past eight years as VP of Nick Europe, and she’s launched 21 channels, 12 branded blocks and nine localized Nick websites during her tenure.
Sesame Workshop (New York, New York, 212-595-3456): Just in time for the busy fall sales season, Terry Fitzpatrick gets a bump up from senior VP of business operations to executive VP of distribution. He will be charged with finding partners to move content through TV, home video, audio, print publishing, themed entertainment and digital media.
Expanding Fitzpatrick’s portfolio of properties that can live in all of these media streams will be the bailiwick of Liz Nealon, who moves up from senior VP of creative to executive VP and creative director.
And in consumer products news, Jennifer Perry has been poached from Scholastic to manage the Workshop’s in-house and licensed book business as director of book publishing. In her previous position, Perry oversaw some of Scholastic’s kids book clubs and bought titles for the publisher’s At Home division, which specializes in home-based reading and learning products for kids up to age 12.
Sony Pictures Television International (Culver City, California, 310-244-4000): Charged with finding new markets for Sony’s family of branded channels abroad, Andy Kaplan moves up from senior executive VP to president of international networks. Over the past three years, Kaplan has overseen the rollout of Animax channels (24-hour nets devoted to anime) in Southeast Asia, India and Latin America.
TV-Loonland (London, England, 44-207-434-2377): On the heels of establishing a new production and distribution team under the management of Olivier Dumont in August, TV-L has hired Peter Urie to identify and take advantage of new business and acquisitions opportunities as chief corporate development officer. He’ll also oversee the company’s home entertainment subsidiary Metrodome as managing director.
Urie worked for the BBC in various capacities for 12 years before leaving to set up indie prodcos TSS and Media Merchants, which fed children’s programming to the Beeb and ITV until they were acquired by Gullane Entertainment and then HIT Entertainment in August 2002.