People in new jobs

Amberwood Entertainment (Ottawa, Canada, 613-238-4567): Moving up from head of production, Chantal Ling is now executive VP of Amberwood. Ling will be overseeing all company operations, including development, production, distribution and merchandising. In her former role, she produced The Secret World of Benjamin Bear and live-action/CGI special The Snow Queen. Before joining Amberwood about three years ago, Ling ran Bossy Pictures, her own independent prodco in Ottawa, Canada.
August 1, 2006

Amberwood Entertainment (Ottawa, Canada, 613-238-4567): Moving up from head of production, Chantal Ling is now executive VP of Amberwood. Ling will be overseeing all company operations, including development, production, distribution and merchandising. In her former role, she produced The Secret World of Benjamin Bear and live-action/CGI special The Snow Queen. Before joining Amberwood about three years ago, Ling ran Bossy Pictures, her own independent prodco in Ottawa, Canada.

CBeebies (London, England, 44-207-743-8000): In the new role of head of CBeebies production, animation and acquisitions, Kay Benbow will be leading the channel’s in-house production team and head up all animation and acquisitions. Benbow worked as a producer/director for preschool series Tweenies at Tell-Tale productions before joining the Beeb as executive producer of independents and events for CBeebies in 2000. In her new position, she’ll be reporting to Richard Deverell, controller of BBC Childrens.

Chapman Entertainment (London, England, 44-870-403-0556): Strategic development and implementation of new licensing projects are among Valerie Fry’s responsibilities as Chapman’s head of licensing. In the newly created position, developing an ancillary program for Roary the Racing Car top’s Fry’s to-do list. Most recently at Celador International, she was senior commercial manager working on properties including Who Wants To Be A Millionaire. Prior to Celador, Fry served as VP of licensing at Gullane Entertainment, directing international strategies for Thomas The Tank Engine among other brands.

DIC Entertainment (Burbank, California, 818-955-5400): Jeffrey Edell will be managing DIC’s worldwide operations as the company’s new president and COO. His new job will see him managing DIC’s operating units worldwide, including consumer products, television and home entertainment. In his most recent position, Edell was president and COO of health-related consumer products company MFC Development. Prior to MFC, he was chairman of Intermix Media, where he was involved in the development and operation of on-line businesses including MySpace.

Meanwhile, Laura Kirin will be managing DIC’s Mid-West and South-West advertising clients as the new account executive for advertising sales and marketing. Kirin comes to DIC from ABC Family & Kids as an account executive, where she forged advertising partnerships in different media with the likes of Dairy Queen and Disney.

Educational Adventures (Charlotte, North Carolina, 704-443-7474): As the new chief licensing officer, Rafe Offer is representing Educational Adventures’ Danger Rangers Brand. Before starting his own consulting business, Offer held the post of director and brand manager for Walt Disney Consumer Products, where he worked with properties such as Mickey Mouse and Winnie the Pooh. He came to Disney from the position of director and manager of global marketing and licensing innovation for the Coca-Cola Company.

FremantleMedia (New York, New York, 212-541-2800): Moving up from VP of development, Julie Uribe will be overseeing all of Fremantle’s North American reality TV programming as the new senior VP of development. Uribe, a former executive VP of development at Arden Entertainment and director of development at Filmgarden Entertainment, will also be managing pilot production as part of her new job.

In Fremantle’s U.K. division, Dominic Burns has been appointed VP of licensing. In his new job, Burns will be heading up the company’s sponsorship, brand licensing, and interactive businesses, as well as seeking new commercial initiatives in the U.K. Before joining Fremantle as VP of sponsorship and advertiser relationships in 2003, Burns worked for Eurosport TV as head of commercial strategy.

LeapFrog Enterprises (Emeryville, California, 510-595-2470): The high-tech edutainment toy maker has appointed Jeffrey G. Katz to take the helm as CEO. As the new chief, Katz will be managing LeapFrog’s international retail presence and product portfolio. A veteran in the airline industry, Katz most recently was the founder and CEO of Orbitz LLC, an on-line travel company. He also sat on the board of directors at Northwest Airlines and served as CEO of Swissair before joining LeapFrog’s board of directors in 2004.

LIMA (New York, New York, 212-244-1944): As a seasoned licensing industry veteran, Kelvyn Gardner brings about eight years of experience to the table as the new managing director of LIMA UK. Gardner will be harnessing LIMA’s relationships with the U.K. licensing community and fostering further consultation through network events; he will also be managing the company’s sponsorship of the Brand Licensing Show. As the former head of his own licensing company Asgard Media, Gardner has been a consultant in the licensing industry since 1998 and has served previously on the LIMA UK Advisory Committee.

Marvista Entertainment (Los Angeles, California, 310-737-0950): In the new position of head of acquisitions, Zac Reeder will be looking for independently produced programming, including kids’ animated and live-action features and series for all demographics. Reeder will be traveling the world, attending events to connect with independent producers. Before Marvista, Reeder worked for PorchLight as head of acquisitions after founding his own independent film prodco 4 Corners Entertainment.

National Geographic Television International (London, England, 44-207-751-7555): As the new head of kids sales, Karen Vermeulen will be working with U.K. and U.S.-based production teams to drive NGTI’s kids’ programming. A former European territory manager for Entertainment Rights, Vermeulen has sales experience with brands such as Postman Pat and Basil Brush. At National Geographic, she will be managing the company’s catalogue, including titles Mama Mirabelle’s Home Movies and Iggy Arbuckle.

PorchLight Entertainment (Los Angeles, California, 310-477-8400): Filling the new post of senior VP of acquisitions, Karen Roberts will be on the lookout for films and series for PorchLight’s distribution library. Roberts most recently worked as senior VP for Dream Entertainment, where she headed up acquisitions. She served at Myriad Pictures as senior VP of acquisitions before signing on with Dream.

PBS (Alexandria, Virginia, 703-739-5000): Public broadcasting vet John Boland has been appointed to fill the newly created position of chief content officer starting in September. Boland’s job will have him directing TV programming, new media, education and promotion across all of PBS’ various platforms including PBS Kids. Boland comes to PBS from San-Francisco, California-based KQED Public Broadcasting, where he worked for more than a decade and now serves as executive VP and chief content officer.

Sony Pictures Consumer Products (Culver City, California, 310-244-7788): Coming over from the position of VP of retail business development at toyco MGA, Cindy Elfenbein has joined Sony as executive director of retail development and promotions. The new position will have Elfenbein managing the retail side of Sony’s properties such as the upcoming Surf’s Up movie and new preschool series It’s A Big Big World. Before signing on with MGA, Elfenbein served as executive director for DIC Entertainment and put in more than seven years as a senior account executive for Warner Bros. Consumer Products.

Meanwhile, Mark Caplan has been promoted from executive director of interactive to VP of hardlines. Caplan has been with SPCP for the past decade. He signed on in 1996 as an account manager after working for consulting firm LCA Investments as a business development associate. His new job will have him handling SPCP’s hardline deals, including video games and toys.

Additionally, Sharie Van Gilder has been appointed to the position of director of softlines. She’ll be in charge of licensing sales for categories like apparel, accessories, housewares and domestics. Coming from Warner Bros. Consumer Products, where she served as director of retail, Van Gilder has more than 15 years of wholesale experience.

Taffy Entertainment (London, England, 44-779-695-8169): Louise O’Toole has taken up the post of managing director at Taffy’s new London office. O’Toole will be managing Taffy’s current slate including Jakers! The Adventures of Piggley Winks and mining the European market for new properties. Her most recent job was acting managing director at The Licensing Company in the U.K., after a stint at Entertainment Rights, where she worked on kids brands such as Postman Pat and Little Red Tractor.

Tele Images International (Paris, France, 33-144-351-741): After around nine years at France Television Distribution, Alexandre Piel has been named the new head of international co-productions for Tele Images International. Piel’s new job will have him managing the pre-financing aspect of the company’s productions and selling into France and the U.K. Piel started at France Television Distribution in 1997 as head of the video products division. Most recently, he was responsible for development, acquisitions, marketing and pre-financing for FTD’s animated series and documentaries.

Toys ‘R’ Us (Paramus, New Jersey, 201-262-7800): As the new president of TRU, Ronald Boire will be overseeing all aspects of the business, including marketing, merchandising and operation. Boire was formerly an executive VP of merchandise at Best Buy. Before his stint at the electronics retailer, Boire spent 17 years at Sony in a number of marketing roles, including president of Sony Personal Mobile Products Company and president of Sony Electronics Consumer Sales Company.

Twentieth Century Fox Licensing & Merchandising (Los Angeles, California, 310-369-1000): Gary Krakower has been promoted from director of Canadian licensing to VP of international licensing, where he will be heading up Fox’s international licensing, retail and TV promotions in more than five countries. Krakower joined Fox in 1998 and headed the merch and retail program for Ice Age: The Meltodwn in Latin America and Australia. He came to Fox from Canadian promotions agency MNPG, where he managed advertising accounts for clients such as Porsche/Audi and Good Year.

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