News

Cookie Jar staff cuts complete

Cookie Jar Group has completed its previously announced round of lay-offs to fully integrate DIC Entertainment, acquired in July by the Toronto-based company.
August 28, 2008

Cookie Jar Group has completed its previously announced round of lay-offs to fully integrate DIC Entertainment, acquired in July by the Toronto-based company.

After announcing plans to restructure earlier in the month, Cookie Jar CEO Michael Hirsh has confirmed that approximately 80 full-time staffers at the newly merged entity have been let go. The majority of the positions were eliminated effective immediately, but some departures will occur as long as six months from now as they finish up work on current projects. The company now employs between 230 and 240, including staff at CPLG, the Euro licensing agency that was part of the DIC acquisition.

According to Hirsh, most of the redundancies were made in the finance, business affairs, executive administration and production divisions of the newly merged entity.

As had been hinted at the time of DIC’s acquisition, the company is being streamlined into entertainment production and licensing arms. Cookie Jar’s creative team, led by president and COO Toper Taylor, is taking the lead on producing new series and DIC licensing head Kirk Bloomgarden, now EVP of worldwide consumer products & marketing of Cookie Jar Entertainment, is overseeing all L&M activities.

Additionally, at this time, with the exception of the revival of Inspector Gadget, projects in the DIC development pipeline have been put to a halt. Hirsh said, prior to the acquisition, Cookie Jar had 10 series in production and he’s aiming to keep that volume up. He expects to see expansion on the consumer products side, largely driven from the now-combined Burbank, California office, DIC’s former home.

Cookie Jar is also in the process of consolidating international operations and will be moving staff under one roof in cities where both Cookie Jar and DIC have offices. For example, the three existing offices in Paris will be moved into one location.

With the acquisition, Cookie Jar also became a broadcaster. It owns a one-third interest in Pan-regional net Kids Co. and the Saturday morning DIC block on CBS in the US. Hirsh is excited by the Kids Co. partnership, but says the future of the low-rated CBS venture is ‘something we’re evaluating.’

In the meantime, Hirsh and Taylor are prepping to lead the new org into MIPCOM with new boys action series Meta Jets, which has toyco Mattel attached, and one-off seasonal special Gotta Catch Santa Claus voiced by William Shatner. Interestingly, the special sprang from the mind of Taylor’s 16-year-old son, Trevor. What is it they say about apples and trees?

About The Author
Lana Castleman is the Editor & Content Director of Kidscreen and oversees all content for Kidscreen magazine, kidscreen.com and related kidscreen events. lcastleman@brunico.com

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