American Greetings Properties (New York, New York, 212-386-7341): American Greetings Properties has appointed Gabrielle Oliff as marketing director, responsible for building brand awareness and the licensing business of American Greetings properties, including Strawberry Shortcake, Care Bears, Holly Hobbie, Maryoku Yummy and Twisted Whiskers. Oliff joins American Greetings from a brand director post at The Beanstalk Group, and has worked in marketing, branding and licensing roles for Hearst Magazines, HIT Entertainment, Avon and Fisher-Price.
A Squared Entertainment (Los Angeles, California, 310-273-4222): A Squared Entertainment boosts its creative bench strength with the addition of Darren Romanelli as creative director and Sidney Iwanter as story editor. Romanelli will oversee and develop creative materials to enhance the A2 Entertainment brand and its digital animation projects, including an animated series based on a 10-year-old Martha Stewart. Romanelli is co-founder of boutique marketing agency StreetVirus, which has created custom campaigns for clients such as Disney, Fox, Warner Bros. and Converse. Iwanter, formerly VP of programming, strategic development and acquisitions for Fox Kids, with career stints at Paramount Television Research and Hanna Barbera Productions, will provide story and editing leadership for programs on A2′s development slate.
Big Tent Entertainment (New York, New York, 212-604-0064): Big Tent welcomes Lisa K. Weiner to the fold as director of brand development, responsible for licensing sales and retail development for the agency’s brands, including Domo, Discovery Kids, Tokyopop and Telemundo. Weiner joins Big Tent after an eight-year stint as director of brand management for Random House Children’s Books, where she worked on evergreen properties like Barbie, Thomas & Friends, Richard Scarry and Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer.
Coolabi (London, England, 44-207-258-7080): Anna Hewitt recently joined Coolabi as head of licensing, overseeing global brand licensing development across all properties and categories, beginning with Poppy Cat, a book property turned TV series slated to air on Nickelodeon next spring. Hewitt was previously head of international licensing at BBC Worldwide, managing the toy, gift and stationery categories for brands such as Teletubbies, In the Night Garden and Charlie and Lola.
CPLG (Los Angeles, California, 818-955-5400): Cookie Jar Group’s licensing arm, CPLG U.S., has named Cindy Davis SVP of licensing. Davis will oversee the development and implementation of the agency’s licensing and merchandising programs across a range of properties, including Strawberry Shortcake, Richard Scarry and Lucha Libre AAA. Prior to joining CPLG, she was a partner at Bomes Davis Branding, and previously served as VP of licensing at DIC Entertainment (where she played a key role in the relaunch of Strawberry Shortcake) and director of licensing and merchandising at Fox Family Worldwide/Saban.
Disney Channel (Los Angeles, California, 818-569-7500): Seasoned film and TV development exec Nikki Reed joins Disney Channel as VP, original series, overseeing live-action development for both Disney Channel and Disney XD, including original series pilots. Reed previously served as VP of development at Universal Cable Productions. Her film production credits include National Treasure, The Kid and Invincible.
Flying Bark Studio (Camperdown, Australia, 61-2-8568-5555): Aussie prodco Flying Bark Studio has appointed Jim Ballantine as managing director. Ballantine, who has lent his producer talents to Disney and Nickelodeon on films and TV series like Bambi 2, Brother Bear 2 and The Ren & Stimpy Show, inherits an active production and development slate at Flying Bark, including Enyo (with Funkhauser Films), Dive Olly Dive! (with Mike Young Productions), feature film Santa’s Apprentice (with Alphanim), The Woodlies (with ZDF) and a feature film and 26-episode series based on Australian toon icon Blinky Bill.
FremantleMedia Enterprises (Los Angeles, California, 818-748-1100): Bob Higgins joins FremantleMedia Enterprises as SVP of children’s & family entertainment, supporting efforts to plan and execute a creative vision for FME’s kids business, as well as managing content including acquisitions, development and sales of TV and digital programming globally. Previously, Higgins worked at Wildbrain, overseeing development on several series. And he has held senior programming and creative roles at Cartoon Network, Classic Media, Sony Pictures Family Entertainment and Nelvana.
Hasbro Studios (Los Angeles, California, 310-786-4601): Hasbro Studios has nabbed seasoned animation producer Kathy Page as VP of production from Sony Pictures Television, where her credits include The Spectacular Spider-Man and Sit Down, Shut Up. Page has held production roles at Warner Bros. Television Animation and Film Roman, serving as a line producer on shows like Scooby-Doo, Batman: Mystery of the Batwoman and Tom and Jerry.
m4e (Grünwald, Germany, 49-89-210-1950): Brand management and media company m4e welcomes Bernd Conrad to the team as head of licensing, with a focus on expanding its international licensing business, beginning with TV series Yoko, Mo & Me. Most recently, Conrad was head of licensing at TV-Loonland and previously served as licensing director for Jetix Consumer Products Germany.
Nickelodeon (New York, New York, 212-258-8000): Nickelodeon has named former Disney exec Ron Johnson to the newly created position of SVP, Walmart Retail Development for Nickelodeon & Viacom Consumer Products. In his new role, Johnson will develop global retail strategies for all NVCP properties and manage Nick’s global retail business at Walmart. Johnson has a long history of developing retail strategies for Walmart. As VP/GM of the global Walmart team at Disney, Johnson was part of the group behind the company’s innovation lab that creates and tests retail programs, products and promotions for Walmart buyers, licensees and company execs. And he opened Cott Beverages’ first Bentonville office as VP/GM of the global Walmart team.
RDF Rights (London, England, 44-207-013-4000): Karen Vermeulen joins RDF Rights as VP and head of global TV sales and co-production for the kids and family division. Vermeulen was formerly director, of program distribution, UK & Eire at The Walt Disney Company and has held senior sales positions at National Geographic Kids Entertainment and Entertainment Rights.
Rocket Licensing (London, England, 44-207-207-6241): Ozen Kazim takes on a dual role as licensing manager for Rocket Licensing and indie children’s book publisher Walker Books, responsible for licensing sales and brand development. Before joining Rocket and Walker, Ozen was category/territory manager at Target Entertainment Group.
Sesame Workshop (New York, New York, 212-875-6937): Looking to extend its reach and influence in social media, Sesame Workshop has appointed Daniel N. Lewis to the newly created role of director of new media communications. Prior to joining the non-profit, Lewis was a consultant advising start-up companies on executing partnership and distribution deals, audience development, community management and search engine optimization.
Scholastic Media (New York, New York, 212-343-6100): Chris Ursin joins Scholastic Media as director of consumer products, responsible for licensing, promotions and sponsorships for the company’s growing portfolio of brands, including Clifford, WordGirl, The Magic School Bus and The 39 Clues. Prior to joining Scholastic, Ursin held senior licensing positions at Warner Music Group and Marvel Entertainment.
Spin Master Entertainment (Toronto, Canada, 416-360-6002): Melissa Wolfe was recently named director of development at Spin Master Entertainment, co-creator/producer of Bakugan and entertainment arm of toyco Spin Master. Wolfe’s development resumé includes roles at Cookie Jar Entertainment and Frederator Studios.
Target Entertainment (London, England, 44-870-164-7474): Target Entertainment Group bolsters its licensing team with the recent addition of Richard Woolf as director of licensing, reporting to just-promoted commercial director Helen Howells. Howells, whose new mandate is to strengthen collaboration between Target’s distribution and consumer rights teams, oversees children’s TV sales, home entertainment and licensing, and will continue to manage master toy and publishing categories. Woolf, whose career past includes stints at Jetix, 4Kids Entertainment and Warner Bros., will manage all other licensing categories and turn his seasoned hand to growing Target’s international licensing business.
The Jim Henson Company (Los Angeles, California, 323-802-1825): With a mandate to support the development and production of content across all children’s media, Lisa O’Brien joins The Jim Henson Company as executive director of children’s entertainment. She will also focus on short-form series like Wilson & Ditch: Digging America and The Possibility Shop, as well as supporting promo activity on Henson’s current portfolio of kids properties. O’Brien previously worked with Henson on short-form productions The Pajanimals and Musical Mornings with Coo in her role at PBS Kids Sprout.
The Walt Disney Company (Los Angeles, California, 818-560-1000): As part of an operations restructure, Sean Bailey has been named president of Walt Disney Studios Motion Picture Production, overseeing all aspects of live-action development, film production and physical production for Walt Disney Pictures and Touchstone Pictures. His feature film production credits include Matchstick Men, Gone Baby Gone and the upcoming Disney flick Tron Legacy.
Turner Broadcasting (London, England, 44-207-693-1000): In an exciting round of exec musical chairs, Michael Carrington takes over where Finn Arnesen left off, and has accepted the position of chief content officer EMEA for Turner Broadcasting. He is responsible for the development and creation of original series, co-pros and acquisitions for Turner’s suite of kids channels in the UK and EMEA, including Cartoon Network, Boomerang and Cartoonito. Carrington comes to Turner from the BBC, which he joined in 2004 as head of acquisitions and animation for BBC Children’s, and was later appointed controller of preschool channel CBeebies.
Worldwide Biggies (New York, New York, 646-442-1700): As Worldwide Biggies prepares to launch two virtual worlds for kids this year, along with a slate of iPhone/iPod Touch games and a slate of TV properties, the company has tapped Ian Black to serve as VP of corporate development and product strategy. Black will be responsible for building Worldwide Biggies’ brands through product innovation in online and mobile entertainment. As a writer/producer, Black has two games to his credit – Disney’s MMO Pirates of the Caribbean and Worldwide Biggie’s adaptation of The Princess Bride.