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Who’s News—September 2018

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Pam Lifford is promoted to President of Warner Bros. Global Brands & Experiences (WBGBE), with responsibility for Warner Bros. Consumer Products, DC, Themed Entertainment, and the new Global Franchise team. Lifford is charged with developing all-new fan-engagement business opportunities. She is tasked ensuring that every touchpoint for cross-divisional and cross-company collaboration under her remit is maximized. Lifford will also coordinate with WarnerMedia sister companies HBO and Turner as well as various AT&T divisions. WBGBE will operate with a “never go dark” approach, offering consumers compelling opportunities 24/7.

The day-to-day operation of DC will continue to be run by Jim Lee, Publisher & Chief Creative Officer, and Dan DiDio, Publisher, who both now report to Lifford. Consumer Products will be led by its current management team. The Wizarding World franchise business will continue to be overseen separately by Josh Berger, President & Managing Director Warner Bros. U.K., Ireland & Spain and President Harry Potter Global Franchise Development, reporting directly to Chairman & CEO Kevin Tsujihara.

Cloudco Entertainment (form. American Greetings Entertainment) grows its senior executive team, adding a third hub in London to join its existing Los Angeles and Cleveland offices and increasing its content sales force.

  • Robert Prinzo joins as Head Global Licensing, based out of Los Angeles. Joining from Saban Entertainment, Prinzo reports to Sean Gorman, Cloudco Entertainment President.
  • Also joining the LA office as Head Business Affairs is Susan Chung. Chung also reports to Sean Gorman.
  • Cloudco’s final new Los Angeles hire is Davis Doi as Executive Producer. Joining from Universal, Doi oversees production on Tinpo, a co-production with Dentsu Inc. and OLM/Sprite animation for Cbeebies, and reports to Ryan Wiesbrock, Head Development & Production.
  • With the opening of the new U.K. location, Cloudco’s Head Global Co-Production & Content Distribution Karen Vermeulen is also assuming increased responsibilities as Managing Director of Cloudco U.K. She oversees the content sales team.
  • Alexandros van Blanken is hired as Director Content Distribution and is based in London.
  • Rounding out the content sales team is Los Angeles-based Alisa Kasimova, recently promoted to Manager Content Distribution.
  • The London office will now also house Cloudco’s Director Intl. Licensing, Roubina Tchoboian. Tchoboian reports to Prinzo.

Dr. Judy Olian is elected to Mattel’s board of directors. With the addition of Dr. Olian, Mattel’s Board of Directors now includes 10 directors, 5 of whom have joined within the last 5 months.

DSW appoints Ekta Singh-Bushell to its board of directors. She will serve on the retailer’s audit committee and nominating and corporate governance committee.

Children’s entertainment distribution company APC Kids launches production company Zephyr Animation. Based in Paris, the new studio will be headed by APC Kids’ partners Lionel Marty, Emmanuelle Guilbart, and Laurent Boissel. David Sauerwein joins the venture as Chief Creative Officer to oversee and manage all projects.


Mattel launches a new theatrical film division to develop motion pictures based on its franchises. Mattel Films is led by Executive Producer Robbie Brenner, reporting to Ynon Kreiz, Mattel’s Chairman & CEO. Mattel and Sony had been developing a live-action Barbie movie, starring Anne Hathaway, for 2020 release, but that option has lapsed and the project is not moving forward, per the Hollywood Reporter. Future potential projects unincumbered by studio options include Hot Wheels, American Girl, Fisher-Price, and Thomas & Friends.

Hasbro promotes Samantha Lomow to President Hasbro Entertainment Brands (incl. My Little Pony, Transformers, and Power Rangers) and Jonathan Berkowitz to President Hasbro Brands (incl. Monopoly, Nerf, Play-Doh, Baby Alive, and Furreal). Both execs report to John Frascotti, Hasbro President & COO.

Paramount Pictures appoints longtime Viacom executive Michael D. Armstrong to the newly created position of EVP Worldwide Television Licensing & Operations. He will lead third-party distribution efforts and reports to Dan Cohen, Paramount’s President Worldwide Television Licensing.

As the Getty family takes control over Getty Images, it restructures the company’s leadership:

  • Mark Getty, grandson of oil tycoon Jean Paul Getty, will become Chairman of the board, succeeding current chairman and Getty Images co-founder Jonathan Klein, who will become the deputy chairman.
  • Chief Operating Officer Craig Peters will become CEO, succeeding current chief Dawn Airey, who will become a non-executive director.
  • Interim CFO Rik Powell will become CFO.

Dick’s Sporting Goods announces Vidya Jwala as its Chief E-commerce & Supply Chain Officer.

L’Oréal Group’s Nathalie Gerschtein succeeds Ikdeep Singh as President Maybelline, Garnier & Essie in the U.S.

Hearst Magazines’ new president, Troy Young, shakes up the publisher by firing two executives from the old regime. The first is Jon Gluck, Executive Director Editorial Talent, Development & Special projects, who joined in Sept. 2017 after being recruited by the now-former Chief Content Officer, Joanna Coles. Also out is Flavie Lemarchand-Wood, VP Communications for Hearst Magazines, who also joined the company in September 2017.

Heritage Home Group CEO Pierre de Villeméjane will step down from the post Sept. 14 now that the bankrupt furniture conglomerate has lined up stalking horse bidders for its Thomasville & Co. and Broyhill businesses. Robert Albergotti assumes his responsibilities.

Lew’s Holdings, supplier of branded fishing and hunting gear and accessories, promotes Ken Eubanks to CEO.


Mattel launches a new division, the Global Franchise Management Group, to be led by Janet Hsu in the newly created role of Chief Franchise Management Officer. Reporting to Richard Dickson, Mattel’s President & COO, she will bring together key areas including consumer products, content development and distribution, digital gaming, live events, and strategic partnerships. Hsu previously served as CEO of Saban Brands.

Jeremy Robinson joins Fundamentally Children as its new Head Business Development, focusing on the company’s regular marketing campaigns, the roll-out of more Good Toy Zones, and increasing experiential marketing at events.

Moose Toys appoints accomplished toy designer Garrett Sander as its new principal designer for its girls’ division.

Holly Oldham is back at Rubie’s as its U.K. Managing Director after a stint at Hasbro. She reports to Chris Isitt, VP EMEA & Australia.

Longtime Vogue editor Selby Drummond joins Snapchat as its first Head Fashion & Beauty Partnerships.

Alexandra O’Hare joins Hooker Furniture Corp. as VP Merchandising for Hooker Case Goods.

Ann Mather, Pixar’s former CFO, will become the first woman on Airbnb’s board.

Following a reorganization of Endemol Shine Group’s commercial division management, Jane Smith expands her remit as Group Director Brand Licensing & Gaming.

Sarah’s Sweet & Savory Snacks (formerly Nuts About Granola) CEO Sarah Lanphier passes on the torch to Gayle Lanphier.

Big Lots appoints Bruce Thorn as its new President & CEO. He succeeds David Campisi, who stepped down in April following a medical leave. Thorn’s direct reports include Lisa Bachmann, EVP, COO & Chief Merchandising Officer as well as Timothy Johnson, EVP, CFO & Chief Administrative Officer.

Penguin Random House’s children’s division, Puffin, boosts its licensing team with Ruth Knowles, Publisher and head of a newly created Puffin Fiction, Non-Fiction & Licensing team; Amanda Punter, Publishing Director; Jamie Coleman, Editorial Director; and Emil Fortune, Commissioning Editor.

The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund (CBLDF) names Christina Merkler as President. She joins new board officers VP Chris Powell, VP Retailer Services at Diamond Comics Distributors; Treasurer Ted Adams, Founder of IDW; and Secretary Dale Cendali, Partner at Kirkland & Ellis. Merkler is the co-founder of Discount Comic Book Service and succeeds Larry Marder, who retired from the board along with Milton Griepp and Jeff Smith.

Dinesh Lathi now serves as Tailored Brands’ Executive Chairman; his appointment follows two resignations: Doug Ewert, as CEO and board member, and Bruce Thorn, as President & COO. Ewert retires Sept. 30 and will continue to serve as a strategic director until the end of the year.

Refinery29 appoints Chris Sumner as SVP Business Development & Strategy.

Patricia Little will retire as Hershey’s CFO next year.

Esteemed comics colorist, co-creator of Spider-Woman, and the “First Lady of Comics” Marie Severin has passed away at the age of 89.

Gary Friedrich, another longtime Marvel gem and the writer and co-creator of Ghost Rider, has passed away at age 75.


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