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Who’s News—March 2019

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Toysmith appoints Michael Keaton to the role of CEO. Keaton currently serves on the Board of Directors for the Toy Association in the U.S. and the Canadian Toy Association.

Encantos Media Studios taps Co-founder Steven Wolfe Pereira as its new CEO in addition to his current remit as Chairman of its board of directors. Former CEO Nuria Santamaria Wolfe transitions to the role of CMO.

Winning Moves appoints Jack Allen as its new Licensing Manager.

Barnes & Noble hires Sasha Quinton as VP & General Merchandise Manager Bookstore, effective March 25. She reports to Chief Merchandising Officer Tim Mantel.

Sonali Fry joins Random House Books for Young Readers as VP & Publishing Director Classic Brands & Pre-school, effective March 29. She oversees Random House and Golden Book brands incl. Dr. Seuss and Beginner Books, Little Golden Books, Richard Scarry, Sesame Street, Pat the Bunny, the Berenstain Bears, and Mercer Mayer’s Little Critter.

Disney names veteran TV executive Craig Hunegs as President of Disney Television Studios, effective once the company’s acquisition of 21st Century Fox’s entertainment assets is complete. Disney Television Studios is the combined TV studio operation comprised by 20th Century Fox TV, Fox 21 TV Studios and ABC Studios/ABC Signature. Reporting to Hunegs, once he assumes this role, will be ABC Studios President, Patrick Moran; 20th TV Presidents, Jonathan Davis and Howard Kurtzman; and, Bert Salke, President of Fox 21 Television Studios.

Separately,  Tehmina Jaffer leaves Netflix for Disney+ as SVP Business Affairs of the impending Disney streaming service.

Among a slew of promotions at Hachette Books, Associate Publisher Michelle Aiello adds VP to her title, Krishan Trotman is promoted to Executive Editor, Michael Barrs is now Senior Director Marketing, and Mandy Kain is now Creative Director.

OC Sports promotes Brad Reagan to National Sales Manager.

Kelly Bennett retires from his post as Netflix CMO after seven years in the role. Bennett will remain in the role until a replacement is found.

Rite Aid’s board announces that 400 jobs will be cut at the beleaguered drugstore chain, the highest-ranking of which is CEO John Standley. Stanley will leave as soon as a replacement is found. Meanwhile, COO Kermit Crawford is being replaced by Bryan Everett, who is being promoted, and Matt Schroeder is promoted to CFO, succeeding Darren Karst.


DreamWorks shuffles its leaderboard. Peter Gal is promoted to the newly created role of CCO Animation Television, where he expands his current remit handling the preschool, current series, casting, music, and creative talent management departments. On the film side, Kristin Lowe steps into the role of CCO Features, overseeing all development, casting, and artistic management. President Margie Cohn consolidates the features and television departments to each have a single head, reporting directly to her: Michael Vollman serves as EVP Marketing, Courtenay Palaski as SVP & Head Communications, Josh Meyer as Head Business Affairs, and Ashley Brinsfield as Head Human Resources & Recruiting. These changes will not result in any layoffs.

Jewel Branding & Licensing (JBL) and Artworks! Licensing merge, growing the premiere agency for art and design-based licensing. As part of the deal, Carol White, President of Artworks! Licensing, joins JBL as VP Art Licensing and brings with her 10 new artists. Separately, JBL adds a new Creative Services division led by Meredith Counts.

Richard Oren is now Director of Licensing Sales at Bonnier Corp.

ZAG America names Manuel Torres Port as its new Chief Brand Officer. In addition, the entertainment studio grows its leadership team with key executives Julian Zag (EVP Worldwide Operations), Liz Grampp (SVP Studio & Franchise Marketing), and Ian Lambur (SVP Global Distribution & Co-Production). Additionally, Jose Antonio Vargas joins in an advisory role.

JCPenney taps three new executives: Michelle Wlazlo is now EVP & Chief Merchant, John Welling joins as SVP Planning & Allocation, and Mark Stinde is SVP Asset Protection. Wlazlo’s team includes: Jodie Johnson, SVP & GM Women’s Apparel/Interim GMM Home; Angela Swanner, SVP & GMM Center Core; Jeff Useforge, SVP & GMM Men’s/Children’s; and Val Harris, SVP Product Design & Development.

Canada’s Sinking Ship Entertainment appoints Amanda Fruci to the newly created role of Head Communications.

Scott Brothers Global opens its new national headquarters in Nashville, Tenn. and welcomes Alina Duviner as VP Communications, Amy Mellen as VP Product Design Scott Living, and Michael Kim as SVP Business Development.

Congrats to the winners and honorees at the 15th Annual Wonder Women Awards from Women in Toys, Licensing & Entertainment (WIT):

  • Pam Kaufman, Viacom Nickelodeon – Mentor of the Year
  • Gaye Dean, Target – Retailer of the Year
  • Amy Pruzansky, Spin Master – Creator/Inventor
  • Gabriela Arenas, Sesame Workshop – Licensing
  • Nancy Sanchez, LEGO Systems – Manufacturing
  • Juli Lennett, NPD – Marketing/PR
  • Marian Bossard, The Toy Association – Sales
  • Amy Knight, Hasbro – Social Responsibility
  • Chrissy Helmich, Wicked Cool Toys – Rising Star
  • Kate Nichols, Spin Master – Rising Star
  • Marissa Louie, Animoodles – Rising Star
  • Natalie Rebot, Moonlight World – Rising Star

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