Five New Judges Join Animag’s Pitch Party

We now have placed all our high-powered judges for this year’s Pitch Party contest. Karen Toliver (VP of Production at 20th Century Fox Animation), David Wiebe (Director of Content at YTV, Corus Entertainment) and DreamWorks Animation’s triumphant development trio of Alex Schwartz, Damon Ross and Chris Kuser will be picking their favorite ideas along with Daniel Wineman (Director of Original Series and Co-Pros at Jetix Europe), Julie Kane-Ritsch (Exec VP, The Gotham Group), Roland Poindexter (VP of Current Series Animation, Nickelodeon), Rob Renzetti (Supervising Producer of Cartoon Network’s Cartoonstitute) and Matt Harrigan (Head of Program Development, Adult Swim). The winners of this year’s event will get to pitch their project to the judge of their choice.

Karen Toliver,

VP of Development, 20th Century Fox Animation

Karen overseas the development and production of animated projects at Fox Animation, home of Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs, Horton Hears a Who! and The Fantastic Mr. Fox. Before joining the studio a year ago, she was the production executive at Disney Animation, overseeing feature such as Brother Bear, Chicken Little and Meet the Robinsons. She also acquired the upcoming Disney feature The Princess and The Frog, which will be released in 2009. Earlier, she was VP at James Pentecost Prods., focusing on developing family properties for both film and television, including the Roger Rabbit sequel. Toliver also helped develop the Curious George franchise for Universal.

David Wiebe

Director of Content, YTV, Corus Entertainment Inc.

David Wiebe is the Director of Content for YTV. In addition to overseeing the development and production of creative content for YTV, David also reviews all commissions, acquisitions and interactive initiatives. David began his career in animation at Nickelodeon as a Network Coordinator, managing the hit series SpongeBob SquarePants, The Fairly OddParents and The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron. Prior to joining Nelvana, David was the Director of Development and Programming for Kids’ WB! in Los Angeles, where he oversaw acquisition and original development for both animated and live-action properties. While at Kids’ WB!, David supervised programming for Johnny Test, Legion of Super Heroes and the Emmy-winning series The Batman.

Alex Schwartz

Head of Development, DreamWorks Animation

As Head of Development at DreamWorks Animation, Alex oversees the development of all projects on the DreamWorks Animation slate. Schwartz began her entertainment career in 1990 at Walt Disney Studios’ Touchstone Pictures, where she oversaw such hit movies as What’s Love Got to Do With It, Sister Act, Romy and Michelle’s High School Reunion and Rushmore. After a two-year stint at Bel Air Entertainment, she joined Walden Media in New York as exec VP in charge of features and oversaw films such as Holes, Because of Winn-Dixie, Charlotte’s Web and Bridge to Terabithia, Nim’s Island and Journey 3D to the Center of the Earth, Schwartz holds a Master’s degree in journalism from NYU.

Damon Ross

Senior VP, DreamWorks Animation

Damon Ross has been a DreamWorks Animation senior VP for just over a year. Before DreamWorks, he served as Vice President of Development & Production at Nickelodeon Movies. In his 12-year tenure (6 years in New York City and 6 years in Los Angeles), he brought the Nickelodeon brand credibility and integrity in movies by identifying smart, original, character-driven material that attracted visionary creators and filmmakers. As the team’s key ‘book guy,’ he spearheaded the feature film development of Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events, The Spiderwick Chronicles, Angus, Thongs & Full Frontal Snogging and the award-winning picture book, Sector 7 (Jim Carrey attached to star). In 2006, Damon co-produced the hit Jack Back comedy, Nacho Libre.

Chris Kuser

Senior Development Executive, DreamWorks Animation

Chris Kuser is a Senior Development Executive at DreamWorks Animation. He has been with the company for eight years. Prior to that, he was managing director of The Contemporary American Theater Festival in Shepherdstown, West Virginia. Chris is a graduate of the American Film Institute and Fordham University.

There are only three spots left for this year’s Pitch Party. To find out how you can be a contestant and get your idea reviewed by a top list of industry professionals, visit www.animationmagazine.net/pitch_party_08.html.

To find out more about our past winners, go to www.animationmagazine.net/article/5527