Meet The Pitch Party Judges
Animation Magazine’s Fourth Annual Pitch Party is underway and we would like to introduce you to some of the distinguished animation industry professionals we have lined up to judge this year’s competition. We’ll have more exciting announcements regarding additional judges in the next few weeks. To have your cartoon ideas seen by the following toon luminaries, submit your pitches today. Submission information can be found at www.animationmagazine.net/pitch_party_05.html.
Creator, exec producer and director
Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends
Craig McCracken is the talented toon master behind Cartoon Network’s critically acclaimed series, Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends. The charming Flash-animated series is McCracken’s follow-up to The Powerpuff Girls, Cartoon Network’s Emmy-winning series about three super-powered little girls. The show remains one of Cartoon Network’s most popular animated series in the U.S., and is seen in more than 145 countries around the world. McCracken also served as director of The Powerpuff Girls Movie, released in July 2002 by Cartoon Network and Warner Bros. Pictures. The movie, created at Cartoon Network Studios in Burbank, Calif., marked the first feature film based on a Cartoon Network original series.
McCracken’s inspiration for The Powerpuff Girls came directly from The Whoopass Girls, a student film he created in his second year studying character animation Cal Arts. While at Cal Arts, McCracken wrote, directed and produced eight student films, five of them featuring a character named No Neck Joe. McCracken also worked as the art director for the four-time Emmy-nominated series Dexter’s Laboratory and served as art director on the first season of 2 Stupid Dogs. McCracken was named to Entertainment Weekly’s "It List," citing the most creative people in entertainment in 1999.
VP of educational
Lord of the Rings fans will be interested to know that Nelvana VP of development Irene Weibel is one of the key executives responsible for greenlighting the upcoming Nelvana/WETA Digital co-production, Jane and the Dragon. In her VP role at Nelvana, Weibel manages the overall development of all preschool and 6-11 properties that focus on educational goals, working with such notable authors such as Bill Joyce, Dan Yaccarino and Eric Rohmann. Weibel also oversees the brand management of Nelvana’s PBS portfolio of shows, and manages the work of Nelvana’s educational content advisors. Other shows she’s developing include Gaspergoo, Grossology and Future is Wild. Before joining the company in 1999, Weibel spent more than 17 years in public television with stints at KCET, Los Angeles; WGBY, Springfield; and WGBH, Boston.
Senior director of children’s programming, PBS
Simensky manages the award-winning PBS KIDS programming block, working with producers, co-production partners and distributors throughout development, production, post-production and broadcast. She began her career with a nine-year tenure at Nickelodeon, where she helped build their animation department and launch such popular series as Rugrats, Doug and The Ren & Stimpy Show. Most recently, she was senior VP of original animation for Cartoon Network, where she oversaw the development and series production of The Powerpuff Girls, Dexter’s Laboratory, Samurai Jack, Courage the Cowardly Dog, Ed, Edd ‘n Eddy and other major projects.
Simensky is a past-president of ASIFA-East, and the founder of New York chapter of Women in Animation. She has lectured at numerous colleges and animation festivals, and has taught courses in animation at the School of Visual Arts in New York. She has written for numerous animation publications and books, and a recent essay of hers appears in the book, Nickelodeon.
Deputy Managing Director of children’s unit, BBC
McAleer is responsibile for acquisition of intellectual property, marketing, creative direction and licensing activities, as well as managing relationships with third party rights owners in the UK and internationally.
Formerly Director of Global Licensing at BBC Worldwide, McAleer is now responsible for the brand development and global marketing of a portfolio of leading children’s properties including Teletubbies, Tweenies, Fimbles, Balamory, Big Cook Little Cook, Charlie and Lola and The Secret Show. She oversees the distribution and licensing for all of these properties, working closely with the international division at BBC Worldwide, CBBC, international broadcasting partners, publishers and independent producers.
Senior VP of Programming and Distribution, Scholastic Ent.
Kahn is responsible for developing and directing all sales and strategic international opportunities in TV, video, interactive, character licensing and promotions for Scholastic Entertainment. Her responsibilities encompass SE’s international sales program and video sales, as well as managing international licensing and promotional activities. Kahn directs Scholastic Entertainment’s international consumer products and promotional activities including those for Clifford The Big Red Dog, I SPY, Horrible Histories, Stellaluna, The Magic School Bus, Animorphs and Goosebumps. She also spearheaded the branding and distribution of the Scholastic Video Collection. Prior to joining SE in 1995, she spent 12 years in senior exec positions at Nickelodeon and MTV Networks. Previously, as VP of acquisitions for Nickelodeon and Nick at Nite, Kahn was responsible for all program acquisitions for Nickelodeon in its early years and instrumental in the launch of Nick at Nite. Kahn is currently the president of New York Women in Film & Television and a board member of the International Academy of Television Arts & Sciences.