Vanguard President Braun Joins IDT

Continuing its recruiting spree, IDT Ent. has tapped Vanguard Animation president and chief operating officer Neil S. Braun to serve as president of feature films and television. Also announced today was the appointment of veteran animation producer and creative affairs executive Jerry Davis as chief creative officer, animated features.

Before joining U.K.-based Vanguard Animation, Braun served as president of the NBC Television Network, chairman and CEO of Viacom Ent. and president and COO of Imagine Films Ent. At IDT, he will be the lead financial architect for all business deals regarding feature film and television properties. Braun will continue to serve as president and COO of Vanguard, which he co-founded with Shrek producer John H. Williams. IDT Ent. is the principal investor in Vanguard, whose first animated feature, Valiant, will be released in the U.S. by Walt Disney Pictures on Aug. 19.

As an executive at Blue Sky Studios, the animation arm of 20th Century Fox, Davis was a producer on Robots and a production supervisor on Ice Age. He was also director of creative affairs for Warner Bros. Feature Animation, where he spearheaded the adaptation of Ted Hughes’ classic children’s book, The Iron Giant, and led the pioneering effort to integrate CG and traditional animation in the film version. While at Walt Disney Studios, he worked closely with Pixar as a production executive to bring Toy Story to the screen. In his new role, he will head up the search for, and development of, creative content and talent for all of IDT’s animated feature films.

"Our company is willing and able to invest in executives and filmmakers who create magical, emotionally resonant family entertainment," says IDT Ent. CEO Morris Berger. "Neil’s and Jerry’s expertise is evidenced by the hundreds of millions of dollars the films they’ve been involved with have earned at the box office."

IDT Ent., a New Jersey-based division of IDT Corp., has a deal with 20th Century Fox to produce two CG features each year starting in 2007. One animated movie the company has in the works is Yankee Irving, a 1930s father-and-son love story Christopher Reeve was directing at the time of his death.

Other recent, high-profile IDT hires include former Pixar exec Bob Taylor as exec VP of animation finance, Academy Award-winning former DreamWorks Animation exec Nick Foster as chief technology officer, and former DreamWorks head of artistic recruitment and development Frank Gladstone as VP of artistic development.