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Judges Set for Animag’s 10th Annual Pitch Party

Festivals and Events

Judges Set for Animag’s 10th Annual Pitch Party

The judges for Animation Magazine’s 10th annual Pitch Party are set!

The annual event, which opens up a section of Animation Magazine to anyone who wants to pitch an idea for the next great animated series. The winner gets the chance to pitch their idea to the judge/animation executive of their choice.

So who are this year’s judges? Read on:

Linda Simensky - Vice President, Children's Programming, PBS

Linda Simensky
Vice President, Children


As VP of children’s programming for PBS, Linda Simensky collaborates with producers, co-production partners and distributors from development through broadcast for existing and new series, including Curious George, Dinosaur Train, Super Why, The Cat in the Hat Knows a Lot About That, Martha Speaks and Sid the Science Kid for PBS Kids, and WordGirl, Wild Kratts and The Electric Company for PBS Kids Go!

Prior to joining PBS, Simensky was senior VP of original animation for Cartoon Network, where she oversaw the development and production of The Powerpuff Girls, Dexter’s Laboratory, Samurai Jack, Courage the Cowardly Dog and other major projects. Simensky began her career with a nine-year tenure at Nickelodeon, where she helped build the animation department and launch such popular series as Rugrats, Doug and The Ren & Stimpy Show.

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 has had several essays published in books including Nickelodeon Nation and The Children’s Television Community.

Simensky holds a bachelor’s degree in communications and history from the University of Pennsylvania and a master’s in media ecology from New York University.

Gary S. Mann Vice President, Original Programming and Development, Comedy Central/Executive Producer, Comedy Central Stage

Gary S. Mann
Vice President, Original Programming and Development, Comedy Central/Executive Producer, Comedy Central Stage


As VP of original programming and development for Comedy Central, Gary S. Mann develops new series and serves as an executive overseeing the network’s shows.

Mann joined Comedy Central in 2003, and put the network on the narrative map with the Emmy-winning The Sarah Silverman Program. He also developed Tosh.0, which has become the second highest-rated program in the history of Comedy Central, behind only South Park.

Prior to joining Comedy Central, Mann was with HBO Independent Productions. He was a producer of the Aspen Comedy Festival from 1997-2002, creating live show concepts such as The Simpsons Live, with the cast of the hit series.

Previously, Mann served as a producer on Saturday Night Special for Fox and producer for the Ace Award-winning Full Frontal Comedy at Showtime.

Mann began his career as a producer on Star Search, where he helped launch the careers of Ray Romano, Kevin James, Dave Chappelle, Martin Lawrence and Brad Garrett.

Mann holds a bachelor’s degree in fine arts from SUNY Binghamton.

Joe D'Amrosia Vice President, Original Programming, Disney Junior

Joe D'Amrosia
Vice President, Original Programming, Disney Junior


As VP original programming for Disney Junior, Joe D’Ambrosia oversees production and creative development of television properties including the animated adventure series Jake and the Never Land Pirates, Mickey Mouse Clubhouse and Special Agent Oso. D’Ambrosia is also developing new full length and short-form series, including a series starring Minnie Mouse and a series set in the storybook world of the classic Disney Princesses.

Prior to joining Disney Channel, D’Ambrosia produced and developed children’s television programming and family films at Murray Hill 5 Productions, which he co-founded with partner Tom Teves. Together, they developed, wrote and produced Astro Boy for Sony Pictures Television and created Golden Bridges, based on the classic book series Golden Books, for The Learning Channel.

He previously helped launch Sony Pictures Family Entertainment, overseeing the development and production of numerous family films and television series, including the movie Land of the Lost and The KidsWB! television series, Phantom Investigators.

D’Ambrosia began his career at Nickelodeon where he launched their family film division, serving as the development and production executive on their first live action feature, Harriet the Spy, and their first animated feature, Rugrats: The Movie.

D’Ambrosia graduated from Catholic University of America with a bachelor of fine arts degree in theater.

Curtis Lelash Director, original animation, Cartoon Network

Curtis Lelash
Director, original animation, Cartoon Network


Curtis Lelash is responsible for overseeing the development and production for Cartoon Network’s animated original comedy series.

In this capacity, he serves as executive producer on Adventure Time, Regular Show and The Problem Solverz in addition to the upcoming series Secret Mountain Fort Awesome.

Previous projects he has overseen include such shows as The Marvelous Misadventure of Flapjack, Squirrel Boy and Class of 3000.

Lelash joined Cartoon Network’s original series department as manager of comedy animation in 2005. Three years later, he relocated from Atlanta to Cartoon Network Studios in Burbank as director of new and current series.

Previously he worked in development at DreamWorks Animation on projects including How to Train Your Dragon and Kung Fu Panda. Lelash graduated from the New York University with a bachelor of arts degree in English and dramatic literature.

Walter Newman Manager of comedy development, Cartoon Network & adult swim

Walter Newman
Manager of comedy development, Cartoon Network & adult swim


Walter J. Newman is responsible for developing and producing live-action and animated comedy programming for both Cartoon Network and [adult swim].

He also takes pitches on animated and live-action [adult swim] projects for greenlight consideration.

Prior to joining Cartoon Network and [adult swim], Newman was a development executive at Comedy Central where he discovered and developed the comedy group Mail Order Comedy into the series Workaholics. Newman also spent time in program development for VH1 as well as the film and TV production company Circle of Confusion.

Newman graduated from UCLA in 2001 with a bachelor of arts degree in English and creative writing concentration. He is based in Burbank.

Max Howard

Max Howard
Max Howard Consulting Group


Max Howard is a sought after consultant and lecturer for the animation industry, working with companies and organizations all around the world to provides first-hand knowledge of how to develop, fund, produce and distribute animated feature films.

He previously was president of the Exodus Film Group, whose first production, Igor, was released in the fall of 2009. Howard is producing a series of animated feature films for the Exodus Film Group.

Howard created and ran studios for Disney in London, Paris, Orlando and Los Angeles, working on some of Disney’s most memorable films, including Who Framed Roger Rabbit? The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin and The Lion King. As president of Warner Bros. Feature Animation, he oversaw such movies as The Iron Giant and Space Jam. At DreamWorks, he was co-executive producer for Spirit, Stallion of the Cimarron.

Mike Moon Vice President, Creative, Disney Television Animation

Mike Moon
Vice President, Creative, Disney Television Animation


Mike Moon is responsible as VP creative for Disney Television Animation for overseeing original series development as well as current animated series for both Disney Channel and Disney XD.

Moon has worked in animation for more than 20 years, receiving Emmy Awards for his work as producer and art director on Cartoon Network’s Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends and for his work as director and art director on Mickey’s Mouseworks for Walt Disney Television Animation.

Among his other credits are The Powerpuff Girls Movie and Disney’s House of Mouse. He began his career at Klasky Csupo as a layout artist on The Simpsons.

A Cal Arts alumnus, Moon also has worked for Warner Bros. Animation, Hanna-Barbera, Nickelodeon and Fox Animation. He also illustrated a children’s book for Hyperion, titled How To Potty Train Your Monster.

Moon is based in the Burbank headquarters of Disney Television Animation.

Paul Robinson

Paul Robinson
Global CEO, KidsCo


Paul was appointed CEO of KidsCo, the joint venture children’s channel owned by leading media companies, NBC Universal, DIC Entertainment and Corus Entertainment Inc. in April 2007. Prior to heading up KidsCo, Paul started up PR Media Consulting Ltd, a company he founded in 2004, servicing clients including Disney, Sony BMG, HIT Entertainment, Chello Media, Liberty Media Corporation, PPL and GCap Media.

Paul was Senior Vice President/Managing Director at Walt Disney Television International/ABC Cable Networks Group from 1998 to 2004 with responsibility for global kids programming strategy and the UK channels and production businesses. He pioneered the Disney multiplex channels, Playhouse Disney and Toon Disney, secured the deal that launched ABC1 on Freeview in the UK and won numerous BAFTAs and other awards for the business.

Prior to Disney, Paul was Chief Executive of Talk Radio where he turned the station around and secured commercial radio’s first ever national world cup football commentary rights. From 1990 Paul was Managing Editor of BBC Radio 1 responsible for all programming, and then Head of Strategy for BBC Radio 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5Live. He started his career as a radio and television presenter working at numerous stations serving the UK and Europe leading to Group Programme Director of the Chiltern Radio Network during which time he founded Galaxy Radio in Bristol. Paul has a BSc Hons in Metallurgy from Manchester University and MBA (with distinction) from Bradford University. He writes regularly for the Media Guardian and is on the Executive of the Edinburgh International Television Festival.

Ted Biaselli Head of Acquisition & Programming, The Hub

Ted Biaselli
Executive Director, Programming, The Hub


Ted Biaselli brings more than a decade of experience in kids’ entertainment ranging from programming and production, to writing, character design, digital media and voice acting to his role as head of executive director of programming at The Hub.

At The Hub, Biaselli has guided projects in all stages from development to air and through current production. He is the network executive in charge of R.L. Stine’s the Haunting Hour: The Series, Pound Puppies, Family Game Night and G.I. Joe Renegades.

Prior to joining The Hub, Biaselli worked in animation development at Disney Channel, Playhouse Disney and Disney XD.

The winner of the Pitch Party gets additional editorial coverage, a chance to pitch their idea to the judge of your choice and the cost of your entry reimbursed. The second and third place winners, the winners of our staff pick and online readers poll also will get editorial coverage in our widely read Comic-Con issue.

To see how previous winners of our Pitch Party have succeeded in the animation industry, read our update here:

To enter, contact our sales staff by phone at (818) 665-2050, or email at The deadline is June 10.

Winners will be announced in our August issue, which hits stands around July 5. Winners also will be hyped on our website during the week of Comic-Con International: San Diego, July 21-24

For more information, go to:


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