ITC establishes division for worldwide licensing

The ITC Entertainment Group is establishing a new division, ITC Licensing, for the worldwide merchandise licensing representation of the company’s 10,000 -plus film and TV library.

ITC legal and business affairs executive Stella Green has been tapped to head the unit as VP Worldwide Licensing.

‘Thunderbirds’ key

The company has also reached an agreement with Tyco, the global toy manufacturer, awarding it the world master toy license for ITC’s “Thunderbirds,” a British-produced children’s series featuring marionettes, which has aired off and on in the U.K. and other territories since the mid ’60s. Other properties produced by “supermarionation” pioneer Gerry Anderson will also be included in the deal with Tyco. They include “Stingray,””Captain Scarlett” and “Joe 90.”

The announcement of the new division and its agreement with Tyco was made by Jules Haimovitz, president and CEO of the company. The former Spelling Entertainment prexy was brought on board last April as part of a financial and management restructuring of the Anglo-American company, whose roots go back 40 years to a production and distribution entity created by Lord Lew Grade in the U.K.

Series returning to U.S.

ITC is planning to re-introduce “Thunderbirds” to the U.S. this year. (It aired spottily in all-cash domestic syndication in the late ’60s.)

“Because of the immense appeal of ‘Thunderbirds’ outside the U.S., we’ve begun discussions with both U.S. networks and cable channels,” Haimovitz said. “We’ll have a decision (on where the show will beplaced) in the next 30 days or so.”

About 32 hours of “Thunderbirds” were produced and Haimovitz said they’ll be re-edited and re-paced for the domestic market. The series centers around the Tracy family — a father and five sons — who perform daring rescue missions. They each rely on a high-tech jet plane — the focus of Tyco’s merchandising plans — to zoom in and out of disaster scenes.

Though the characters are all marionettes, “Thunderbirds” is full of suspense , Haimovitz said, but has “no violence, no predators, no nasties.”

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