Sander Schwartz, the Columbia TriStar TV exec who raised the studio’s children’s programming wing from infancy to its present stage as a precocious toddler, has been promoted to executive VP and general manager of the 2-year-old division.

Schwartz’s new stripes come as Columbia TriStar TV looks to expand the international distribution of its kidvid product and break into the direct-to-video market. Schwartz, who joined Columbia Pictures Television in 1989, was previously senior veepee of children’s programming and animation for Columbia TriStar TV.

“Sander was the perfect guy to set up this key division for us and he hit the ground running,” said Andy Kaplan, executive VP of Col TriStar TV Group. “He has an intuitive understanding of animation and what sells. He loves the business and he’s passionate about it.”

In the 20 months since Schwartz founded the stand-alone division, Col TriStar has launched five series and produced more than 150 half-hours of animated and live-action fare for the webs and firstrun syndication. This season, the division’s big hit is the cartoon capers of “Men in Black: The Series” on the WB Network’s Saturday-morning lineup.

In development for 1998 is another animated tie-in with the Sony film side, “Godzilla,” and a property plucked from the studio’s TV vault, “I Dream of Jeannie,” chronicling Jeannie’s adventures as a teenager in Baghdad.

Col TriStar’s slate of kidvid fare also includes “Wheel of Fortune 2000″ and “Beakman’s World” for CBS; the educationally inclined “Channel Umptee-3″ for the WB; “Jumanji” for UPN; “Dragon Tales” for PBS; and the syndie “Extreme Ghostbusters.”

Over the past year, Schwartz’s division has grown from a handful of people to seven key execs and about 200 animators working full-time on the Sony lot. Heading development and production are Richard Raynis and Jeff Kline.

Before Col, Schwartz worked in children’s programming at Walt Disney TV, CBS Entertainment and animation house TMS Entertainment.

“Our company has made a com-mitment to animation and provided the resources necessary to achieve a level of quality with each show,” said Schwartz. “Fortunately, we’ve come along at the right time to take advan-tage of incredible growth of the mar-ketplace.”

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