MGM animation taps Fukuto

Completing the corporate reorganization that began last week with the consolidation of MGM’s domestic and international TV operations, MGM has tapped Disney veteran Jay Fukuto to head its newly restructured animation unit.

MGM Worldwide TV Group prexy John Symes said the changes are designed to help step up the pace of development and production within MGM Animation, which is at work on at least three direct-to-video titles and the second season of the syndie weekly “All Dogs Go to Heaven: The Series.”

Fukuto will serve as senior VP, animation, reporting to Symes, whose domain was expanded to include the international realm as part of the divisionwide overhaul unveiled last week. Fukuto will oversee all development and production for MGM Animation’s film, TV and video projects.

Fukuto succeeds Don Mirisch as head of MGM Animation; Mirisch left MGM when his contract expired last month. Paul Sabella and Jonathan Dern, who have been with MGM Animation since the unit was founded in 1993, have been upped from veepees to executive producers.

At Disney, Fukuto most recently served as VP of current programming for Walt Disney Television Animation, where he worked on such TV series as “Aladdin,” “Gargoyles,” “The Little Mermaid” and “The Lion King’s Timon & Pumbaa.” Before joining Disney, Fukuto held production posts at UBU Prods. and Paramount Network TV.

Sabella was a senior VP at Hanna-Barbera, working on such series as “Fish Police,” “Tom & Jerry Kids” and “The Smurfs.” His credits for MGM Animation include directing the theatrical “All Dogs Go to Heaven 2” and co-exec producing the TV series “The Pink Panther.”

Before joining MGM, Dern worked as an associate producer for DIC Entertainment/Rainforest Prods., where his credits included the TV series “Stunt Dawgs,” “Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventures,” “G.I. Joe” and “Super Mario Bros. Super Show.”

Among the projects on the drawing board at MGM Animation are the direct-to-video titles “Babes in Toyland,” “The Secret of Nimh II” and “Stargate: The Young Explorers.”

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