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Redstone addresses toonsters

In case they had forgotten, Sumner Redstone reminded attendees of the World Animation Celebration on Friday that ”content is king.”

That was the title of a speech the Viacom chairman and CEO delivered to animation execs, students and creators at the confab, which wrapped over the weekend in Pasadena. Redstone emphasized the global nature of animation production and distribution, with a special nod to those who create the toons.

”Whether entertainment is distributed via an information superhighway or by a slow boat to China is ultimately of secondary importance,” Redstone said. “What matters first and foremost is what has always mattered first and foremost, from the age of Walter Lantz to the age of Mike Judge. That is the quality of the content.”

While mentioning Viacom properties such as Nickelodeon’s ”Rugrats,” Redstone acknowledged the pioneering ef-forts of competitors. ”I would be remiss if I didn’t make a bow to Disney, the company that put animation on the map, in many respects, and showed how compelling a business it could be,” he said.

Redstone promised that Viacom’s animation studios at Nicktoons and MTV would afford creative autonomy to animators. ”The inmates will be running the asylum,” he said.

Discussing the recognition Viacom has garnered for its original animated productions, such as ”Hey, Arnold,” ”Kablam” and ”Real Monsters,” Redstone vowed, ”This is not a position we intend to surrender. It is a position we intend to expand. And the single best way to ensure that growth is to cultivate the artists who will make the hit programming of the next decade.”

Abby Terkuhle, exec VP and creative director of MTV, and Albie Hecht, senior VP of Nickelodeon Prods., also addressed the toonstruck crowd in Pasadena.

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