U.K. kidvidder names Lawes topper

LONDON — Hit Entertainment has named Rob Lawes as its new chief exec, part of wider restructuring at the U.K.-based kidvid producer.

Lawes is the former chief exec of Lyrick Corp., home of Barney the Dinosaur, which Hit recently bought in a $275 million deal (Daily Variety, Feb. 12).

As part of the merger, Hit founder and chief exec Peter Orton becomes exec chairman, and Lyrick chief financial officer Steve Ruffini takes over as Hit’s finance director. Hit’s U.S. prexy, Dorian Langdon, is leaving.

The shuffle reflects Hit’s new emphasis on the U.S. market, where it expects to do 75% of its business within a couple of years.

Hit said the first video release of animated series “Bob the Builder” sold 80,000 units in the U.S. in its first 10 days, compared with 12,000 in U.K. sales.

Barney merchandising is estimated to have reaped $3.5 billion since the show preemed on pubcaster PBS in 1992. The show is under contract until 2007, with 40 new episodes skedded for delivery in 2002-’03.

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