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Warners toons Schwartz to top

Exec to become WB Animation prexy April 16

Sander Schwartz will take the reins as president of Warner Bros. Animation on April 16 as current prexy Jean MacCurdy, who launched the top-rated Kids’ WB, becomes a creative consultant for the studio.

Schwartz will take over responsibility for the studio’s physical production of theatrical, television, direct-to-video and classic animation as well as oversight of creative development for television and direct-to-video animated programming.

He will also oversee the animated use and adaptation of Warner Bros.’ classic library characters for nonprogramming uses such as commercials, PSAs, the Internet and interactive devices.

The announcement was made by Barry Meyer, Warners chairman and CEO, and Sandy Reisenbach, Warners executive VP of marketing and planning.

Schwartz will work closely with Lorenzo di Bonaventura, president of worldwide production for Warner Bros. Pictures, who is responsible for creative development and production of all theatrical films, including animation.

Following a transition period, MacCurdy will focus on creative development of animated and live-action programming for kids in all media.

Schwartz comes to Warners from Sony Pictures Family Entertainment, where for the past two years he served as the division’s first president. He was responsible for creating character-based entertainment targeted to the all-family audience and for overseeing the development, production, marketing and worldwide distribution of the division’s television and direct-to-video titles.

“Sander is one of the most respected, most successful executives in children’s programming today,” Meyer said. “Jean has wanted to step away from the day-to-day operational rigors of running a division for some time and concentrate on the creative side of programming, but we convinced her to stay until we could find someone who could carry on her ethic of excellence and achievement. We were very fortunate to convince Sander to join us, and no one is happier about this than Jean.”

Under Schwartz, SPFE produced traditional cel animation, 3-D CGI animation and live-action properties, including such current hits as “Jackie Chan Adventures,” “Max Steel” and “Men in Black: The Series” for Kids’ wb!; “Dragon Tales” (co-produced with Sesame Workshop) on PBS’ Ready to Learn block; “Roughnecks: Starship Troopers Chronicles,” “Jumanji” and “Extreme Ghostbusters,” airing in syndication.

In 1995, Schwartz established and oversaw Columbia TriStar Television Children’s Programming. During that period, CTTCP produced 11 series with more than 450 half-hours of syndicated and network programming.

Under MacCurdy’s watch, Warners Family Entertainment released the critically acclaimed ani feature “Iron Giant” and produced the upcoming “Osmosis Jones.” Animated television series created and produced under her guidance have earned 28 Emmy Awards, the George Foster Peabody Award, an Environmental Media Award and numerous Annie Awards, which honor excellence in animation.

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