'Simpsons' vet to guide facility

Fortitude Films has bought a full-service animation studio in Burbank and tapped “The Simpsons” veteran Phil Roman to run it.

Hire was made by Fortitude’s Steve Delaportas and Lisa Marie Butkiewicz, who paid $1 million against $6.2 million for G.P. Taylor’s fantasy bestseller “Shadowmancer” and then $1.8 million against $6.2 million for his second novel, “Wormwood.” They recouped the “Shadowmancer” outlay with a Universal Pictures deal and are eager to make animation a priority.

“The studio we bought is a fully capable, vertically integrated facility that has soundstages, shooting stages, 3-D animation, DVD authoring,” Delaportas said. “We are at the table right now with several contracts for animation projects, a feature and two series we will be introducing.”

Roman won seven Emmys for overseeing production of “The Simpsons,” “King of the Hill” and “Garfield.” He started Film Roman with a staff of four; company grew to 500 artists drawing 10 series and went public in 1998. Roman exited at that time and has since been running his own smaller business.

But he said he sparked to Fortitude’s ambition in 2-D and 3-D features and series projects. Venture capitalist Delaportas said it will take a while for Fortitude’s animation program to get started and that the toon facility will be used for commercials and other enterprises. Before long, he expects Fortitude fare to take up 60% of the studio’s resources.

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