The animated life of DIC


  • Newly returned to Los Angeles from a development position in France with DIC Audiovisual, Andy Heyward promptly took control of the company from Radio-Television Luxembourg, rebranding it DIC Entertainment.

    It all began in Andy Heyward’s mother’s kitchen.

    Bonus: Free food for lunch.

    Heyward has been in control ever since, though a partnership with Capital Cities in 1993 temporarily placed DIC under Disney auspices, prompting Heyward to stage a second buyout of the company in 2000.

  • DIC sells first series, “The Littles,” to ABC.


  • DIC’s “Inspector Gadget,” the first animated firstrun syndication series, makes its debut in the US.

  • DIC’s first network series, “The Littles” debuts on ABC.


    • “Dennis the Menace” torments Mr. Wilson on CBS and in syndication.


    • Peacock beams DIC’s “Barbie” and “Alf,” based on the NBC sitcom featuring an alien. Shows also run in syndication.


    • “Alvin & the Chipmunks,” which follows the adventures of the singing rodent trio and their hapless caretaker, bows on NBC.

    • HBO launches “Madeline,” based on the children’s classic book series by Ludwig Bemelmans.


    • First Barbie, and now “GI Joe” gets tooned in syndication. DIC also sells animated series “The Legend of Zelda,” based on Nintendo’s popular videogame, to syndication.


    • Another property based on a wildly popular Ninetendo vidgame, “Super Mario Brothers,” debuts on NBC and in syndication.

    • “Captain Planet and the Planeteers” lands DIC in the national spotlight. The brainchild of Ted Turner and Jane Fonda, series takes a heavy-handed if allegorical approach to environmentalism and is attacked by pundits and media critics for reasons ranging from the debatable (one-sided politics, oversimplification of global economic issues) to the ridiculous (proselytization for paganism, pro-Soviet propaganda). Despite controversy, the skein is successful and runs for six years in various forms.


    • “Where’s Waldo,” series based on the popular children’s books, airs on CBS.


    • DIC acquired by ABC/CapCities.

    • Continuing its tooning up of videogame characters, DIC’s “Sonic the Hedgehog,” a Sega hit, airs on ABC and in syndication.

    • Educational and fun, “Where on Earth Is Carmen Sandiego?” debuts on Fox.

    • DIC finalizes Disney/Buena Vista Home Video deal.


    • DIC collected its first Daytime Emmy for “Where on Earth Is Carmen Sandiego,” winning for outstanding children’s animated program. It’s the third vidgame adaptation in DIC’s roster (after “The Super Mario Brothers Show” and “Sonic the Hedgehog”), but the first to incorporate educational themes, and the first FCC-compliant toon to win the award.


    • DIC releases the first English-language version of influential Japanese series “Sailor Moon.” Though the adaptation of the skein is still the source of much grumbling among hardcore fans — due to several storyline changes and the excision of a lesbian subplot from the original — it nonetheless marks a key development in the importation of anime and manga into the U.S., expanding on what is a rapidly growing niche.

    • DIC beomes a subsidiary of the Walt Disney Co.


    • “The Wacky World of Tex Avery” premieres on Cartoon Network.


    • DIC makes its first foray into live-action theatrical features with “Meet the Deedles.” The film is not a B.O. success. The following year, however, sees a live-action adaptation of “Inspector Gadget” starring Matthew Broderick and Rupert Everett that eventually earns $97 million and spawns a Broderickless sequel in 2003.

    • “Our Friend, Martin,” voiced by LeVar Burton and Oprah Winfrey, among others, explores the life of Martin Luther King Jr. on television and homevideo.

    • The direct-to-video feature “Madeline in Paris” hits stores.

    • “Sabrina: The Animated Series” celebrates 300 episodes.


    • Andy Heyward leads the buyout of the business from Disney with Bain Capital.


    • “Madeline” garners the company a second Emmy statuette, becoming DIC’s de facto prestige brand. Ludwig Bemelmans’ venerable children’s book series was first filmed as a theatrical short in 1952; DIC developed it into a Saturday morning series in 1993. The franchise’s most recent incarnation, “The New Adventures of Madeline,” will anchor DIC’s “KOL Secret Slumber Party on CBS” block.


    • The company launches the DIC Kid’s

      Network, a unique syndicated programming block designed to meet core FCC requirements and the only network for kids that reaches 98% of U.S. households on more than 300stations.

    • DIC partners with American Greetings to relaunch 1980s toy giant Strawberry Shortcake with two direct-to-video shorts and revamped merchandise. The brand quickly proves to be the most lucrative in DIC’s collection, amassing more than $1.5 billion in worldwide retail since its 21st century debut. “Sweet Dreams,” SS’s first theatrical feature and first CG animated manifestation, will hit screens this fall.


    • Heyward purchases Bain’s interest in DIC.

    • DIC Educational Advisory Board established to provide information, guidance, advice and general expertise in the development of multimedia programs and projects for children. The board comprises media experts, educators and pediatricians affiliated with such institutions as Stanford, Yale, the Mayo Clinic and American Academy of Pediatrics.

    • DIC Entertainment concludes deal with the Troll Co. to acquire the worldwide entertainment and licensing rights to the spiky- and bright-haired Troll character to be developed into a new contemporary entertainment and lifestyle brand for tweens, called “Trollz,” and new Classic Trolls program.


    • DIC becomes the worldwide licensing agent for the McDonald’s Corp. It manages McDonald’s corporate and McKid’s brands on a global basis for third-party consumer product licensing and content.

    • DIC lists its IPO on the AIM unit of the London Stock Exchange in order to fund

      future growth and development.


    • Strawberry Shortcake exceeds $1 billion in worldwide retail revenues over 2003-2006.

    • DIC and AOL’s online kids’ destination, KOL, form a co-production partnership. In September, the pair launch in a new branded kids’ programming block, “KOL’s Saturday Morning Secret Slumber Party on CBS.”

    • DIC and legendary investor Warren Buffett join forces to create a direct-to-DVD animated series, “The Secret Millionaire’s Club,” which promotes financial literacy to kids.

    • DIC acquires Copyright Promotions (CPLG), a pan-European licensing agency that represents the licensing rights of a broad portfolio of companies including DreamWorks Animation, MGM, Marvel, Sony, Twentieth Century Fox, Viacom and the Football Assn.

    • DIC and Thomopoulos Prods. join forces to launch Promise Media Prods., a new venture focused on developing, marketing and distributing properties for children and families under the positive value-based Promise Media brand for both the faith-based and secular markets.

    • Geffen Records and DIC Entertainment (DIC), partner to create an entertainment brand for tweens and teens called SPG.
Want to read more articles like this one? SUBSCRIBE TO VARIETY TODAY.
Post A Comment 0

Leave a Reply

No Comments

Comments are moderated. They may be edited for clarity and reprinting in whole or in part in Variety publications.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

More Digital News from Variety