Split yields new units

CBS, Paramount create new licensing groups

Two years after the corporate split-up of CBS and Viacom, long-term merchandising strategies on both sides are beginning to take shape.

And this year, newly formed consumer products divisions — Paramount Licensing and CBS Consumer Products — will use the Licensing Show to make their introductions.

In January, former Sesame Workshop exec Elizabeth Kalodner was named exec VP and G.M. for New York-based CBS Consumer Products. Reporting to Nancy Tellem, president of the CBS Paramount Network Television Entertainment Group, Kalodner will, among other tasks, be responsible for expanding the worldwide licensing and merchandising business for current series from CBS, CBS Paramount Network Television and CBS Television Distribution as well as from CBS Corp.’s library of more than 2,600 titles.

With the 2005 corporate split-up, the Paramount Network Television library — which includes about 150 classic shows, including everything from the “Beverly Hillbillies” to “Beverly Hills, 90120” — was folded into CBS Corp.

Classics are an asset, Kalodner says, that her new team — which includes former HIT Entertainment senior creative exec Jorge Ferreiro — will try to tap into immediately.

“CBS really saw a chance to derive revenue and extend relationships between consumers and brands,” she says. CBS CP officials specifically note opportunites related to the “Star Trek” franchise, as well as the launch of the “Andy Griffith Show”-inspired comfort-food.

Meanwhile, Paramount Licensing — which was re-established in April, with former Par Parks business affairs exec Michael Bartok put in charge — will also have its unveiling at the Licensing Show.

For the last three years, Par’s CP interests were repped by New York-based Nickelodeon & Viacom Consumer Products. The restruc-turing moves those activities back to the studio’s Hollywood offices, where 25 full-time staffers will oversee worldwide licensing and merchandising for films from Paramount Pictures, Paramount Vantage, DreamWorks, Nickelodeon Movies and MTV Films.

Current priorities for the Viacom-owned division include “big franchisable movies and ways to fully tap into the value of the library,” Bartok says. The feature-film focus includes upcoming Par releases “The Spiderwick Chronicles,” “Beowulf” and DreamWorks’ “Sweeney Todd.”

Another priority, Bartok adds, is the 35th anniversary of “The Godfather” franchise, previously considered something of a “classic pristine property” with restricted licensing opportunities.

That’s not so anymore: With the success of Electronic Arts’ “The Godfather” vidgame, Par recently aligned with Todd McFarlane Toys for a fall line of collectibles. Now, it’s “looking into concepts in the recreation world,” Bartok notes. ” ‘The Godfather’ is not a roller coaster, but it could be a high-end cigar bar.”

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