New president-CEO aims to punch up revenues

Entertainment Rights, the British company that owns characters including Underdog, George of the Jungle and Lassie, has hired Deborah Dugan as prexy-CEO, North America.

Dugan, most recently president of worldwide publishing for Disney, will be responsible for punching up Entertainment Rights’ revenues from movies, TV, licensing/merchandising, DVD, digital and music.

The job became vacant when Entertainment Rights bought out Classic Media and its sibling Big Idea on Jan. 11 and began searching for one successor to Eric Ellenbogen and John Engelman, co-chairmen of Classic Media.

Although Dugan’s most recent experience is in publishing, Mike Heap, CEO of Entertainment Rights, said she also did a stint as exec veep of the EMI Records Group, where she worked with Paul McCartney and Joan Baez. She started as a corporate lawyer.

One of Dugan’s successes at Disney, Heap said, was presiding over the purchase of the Baby Einstein preschool brand, turning it from a $70┬ámillion business to one worth upward of $1 billion.

Disney will release a live-action theatrical version of “Underdog” in early August, and Universal plans a January date for another Entertainment Rights animated feature, “The Pirates Who Don’t Do Anything: A Veggie Tales Movie.” A “George of the Jungle” animated series premieres on Cartoon Network in the fall.

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