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‘Rugrats’ duo draw 7 figures for the Mouse

Studio focus on animation skills

At a time when the Walt Disney Studios has heavily slashed its list of on-the-lot production deals, it has reversed course for “Rugrats” creators Joe Ansolabehere and Paul Germain.

The Mouse House will pay the duo mid-to-high seven figures for a three-year exclusive pact that includes live-action television and features.

Move reflects Mouse’s increased interest under Walt Disney Studios prexy Peter Schneider in creators who bring animation skills to the table.

Said Barry Blumberg, exec veep, Walt Disney Television Animation: “I think these guys are fantastic. They’re incredibly thorough and painstaking about expressing their vision. We are happy to extend them into the world of features and live-action television.”

Germain and Ansolabehere joined Disney Television Animation in early 1996. There they developed the original Saturday morning show “Recess,” now in its third season and which is being made into a feature for release next summer.

“Recess” is broadcast on ABC with Germain and Ansolabehere executive producing. The series follows the adventures of 9-year-old schoolchildren. It has consistently been the top-rated show on ABC’s “One Saturday Morning” programming block.

“Creating and producing the ‘Recess’ series and feature with Disney has been the most exciting experience of our careers,” Germain and Ansolabehere said in a statement. “We look forward to continuing our creative relationship with Disney as we explore new animated and live-action projects over the next few years.”

Before joining Disney, Germain and Ansolabehere created the Emmy Award-winning “Rugrats” for Nickelodeon and collaborated on “Beethoven,” an animated series developed by Universal Cartoon Studio for CBS. Germain was developer and producer, while Ansolabehere was story editor and writer.

As associate producer of Fox TV’s “The Tracey Ullman Show,” Germain supervised production of the first two-minute animated spots of “The Simpsons.” When “The Simpsons” became a series of its own, Germain co-produced several episodes before leaving to create and produce “Rugrats.”

Germain and Ansolabehere’s deal was negotiated by Ellen Goldsmith-Vein, head of AMG’s animation division, and their lawyer, Peter Nichols, of Lichter, Grossman, Nichols & Adler.