Nickelodeon alum Russell Hicks has teamed with three other industry veterans to launch the family-friendly content production banner Curiosity Ink Media.
Based in Los Angeles, The company has ambitious plans to venture into TV animation and live-action programs, VR, publishing, and live event production starting in early 2019. Curiosity is also in hunt for vintage cartoon and family entertainment characters and brands that can be brought back into the public eye with TV shows, books, and merchandising. The venture is being financed with the backing of a what is described as a handful of high net worth private investors.
Hicks, the exec who shepherded such hits as “SpongeBob SquarePants” and “Dora the Explorer” during his 18-year run at Nickelodeon, serves as president and chief creative officer of Curiosity Ink. Brent Watts, formerly creative director of ad agency Struck, is chief strategy officer. Michealene Cristini Risley, a filmmaker and former creative executive with Zynga, has been named CEO. Publishing veteran Jon Rosenberg, formerly with MGM’s licensing arm, is exec VP of publishing, overseeing books and merchandising and other physical content.
“Attracting the most accomplished and respected professionals in entertainment, digital media, advertising and publishing to bring Curiosity Ink to life reflects our commitment to offering today’s kids and families premium entertainment experiences that reflect both their sensibilities as well as their passion for entertainment on a variety of platforms,” said Hicks.
Curiosity Ink said it is in the midst of setting up partnerships and production pacts for a range of what it described as “safe, wholesome kids content” on an array of platforms. The company is finalizing agreements to publish six children’s books in the fall through its Curiosity Books banner and eventually ramp up to 24 books per year. The company’s initial focus for all content is the U.S. and Canada but there is hope of expanding internationally as well.
Curiosity said it has access to “groundbreaking technology” that can streamline animation production and reduce the long turnaround time typically needed to deliver cartoons. The company plans to unveil the first of its classic IP revival projects in the fall.
“When you combine Russell Hicks’s unmatched success in developing wildly successful television combined with Michealene Risley’s huge contributions to interactive entertainment and fuse them with Jon Rosenberg’s stellar reputation in publishing, you’ve nailed the recipe for a winning team,” said Watts.
Hicks left Nickelodeon in 2016 after rising to president of production and development. He was a key player in developing such shows as “The Loud House,” “Henry Danger” and the “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” revival.