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Higgins to Cartoon Network

Jun 23, 2003  •  Post A Comment

Veteran animation and children’s programming executive Bob Higgins, who put Sherman, Peabody and the WayBack Machine into live-action feature-film development, has been named senior VP, programming and development, for Cartoon Network’s kids businesses.
He will relocate to Atlanta from New York, where he most recently served as Classic Media’s senior VP and executive producer for all television, feature film and direct-to-video product based on characters and properties from Harvey Comics, Jay Ward Prods., United Productions of America (the famed “limited animation” pioneer better known as UPA) and Golden Books Family Entertainment. Entertainment and media-investment firm Classic Media holds rights to such characters as Mr. Magoo, Little Lulu and Frosty the Snowman.
Mr. Higgins’ mandate at Cartoon includes the acquisition of both international and domestic off-network kids programming, including anime series and theatrical feature films. Mr. Higgins also will be responsible for managing Cartoon’s development, production and programming departments, which oversee new original animated series, shorts, motion pictures and specials created at the network’s Burbank, Calif., studio and with various external production partners.
Additionally, he will manage the on-air schedules for both Cartoon Network and its sister service Boomerang, which offers “classic” cartoon series, and he will work with the company’s marketing, ad sales and licensing units. Mr. Higgins, whose oversight will not extend to Cartoon’s Adult Swim late-night franchise, will report directly to Jim Samples, executive VP and general manager, Cartoon Network.
“We’ve dedicated a separate team to adults,” Mr. Samples told TelevisionWeek. “The role that Bob will be taking has been vacant for several months.”
“I’ve been looking for the perfect person to come in who can bring together the programming departments and the development departments, who can manage our own development and has had good experience with other studios … who can help us to diversify and continue to grow our investment in animation,” Mr. Samples said.
Mike Lazzo, who previously served as Cartoon’s senior VP of programming, segued to head Adult Swim in February when the franchise went to five nights a week.
At Classic, Mr. Higgins’ most recent projects included two live-action and CGI features based on classic animated TV series cartoon canines: For Spyglass Pictures, the “Underdog” feature, and for Sprocketdyne Entertainment, the “Sherman and Peabody” feature.
“Underdog” is based on the cartoon series that aired in the 1960s and 1970s and combined a “Superman” parody with the quintessentially meek voice of Wally Cox (“Mr. Peepers”).
“Sherman and Peabody” is based on “Peabody’s Improbable History,” a regular segment of the “Rocky and His Friends” cartoon series that, in various incarnations, aired from the late 1950s through the early 1970s.
Proud of His Past
In the original Jay Ward segments, “Peabody” was a talking dog who time-traveled via the Wayback Machine. “Sherman” was his pet boy who was forever learning improbable historical lessons, replete with groaning puns.
“I’m really proud of the work I did with Classic Media and look forward to continue working with them in my new capacity at Cartoon Network,” Mr. Higgins said.
At Classic, Mr. Higgins was responsible for all creative development, packaging, sales and original production of product based on the company’s family-oriented properties, and for integrating the properties’ marketing and licensed merchandising campaigns.
Before his tour at Classic, Mr. Higgins was senior VP of creative affairs for Sony Pictures Family Entertainment, where he oversaw development and production of SPFE’s slate of cel animation and CGI television, Internet and family feature-film projects. Properties he supervised at SPFE included “Jackie Chan Adventures,” “Men in Black: The Series” and “Dragon Tales.” Mr. Higgins also served as VP of creative affairs at Columbia TriStar Television Children’s Programming, where he managed more than 350 half-hours of syndicated and network animated and live-action programming, and director of development at Nelvana Communications, where he supervised the development and sale of the company’s various children’s television series.
Turner Broadcasting System’s Cartoon Network is available in 82.5 million U.S. homes and 145 countries around the world.