This week’s New Yorker offers a towering 11,000-plus word profile of self-described “cartoon schlepper” Haim Saban, who made his money composing the music to dozens of Eighties animated TV series before becoming a producer of children’s TV series. Animation buffs will run across many familiar names in this unflattering portrait of billionaire Saban including DiC’s Andy Heyward and Michael Eisner.
The most disturbing passages in the New Yorker piece describe how Saban enlisted former president Bill Clinton’s help to complete his sale of Fox Family Channel to the Walt Disney Company which netted him one-and-a-half billion dollars, and the lengths he went to to avoid paying taxes on the money he earned from the deal (naturally he blames his accountant). Understandably, there’s controversy surrounding the criminal aspects of this story, and Sharon Waxman at The Wrap has a detailed blog post about how Saban and his lawyers have been dealing with the New Yorker. The business of children’s TV entertainment can be dirty and corrupt as this piece makes quite clear, but what is most disheartening, to me at least, is that so many animation artists have to rely on individuals of questionable character like Saban for their financial livelihoods.