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“Washington Post” names Nick Weidenfeld The “Next Jeffrey Katzenberg”

Identifying the next Jeffrey Katzenberg or George Lucas isn’t something easily done, but a columnist at the Washington Post has figured out who it is: Nick Weidenfeld.

Weidenfeld, the former Adult Swim development executive whose recent move to Fox has the industry buzzing with anticipation, was the recipient of a glowing profile in last Sunday’s Post, in which his grand plans for the animation industry were revealed.

Post columnist Thomas Heath details Weidenfeld’s career path, starting with his humble beginnings in Washington D.C. where he was raised by an estate lawyer and Betty Ford’s former press secretary—the latter being the daughter of a presidential confidant and ambassador to Italy. Educated at Georgetown Day School and then Columbia University, the Post recounts Weidenfeld’s upbringing where he bounced from an internship at the Pentagon to writing about hip hop and rap, and then clawed his way to a writing gig at Esquire. It was at the last job, while researching a piece about Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim, that he ‘bonded’ with CN exec Mike Lazzo over a mutual love of William Faulkner, which was the obvious qualification for a career in animation.

“You wake up one day and you are head of development at the number one ad-supported network on cable TV,” Weidenfeld told the Washington Post. “The nice thing about my story is about the connections I made, but not family connections. I broke into this business myself through friends.”

Weidenfeld attributes his inspirational trajectory from scion to media mogul to his ability to “be open.” When pressed for an explanation, he clarifies, “It’s just being open… to be open to know what you are good at, and know what value you bring to something, you find a way to fit it into whatever job it is. I’m good at making connections or putting an organization or putting pieces together. I’m a good global thinker.”

This unequivocal business acumen was refined by reading the biography of Steve Jobs, the history of Pixar, and Clayton M. Christensen’s The Innovator’s Dilemma: When New Technologies Cause Great Firms to Fail. “These guys had these ideas and figured out that the old systems don’t work anymore,” Weidenfeld said. “The first thing I said to Fox is I don’t want to just make shows. I want to build a business for you that takes advantage of the best parts of animation.”

Using only the choicest parts of animation, Weidenfeld is ready to reinvent how cartoons are made. He is putting all phases of production for Fox’s upcoming animation block, ADHD (Animation Domination High-Def), from development to animation, under a single roof at his new 120-person Los Angeles studio, generously provided by Fox. From there he intends to usurp the young male demographic from YouTube and Saturday Night Live by producing loads of animated content and writing off the costs. He told the Post that when he presented this foolproof business plan to Fox, they said, “Okay, here you go.”

“It sounds like a parallel universe to me,” writes Heath, “but he’s the one who is becoming the next Jeffrey Katzenberg or George Lucas, not me.”

  • Just Sayin

    Katzenberg wasn’t known for a Horatio Alger-esque comeuppance either… so why are you trying to nullify the comparison by saying that Weidenfeld didn’t struggle? I think ADHD’s shit looks dope!!!!!!!

    • Jason Cezar Duncan

      Katzenberg was born privileged and has some shady political ties, yes, but from what I can gather, he’s generally acting in the interest of his company and for the most part, churns not only profitable results, but results that have boasted Dreamworks into being a major player along with Pixar and Bluesky. This guy is just mimicking what the internet has been doing on it’s own for 12 years, and doesn’t even seem to be turning out extraordinary results. In other words, even though they may have had a step up most people wouldn’t get, Lucas and Katzenberg took their positions seriously and were critical to their companies and their status. This guy is a dime a dozen and doesn’t seem worth his budgets.

  • Lilf

    Nick is such a hack. It’s amazing how he says he didn’t use his family to further his career when it was his Daddy buying the magazine company that gave him the job that had him head to adult swim to interview Lazzo. I hope this block crashes and burns just like the magazine he was handed by Daddy crashed and burned when he was running it.

  • Chris Webb

    “ADHD” looks like Adult Swim. I always thought part of what made Adult Swim good was the fact that the shows were so cheap – it gave Space Ghost and Aqua Teen Hunger Force a kind of underdog feel. That gives the shows an appealing, subversive, underground quality. The shows had no money to work with, but they had soul.

    ADHD won’t have that feel. I guess a good comparison is what MAD TV was to Saturday Night Live – MAD TV ran for years and had its moments, but it was a never quite as good imitation.

    But this is TV, and TV is all about copying whatever seems to work. I don’t mind a copy, but I think the goal is to copy something and improve upon it.

  • Karl

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  • Roberto Severino

    This guy sounds like another nepotistic trust fund baby who doesn’t give a damn about animation.

  • John Charles

    Talk about failing up! He spearheaded so many flops during his time at AS/CN before going to Fox; The Drinky Crow Show, Mongo Wrestling Alliance, Robotomy, Secret Mountain Fort Awesome, The Problem Solverz… Keep giving that guy money, obviously he knows what’s up!

  • Sardonic Tuba

    The guy doesn’t hold a candle to JK. Too much hair and not enough teeth.

  • Sergio

    Weidenfeld has done everything already. All he lacks is the obligatory golden parachute to cap his career.

    • Diogenes

      Screw the parachute, just push him out the door.

  • Roberto Severino

    I agree with all of you guys. I’m not so strict on how the cartoons should look specifically, but story structure and characters are two of the most important things for me in any great cartoon. I think a lot of people have had enough of the kind of humor that you’ve described above. Gross and purely bizarre humor too..

    There are so many different approaches, styles and flavors to comedy and a rich history behind it too. There’s a lot of great comedy being made today that could serve as an inspiration. Cartoonists like Don Martin and Harvey Kurtzman were quite adept at comedy while taking full advantage of the possibilities that make cartooning distinct and different from live action while being able to make a unique statement about the world around them. I would include Robert Crumb in this category as well.

    Why do many cartoons generally have to limit themselves so much in this aspect Sophomoric humor is okay once in a while and it appeals to a certain audience, but variety can be quite helpful too. It doesn’t even have to be comedy either! Great characters and great storytelling can work with a lot of other stuff, IMHO.

  • Van

    I wonder how much Weidenfeld paid the post to write that article. Oh wait, they could be cronies.

  • Joel

    YES. Not one of those sample cartoons made me even crack a smile.

  • Diogenes

    Stop breaking the meds in half. Bakshi makes animation. This guy buys stuff.

    • Krypton Keeper

      No, Bakshi rotoscopes his creations, Robert Zemeckis of the 1970s.

      • Funkybat

        In that case, I suppose Bluth was the Zemeckis of the 80s and 90s….

  • peteykins

    A great cartoon can feature poor animation mitigated by great writing (Jay Ward’s entire career), or vice-versa (too many examples to mention), but these? These are just terrible.

  • bb

    a lot of dumb, bitter hating going on here. i cannot wait until adhd airs and you guys feel – oh wait, you will still just be here being bitter haters while the world falls in love with nick weidenfeld produced adhd shows like axe cop and high school usa. you say you love animation and you won’t give something new a chance because of your preconceived notions about a guy? i feel sad for you.

  • Janie Lane

    Haha, this is the most embarrassing piece ever. He should be properly ashamed. To everyone who has been working in animation for the past 20 years, please do yourself and don’t read the Washington Post piece without a trashcan to vomit in nearby.