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DreamWorks Moves Forward with Big TV Animation Plans

DreamWorks Animation announced yesterday the hire of veteran Nickelodeon exec Marjorie Cohn to serve as head of television at DreamWorks Animation. Cohn left Nick last April after 26 years with the network. She joins two other former Nick TV execs at DreamWorks: the well-liked Mark Taylor, who ran Nickelodeon Animation Studio and is currently head of TV production at DreamWorks, and Peter Gal, who is heading up development.

Sources tell Cartoon Brew that DreamWorks is ramping up in a big way. They are setting up a new studio in Glendale where they plan numerous new series based on their original films as well as shows based on classic properties they acquired in the Classic Media buyout (now known as DreamWorks Classics). Among the classic properties owned by DreamWorks are Casper the Friendly Ghost, Where’s Waldo, Lassie, The Lone Ranger, Postman Pat, George of the Jungle, Rocky & Bullwinkle, and (personal fave) Roger Ramjet.

DreamWorks is aggressively recruiting showrunners and artistic talent from other studios. If they move forward with their current plan, which is to produce a massive 1,200 new episodes of content over five years, they will need to hire hundreds of crew, and they will almost instantly become one of LA’s largest corporate-run TV studios, on a par with Cartoon Network, Disney and Nick.

DreamWorks attempted to launch TV studios in both the 1990s (Invasion America, Toonsylvania) and 2000s (Father of the Pride), but neither attempt took off. This new TV initiative is different in scope and ambition. Whereas in the past, DreamWorks made deals for individual series with different networks, now the studio has signed broad-ranging content deals with both Netflix and German kids’ broadcaster Super RTL, thus allowing them to expand rapidly.

Jeffrey Katzenberg’s grand plan isn’t known yet, but between its DreamWorks Classics library and the new shows they are producing, the studio would appear to have enough content to eventually launch its own TV network. Whatever they do, there are exciting times ahead as DreamWorks will be shaking up the Los Angeles TV animation industry over the next few years.