John Williams, CEO of Vanguard Films and Animation, announced today the company has signed a deal with screenwriter and author Ross Venokur (The Eighth Wonder; Game Over) for three animated comedy/family films.

“Our first collaboration was the live-action project Galaxy High School, in partnership with 1492 Films and DreamWorks,” Williams commented. “Ross was also a fantastic contributor to crucial drafts of Space Chimps, and he wrote a hilarious CGI/live-action hybrid script for us called The Gnome King.”

Venokur, who has written three novels for children, including The Autobiography of Meatball Finkelstein (Bantam), began his career in television with Carsey-Werner, then moved into screenwriting with features at New Line (All Boxed Up), Warner Brothers (Piddlesticks), Jim Henson Productions (The Grump) and Universal/Jersey Films (The Manny), among others. Venokur has sold pitches to nearly every major studio and has enjoyed considerable success doing studio re-writes, including an early draft of Night at the Museum. His feature The Inner Child is in development at Walden Media; TV credits include live-action The Tick and Kenan and Kel and he is also author of the highly-praised Kenny Scharf-illustrated Haiku! Gesundheit (Simon & Schuster).

“John and I have a great time working together,” Venokur stated. “We’ve always clicked creatively, and we have an extremely effective short hand that yields terrific results. Most importantly, we both believe that our current three films are strong, commercial ideas.”

Venokur has already delivered The Nut Job, his first script under the Vanguard deal. “Just as Kung Fu Panda is a parody of the Samurai/Ninja/Martial Arts movies, and Rango a parody of Westerns,” said Venokur, “The Nut Job is a tongue in cheek parody of heist films with critters.”

Though details of the remaining two scripts are being kept under wraps, the scripts are both underway and will be delivered shortly, as Vanguard is in advanced distribution talks for all projects. Additional negotiations for Venokur to produce and/or direct the films will be conducted on a project by project basis. Venokur is repped by ICM and Jonathan Hung of the Hung Entertainment Group.

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Chris Arrant

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