Founded by animation legend Phil Roman, and best known as the long-running animation service company for The Simpsons and King of the Hill, Burbank-based Film Roman has been acquired by Waterman Entertainment, the production company owned by the exec producer of the Alvin and the Chipmunks feature franchise, Steve Waterman.

Waterman Entertainment is Film Roman’s newest but perhaps not last destination, as the animation studio has switched owners quite a few times over the years, including IDT Entertainment, Liberty Media, and, most recently, Starz. But this move is arguably more notable than those in that the prolific Phil Roman, who celebrates his 85th birthday next month, is returning to the company as its chairman emeritus. He founded the company in 1984 to produce Garfield in the Rough after directing two earlier Garfield specials at Bill Melendez Productions.

Roman has not held a title with the company that bears his name since 1999 when he resigned as its chairman. “We are delighted to welcome Phil back as our chairman emeritus and have his legend return to the studio he created,” said Film Roman’s general manager Dana Booton, who has been promoted to president of production. “Phil hired and mentored many of our leading artists in the industry today.”

“Film Roman is one of the defining names in animated content,” added Waterman, who also executive-produced the Stuart Little film franchise. “Their track record is unparalleled and their team’s passion for executing top-shelf animation is evident in every frame they’ve created.”

With Waterman’s acquisition, Film Roman now has the resources it needs to more fully acquire and develop projects and new intellectual properties, as it continues servicing existing clients and productions like The Simpsons and Ultimate Spider-Man, said Booton — whose new responsibilities include managing co-productions and development, in addition to overseeing the studio’s daily business.

Film Roman’s illustrious founder will act in an advisory capacity with Booton, Waterman, and their development team as they refine the studio’s “creative vision” and project lineup for film, TV, and digital media. That encompasses Waterman’s currently existing development slate, which includes reboots of Brave Little Toaster, Heathcliff, and Mr. Ed.

Under the deal, Film Roman will no longer function as a subsidiary of Starz, although it is widely expected to continue working with them. The acquisition has reportedly been known to Film Roman staffers for weeks — thanks in part to an October photo posted on Phil Roman’s Facebook account.

Waterman Entertainment’s purchase price was not disclosed. Whatever the price, according to Waterman, it was worth it. “Once it became clear how thoroughly our companies’ assets complemented each other, this deal was almost a foregone conclusion,” he said.

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