[08/15/06 - 12:00 AM]
BET Inks Animation Pact with Film Roman Studios

[via press release from BET]

BET Inks Animation Pact With Film Roman Studios

Animation Division Announces Major Partnerships with Creators of 'The Simpsons' and Milestone Media's Dwayne McDuffie to Develop Originals for Multi-Platform Distribution

LOS ANGELES, Aug. 15 -- BET's newly-established animation division announces two new major deals in the world of animation. BET has partnered with Film Roman, the award-winning animation studio behind primetime hits "The Simpsons" and "King of the Hill," to produce a slate of animated films and multi-platform series. In addition, BET is re-uniting Denys Cowan, BET Senior Vice President of Animation and his former creative partner, Milestone Media co-founder Dwayne McDuffie -- the creative minds behind Static Shock, the WB's top-rated Saturday morning cartoon and top-selling comic series -- to create a new action adventure series. The announcements were made today by Reginald Hudlin, BET President of Entertainment and Cowan.

Through its pact with Film Roman, an IDT Entertainment Company, BET plans to produce a slate of animated films, series and multi-platform content for Internet, broadband and mobile applications. In addition, the companies plan to jointly develop and produce direct-to-DVD and theatrical releases. The terms of the three-year, non-exclusive deal also include international distribution outside of the BET Network.

This is BET animation's second major announcement, coming on the heels of the recent Hannibal the Conqueror series development deal with film star Vin Diesel and One Race Productions. In expanding the BET brand to animation, Hudlin is building upon a first-year success which has already generated some of the network's best ratings and critical acclaim in BET's 26-year history. He believes these new relationships in the world of animation will further fuel his growth strategy, and says viewers will begin to see animation on the channel this year by fourth quarter.

"If Black America is a cultural superpower, then there's no better medium to express the full range of our collective imagination than animation," said Hudlin. "There will be shorts that will air throughout our programming schedule as well as online content. Hopefully, by fall of next year, we'll begin to launch our animated series."

Sidney Clifton, Executive Vice President of Creative, Programming & Production for Film Roman, echoed Hudlin's enthusiasm about the partnership. "We are very excited at the opportunity to use animation to provide our audience with strong storytelling illustrating the full breadth, depth, and texture of the Black creative consciousness," stated Clifton.

In addition to the Film Roman partnership, BET has inked an agreement to develop a new original adult action/adventure animated series with Dwayne McDuffie, co-creator (with BET's Denys Cowan) of the Emmy Award and Humanitas Prize winning cartoon, Static Shock. Cowan and McDuffie were co-founders of Milestone Media, Inc., the most successful Black-owned comic book company in history. McDuffie is also a producer and story editor on Cartoon Network's Justice League, Editor-In-Chief of Milestone Media's award-winning line of comic books, and has worked as an editor for Marvel Comics and Harvey Entertainment. As head of BET Animation, Cowan will oversee the development of all new projects and work closely with McDuffie.

"Cowan and McDuffie are the Lennon & McCartney of the Black comic book industry," says Hudlin. "They've produced several of the top animated series on television. We're thrilled to have this 'dynamic duo' come together again to develop a new franchise for BET."

As a writer, Dwayne has created or co-created more than a dozen series, including Damage Control, Deathlok II, Icon, Xombi, The Road To Hell and Hardware. He has written stories for dozens of other comics, including Spider- Man, Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight, The Tick, Captain Marvel, Avengers Spotlight, Back To The Future, Hellraiser, Ultraman, (The Artist Formerly Known As) Prince and X-O Manowar.

"Black culture is youth culture. Where Black people go--pop culture follows," stated Cowan. "At BET Animation, with our creative partnerships and working with established superstars as well as young, hip creators, we hope to be the leaders of the next revolution in animation."


BET Networks, a subsidiary of Viacom, Inc. (NYSE: VIA and VIA.B), is the nation's leading provider of quality entertainment, music, news and public affairs television programming for the African-American audience. The primary BET channel reaches more than 80 million households according to Nielsen media research, and can be seen in the United States, Canada and the Caribbean. BET is the dominant African-American consumer brand with a diverse group of businesses extensions: BET.com, the Number 1 Internet portal for African Americans; BET Digital Networks -- BET J, BET Gospel and BET Hip Hop, attractive alternatives for cutting-edge entertainment tastes; BET Event Productions, a full-scale event management and production company; BET Home Entertainment, a collection of BET-branded offerings for the home environment including DVDs and video-on-demand; and BET Mobile, a service venture into the lucrative world of ring tones, games and video content for wireless devices.

About IDT

IDT Corporation (NYSE: IDT; IDT.C) through its IDT Telecom subsidiary, is a facilities-based, multinational carrier that provides a broad range of telecommunications services to retail and wholesale customers worldwide. IDT Telecom, by means of its own international telecommunications backbone and fiber optic network infrastructure, provides its customers with integrated and competitively priced international and domestic long distance and domestic all-distance telephony and prepaid calling cards. IDT Capital is the IDT division principally responsible for the Company's initiatives in brochure distribution, retail energy and new technologies. Net2Phone, Inc., a subsidiary of IDT Corporation, is a provider of high-quality global retail Voice over IP services and offers a fully outsourced cable telephony service to cable operators allowing cable operators to provide residential phone service to their subscribers.

Film Roman is the award winning independent animation company known for the primetime television series "The Simpsons" and "King of The Hill," as well as the popular Saturday morning series "X-Men: Evolution" and Sci-Fi Channel's 3D series "Tripping the Rift." In addition to television, Film Roman's animation division produces feature films, direct-to-DVDs, commercials, and music videos. Through its visual effects division, the studio also produces for television series such as "Law & Order" and "Monk"; feature films such as "I, Robot" and "Daredevil"; and commercials for Pepsi and Ricoh. Since its founding in 1984, the Company has won 19 Emmy awards, 13 Annies, 1 Grammy, and 1 MTV Video Music Award and delivered several successful animated series to broadcasters worldwide. Film Roman is an IDT Entertainment company.

On May 16th, Liberty Media Corporation and IDT Corporation announced that they have entered into a binding term sheet for the sale of IDT Entertainment to Liberty Media.

IDT Entertainment is a vertically integrated entertainment company that develops, produces, and distributes proprietary and licensed entertainment content. IDT Entertainment is a division of IDT Corporation, an international telecom, entertainment and technology company.


  [august 2006]  


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