The Licensing Blog

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Peanuts! Get Your Peanuts Here!

Potentially big news from several news outlets, which are reporting that E.W. Scripps is considering selling off United Media Licensing, home to the Peanuts and Dilbert brands.

E.W. Scripps President and CEO Rich Boehne attempted to downplay the news while acknowledging that such announcements are often just first steps to sales. “We recognize that ‘exploring strategic options’ often is a euphemism for ‘sale,’ but this truly is an exercise to determine if these properties would be more valuable with another owner,” he said in a statement.

News of the possible sale, combined with strong fourth quarter results company-wide, sent Scripps stock up four percent this afternoon according to the Business Courier of Cincinnati, Scripps’ hometown. The traditionally-strong licensing business saw a 10 percent revenue decline in 2009 and a 15 percent decline in Q4, the Courier said.

If no sale was reached, Boehne pledged to “continue to nurture the characters as we have for decades.”

United Media’s global brand portfolio includes of Peanuts, Dilbert, and Raggedy Ann and Andy. It represents brands including Deadliest Catch, Dirty Dancing, and Fancy Nancy in the U.S. and Canada.

E.W. Scripps Mulls Selling ‘Peanuts,’ ‘Dilbert’ Character Licensing Business [E&P]
Scripps stock jumps on 4Q results, possible licensing unit sale [Business Courier of Cincinnati]
Brands [United Media Licensing]

Wal-Mart, DreamWorks Animation and Spin Master Join Forces

DreamWorks Animation SKG, Inc. and Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. have announced the first of many elements to come from Wal-Mart’s involvement with the studio on its upcoming feature film, How to Train Your Dragon, which enters theaters on March 26.

The first major announcement is the launch of a new licensed toy line for the film. The toy line, created by Spin Master, will be available at Wal-Mart stores everywhere on March 1, and will feature a collection of action figures and dragons, Viking play sets, and role play toys based on the new animated film.

Set in the mythical world of burly Vikings and wild dragons, and based on the book by Cressida Cowell, How to Train Your Dragon tells the story of Hiccup, a Viking teenager who doesn’t exactly fit in with his tribe’s long-standing tradition of heroic dragon slayers. Hiccup’s world is turned upside down when he encounters a dragon that challenges him and his fellow Vikings to see the world from an entirely different point of view.

From the Front Lines of Music Licensing

From time to time here, we’re going to link to articles or blogs that get a little outside of the scope of what we usually cover. Yesterday we found a blog post at Sorted Noise that discussed the travails of Do-It-Yourself music licensing, and found it an interesting and worthwhile read. Click over here to read it, and let us know about your own experiences in the music licensing business in the comments.

A Living, Breathing Study of a DIY Music Artist [Sorted Noise]

Stephen King Teams with Marvel for Short Story Adaptation

When we think of super heroes, we think of Marvel.

As it turns out, one of our personal super heroes here at TLB, Stephen King, has teamed up with Marvel to create a comic book adaptation of one of his newest short stories, “N.,” originally printed in King’s most recent short story collection, Just After Sunset.

The Marvel version is a four-issue limited series starting in March, adapted by writer Marc Guggenheim with art by Alex Maleev,

Guggenheim and Maleev already adapted “N.” as a motion comic that was released by Marvel in 2008, but they had to re-vamp the story for comic books, expanding the 25 short video episodes into four printed comics, taking the spoken dialogue and making it work in word balloons, and redoing the artwork to tell the story in a sequential format.

The new version will add to the story, with a different beginning and ending, plus new characters.

“N.” tells the story of a psychiatrist who falls victim to the same mysterious obsession as one of his patients—a man simply labeled as “N.” The obsession stems from a visit to a circle of rocks placed in “Ackerman’s Field” on the outskirts of town, and it starts to affect more than just one person.

Here’s to hoping that the new comic book is as catching as the mysterious ailment in the story itself.

And “Here’s to you, Constant Reader,” as King would say.

Jeremy Padawer Takes on New Role at JAKKS Pacific

JAKKS Pacific executive Jeremy Padawer  is taking on a new role as executive vice president of marketing for JAKKS brands. Padawer was formerly senior vice president of Marketing for Boys Entertainment brands. In his new role, Padawer is  responsible for product development, marketing, new business, intellectual property, and entertainment content development for JAKKS, including girls, dolls, activities, preschool, vehicles, seasonal, construction, boys entertainment, electronics, and pets. Padawer’s new role is not inclusive of JAKKS’ divisions, Creative Designs International (CDI), Tollytots, KidsOnly!, and Disguise. Padawer joined JAKKS in 2003 and has successfully grown the entertainment brand marketing division worldwide. Padawer was responsible for the business management and product development of all action figure and collectible brands, including Ultimate Fighting Championship, Pokémon, Club Penguin, and new initiatives with Lucas, Marvel, and Warner Bros.

More on the Lexani Deal

We reported on out Twitter page that Lexani has signed on with Stone America Licensing for U.S. representation.

Lexani wheels look pretty cool, so we figure we should probably show you a picture as well. Try not to get mesmerized. Or get mesmerized now, so you don’t do it on the road. (That would be bad.)

Stone America Licensing is pushing Lexani as a lifestyle brand “with licensed product will be high quality, trend-setting, but with value for all to afford,” according to the release. We’ll keep you updated on their progress just as soon as we pry our eyes from that chrome.

IDW Teams with Fox L&M for A-Team Comic Book

In anticipation of the summer movie event The A-Team, IDW Publishing, in partnership with Twentieth Century Fox Licensing & Merchandising (Fox Licensing), will launch two A-Team comic book series starting in March, entitled A-Team: Shotgun Wedding and A-Team: War Stories. The original stories will give fans an in-depth look at the upcoming action-adventure from Twentieth Century Fox – The A-Team – which will hit theaters June 11
“Like many, I was a huge fan of the original A-Team television series in the 80’s,” says A-Team comic editor and co-writer Tom Waltz. “I’m happy to report, after reading the new movie script, the updated A-Team movie has all the wit, swagger, and kick-ass action of the original series, but tells a story much bigger than was possible on the show. For our comics, we’ve worked directly with the filmmakers to build a solidly action-packed foundation for a new generation of A-Team fans.”

Shout! Factory Secures Home Entertainment Rights to Marvel Animation’s The Super Hero Squad Show

The only thing cooler than watching a movie or cartoon with your favorite super hero is watching a cartoon with ALL of your favorite super heroes.

Shout! Factory and Marvel Animation, Inc. have announced a new alliance to bring Marvel’s animated series The Super Hero Squad Show to the home entertainment marketplace. Under the multi-year deal, Shout! Factory will be the exclusive U.S. home entertainment distributor with licensing rights to the series, currently airing on Cartoon Network.

Shout! Factory is planning a strategic rollout of The Super Hero Squad Show home entertainment product line later this year.

When the greatest heroes on the planet unite to face the world’s greatest villains, you get the biggest, most family-friendly Super Hero team-up in TV history… The Super Hero Squad Show.

Social Interview App Comes to iPhone and iPod Touch

TLB has just gotten wind that the simple but addicting Facebook app, Social Interview, is coming to the iPhone and iPod Touch. How did we get wind of this? By checking our Facebook while at work, of course! The announcement says the app is available now, and offers this link with game instructions and screenshots.

Additionally, the post we got on our facebook wall says, “We’re working on a version for the game for Android, and possibly an iPhone version of Social Interview for facebook which will be free! Keep answering questions, we love you!”

We love you too, Social Interview.

WWE NXT Debuts on SyFy

World Wrestling Entertainment and Syfy have announced the next generation of reality television with the debut of WWE NXT, Tuesday, February 23 at 10:00 PM ET/PT on Syfy.

WWE NXT is a hybrid live event/reality show featuring eight well-known, popular WWE Superstars (“Pros”) mentoring eight WWE “Rookies.”  These Rookies, who are learning the ropes, are athletes who epitomize pop culture and personify strong attributes—they are opinionated and aggressive—which means inherent conflict between Rookies and other Rookies, conflict between Rookies and Pros, and conflict between Pros and Pros. The trials and tribulations of the WWE NXT cast ensure action-packed, innovative entertainment, WWE Style.

From the press release:  “Syfy is excited to continue our partnership with WWE, Vince and his team with this innovative live event/reality show,” said Syfy President Dave Howe. “This is a unique combination of heart-stopping entertainment and gritty behind-the-scenes reality. The NXT Rookies take the challenge of our new tagline ‘Imagine Greater’ to heart as they embark on their ultimate dream quest to be the next generation of revered heroes and champions in the fantastic arena of the WWE.”

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