"You can take this job and shov...."

From: Andy Hill <chance_at_unix.infoserve.net>
Date: Fri, 28 Apr 1995 19:25:07 -0700 (PDT)

     Heh. Somethings just make your day! Before I get into the story,
some folks have asked questions that I may as well answer just the once
to the group. Ted Turner owns Turner Program Services, which in turn
owns outright: CNN, TBS(and many affiliates), The Cartoon Network, the
MGM film library, a bunch of cable stations, and Hanna-Barbera.
Hanna-Barbera used to be an independent entity run by William Hanna and
Joseph Barbera until they retired, and the organization was purchased by
Ted. Since then, nothing occurs at H-B without the approval of something
like eleven different levels of the Turner chain of command, all the way
up to Ted himself, despite the fact that either Joe or Bill still work there.
Cancellation of "SwatKats" is NOT THE FAULT OF HANNA-BARBERA - it's the
marketing suits at Turner who are to blame.

     For those of us that already knew this, I'm sure we've wanted to say
a few choice words to Turner's blue-suits. Someone did. Some of us know
that after production was ordered halted, a number of the production
people who believed in the show kept badgering Turner Group to grow some
brains cells before it was evidently made clear that they either shut up
or get out. After the order to stop in the middle of ep 11 of the second
season, a meeting was held behind closed doors, at which were present
Davis Doi, Victoria McCollum, Fred Seibert, Lance Falk, Glenn Leopold,
and a number of blue-suites from TPS. The purpose of the meeting was to
announce immediate layoffs because "they weren't making enough money".
The production people looked at each other, and Lance Falk, knowing he
was history, stood up and said:

        "Why don't you fire the marketing people? We DID our jobs..."

and pointed to the TPS reps across the table from him.

     You see, when a show like SwatKats is put on the air, the industry
standard is that you have the marketing/licensing/toy deals in place
before the first episode is shown. Nobody will buy the property if those
aren't in place. Turner Group "is still learning the business" and felt
they knew better than everyone else, so the marketing suits simply
ignored the ratings, and pursued the marketing end of things just enough
to fulfill the contracts in place. The toys were scheduled to come out
in Fall 94, but the manufacturer, Remco, wasn't "getting any support from
Turner", and decided that bringing out the toys in December of that year
and pitting them against the MMPR powerhouse wasn't going to be a great
idea if Turner wasn't prepared to do the advertising. He wasn't. Falk's
statement reflects the fact that H-B made an incredible product, got the
top slot in the ratings - so what more could they have done? Many people
don't know that all the money to be made from a show like SwatKats comes
from the toys, games, t-shirts etc that people buy, not the simple fact
that you watch it, and the ads that come with it. This is the most basic
rule of marketing a show, but Turner didn't know it, and fired much of
the creative team instead of the marketing idiots who were not only
incompetent, but essentially sabotaged the show.

(Sorry if the above is really basic for you cartoon-literate folks, I wasn't
 sure of the makeup of the audience.)

     The upcoming Animato! article has finally got the green light from
Hanna-Barbera, once they realized it was strictly about the show and
didn't take a bite out of Turner's hide. I have a letter going out to
the producer of SwatKats, Davis Doi, who did much to save the show at the
peril of his own position, explaining that most of us realize it wasn't
the fault of the creative team - and that the blame rests squarely with
his bosses. Last thing, someone asked about H-B's "Nexus" project.
Today's word is that it won't be pursued because someone suddenly
realized "just how violent the property was". Sound familiar?


     "His biography said he bumped his butt 'cuz he ate too much sugar...
        ....it's SAD (really)..." - Slappy Squirrel, "Bumbie's Mom" ANIMX
     "We have a mission Ann, down these mean skies, a 'KAT must fly...
                 ...we wanna be the good guys..."

      (Thanks Lance. Some of us got the reference - eventually!)

Received on Fri Apr 28 1995 - 22:19:41 PDT

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