DreamWorks Animation taps ex-Nickelodeon exec to head TV group

Marjorie Cohn, a former Nickelodeon executive, has been hired to head DreamWorks Animation's new TV unit.
(Lucas Jackson )

DreamWorks Animation has tapped former Nickelodeon executive Marjorie Cohn as its first head of television, overseeing the production and development of the studio’s new TV group.

During her 26-year tenure at Viacom’s Nickelodeon, Cohn was involved in the creation and production of some of the industry’s most successful children’s programs, including “SpongeBob SquarePants,” “Rugrats,” “iCarly” and the Kids’ Choice Awards.

In her new job at DreamWorks Animation, Cohn will head up a new TV team at the Glendale-based studio that will develop and produce 1,200 hours of original episodes over the next five years. This production slate will feature TV series that are based on DreamWorks’ current franchises, future films and the most popular heritage properties from Classic Media, which DreamWorks acquired last year.

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The hiring comes as DreamWorks Animation looks to lessen its dependence on animated movies by branching into the competitive world of children’s television. The studio earlier this year announced distribution deals to produce animated TV shows for the online streaming service Netflix and Germany’s Super RTL.

“We’re going to be making a ton of television,” Cohn said, adding that she anticipates producing about three shows a year. “There’s a deep library of DreamWorks IP ... they have so much content lying around just waiting to be exploited.”

The studio is already producing a TV series for Netflix, a spinoff from its recent release called “Turbo F.A.S.T.,” and “Dragons: Rider of Berk” for the Cartoon Network. Nickelodeon has produced several TV shows for DreamWorks, including “Kung Fu Panda: Legends of Awesomeness,” which is nominated for an Emmy.

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“Having Margie join us to head our television efforts is an incredible coup for DreamWorks Animation. She is uniquely suited with the experience, skill and creativity to immediately dive in and oversee our aggressive expansion into this space,” DreamWorks Animation Chief Operating Officer Ann Daly said in a statement. “Margie has tremendous instincts when it comes to kids programming, and we can’t wait to unleash her creative force on DreamWorks’ vast IP to bring exciting new content to families across the world.”

DreamWorks will hire several hundred people, mostly in Southern California, to work in the new television group, Daly added in an interview. “There is going to be a significant amount of hiring as we scale up,” she said.

Joining Cohn as head of television production is TV veteran Mark Taylor, who was most recently at the helm of Nickelodeon Animation Studio, which he built and grew throughout his tenure. While at Nick, Taylor served as senior vice president and general manager and was responsible for all of the network’s in-house animation productions.

Peter Gal, the DreamWorks Animation executive who is overseeing development on DreamWorks’ “Dragons: Riders of Berk” and “Turbo F.A.S.T.,” rounds out the new leadership group as head of television development. Prior to three years as vice president of production at 20th Century Fox, Gal spent five years at Nickelodeon, developing animated programming including the DreamWorks Animation-inspired “Penguins of Madagascar,” which has won multiple Emmy Awards.



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