SOURCE: LAIKA, Inc.

September 12, 2007 06:00 ET

LAIKA, Inc. Announces Two Executive Appointments

Former Lucasfilm & Hanna-Barbera Executive Alan Keith Joins Studio as Vice-President, Business Operations/CFO; Travis Knight Appointed Vice-President, Animation

PORTLAND, OR--(Marketwire - September 12, 2007) - Portland-based animation studio LAIKA, Inc. has made two new appointments to its management team, President & CEO Dale Wahl announced today. Former Lucasfilm and Hanna-Barbera executive, Alan Keith, has joined the studio as Vice-President, Business Operations and Chief Financial Officer and Travis Knight has been promoted to Vice-President, Animation.

Mr. Keith, who has over 20 years of finance experience in both corporate and movie studio settings, will be responsible for leading the expansion of LAIKA's business operations as LAIKA continues to grow its pipeline of animated feature films, television commercials, music videos, broadcast graphics and short films.

"Alan's diverse set of business and financial skills is critical to LAIKA at this time in our company's growth," said Wahl. "He has excellent experience balancing creative and business perspectives and he will make a significant contribution to LAIKA's advancement in the animation and commercial production businesses," Wahl said.

Mr. Keith comes to LAIKA after two years as Corporate Finance Director at Genentech, Inc., a biotech and life sciences companies. Prior to that, Keith held senior management roles in the entertainment industry for over 18 years, most recently with Lucasfilm, as the corporate Vice President of Administration & Secretary for the company. In addition to his corporate responsibilities for Lucasfilm, Keith oversaw finance and business operations for Industrial Light & Magic and Skywalker Sound, as well as administration for Lucasfilm Animation, the company's newest division established in Singapore. Keith joined Lucasfilm after four years as Vice President, Business Operations and Controller at Hanna-Barbera, Inc. Before that, he was Chief Accounting Officer and Controller at Hanna-Barbera Entertainment Company, Inc., where he oversaw the financial activities between joint venture partners Turner Broadcasting Systems, Inc. and the Apollo Investment Group. The alliance funded the buyout of the Hanna-Barbera cartoon library from Great American Entertainment Company. Prior to that, Keith held respected tenures at Turner Entertainment Company and with Price Waterhouse.

In his role as Vice-President of Animation, Mr. Knight will continue many of the responsibilities he has discharged as Head of Animation for the past two years. He continues as one of the Lead Animators on LAIKA Entertainment's "Coraline," the first stop-motion animated film to be originally produced in 3D, to be released by Focus Features in 2008. This promotion formally recognizes his extensive influence across the entire LAIKA slate of films. He is a key member of the team responsible for property acquisitions, development, and green-lighting and he also provides creative direction regarding the look and feel of LAIKA's portfolio of releases. With this promotion, his involvement in the business operations of the company will also deepen.

"Over the past two years Travis has played an increasingly active role in the studio's creative direction in his role as head of LAIKA's animation department," says Wahl. "His appointment as VP is a logical move for the studio and allows us to continue to benefit from his considerable creative talent and valued leadership skills."

Knight joined Vinton Studios (which was later re-named LAIKA, Inc.) in 1998. He started animating full time on "The PJs," prime time television's first ever stop-motion animated series, which Vinton produced with Imagine Entertainment and Eddie Murphy Productions. The series won three Emmys in its run on Fox-TV. He also worked on the Vinton-produced animated series "Gary & Mike" for UPN. He served as Supervising Animator on the award-winning CG short "Moongirl" (2004), directed by Henry Selick. He has animated numerous commercials produced by LAIKA/house, for clients including Gateway, McDonald's, Nestle and Fox, amongst others.

In 2002, Travis took a seat on LAIKA's Board of Directors and since then has been increasingly involved with the business operations and creative direction of the company as it builds its production slate in both CG and stop-motion feature films and expands its commercial production activities.

About LAIKA:

LAIKA, Inc. is an entertainment and media company specializing in animated feature films, television commercials, music videos, broadcast graphics and short films. It is a dynamic community of filmmakers, designers and animators fueled by the vision of its owner and Chairman, NIKE co-founder and Chairman Philip H. Knight. The company, formerly known as Vinton Studios, was re-branded as LAIKA in 2005.

LAIKA Entertainment's first animated feature film, "Coraline," based on the international bestselling children's novel by Neil Gaiman, is being adapted for the screen and directed by LAIKA Entertainment's supervising director Henry Selick ("The Nightmare Before Christmas," "James and the Giant Peach") with Dakota Fanning and Teri Hatcher leading the voice cast. It will be released by Focus Features ("Brokeback Mountain," "Pride & Prejudice," and "Lost in Translation"). Also on its feature film development slate are "Jack & Ben," an original story of brotherly love set in the animal kingdom in CG, and "Here Be Monsters," based on the bestselling children's novel by writer/illustrator Alan Snow.

LAIKA's many awards include 11 CLIO Awards, three London International Advertising & Design Awards, five Mobius Advertising Awards, two Cannes Lion International Advertising Festival awards, two Academy Awards® out of five nominations, 11 Prime time Emmy Awards, and honors from the New York International Film & TV Festival, Annecy Awards, Annie Awards, and the World Animation Celebration Festival. Recently, LAIKA/house, the commercial division of the company, was honored with an Annecy nomination, three Annie nominations, two Telly awards, SICAF 2006 Special Distinction, AdWeek's Best Spots for 2005 and named Animation Magazine's No. 1 AniCom Pick for two years in a row.

Contact Information

  • Media Contact:
    Maggie Begley Communications
    Phone: 310.301.1785
    cell: 310.749.3055
    Email Contact
    For more information, visit www.laika.com

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