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Grad Thesis semi-Answers

I got the following e-mail from Gore the other day. I don't usually encourage going around the system this way. But the guy seemed to be under deadline pressure, so I cut him some slack and moved him to the head of the line. I'd ask that others not abuse the process. Thanks.

[Fwd: Graduate Student needs Greg's Help]
Thu, 14 Mar 2002 20:21:44 -0500

Just forwarding something that was sent to me.


-------- Original Message --------
Subject: Graduate Student needs Greg's Help
Date: Sun, 10 Mar 2002 14:21:57 -0500

Dear Mr. Weisman,

My name is John Diego Hernandez. I am a full time graduate student in public relations at Rowan Univeristy in Glassboro, New Jersey. My research topic for my thesis is "toys and cartoons" and how the two fields relate to one another when it comes to development of both toy lines and animated serials. As part of my thesis research I am required to survey individuals who pertain to my investigative studies. As creator of an animated television serial, your knowledgeable expertise would be an invaluable
wealth of information that would remain in my thesis throughout perpetuity.

The survey consists of 12 short questions posted below. It will only take 20 minutes of your time - no longer. If you can find some time from your busy schedule, I would be most indebted. You do not have to answer all the questions if you choose not to. If you wish to remain anonymous, I will not put your name or personal data in my thesis.

Thank you for your time,

John Diego Hernandez

1. Do toys affect what cartoons you make?

Yes. The profit margins on children's programming are so slim these days (largely because of misguided government regulation coupled -- ironically -- with the deregulation that has allowed entertainment companies to vertically integrate) that potential money from consumer products (including but not limited to toys) has become a greater factor than when I started in the business in 1989. Toy companies can help fund programming -- for better and for worse -- that might not otherwise get made. And even original properties benefit if there are multiple forces (e.g. a toy line) that maintain incentives to keep a show alive.

2. Do you choose what toys are made?


3. How significant is a hit animated show to sales of toys?

It can be very significant, in that an animated series can virtually act as a 30 minute daily commercial for the toy -- a commercial that establishes play patterns and allows the audience to invest in both characters and the property as a whole.

4. How many cartoons a year are related to toy lines?

I have no idea.

5. Must the toy manufacturer pay royalties to cartoon producers?

Depends on the origin of the property.

6. Does a successful cartoon guarantee a hit toy line?

No. Some shows are not considered 'toyetic'.

7. Does a successful toy line guarantee a hit cartoon?

Never. But it doesn't hurt.

8. When your company is in search of a new animated serial, where do they look first - current toy lines or creative innovators?

There's no one place. (And that either/or you just gave me is ridiculously simplistic. Implicitly biased even. There are plenty of creative innovators working at toy companies, for example. And there are more than just two places where you might look for inspiration or series springboards.)

9. Approximately how much do cartoon producers allocate to the funding of toy lines?

Doesn't work that way. Toys help fund cartoons (in simplistic terms) not the other way around.

10. Which usually comes first - the toy line or the cartoon?

Again, there's no one rule. In certain countries, like England, if a toy line exists already then you CAN'T air the property at all. But here in the U.S. it can go either way. Though often the cartoon will appear first to help promote the toy line.

11. May I attribute your responses? Yes / No


12. If yes, please list name and/or title and company name:

Greg Weisman
Freelance Writer/Producer