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Media and Technology—DIC Gets Help Marketing ‘Alienators’ Series in Japan

Burbank-based DIC Entertainment has formed a partnership with Japanese advertising agency Dentsu Inc. to co-produce the DIC animated television series, “Alienators: Evolution Continues,” in Asia. DIC CEO Andy Heyward said the partnership will allow his company to distribute its programs in Asia where DIC has had limited success so far. “Japan has been the most difficult territory of American animation producers to penetrate,” Heyward said. “With Dentsu behind us, we will not only be able to place our shows, we will also be able to negotiate far more lucrative deals.” The pact also allows Dentsu to seek distribution agreements for DIC’s animated “Madeline” series for television and home video in Japan. It also permits Dentsu to represent DIC as its licensing and merchandising agent in Japan. Dentsu has already invested $2 million in the “Alienators” project, which is seen in the U.S. on the Fox Broadcasting Co. network. Heyward said that the deal could result in a potential 25-percent revenue increase overall for DIC. However, the CEO of the privately owned company would not release specific revenue figures. Semtech Buys Stock Newbury Park-based Semtech Corp. has doubled the size of its current stock buyback program. The semiconductor maker now plans to purchase $100 million of its common stock and registered convertible subordinated notes through open market transactions. Semtech already has bought back about $24 million in stock and notes since its buyback program began in January. The company says it expects to meet its sales growth target of 3 to 5 percent for the quarter ending Oct. 28. With 5 percent sales growth, the company estimates its earnings would be about 9 cents per diluted share for the quarter. In the second quarter ending July 31, the company lost $5.1 million on revenue of $40.5 million, compared to $13.7 million in net income on $60.6 million in revenue for the same period last year. Last year, Semtech’s stock plunged from a high of $58.50 to $15 in December, only to rebound this past August for its 52-week high of $41.70. It closed Friday at $34.08. Nall Starts New Effects Firm Veteran visual effects artist Roger Nall has launched 11:11 Mediaworks, a new digital visual effects firm based in Van Nuys. Nall, whose credits include this year’s “Planet of the Apes” and the indefinitely postponed Arnold Schwarzenegger action film, “Collateral Damage,” said his new effects house will focus on state-of-the-art digital technology. Nall said his firm also specializes in digital post-production “repairs,” which include removing off-set wires and rigging from frames, as well as adding gun muzzle flashes, restoring film prints, color correction and scratch removal. “Repairs are becoming a focal part of our business,” he said. “It’s not that people are more prone to make mistakes now, but that they want to make the corrections more now than they used to because it’s cheaper now.” Nall worked at SOTA Digital in Van Nuys before beginning his own company. Dreamworks Staff Moves It didn’t take long for staff members of Dreamworks SKG’s television production unit to clear out of their offices on the 34th floor of Universal Studios’ 35-story office tower after the Sept. 11 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. Although a Dreamworks spokeswoman said the move to its new Glendale campus was planned in phases between September and the end of the year, one staff member said they vacated their offices in the high-rise almost immediately after the attack because of fears associated with terrorist attacks on tall buildings. The studio’s spokeswoman said the move was in keeping with plans to centralize the company’s operations and not in reaction to the attacks. Digital Insight Plans Conference Calabasas-based banking software-maker Digital Insight Corp. will host a seminar on the state of e-financing for its clients beginning Oct. 21 at La Quinta Resort & Club in Palm Springs. “Digital Insight’s client conference takes advantage of our unique ability to bring together a large client base to discuss the lessons learned and the triumphs experienced,” said Dale Walker, president and COO of Digital Insight. Walker said e-financing has been accepted by a large segment of consumers and financial institutions, driving the industry’s growth. Although privacy and security issues remain concerns for some, Walker said, e-banking and e-financing will continue to grow with improved security features. Doubts About Vivendi Wireless Service Vivendi Universal SA’s bid to plug into the youth music market via a music service geared for mobile phone users could have a tough road ahead, say analysts who are skeptical of the service’s business model. “I just don’t think there are going to be enough users willing to pay for this service,” said Mark Lewis, a consultant with New York-based Weinstein Co. The service, dubbed Universal Music Mobile and scheduled to launch early next year, will offer a prepaid mobile phone subscription plan that provides basic voice telephone service and previews of new CD releases, music news, invitations for music events and offers of CD purchases. Users would be able to listen to new CDs one week ahead of their radio debut and up to three weeks ahead of actual release. Moreover, subscribers can access information on the artists and receive news on future releases and tours. But Lewis doubts Vivendi’s targeted audience teens and young adults will cough up the estimated $25 to $30 monthly fee, particularly given a mobile phone’s sometimes poor sound quality and often poor user interface. Staff reporter Carlos Martinez can be reached at (818) 676-1750, ext. 17 or by e-mail at [email protected].

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