The new venture will also operate as a consumer products licensing business and is scheduled to announce its first major project soon.

Our Bureau

Thiruvananthapuram, Oct. 3

TOONZ Animation India and sports anchor and commentator Vijay Amritraj's First Serve International LLC have announced a joint venture for producing and distributing animation programming.

Christened First Serve Toonz (FST), the joint venture will also operate as a consumer products licensing business and is scheduled to announce its first major project in the next few weeks, said Mr P. Jayakumar, Chief Executive Officer, Toonz Animation, here.

While First Serve International brings global experience and perspective to the joint venture, Toonz will deliver cutting-edge creativity and high production values.

FST will leverage on the strengths of the two partners to become a significant player in the business.

Mr Ed Borgerding, who has had a 20-year-long stint with the Walt Disney Company - most recently as Executive Vice-President - will be the Chief Executive Officer of FST.

According to him, FST will work with major Hollywood brands and content companies to develop, finance, produce and distribute top quality productions.

FST marks the coming together of two leaders in the entertainment industry.

First Serve International has produced and distributed feature films and television programmes globally as well as pioneered the setting up of a consumer products business in South Asia.

On the other hand, Toonz Animation is one of the biggest studios in the country, which is projected to become the animation hub of the world.

Toonz also maintains an extensive library of original content and is currently working on a slew of home productions.

Vijay Amritraj, tennis legend turned entertainment entrepreneur and Chairman of First Serve International, said that his company was excited to team up with Toonz at a time when India and its animation industry are poised to accelerate to new highs.

"Our joint venture is strategically positioned to take advantage of the tremendous growth in animation and consumer products business in our region and around the world," he added.

First Serve International is a California-based company with offices in Los Angeles, London and India.

Apart from the motion pictures and television programming business, it also offers consulting and marketing services to media companies and markets media-related products.

(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated October 4, 2005)
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