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QUESTION: Hello, my name is Adrienne, and first of all I would like to say thank you so much for reading this question. I happened to stumble upon this site, and I am so grateful for the time spent to answer questions. I am not sure how much to write, but here it goes.. :)
I am a college student (over 18), and I am asking this question for my mother, who is a brilliant creator and artist. In particular, she has a character line of very whimsical creatures, very vibrant and well drawn, that she has been working on since she was in grade school. My father is relatively well known children's book illustrator who works for an agency out of New York. Currently he has been illustrating the books of Thomas the Train for the past several years. He is very experienced with working with clients such as Disney and Random House. My dad would love to illustrate/animate my mother's character line, and they want some kind of avenue to bring the character line to the public, so to speak. My mother watches children light up when they see her characters, and would love to see them in some sort of TV show, and it is just such a wonderful potential product, for Disney or Nickelodeon, or some kind of Children's network.
Several years back, my parents went to a licensing show with her character line, and Klasky Csupo was about to pick it up. However, they picked up Rugrats instead.  Rugrats was produced for Nickelodeon, and my mother's character line was shelved. The rights remained hers.
Years later, my parents want to find some way to get her character line some kind of avenue, such as a children's television show. Her agent died recently, and they are back to square one. My question is, what exactly do you think would be the best route for them to take with this. It is hard to find an agent to trust, and my father cannot to go through contacts with his agency, because of stipulations in his contract. I am sorry if this is a lot of information, and I hope I explained myself clearly. I obviously have no idea what happens with the television industry, and it seems to be very complex. Any advice or ideas would be wonderful!

ANSWER: Hi, Adrienne -

Thanks for the question and the details.

I think there are two ways to go about what you want to do.  Instead of finding an agent, I would recommend you think about hiring an entertainment attorney.  Some of my previously answered questions detail and link to articles in the Hollywood Reporter where they list some of the most influential attorneys.  You need one who will not only represent you WHEN you have a deal, but who will actually help set up meetings, etc. to SELL the show. It might take a LOT of calls to make this happen.

Another thing I suggest (also in previous questions in you need more detail) is using IMDBPro to locate the people who produce programming of a similar nature.  Sometimes, there will be direct contact information, sometimes you can see their agents, managers,and attorneys.  If the same names keep coming up, that's who you want to try and go to.

I hope this gets you started.  If you have more questions, please write me again.  And if, in a couple of months, you still haven't been able to locate someone you can work with, write me again and remind me about this email.  I may have a better idea by then.

Best,
Marrissa

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Hello again Marrissa! It has been several years since my original email, but I thought I would reach out to you again. You sent a very helpful response to my question, which has inspired my mom to move forward with her character line.  I'm not sure if you remember, as it was almost 5 years ago, but you gave me some great advice about hiring an entertainment attorney, and I brought that to both of my parents. They were involved in other projects at the time, and first wanted to create a character bible for the line. Over the last several years, they have done just that. My mom has refined the characters, and my dad has worked on some style guides to show expressions and movement of the characters. And over the last couple months, I have worked on writing a new premise for the story, some character bios and a dozen story ideas for possible episodes. We now have more of a refined presentation. I still feel very strongly that it is different and creative, and could be a breath of fresh air for the children's television market, however silly that may sound. My question for you now, is should we continue along the same path of finding an entertainment attorney, or are there other paths we should consider? I have IMDB pro and have compiled a list of possibilities. My parents say that since they have not approached an new agent in decades, they are not sure what the protocol is now. Would the best method be to simply compose an email and attach our presentation, or is there another route you suggest? Would it helpful for me to send an image of the character line?
So many questions, I know, but thank you for the time and energy you spend answering these questions- I truly appreciate your advice!
Adrienne

Answer
Hi, Adrienne -

I'm really happy to see you and your family are still pursuing your dreams.

Things have changed a little - it is much, much easier to create your own opportunities these days, and there are even more buyers.

That being said, there are just as many if not more potential potholes one could face trying to sell this.

You need someone to help you navigate the waters.  I've forgotten if you're in or near LA, but if you are, you might want to keep an eye out for what NATPE.org might have planned.  Their annual convention is happening right now, but they usually do something in Los Angeles later in the year where it's possible to get in front of a whole lot of people all at once.

Otherwise, an entertainment attorney could be the best bet, especially if you could get one who would work on a percentage basis.  The attorney could arrange for you to meet with agents, producers, studios, etc. and would be able to protect you.  If anyone agreed to allow you to make an unsolicited submission, they would force you to sign a release that basically gave away all of your rights, and I highly recommend against that.

You can use IMDBPro for attorneys and the Holloywood Reporter still does annual lists, so if you've kept that material current, you should have a fairly strong starting position.

I sincerely hope that helps, but feel free to write back if you want to get into more specifics.

Best of luck,
Marrissa

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Marrissa O`Leary

Expertise

Happy to help with your questions about the business of television. I've been a TV Business Affairs, Talent and Comedy executive for over 10 years after starting out as a child actress. I've been a VP at two studios, and consulted for others. Because we get so many questions about reality shows, please take a look at the "Previously Answered Questions" first (you'll probably find what you need there!). Also - please bear in mind that budgets & license fees are considered to be proprietary information and I can't share them here. Thanks!

Experience

20+ years in entertainment, ranging from child actress to studio vice president.

Education/Credentials
MBA, Pepperdine University / BA, Theatre Arts, Occidental College / AA Mass-Telecommunications Technology, Unites States International University

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