Fred Seibert
Seibert at Vidcon 2014
Born
Frederick G. Seibert[1]
EducationColumbia University (dropped out)
Occupations
  • Television producer
  • media proprietor
Years active1975–present
WorksCartoon shorts filmography
LabelOblivion Records
Websitefredseibert.com

Frederick G. Seibert is an American television producer and media proprietor.[2] He was the first employee and creative director of MTV in 1980,[3] and later founded Frederator Networks in 1997, as well as its spin-off companies Frederator Studios, Channel Frederator Network, and Cartoon Hangover.[4][5] Having held numerous executive positions for Viacom Media Networks, he was the final president of animation studio Hanna-Barbera from 1992 to 1996.[6][7][2] He's since co-founded Next New Networks, Bolder Media, and the production company FredFilms by 2020.[8]

Seibert is an angel investor for numerous technology and media-based startup projects, having served as a seed investor for Tumblr and produced animated/live action[9][10][11] [12] programs for cable television[13] or streaming.[14] He created the animation incubator anthology series What a Cartoon! in 1994, Oh Yeah! Cartoons in 1998, and Random! Cartoons in 2008. Television programs which first originated on these series include The Fairly OddParents, Johnny Bravo, Dexter's Laboratory, Courage the Cowardly Dog, My Life as a Teenage Robot, The Powerpuff Girls, and Adventure Time, among others; most of which were executive produced by Seibert.

Seibert began his professional career as a jazz and blues record producer and audio engineer in the 1970s.[15]

Animated cartoons

In his time working in cartoons at three studios, Seibert has helped jumpstart the creator careers of over 100 animated filmmakers, including people like Genndy Tartakovsky,[16] Pendleton Ward,[17] Butch Hartman,[18] Kevin Kolde,[19] Craig McCracken,[20] David Feiss,[21] Van Partible,[22] John Dilworth,[23] Larry Huber,[24] Rob Renzetti,[25] Eric Robles,[26] Breehn Burns,[27] Bill Burnett,[28] Elyse Castro,[29] Mike Rosenthal,[30] James Kochalka,[31] Bob Boyle,[32] Warren Ellis[33] and Natasha Allegri.[34]

From 1992 until 1996, as the last president of the Hanna-Barbera cartoon studio, Seibert was able to reinvigorate the company's creative reputation with the establishment of the animation incubator What a Cartoon!.[35] Modeled on the Golden Age of mid-20th century cartoons, the 48 short films from creators around the world, Hanna-Barbera was able to launch seven hit series after a dry spell since the launch of The Smurfs in 1981 for NBC. The shows included Genndy Tartakovsky's Dexter's Laboratory, David Feiss' Cow and Chicken and I Am Weasel, Van Partible's Johnny Bravo, John R. Dilworth's Courage the Cowardly Dog, and Craig McCracken's The Powerpuff Girls.

After Ted Turner included Hanna-Barbera in Turner Broadcasting's 1996 sale to Time Warner, Seibert established Frederator Studios as an independent animation producer based in Burbank, California.

Frederator has established itself as a major American independent with several series on Nickelodeon (like Rob Renzetti's My Life as a Teenage Robot), Cartoon Network (Pendleton Ward's Adventure Time), and Cartoon Hangover (Pendleton Ward's Bravest Warriors, Natasha Allegri's Bee and PuppyCat), and Kevin Kolde's production of Castlevania for Netflix.[6]

Seibert created 250 short cartoons between 1995 and 2018 at Hanna-Barbera, Frederator Studios, 19 of which were continued as series at Cartoon Network, Nickelodeon, Cartoon Hangover, Netflix and YouTube.

Seibert has also created several Internet channels featuring cartoons, including Channel Frederator, Cartoon Hangover, and Next New Networks.

After starting Frederator Studios in 1997, Seibert brought together a group of investors in a failed attempt to save the troubled underground/alternative comics publisher Kitchen Sink Press.[36]

Seibert's production of the first season of Natasha Allegri's Bee and PuppyCat for his Cartoon Hangover streaming channel was the most backed animated project on Kickstarter for several years. Season 2 was accidentally leaked onto Seibert's Vimeo channel in early 2020, but was eventually announced to be officially dropped on Netflix sometime in 2022.[37]

Seibert stepped down from his position as CEO of Frederator in August 2020, though the company indicated that he would remain executive producer for current projects, including Bee & PuppyCat and Castlevania.[38][39]

On February 23, 2022, Seibert announced the formation of cartoon production company FredFilms, with a first look deal at VIS Kids.[40] The company is in various stages of production on five reboots of vintage Seibert productions, including a live-action The Fairly OddParents for Paramount+ and a CG animated version for Netflix.[41] The company is developing several adult and children's original animated properties, furthering Seibert's philosophy of creators first,[42] always original,[43] and producing your next favorite cartoon.[44]

Streaming video and Internet

In March 1999, MTV Networks CEO Tom Freston tapped Seibert to become the first president of the new MTV Networks Online, soon to split into MTV Interactive (The MTVi Group) and Nick.com.[7] Building on this new media success, in 2007 Seibert co-founded Next New Networks (with Emil Rensing, Herb Scannell, Tim Shey, and Jed Simmons),[45] a pioneer in streaming video, with over 2 billion video views[46] and as of 2010 over 200 million views every month, making it, along with Maker Studios, creators of the Multi-channel networks. Along with their affiliated Indy Mogul, Barely Political, Channel Frederator and several other networks, the company's superdistribution allowed it to become among the most widely distributed video in the world, and to become YouTube's top professional content provider. By the end of 2010, Next New Networks had YouTube's top two videos.[47] In March 2011, Next New Networks was acquired by YouTube.[48][49][50]

In 2004, then-unknown web developer David Karp interned at Frederator Studios at its first New York City location, and built the company's first blogging platform.[51] In 2007, Karp launched Tumblr from a rented desk at Frederator Studios' Park Avenue South offices, along with chief engineer Marco Arment.[52][53] Seibert was one of Tumblr's first bloggers,[54] an angel investor in the company, and served on its board before its acquisition.[55]

Seibert was the original angel investor in Sawhorse Media in 2010,[56][57] the company that created the Shorty Awards and MuckRack, a public relations management platform that enables organizations to connect with journalists to generate media coverage.

After creating Channel Frederator as the "first cartoon video podcast" and migrating it to youTube in 2007, on February 21, 2012, Fred Seibert launched Cartoon Hangover, a channel on YouTube which consists of various animated shorts and series. Cartoon Hangover gained a much larger audience with the revival of Bravest Warriors by Pendleton Ward on November 8, 2012[58] which originally aired as a pilot on Fred Seibert's Random! Cartoons on Nicktoons Network in 2009.[59] In 2014, Channel Frederator was revived as a multi-channel network focused entirely on animation, signing one of YouTube's biggest animation channels, Simon's Cat.[60] By September 2014, the network was distributing 688 channels, with over 65 million monthly views and 10.5 million subscribers,[61] and by 2017 announced it had reached 1 billion monthly views on YouTube.[62]

Seibert and his Frederator Networks partnered with John Borthwick and Betaworks; Jonathan Miller, Jason Ostheimer, Shari Redstone; and entrepreneur Yoel Flohr to form Thirty Labs in 2014, a startup studio based in New York City to develop and invest in video based technology businesses[63] Seibert served as its CEO until its dissolution the following year.

Media branding and cable television

Fred Seibert at Pixelodeon

Seibert played a key role in the ascendance of the modern cable television age (1980-2010). As MTV's first creative director,[64] Seibert was responsible for a complete rethinking of how the entire television industry was able to think of themselves as “brands.”[65] He guided his team to develop the original voice and visual identity for MTV, and went on to do the same at Nickelodeon, Nick-at-Nite (which he invented with his long time creative partner Alan Goodman), and Comedy Central.

After a late 1970s stint with media promotion innovator Dale Pon at New York's WHN Radio,[66] Seibert began his work at Warner-Amex Satellite Entertainment in 1980,[6] original owner of Nickelodeon and The Movie Channel and would go on to launch MTV: Music Television on August 1, 1981.

Initially, MTV had none of the kinds of programs that were thought of as "television," only more than 160 hours (there are 168 hours in a week) of music videos that were about three minutes each, and with no set schedule that could be promoted. Seibert had to develop an alternative promotional strategy that was completely different than traditional networks.[67] The promos and network identifications his team produced did not resemble anything TV had every seen before, focusing on an approach that subtly made a series of "promises" to viewers in the wildest and most creative ways possible.[68][69] The network identifications, 10-seconds each, were based on the MTV logo he commissioned and approved,[65] designed by the Manhattan Design collective (that included his oldest childhood friend, Frank Olinsky). The logo mutated its design hundreds, thousands of ways, sometimes within one short animated film.[70] Some senior network executives objected to a logo that did not remain constant, but the approach ultimately prevailed.[71] The 10-second network IDs and the promos ultimately influenced graphic design and advertising for years to come.[72]

Within two years of launch, Seibert led the team that developed "I Want My MTV!", creative direction by his mentor Dale Pon, and it became one of the most famous advertising campaigns of the late 20th century and immortalized through Dire Straits' 1985 hit song "Money for Nothing".[73][74]

In 1983, with partner Alan Goodman, Seibert founded Fred/Alan Inc. in New York City as the world's first media branding company. Goodman had been one of his key creative lieutenants at MTV, and they had worked together in college radio a decade before. Together, they successfully adapted the MTV branding and promotional strategy to overhaul the then-floundering children's cable channel Nickelodeon between June 1984 and January 1985, moving it from worst to first in the ratings in six months,[75] and continued overseeing network branding and promotion for eight more years.

By the end of 1985, at the request of Nickelodeon president Geraldine Laybourne Seibert and Goodman conceived a radical rethinking of television networks by creating Nick-at-Nite, pitched as "the first oldies TV network."[76][77] Over the nine years of the company's existence they also did extensive work with The Movie Channel,[78] Lifetime,[79] Showtime,[80] Comedy Central[81] and Mosaic Records.[82]

Seibert continued involvement with the cable TV industry for several years. He was employed by Turner Broadcasting as the last president of Hanna-Barbera Cartoons,[83] then as a consultant for almost 15 years at Warner-Amex successor MTV Networks, and as a producer of several animated series[84] for Nickelodeon and Cartoon Network.

Musical career

Seibert began his media career in college radio at Columbia University's WKCR-FM in 1969.[85] According to Seibert himself, he spent most of his time in college at the radio station headquarters rather than attending classes, and thus never graduated.[86]

While at Columbia he co-founded his first company, Oblivion Records with partners Tom Pomposello[87] and Dick Pennington, releasing LPs by Mississippi Fred McDowell (Live in New York) and Joe Lee Wilson. Simultaneously, he produced numerous jazz and blues albums for independent companies such as Muse Records, JCOA Records, and Birth Records (owned by instrumentalist/composer Gunter Hampel). Seibert was an early employee of New Music Distribution Service, a non-profit distributor of musician-owned record company started by composers Carla Bley and Michael Mantler, before going on the road with Bley's big band as sound engineer and road manager.[88][89] Seibert announced the revival of Oblivion Records in 2021 for a digital release of a historic concert recording of jazz innovator Cecil Taylor.[90]

Accolades

Seibert's productions span multiple mediums in American entertainment. He was first recognized for his musical activity, having received a Grammy Award nomination at the 20th Annual Grammy Awards,[91] and later several Annie Awards,[92][93][94][95][96] Emmy Awards,[96][92] and BAFTA Awards[92] for his television productions. He received an American Institute of Graphic Arts (AIGA) Medal for lifetime exceptional achievements in 2000,[97] was inducted to the Animation Magazine Hall of Fame in 2017.[98] In November 2023, the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences (presenters of the Emmy Awards) announced his induction[99] into their "Gold Circle," defined as performing "...distinguished service within the industry, setting standards for achievement, mentoring, leadership, and professional accolades for 50...years, respectively. They represent the best and the brightest in the television community."

Filmography

References

  1. ^ "Fred Seibert". Discogs.com.
  2. ^ a b "The Story of Kids TV Mastermind Fred Seibert". March 11, 2014.
  3. ^ "Seibert Re-Joins MTV Nets". February 25, 1997.
  4. ^ "Animation Vet Fred Seibert Launches New Production Company, FredFilms, And First-Look Deal With VIS Kids At ViacomCBS". February 23, 2021.
  5. ^ "I've Lived (strikethrough Three) Five Lives". 2021.
  6. ^ a b c Times, Los Angeles (December 18, 2013). "Fred Seibert foresees 'next golden age of animation' on Internet". Los Angeles Times.
  7. ^ a b Katz, Richard (March 31, 1999). "Seibert makes virtual return to MTV roots".
  8. ^ "'YouTube Next': Google Acquires Next New Networks". March 7, 2011.
  9. ^ Gilbert Gottried… Naturally, ‘’IMDB”, 30 October 2021
  10. ^ Kids’ Court, ‘’IMDB”, 30 October 2021
  11. ^ Turn It Up!, ‘’IMDB”, 30 October 2021
  12. ^ Strike, Joe. The Fred Seibert Interview, Animation World Network, 15 July 2003.
  13. ^ Grillo, Jean. New Network Look: Hairy, Fat Cablevision, Scribd.com, 7 June 1982.
  14. ^ Bolger, Tom. "I Want My NNN!", Gotham Magazine, February 2008.
  15. ^ "The Fred Seibert Interview — Part 1".
  16. ^ "Genndy Tarakovsky". IMDb. Retrieved 2022-02-07.
  17. ^ "Pendleton Ward". IMDb. Retrieved 2022-02-07.
  18. ^ "Butch Hartman". IMDb. Retrieved 2022-02-07.
  19. ^ "Kevin Kolde". IMDb. Retrieved 2022-02-07.
  20. ^ "Craig McCracken". IMDb. Retrieved 2022-02-07.
  21. ^ "David Feiss". IMDb. Retrieved 2022-02-07.
  22. ^ "Van Partible". IMDb. Retrieved 2022-02-07.
  23. ^ "John R. Dilworth". IMDb. Retrieved 2022-02-07.
  24. ^ "Larry Huber". IMDb. Retrieved 2022-02-07.
  25. ^ "Rob Renzetti". IMDb. Retrieved 2022-02-07.
  26. ^ "Eric Robles". IMDb. Retrieved 2022-02-07.
  27. ^ "Breehn Burns". IMDb. Retrieved 2022-02-07.
  28. ^ "Bill Burnett". IMDb. Retrieved 2022-02-07.
  29. ^ "Elyse Castro". Instagram. Retrieved 2022-02-07.
  30. ^ "Mike Rosenthal". IMDb. Retrieved 2022-02-07.
  31. ^ "James Kochalka". IMDb. Retrieved 2022-02-07.
  32. ^ "Bob Boyle (animator)". IMDb. Retrieved 2022-02-07.
  33. ^ "Warren Ellis". IMDb. Retrieved 2022-02-07.
  34. ^ "Natasha Allegri". IMDb. Retrieved 2022-02-07.
  35. ^ What A Cartoon? Ask.com
  36. ^ Stump, Greg. "News Watch: Teetering Towards a Shutdown, Kitchen Sink Searches for a Savior," The Comics Journal #196 (June 1997), pp. 7-14.
  37. ^ Bee and Puppycat season 2 finally finds a release at Netflix – Polygon
  38. ^ Kidscreen » Archive » Fred Seibert leaves Wow! Unlimited
  39. ^ The Frederator Studios Tumblr
  40. ^ Hayes, Dade (February 23, 2021). "Animation Vet Fred Seibert Launches New Production Company, FredFilms, And First-Look Deal With VIS Kids At ViacomCBS". Deadline. Retrieved 2021-02-25.
  41. ^ Julia Selinger (December 30, 2021). "Fairly OddParents Reboot Will Be Live-Action & Animation Hybrid". ScreenRant.com. Retrieved 2022-02-06.
  42. ^ "Creators first". FredFilmsblog.tumblr.com. April 6, 2021. Retrieved 2021-02-06.
  43. ^ "Original, always". FredFilmsblog.tumblr.com. April 19, 2021. Retrieved 2021-02-06.
  44. ^ "Your next favorite cartoon". FredFilmsblog.tumblr.com. May 17, 2021. Retrieved 2021-02-06.
  45. ^ Stone, Brad. "Internet Start-Up to Take a Hybrid Media Approach", The New York Times, 8 March 2007.
  46. ^ Shannon Miller, Liz. "Next New Networks Nears 1B Views, Profitability" Archived 2010-12-03 at the Wayback Machine, GigaOM.com.
  47. ^ "That Was The Year That Was", Frederator Blogs, 31 December 2010.
  48. ^ "Supercharging the “Next” phase in YouTube partner development", The Official YouTube Blog, 7 March 2011.
  49. ^ "Google's YouTube Buys Next New Networks", LA Times blogs, LATimes.com, March 2011.
  50. ^ "Here Comes YouTube Next", Next New Networks, YouTube.com
  51. ^ "Frederator Studios Blog". Archived from the original on 2006-04-19. Retrieved 2013-06-29.
  52. ^ Karp, David; Alexandria, Julie (May 27, 2008). David Karp and Tumblr (Video). Wallstrip. Event occurs at 1:30. Retrieved 2013-02-24. Sometime in 2006, we had a couple of weeks between contracts and said 'Let's see what we can do, let's see if we can built this thing', and we threw together the first working version of Tumblr.
  53. ^ ""Tumblr: David Karp's $800 Million Art Project" Forbes, January 2, 2013". Forbes.com. April 18, 2012. Retrieved 2013-04-17.
  54. ^ "Fred Seibert's Blog - Killing them softly". Frederator Studios Blogs. November 1, 2007. Archived from the original on 2013-10-03.
  55. ^ "Tumblr CEO David Karp's Wild Ride from 14-Year-Old Intern to Multimillionaire". MediaShift. May 22, 2013.
  56. ^ "Sawhorse Media". Bloomberg News.
  57. ^ "Fred Seibert - FredFilms, Inc". LinkedIn. December 22, 2022.
  58. ^ Video on YouTube
  59. ^ "Random! Cartoons".
  60. ^ Spangler, Todd (February 19, 2014). "YouTube Animation Network Frederator Pacts with Simon's Cat".
  61. ^ "Channel Frederator Network Continues To Dominate Online Animation". September 24, 2014.
  62. ^ Frederator's Multi-Channel Network Surpasses 1 Billion Monthly Views Tubefilter, October 24, 2017
  63. ^ Lawler, Ryan (September 25, 2014). "Media Veteran Fred Seibert Ties Up With Betaworks To Create Video Technology Incubator Thirty Labs".
  64. ^ "MTV Founding Creators". Los Angeles Times. December 18, 2013. Retrieved 2022-02-07.
  65. ^ a b "Fred Seibert on the MTV Logo". JazzWax. August 1, 2011. Retrieved 2022-02-07.
  66. ^ "Fred Seibert on the MTV Logo". JazzWax by Marc Myers.
  67. ^ "I Want My… : A Conversation with MTV Co-Founder Fred Seibert". PostGenre Media. February 3, 2022. Retrieved 2022-02-07.
  68. ^ "Music Television Promo Lover". YouTube.com. Retrieved 2022-02-06.
  69. ^ ""I WANT MY MTV" 1996 VHS". Internet Archive. November 18, 2018. Retrieved 2022-02-07.
  70. ^ "Alan Goodman & Fred Seibert, IDs 1981-1983, version 2". Vimeo. January 2012. Retrieved 2022-02-07.
  71. ^ "MTV Logo Story", FrankOlinsky.com
  72. ^ Ayla Angelos. ""A brief history of MTV IDs and the impact they've had on the creative world"". It's Nice That. Retrieved 2022-02-06.
  73. ^ Tannenbaum, Rob; Marks, Craig (October 27, 2011). I Want My MTV: The Uncensored Story of the Music Video Revolution. Penguin. ISBN 9781101526415 – via Google Books.
  74. ^ Martin Kielty (June 24, 2019). "When Mark Knopfler and Sting Connected for 'Money for Nothing'". Ultimate Classic Rock. Retrieved 2023-04-23.
  75. ^ "From Worst to First", RetorJunk
  76. ^ "A Look Back at 35 Years of Nick at Nite" By Jeff Sheldon, 30 October 2021
  77. ^ "The first oldies television network., 30 October 2021, Fred/Alan
  78. ^ "The Movie Channel, network identifications 1988 & 1981", 30 October 2021, Fred/Alan
  79. ^ "Lifetime tries ‘Talk Television,’ 1984.", 30 October 2021, Fred/Alan
  80. ^ "Showtime's Got Rock!" & "The Honeymooners Lost Episodes Showtime 1984", 30 October 2021, Fred/Alan
  81. ^ "Naming Comedy Central", 30 October 2021, Fred/Alan
  82. ^ "Mosaic Records, 1984-1992", 1 January 2008, Fred/Alan
  83. ^ Variety Staff (March 24, 1994). "Q&A with Hanna-Barbera president Fred Seibert".
  84. ^ "Fred Seibert". IMDb.
  85. ^ WKCR-FM, Columbia University
  86. ^ "Alan". Fred Seibert Dot Com (Personal Tumblr). 2020. Retrieved 2021-11-22.
  87. ^ Vidani, Peter. "WKCR and Oblivion".
  88. ^ "My Mentors: Michael Mantler".
  89. ^ "On the Road with Carla Bley (and a big band of musical geniuses and misfits)".
  90. ^ Lydia Liebman (November 16, 2021). "NEW RELEASE: 'Cecil Taylor – The Complete, Legendary, Live Return Concert' out February 15, 2022 via Oblivion Records". LydiaLiebman.com. Retrieved 2022-02-06.
  91. ^ "All GRAMMY Awards and Nominations for Hank Jones". Retrieved 2023-11-18.
  92. ^ a b c "Adventure Time-Awards". IMDb. Retrieved 2023-11-18.
  93. ^ "31st Annual Annie Awards". Retrieved 2023-11-18.
  94. ^ "32nd Annual Annie Awards". Retrieved 2023-11-18.
  95. ^ "39th Annual Annie Awards". Retrieved 2023-11-18.
  96. ^ a b "Fanboy and Chum Chum-Awards". IMDb. Retrieved 2023-11-18.
  97. ^ "AIGA Medal". Retrieved 2023-11-18.
  98. ^ "A Celebration of Excellence: Animation Magazine's Hall of Fame Awards-Previous Awardees". Retrieved 2023-11-18.
  99. ^ "'Saved By the Bell' Producer Peter Engel Among 2023 Gold, Silver Circle Inductees". The Hollywood Reporter. November 17, 2023.