Gene Marshall, the collectible movie-star doll created by artist/illustrator Mel Odom and sold by Ashton-Drake, is now featured in her own fictional rags- to-riches biography, Gene Marshall: Girl Star (Hyperion), written by Odom with Michael Sommers. "I thought it was important to put my imprint on who Gene Marshall was," explained Odom.
Odom said reaction from fans—who have purchased more than one million dolls over the last six years, plus costumes, paper dolls, sewing patterns, collector plates, CDs and videos—has been encouraging. "People want to believe in that story."
Scholastic will publish four titles based on It's itsy bitsy Time, a Hasbro-sponsored, commercial-free programming block on the Fox Family Channel. The first four titles will be based on three of the literature inspired animated series within the block, Charlie & Mimmo, Animal Shelf and 64 Zoo Lane, according to Michelle Kanter, director of published products for licensor itsy bitsy Entertainment. (Other programs in the block include Budgie the Little Helicopter and Smarty Arty.) The books will be branded under the "It's itsy bitsy Time Presents..." banner, with distinctive blue-and-white striped artwork.
Itsy bitsy has also signed two new Teletubbies publishers, Publications International for soundbooks and SoftBooks for cloth titles tied to the new Teletubbies Baby brand.
Warner has granted rights for Harry Potter film tie-ins to Bloomsbury and BBC Publishing in the U.K.; Gallimard and Mango in France; Carlsen, Dino Verlag and Xenos Verlag in Germany; and Scholastic in the U.S. and Canada. Bloomsbury, Gallimard, Carlsen and Scholastic publish the original books in their respective countries.... HarperCollins acquired two licenses, Saban's action-adventure TV series Los Luchadores and Twentieth Century Fox's summer film Planet of the Apes.... Action Products will create arts, crafts and hobby kits based on Thomas the Tank Engine, licensed from Gullane Entertainment.... Retailer Hot Topic will carry exclusive apparel, accessories and gifts inspired by the comic book and graphic novel collection Sandman by Neil Gaiman, published by DC Comics' Vertigo imprint and licensed by Warner Bros.... Warner and its Chinese licensee Jieli Publishing House have released the first Looney Tunes books ever in China.... For the May DreamWorks film Shrek, Penguin will publish tie-in titles (hardcovers from Dutton, paperbacks from Puffin, all under the DreamWorks imprint) as part of the ongoing partnership between the two companies.... Simon & Schuster will sell gift and storybooks and book-plus packages featuring American Greetings'Bubblegum characters, licensed from Viacom Consumer Products.... Nelvana and The Clifford Ross Company signed an exclusive Babar merchandise licensing agreement with publisher Kodansha for the Asian market.... Golden Books and Pillsbury have teamed for an Easter promotion starring Golden's 30-year-old Peter Cottontail.... Animation house Mainframe Entertainment will develop Houghton Mifflin's Whiteblack the Penguin, by Margret and H.A. Rey, for TV and film.... Scholastic is sponsoring a "Gotta Get on the Set" sweepstakes to support its Malcolm in the Middle series, licensed from Fox.... Knowledge Adventure will distribute interactive products for American Girl, as well as other Mattel properties.... Three of Random House's Elmo books, licensed from Sesame Workshop, are available as e-books in Microsoft Reader format.... LEGO will produce Harry Potter interactive software.... Children's television producer Sunbow Entertainment, a subsidiary of Munich-based children's programming company TV-Loonland, has optioned the rights to two book properties, Neil Gaiman and Dave McKean's The Day I Swapped My Dad for Two Goldfish and Edward Eager's Half Magic, which was published by Harcourt in 1954. The former is in development as a children's animation series and the latter as a 90-minute live-action television feature.