Loesch parenting new kids network

She becomes joint venture's president and CEO

The joint-venture TV network that will replace Discovery Kids has hired Margaret Loesch, a family-programming veteran, to lead it as president and CEO.

Loesch, who helped create Fox Kids Network and has been involved in the development and production of such shows as "Animaniacs," "Smurfs" and "Bear in the Big Blue House," starts Aug. 17.

Loesch said the still-unnamed new company, a joint venture between toymaker Hasbro and Discovery Communications, will operate from Los Angeles and that she will be hiring about 50 people during the next year.

Maryland-based Discovery Kids will survive as an international brand but will cease to exist in the U.S. by about the middle of next year, replaced by the new joint venture.

On Thursday, Loesch notified the Hatchery, a family-media company she co-founded, that she will be stepping down as CEO in four weeks. She will finish her duties as executive producer of the TV movie "Christmas in Canaan," which the Hatchery is making for the Hallmark Channel.

Before the Hatchery, Loesch helped create the U.S. Hallmark Channel. During the 1980s she was president and CEO of Marvel Prods., where, coincidentally, she executive produced TV shows based on such Hasbro brands as Candyland, G.I. Joe and Transformers.

"They were way ahead of the curve in viewing their toys as intellectual property that could translate to media," Loesch said.

Discovery Kids, Loesch said Thursday, "is profitable, and that's a good place to be, but it doesn't have any breakout hits." She intends on changing that for the joint venture by leaning on Hasbro.

"There aren't many companies with recognizable brands like Hasbro has that aren't already attached to a network," she said.

Shows for the new channel will be based on such brands as Tonka, Trivial Pursuit, Scrabble and Cranium. "Board games adapted as TV shows are great magnets for the family," Loesch said.

The joint venture also will retain some of the more popular Discovery Kids shows, including "Endurance," "Flight 29 Down" and "Bindi the Jungle Girl."
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