Cookie Jar Group
|Former type||In-Name Unit of DHX Media|
|Industry||Distribution and production
|Fate||Financial scandal (as CINAR)
merged into DHX Media (as Cookie Jar Group)
|Founded||1976 (as CINAR)
2004 (as Cookie Jar Group)
|Defunct||2004 (as CINAR)
2012 (as Cookie Jar Group)
|Key people||Co-founder & CEO:
Co-founder & President:
|Products||Cookie Jar TV
Cookie Jar Toons
Cookie Jar Kids Network
|Divisions||Cookie Jar Entertainment
Cookie Jar Education
Cookie Jar Consumer Products
Horn Rims Productions
|Subsidiaries||Copyright Promotions Licensing Group|
The Cookie Jar Group (also known as the Cookie Jar Company, Cookie Jar Entertainment and formerly known as Cinar) was a Canadian producer of children’s entertainment, consumer products and educational materials. Made up of three divisions: entertainment, consumer products, and education, Cookie Jar Group was one of the world’s largest independent children’s entertainment, consumer products and education companies with ownership and licensing rights to some of the most recognizable character brands. It was headquartered in Toronto, with offices in Burbank, California, Paris, London, and Tokyo among other places.
In its previous incarnation as Cinar (pronounced seh-NAR), the company enjoyed an illustrious existence that ultimately ended in a scandal which, over a decade later, would result in criminal charges, convictions, and fines for co-founder Ronald Weinberg, and three other suspects. Cinar was an integrated entertainment and education company involved in the development, production, post-production and worldwide distribution of family entertainment programming and educational products.
After their 1976 meeting in New Orleans, future spouses Micheline Charest and Ronald A. Weinberg organized an event for a women's film festival, and worked at distributing foreign films to US theatres. The couple moved to New York and formed Cinar, a film and television distribution company.
In 1984, Cinar changed their focus from media distribution to production and moved operations to Montreal, where they concentrated on children's television programming (including Animal Crackers, Emily of New Moon, Mona the Vampire, and The Wombles), as well as the English and French dubs of the anime series Adventures of the Little Koala and The Wonderful Wizard of Oz and the Spain-originating TV series The World of David the Gnome, and the English dub of Ultra Seven. As a production company, Cinar was also involved in the work of Are You Afraid of the Dark?, The Busy World of Richard Scarry, Madeline, The Real Story of Happy Birthday to You, The Adventures of Paddington Bear, Space Cases, The Shoe People and, its most famous work, Arthur, Zoboomafoo, Caillou and Plumo. The firm became a public company in September 1993. By 1999, Cinar boasted annual revenues of $150 million (CAD) and owned about $1.5 billion (CAD) of the children's television market. In 1993, Cinar bought the rights to all the shows owned and made by British animation company FilmFair, which was formerly Central TV's animation division since 1987, and closed it in 1998.
The success of Charest, Weinberg, and Cinar ended in March 2000, when an internal audit revealed that about $122 million (US) was invested into Bahamian bank accounts without the board members' approval. Cinar had also paid American screenwriters for work while continuing to accept Canadian federal grants for content. The names of Canadian citizens (generally non-writers connected to Cinar, including Charest's sister Helene Charest) were credited for the work, allowing Cinar to benefit from Canadian tax credits. While the province of Quebec did not file criminal charges, Cinar denied any wrongdoing, choosing instead to pay a settlement to Canadian and Quebec tax authorities of $17.8 million (CAD) and another $2.6 million (CAD) to Telefilm Canada, a Canadian federal funding agency. The value of Cinar stock plummeted, and the company was soon delisted.
There was some speculation that Hasanain Panju, CFO was the mastermind behind the investment scheme along with John Xanthoudakis of Norshield Investment Group and Lino Matteo of Mount Real Corporation. It was alleged that Charest and Weinberg (and later Panju) used Cinar as a 'piggy bank' and schemed to transfer funds out from the company through a series of complicated transactions to their own offshore holding companies.
In 2001, as part of a settlement agreement with the Commission des Valeurs Mobilières du Québec (Quebec Securities Commission) Charest and Weinberg agreed to pay $1 million each and were banned from serving in the capacity of directors or officers at any publicly traded Canadian company for five years. There was no admission of guilt and none of the allegations has been proven in court. In 2004, Cinar was rebranded The Cookie Jar Group.
In September 2008, William A. Urseth published an "insider's" book called Death Spiral. It details the CINAR scandal and how it tied into two other companies called Norshield and Mount Real. Urseth's book contains many extrapolations and opinions which are neither fully proven nor grounded in fact. Urseth's role in the scandal appears not to be as central as he portrays.
After 14 years of legal wrangling, on August 26, 2009, the Superior Court of Quebec ruled that CINAR would have to pay author Claude Robinson $5.2 million in damages for plagiarizing Robinson's work for the Cinar-produced animated series Robinson Sucroe. Robinson had originally presented the work to Cinar in 1986, and the concept was turned down.
On January 17, 2014, former CFO (and former C.A.) Hasanain Panju pleaded guilty to undisclosed crimes. The judge noted these crimes were 'disgraceful' and placed a publication ban on details surrounding the trial. Panju was sentenced to four years in prison.
On May 12, 2014, co-founder Ronald Weinberg, John Xanthoudakis of Norshield Financial Group and Lino Matteo of Mount Real Corp. were charged with 26 counts of fraud in Montreal Superior Court.
Purchase and rebranding
On June 20, 2008, Cookie Jar Group announced a deal to merge with DIC Entertainment. On July 23, 2008, both studios completed their merger, and DIC was then folded into Cookie Jar's entertainment division. As part of Cookie Jar's merger with DIC, Cookie Jar acquired Copyright Promotions Licensing Group and a one-third interest in international children’s television channel, KidsCo. The acquisition doubled Cookie Jar Entertainment's library of programming. Cookie Jar now has more than 6,000 half-hours of programming as well as rights to several children's brands.
As Cookie Jar Group
On July 23, 2008 it was announced that Cookie Jar was in negotiation with American Greetings to buy the Care Bears, Strawberry Shortcake, and Sushi Pack franchises. The deal was not finalized yet in late 2008 and with the current scenario, the transaction did not progress. On March 30, 2009, Cookie Jar made a $76 million counter bid for Care Bears and Strawberry Shortcake. Cookie Jar had until April 30, 2009 to complete a deal with American Greetings. In May 2009 American Greetings filed a $100 million lawsuit against Cookie Jar and Cookie Jar filed a $25 million lawsuit against American Greetings over the Care Bears and Strawberry Shortcake deal.
Acquisition by DHX Media
On August 20, 2012, DHX Media announced that they would acquire Cookie Jar Group for $111 million, a deal in which the merged company (DHX Media) would become the world's largest independent owner of children's television programming. The acquisition was completed in October 2012.
Cookie Jar TV
On February 24, 2009, it was announced that CBS renewed its contract with Cookie Jar for another three seasons, through 2012. On September 19, 2009, KEWLopolis was re-branded as Cookie Jar TV.
Cookie Jar Toons
Cookie Jar Kids Network
Cookie Jar Kids Network (formerly DiC Kids Network) was a children's programming block that airs selected Cookie Jar programs on local FOX, MyNetworkTV, and independent stations to provide them with a source of Educational/Informational (E/I) programming required by American broadcast standards. Syndicated by Ascent Media, it ceased broadcasting on September 17, 2011.
- CinéGroupe, another animation studio from Quebec.
- "CBS renews Cookie Jar Entertainment's saturday morning block for three more seasons". Cookie Jar Group. February 24, 2009. Retrieved 2009-07-07.
- Swift, Allan (March 15, 2002). "Cinar Co-Founders Fined $1 Million Each, Banned From Company For Five Years". Canadian Press Newswire.[dead link]
- "In Depth: Micheline Charest". CBC News Online. 2004-04-14. Retrieved 2006-09-07.
- "Cinar to pay $5.2M for plagiarizing cartoon". CBC. August 26, 2009. Retrieved 2009-08-27.
- "Montreal animator wins $5.2M in copyright battle". Montrealgazette. August 26, 2009. Retrieved 2009-08-27. "Official Epic Entertainment".
- http://www.montrealgazette.com/business/Fraud+trial+Cinar+founder+Ronald+Weinberg+investment+execs/9830515/story.html[dead link]
- "Cinar sold for $143.9 million US; new owner outlines growth strategy". CBC News Online. October 31, 2003. Retrieved 2006-09-07.
- "Cookie Jar and DIC Entertainment to merge, creating independen global children's entertainment and education powerhouse". Cookie Jar Group. 2008-06-20. Retrieved 2008-12-20.
- "Cookie Jar Entertainment expands brands portfolio, talent and global reach with closing of DIC transaction". Cookie Jar Group. 2008-07-23. Retrieved 2008-12-20.
- "Cookie Jar Entertainment to Acquire American Greetings' Strawberry Shortcake and Care Bears Properties" (Press release). Cookie Jar Group. 2008-07-23. Retrieved 2008-07-29.
- "American Greetings 2Q profit falls 73 pct on costs". San Francisco Chronicle. 2008-09-26. Retrieved 2008-10-10.[dead link]
- "Bid puts 'Care Bears,' 'Shortcake' back in play". The Hollywood Reporter. April 2, 2009. Retrieved 2009-04-03.[dead link]
- "Brooklyn-based American Greetings accuses Cookie Jar Entertainment of bad faith in Strawberry Shortcake, Care Bears deal". Cleveland. May 12, 2009. Retrieved 2009-05-12.
- "Mazza to have a hand in Cookie Jar". The Hollywood Reporter. April 29, 2009. Retrieved 2009-04-29.[dead link]
- "Cookie Jar Entertainment hires veteran TV executive Tom Mazza as EVP and head of worldwide". Cookie Jar Group. April 29, 2009. Retrieved 2009-04-30.
- Vlessing, Etan (August 20, 2012). "DHX Media expands by buying Cookie Jar Entertainment". KidScreen. Retrieved December 26, 2012.
- Clarke, Steve (August 20, 2012). "DHX grabs Cookie Jar: Canuck kids' entertainment companies combine". Chicago Tribune (Variety). Retrieved December 26, 2012.
- "DHX MEDIA CLOSES ACQUISITION OF COOKIE JAR ENTERTAINMENT" (Press release). DHX Media. October 22, 2012. Retrieved December 26, 2012.
- Sylvain, Matthew (October 23, 2012). "DHX purchase of Cookie Jar completed". KidScreen. Retrieved December 26, 2012.
- "CBS Reups With Kids Programmer Cookie Jar". Broadcasting & Cable. February 24, 2009. Retrieved 2009-02-26.
- "Zeroing in". kidscreen. May 8, 2009. Retrieved 2009-07-14.
- "CBS Sets Lineup for Cookie Jar Block". WorldScreen. September 4, 2009. Retrieved 2009-09-10.
- "About Cookie Jar Entertainment". Cookie Jar Group. Retrieved 2009-07-14.
- "MGM launches this TV Network". MGM. July 28, 2008. Retrieved 2009-07-14.
- "Documents for "Cookie Jar Kids.net. a busy world"". Ascent Media. Retrieved 2010-03-11.
- "Documents for "Cookie Jar Kids Network B"". Ascent Media. Retrieved 2010-03-11.
- Jaroo Official Streaming Episodes Site
- Cinar at the Internet Movie Database
- Cookie Jar Entertainment at the Internet Movie Database
- DIC Entertainment at the Internet Movie Database
- A history of the studio (1998) from the Canadian Encyclopedia
- DIC Entertainment Cartoons at the Big Cartoon Database