Animation producer Buzz Potamkin dies of cancer

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Buzz Potamkin

Buzz Potamkin

Seven-time Emmy-nominated ani­ma­tion pro­ducer Buzz Potamkin, respon­si­ble for such series as Johnny Bravo, Dexter’s Lab­o­ra­tory and 2 Stu­pid Dogs, died April 22 fol­low­ing a long bat­tle with pan­cre­atic cancer.

His age was not imme­di­ately available.

Potamkin shared Day­time Emmy nom­i­na­tions in 1986 and 1988 for Out­stand­ing Ani­mated Pro­gram in con­nec­tion with CBS Sto­ry­break.

In 1995, Potamkin was nom­i­nated for an Emmy for Out­stand­ing Ani­mated Pro­gram (For Pro­gram­ming One Hour or Less) for both the Dexter’s Lab­o­ra­tory episode “Big Changes” and the TV spe­cial Daisy-Head Mayzie. For the lat­ter, he shared a CableACE Award for Children’s Spe­cial or Series — 6 and Younger.

He shared a 1996 Emmy nom­i­na­tion for Out­stand­ing Ani­mated Pro­gram (For Pro­gram­ming One Hour or Less) for the Cow and Chicken episode “No Smok­ing.”

In 1968, Potamkin founded Per­pet­ual Motion Pic­tures with two employ­ees. It became New York City’s largest ani­ma­tion stu­dio over the next decade. Potamkin pro­duced hun­dreds of TV com­mer­cials, includ­ing the “fruit juicy” series for Hawai­ian Punch.

Potamkin’s for­mal car­toon cred­its began when he pro­duced the 1979 TV-movie The Beren­stain Bears’ Christ­mas Tree. After that, he never looked back.

He founded South­ern Star Pro­duc­tions in 1984, run­ning the stu­dio until 1991. He worked briefly at the Walt Dis­ney Com­pany in 1991 before join­ing Hanna Bar­bera as exec­u­tive pro­ducer and head of TV, serv­ing through 1996.

In 1990, work­ing with exec­u­tive pro­ducer Roy Dis­ney, Potamkin pro­duced the TV Academy’s Car­toon All-Stars to the Res­cue, the only ani­mated pro­gram to be tele­cast simul­ta­ne­ously on all four major TV net­works in the United States. As well, he served with Dis­ney as hon­orary exec­u­tive pro­ducer for the UNICEF Ani­ma­tion Consortium.

He was exec­u­tive pro­ducer of the TV series Teen Wolf (1986–87), Peter Pan and the Pirates (1990), The Addams Fam­ily (1992), Swat Kats: The Rad­i­cal Squadron (1993), 2 Stu­pid Dogs (1993–95), Cow and Chicken (1995), The What a Car­toon Show (1995–97), and Dexter’s Lab­o­ra­tory and Big Bag (both 1996).

Potamkin exec­u­tive pro­duced the TV-movies The Hal­loween Tree (1993); A Flint­stones Christ­mas Carol and Scooby-Doo in Ara­bian Nights (both 1994); Jonny Quest Ver­sus the Cyber Insects, Short Pfuse and Short Orders (all 1995); and Pfish and Chip (1997).

Exec­u­tive pro­ducer of the TV shorts What’s Going on Back There!?, Daisy-Head Mayzie and George and Junior’s Christ­mas Spec­tac­u­lar (all 1995) and Out and About (1997), he exec­u­tive pro­duced the the­atri­cal shorts Help? and Hill­billy Blue (both 1995), and Mal­com and Melvin and Babe, He Calls Me (both 1997).

Both pro­ducer and direc­tor of the 1985 TV series The Beren­stain Bears, he pro­duced the TV-movies The Beren­stain Bears Meet Big­paw (1980), The Beren­stain Bears’ Easter Sur­prise (1981), The Beren­stain Bears’ Comic Valen­tine (1982), and The Beren­stain Bears Play Ball and Deck the Halls with Wacky Walls (both 1983).

Potamkin pro­duced the TV shorts Straw­berry Short­cake in Big Apple City (1981) and Mar­vin: Baby of the Year (1989), along with with the the­atri­cal short The Big Sis­ter (1995), the 1998 video movie Buster & Chauncey’s Silent Night and the 1988 video short Mad Sci­en­tist. He pro­duced addi­tional mate­r­ial for the Amer­i­can ver­sion of the 1995 the­atri­cal car­toon musi­cal The Real Shlemiel.

Potamkin was super­vis­ing pro­ducer of the series CBS Sto­ry­break from 1985 to 1988, along with the 1985 ABC Week­end Spe­cial The Vel­veteen Rab­bit.

Among his awards, ani­ma­tion his­to­rian Jerry Beck noted, were four Clios, the MTV Video Award, over 20 ASIFA com­men­da­tions, the Cannes Gold Lion, the Venice Sil­ver Lion, the Cable Ace, the Peabody, the Scott New­man Award, two New York Fes­ti­val Gold Medals and three Sil­ver Medals, The Child in Our Time Award from MIFED, and two Humanitas.

Buzz was like the Johnny Apple­seed of ani­ma­tion com­pa­nies, run­ning, found­ing or co-founding many over the years includ­ing Per­pet­ual Motion, South­ern Star Pro­duc­tions, Vision­ary Media and Buz­zco,” said ani­ma­tion his­to­rian Mark Evanier. “His tenures with each out­fit were high­lighted by inno­v­a­tive, acclaimed pro­duc­tion, much of it in the area of adver­tis­ing, but plenty in the cat­e­gory of TV series and spe­cials. As one exam­ple, he received credit and praise for a lot of the splashy ani­ma­tion that the cable chan­nel MTV employed in adver­tis­ing and imag­ing when it debuted.

The Buzz Potamkin I knew… was a man of utter integrity both in han­dling money and in han­dling the cre­ative reins of a show. I wish we had more like him and am sorry to lose the one we had,” Evanier added.

Recalled Fred Seib­ert, founder of ani­ma­tion stu­dio Fred­er­a­tor: “Buzz was instru­men­tal in help­ing fig­ure out how to launch the first of our shorts incu­ba­tors, What A Car­toon!, in 1994. He’d given me plenty of insight about the the­atri­cal shorts of the mid-20th cen­tury, and when he came on as my head of pro­duc­tion we plot­ted the pro­gram together, and he cajoled a num­ber of leg­endary film­mak­ers like Ralph Bak­shi and Bruno Bozzetto to give this crazy idea some gravitas.

Buzz Potamkin was a unique soul. He was the kind­est man you could imag­ine, always ready with help and inspi­ra­tion. He admired cre­ative peo­ple of all kinds, espe­cially artists, and he could smell out smarts in any­one in a room. He had a cur­mud­geonly crust, but with a quick smile and wit, and always a twin­kle in his eye.”

Buzz Potamkin is sur­vived by his wife Rosie.

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