Jennifer Davidson, senior vice president of programming and scheduling at Cartoon Network, died on Dec. 1 of a sudden illness at age 38, the network said Monday. She is survived by her husband, John Davidson, and three young children, Mitchell (7), Oliver (5) and Harper (2).
“We have lost a shining star, not only at Cartoon Network, but within our industry,” Stuart Snyder, executive VP and chief operating officer for Turner Broadcasting System’s Animation, Young Adults and Kids Media group, said in a statement. “Our hearts and prayers go out to John, Mitchell, Oliver, Harper and Jen’s family and friends.”
Viewing services will be held on Tuesday, Dec. 4, from 6-9 p.m. at The Sandy Springs Funeral Home in Sandy Springs, Ga.
The funeral is scheduled for Wednesday, Dec. 5, at 1 p.m. at Buckhead Church in Atlanta.
Davidson was one of the first 15 employees at Cartoon Network, which launched in 1992, and in September 2007 was promoted to her SVP position, responsible for overseeing the day-to-day scheduling and strategic positioning of all on-air content for Cartoon Network and Boomerang, as well as on-air promotion for Adult Swim.
She had been VP of marketing, ad trade, consumer products trade and strategic operations for Cartoon Network and Adult Swim. Earlier she had been VP and executive producer for on-air promotion and operations.
Her first job at the network was as production/operations assistant and operations coordinator/manager.
Davidson was part of the team that launched Adult Swim in September 2001 as a separate entertainment service targeted for young adults. She also won several industry and marketing awards, including a 2000 BDA Gold Award for total package design, for the launch of Boomerang. She executive produced promotional campaigns for the channel, which shows classic Hanna-Barbera cartoons.
On-air promotions for Boomerang were built around live-action animation of toys made of Yogi Bear, Fred Flintstone and other familiar characters, “presented in gorgeous new packaging but with a classic sensibility,” Davidson recalled in an October interview for the Web site Toonzone.net.
She said in the interview she had to locate a large collection of toys that had belonged to Hanna-Barbera prior to the sale of the studio’s headquarters. “Where we found it, and where it lives now, was at three huge warehouses out in L.A. where Warner Brothers houses all their movie costumes, their archival props, and everything to do with their movies,” she recalled in the interview. “In one of those buildings was a huge section of boxes. It was like Christmas going in there and unwrapping all these old, old toys, some of which I remembered from my youth, and some of which were from the 50's and 60's.” Finding those toys and choosing from among them was her biggest memory of the launch, she said.
This year, Davidson was selected as a 2007-08 Betsy Magness Leadership Fellow. The two BMLI classes met for a week at the Center for Creative Leadership in Greensboro, N.C., in October and again at the Women in Cable Telecommunications gala in Washington, D.C., last month.
WICT CEO Benita Fitzgerald Mosley said in a statement: “We at WICT were deeply saddened to learn of the tragic passing of Jennifer Davidson. Jennifer was a beloved member of Class XVI of the Betsy Magness Leadership Institute (BMLI) and her strength and passion will live on in the hearts of her classmates and those of us who knew her. Jennifer embodied the spirit of the smart, strategic risk takers who have gone before her and serves as a beacon for the next generation of fearless women. Our thoughts and prayers are with Jennifer’s family, friends and co-workers during this difficult time.”
Davidson was born in Pittsburgh, Pa., in 1969 to John and Bobbie Stitt. She graduated in 1991 from Virginia Tech with a bachelor of arts degree in broadcast communications. Along with her husband John and three children, Davidson is survived by her parents, two sisters, a brother, and a host of extended family.
In lieu of flowers, the family requested that donations be made to one of three charitable organizations the Davidsons have actively supported: FRAXA, the Fragile X Research Foundation; the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society; and BrightPoint For Children.
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