|Born||1948 (age 70–71)|
|Residence||Toronto, Ontario, Canada|
|Occupation||Executive producer, businessperson|
Michael Hirsh (born 1948) is a Belgian-born Canadian citizen. He has been a significant figure in the Canadian television industry, or more specifically children's programming, since the 1980s. Some of his most known productions include Clone High, Franklin, Rolie Polie Olie, Johnny Test, Arthur, Caillou, Will and Dewitt, Spider Riders, World of Quest, Magi-Nation and Strawberry Shortcake's Berry Bitty Adventures.
Born in Belgium in 1948, Michael's family emigrated to North America when he was a child; he was raised primarily in Toronto, Ontario, Canada and New York City. After high school, Michael attended York University in Toronto where he would meet his future business partner, Patrick Loubert. Hirsh abandoned his post-secondary education after three years to pursue his filmmaking ambitions.
In 1971, Hirsh co-founded Nelvana with Patrick Loubert and British-born animation artist Clive A. Smith. Under co-CEO Hirsh's leadership, the studio was responsible for many of its animated phenomena.
In the 1980s, Hirsh saved Nelvana from more than one brush with bankruptcy. After the failure of their initial feature film, Rock & Rule (in which he also worked as a storyboard artist for the film), the original distributor of their live-action show, T. and T., went out of business. Defying advice to fold the company, Michael found a replacement distributor within six weeks.
In late 1996, amid Golden Books negotiations to buy Nelvana, Hirsh went against his co-founders' advice and declined the offer. This led to the now infamous argument with the then COO of the company, Eleanor Olmstead, in which the normally mild-mannered Hirsh and Olmstead were reportedly heard "swearing up and down the hallway at one another". After remaining unaware for some time, Golden Books eventually walked out of the C$140 million deal in light of the internal discord.
In September 2000, Hirsh sold the Nelvana holdings to Corus Entertainment for C$540 million. Two years later, he was the last of the original founders to leave the studio, though the Corus press release stated that he had decided to take on an advisory role in the company.
Cookie Jar Group
In 2004, Hirsh reestablished himself in the children's television market when he led a consortium which acquired the remains of Cinar after a financial scandal had brought that company to ruin. Cinar was bought for C$190 million and Hirsh became CEO of the new company rebranded "Cookie Jar Entertainment".
Since then, the Cookie Jar Group has been expanding in both Canada and the United States. In 2008, Cookie Jar merged with DIC Entertainment in an estimated US$87.6 million buyout, forming one of the world's largest privately held children's entertainment companies.
In 2012, Cookie Jar Entertainment was acquired by DHX Media and Hirsh became Executive Chairman of DHX Media. The combined company has a children's library of 8000 episodes and is the largest supplier of kids programming to online streaming services, as well as a leader in production and licensing and merchandising for children.
WOW Unlimited Media Inc.
Near the end of 2015, three years after DHX Media's acquisition of Cookie Jar, Hirsh left to found a new production company called Ezrin Hirsh Entertainment with music producer Bob Ezrin. Ezrin Hirsh and producer/entrepreneur Fred Seibert (and his company Frederator Networks, Inc.) together worked out an arrangement with Vancouver's Rainmaker Entertainment and on 26 October 2016 Rainmaker purchased the companies and also announced that Rainmaker's assets will consolidate its divisions under a new holding company called WOW! Unlimited Media Inc. Hirsh will serve as CEO and chairman for the holding company, with Seibert as Chief Creative Officer and CEO of Frederator.
A number of productions that Michael has been involved with have been nominated for or won awards. For their work on shows including Beetlejuice, Babar, Little Bear, Rupert, Franklin, Rolie Polie Olie and The Adventures of Tintin, Hirsh and his colleagues have received awards such as Daytime Emmys and Geminis.
- BEARS' FILLS VOID IN KID MARKET by Vernon Scott, South Florida Sun-Sentinel. Retrieved 28 September 2010.
- He now lives in Toronto with his wife, Elaine. Media: The great strawberry shortcake custody battle Archived 27 September 2009 at the Wayback Machine by Joe Castaldo, Canadian Business. Retrieved 28 September 2010.
- The little company that could Nelvana celebrating its 20 years of success in animation by Sid Adilman, The Toronto Star. Retrieved 28 September 2010.
- Lucchesi, Nick (10 November 2010). "Tuli Kupferberg Is God, and a Shoulda-Been Cult Hit Finally Gets Its NY Premiere". Village Voice. Retrieved 6 September 2015.
- The Toughest SOBs in Business by John Daly, The Globe and Mail. Retrieved 28 September 2006.
- Small animation house eyes Teletoon business by Adam Mayers, The Toronto Star. Retrieved 28 September 2010.
- Children's TV firms join forces ; Corus agrees to pay $540 million for Nelvana by John Spears, The Toronto Star. Retrieved 28 September 2010.
- Corus Entertainment Announces Fiscal 2002 Year-End Results, Corus Entertainment. Retrieved 18 July 2011.
- Micheline Charest, CBC. Retrieved 28 September 2010.
- Pink Slips to Fly at DIC by Ryan Ball, Animation Magazine. Retrieved 28 September 2010.
- Knelman, Martin (7 February 2017). "Animating guru Hirsh is back with new company, Netflix project". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved 8 February 2017.
- "Canada's Rainmaker Buys Fred Seibert's Frederator, Will Form WOW!". 26 October 2016. Retrieved 3 January 2017.
- "From Day 1, Frederator's been on the lookout". 26 October 2016.
- Michael Hirsh's IMDB awards list. Retrieved 28 September 2010.