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Michael Hirsh (producer)

This article is about the Nelvana co-founder. For the page concerning the Newsweek reporter, see Michael Hirsh (journalist).
Michael Hirsh
Born 1948 (age 67–68)
Brussels, Belgium
Residence Toronto, Ontario
Nationality Belgian
Occupation Executive Producer, Michael Hirsch Productions

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.[1]

Personal life

Born in Belgium in 1948, Michael's family emigrated to North America when he was a child; he was raised primarily in Toronto and New York. 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.[2]



Main article: Nelvana

In 1971, Hirsh co-founded Nelvana with Patrick Loubert and British-born animation artist Clive A. Smith.[3] 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, 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.[4]

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.[4]

In 1997, Hirsh and Nelvana helped found Teletoon along with fellow Canadian children's television production company Cinar.[5]

In September 2000, Hirsh sold the Nelvana holdings to Corus Entertainment for C$540 million.[6] Two years later, he was the last of the original founders to leave the studio,[2] but has since taken an advisory role.[7]

Cookie Jar Group

Main article: 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.[2] Cinar was bought for C$190 million and Hirsh became CEO of the new company rebranded "Cookie Jar Entertainment".[8][9]

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.[10]

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.


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.[4][11]


  1. ^ BEARS' FILLS VOID IN KID MARKET by Vernon Scott, South Florida Sun-Sentinel. Retrieved 28 September 2010.
  2. ^ a b c Media: The great strawberry shortcake custody battle by Joe Castaldo, Canadian Business. Retrieved 28 September 2010.
  3. ^ The little company that could Nelvana celebrating its 20 years of success in animation by Sid Adilman, The Toronto Star. Retrieved 28 September 2010.
  4. ^ a b c The Toughest SOBs in Business by John Daly, The Globe and Mail. Retrieved 28 September 2006.
  5. ^ Small animation house eyes Teletoon business by Adam Mayers, The Toronto Star. Retrieved 28 September 2010.
  6. ^ Children's TV firms join forces ; Corus agrees to pay $540 million for Nelvana by John Spears, The Toronto Star. Retrieved 28 September 2010.
  7. ^ Corus Entertainment announces fiscal 2002 year-end results; Year-End Debt Target Achieved., Goliath Business News. Retrieved 18 July 2011.
  8. ^ Micheline Charest, CBC. Retrieved 28 September 2010.
  9. ^ Former Cinar Corp. exec joins Portfolio Ent. by Etan Vlessing, The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 28 September 2010.
  10. ^ Pink Slips to Fly at DIC by Ryan Ball, Animation Magazine. Retrieved 28 September 2010.
  11. ^ Michael Hirsh's IMDB awards list. Retrieved 28 September 2010.

External links

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