fred-frederator-studios: Frederator’s 20th Anniversary: 1998-2001  I promised to post a few Frederator highlights looking…


Frederator’s 20th Anniversary: 1998-2001 

I promised to post a few Frederator highlights looking back from our 20th year

Our first few years were dominated by figuring out how to be independent again. After five years with Hanna-Barbera and working for Turner Broadcasting running Hanna-Barbera, figuring out how to get my own thing going took a little while. 


1998 was the year we debuted our first cartoon show, Oh Yeah! Cartoons on Nickelodeon. When we wrapped the season, the party poster had a last minute tongue in cheek joke that inadvertently set the promise for Frederator Studios: “Original Cartoons since 1998.” 

Frederator itself existed completely to the beneficence of Herb Scannell and Albie Hecht at Nickelodeon and Tom Freston and Judy McGrath at Nick’s parent, MTV Networks. We’d all worked together for a decade before I decamped to Hanna-Barbera, and when Ted Turner sold his company they kindly asked me back to make cartoons and consult on programming issues at their company. 

On the first day it was just me and Stephanie Stephens in a temporary conference room in North Hollywood. Our building was right next to what would soon be a notorious bank robbery shootout, and within weeks we were joined by my Hanna-Barbera collaborator Larry Huber, and a teenage Alex Kirwan in his first full time production job, both ready to tackle Oh Yeah! (Steve Hillenburg was in the same space as us, working hard on some pilot about a sponge.)  Within the year, Eric Homan had had it at Warner Bros. Animation Art and joined up for what’s turned out to be an amazing partnership, first to help develop properties from our short lived time at the helm of the Kitchen Sink Press, and then onto more cartoon-y pursuits. 

Oh Yeah! was my second cartoon shorts incubator, taking up where the Hanna-Barbera back-to-the-future experiment, Cartoon Network’s What A Cartoon!, left off. All together the shorts featured 34 original creators and 99 original cartoons. Right from the go it spawned two hit series, Larry Huber’s and Bill Burnett’s ChalkZone and Butch Hartman’s The Fairly OddParents, quickly followed by Rob Renzetti’s My Life as a Teenage Robot. Several of the other creators stayed in Frederator’s circle of talent for the next two decades.   



Frederator looked everywhere for creators. During our first years, most worked in the Los Angeles animation industry, and many came from right within the Oh Yeah! crew. Mike Bell was a writer on Dave Wasson’s Tales from the Goose Lady and went on to create Super Santa and The Forgotten Toybox; Tim Biskup was a Season 1 background designer. Co-executive producer Larry Huber had worked in the cartoon business since the 1960’s. Alex Kirwan had been a high school student who won a contest we had at H&B. I was lucky that many –Hartman, Burnett, Moncrief, Thompson, Renzetti, Ventura, Eng, MacFarlane– came over with me from Hanna-Barbera. On the other hand, Pennsylvania based David Burd worked with me at MTV back in the day.

This season we also got introduced to our first tween creator, 12 year old John Reynolds on his Terry and Chris short, with a story, design, and directing assist from Butch Hartman. A grown up John has become a member in good standing in the Los Angeles animation industry. 


Frederator Studios took a short break while I moved my family to New York from Los Angeles. Eric Homan took the plunge with me and we leapt into the brave new world that was the consumer internet, when I became president of MTV Networks’ online division with,, among others. 

But cartoons cannot be stopped! Frederator’s Nickelodeon cartoons took their next steps with the start of series production based on Butch Hartman’s Oh Yeah! short, The Fairly OddParents and Bill Burnett’s and Larry Huber’s ChalkZone (March 22, 2002). Debuting March 30, 2001, FOP would go on to a record run of 16 years (as of 2018) and counting.

Critically, this was the period it dawned on me that I no longer had it in me to be a good corporate employee. But the internet bug had hit squarely and I saw Frederator’s future. Quickly, we set up shop as Frederator/New York with computer engineer and visionary Emil Rensing, and trolled around for some work. 

We set ourselves up as out of Kazakhstan. It seemed less, um, common.

Little noted, and against the advice of counsel, was the addition to our team of a self taught engineer intern, high school freshman David Karp


Frederator limited edition postcards

This period was where we started our tradition of Frederator limited edition postcards. The first three series (the “series” designation didn’t actually start for a few years) were the Oh Yeah! seasons, and a few non-series snuck in there too. One of the Frederator/NY clients was MTV’s new acquisition, the former Nashville Network they’d rebranded as TNN: The National Network. We threw some Frederator t-shirts along with David Ramage when he went across the country proving the channel was indeed national. 

More to come…

Artwork from the top: Frederator’s first announcement illustrated and designed by Arlen Schumer, color by Patrick Raske; Oh Yeah! posters by Hatch Show Print, Nashville; Oh Yeah! Cartoons limited edition sericel, creative direction by Eric Homan; Oh Yeah! postcard, Series 3, 2000