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Howard Smith Named Executive Vice President, Nickelodeon Recreation

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Howard Smith has been promoted to Executive Vice President, Nickelodeon Recreation. The announcement was recently made by Sarah Kirshbaum Levy, Chief Operating Officer (COO), Nickelodeon/MTVN Kids and Family Group, to whom Mr. Smith will continue to report. In his newly expanded role, Mr. Smith will oversee all aspects of Nickelodeon’s global Recreation business including live tours, theme parks, hotels, cruises and new opportunities for kids and families to interact with its brand and characters. 

 

"Over the past few years, Howard has been the architect behind a series of major partnerships that have introduced Nick-branded recreational experiences to the world, " said Ms. Levy. "Thanks to Howard’s innovative leadership, this year will mark a number of exciting firsts for Nickelodeon: our theme park at Mall of America; the ground breaking for our first Nickelodeon Resort by Marriott in San Diego; and the launch of the Nickelodeon Family Cruise with Royal Caribbean this summer."

During Mr. Smith’s tenure at Nickelodeon, most recently as Senior Vice President of Nickelodeon Recreation, he has built its recreation business from scratch to an estimated $200 million annual business at retail, entertaining 30 million guests each year. Mr. Smith solidified Nickelodeon’s presence in the theme park industry, established its niche in the hotel industry, and produced a wide variety of critically-acclaimed live touring theatrical productions.

Mr. Smith recently cemented a partnership between Nickelodeon and the Mall of America to create a Nickelodeon stand-alone theme park-Nickelodeon Universe-which is scheduled to open March 15, 2008. The biggest indoor amusement park in the U.S. will feature live entertainment, characters, retail and food establishments, and rides themed with top ranking network properties including: SpongeBob SquarePants, Dora the Explorer, Go, Diego, Go!, Avatar: The Last Airbender, and more.

 

In addition, Mr. Smith forged a Nickelodeon partnership with Royal Caribbean International to launch a premier Nickelodeon cruise, Nickelodeon Family Cruise with Royal Caribbean, in August 2008. The week-long cruise will visit four exotic, tropical Western Caribbean destinations including: Cozumel, Mexico; George Town, Grand Cayman; Ocho Rios, Jamaica; and a special stop at Royal Caribbean’s private beach destination, Labadee.

In 2005, Nickelodeon opened a 777 suite resort hotel spanning 24 acres in Orlando, Florida. Mr. Smith led the expansion of the Nickelodeon brand into the hotel business and last summer, he cultivated a new relationship with Marriott International and Miller Global Properties to develop up to 20 Nickelodeon Resorts by Marriott. The first is scheduled to open in San Diego in 2010. Mr. Smith will oversee the creation and global expansion of these hotels, and will ensure the resorts deliver a unique experience for traveling kids and families.

Beyond these signature partnerships, Mr. Smith has grown the Nickelodeon theme park business into more than 10 different Nick-branded lands and attractions at major parks around the world. He recently celebrated the grand opening of Nickland, a major interactive adventure zone at Movie Park Germany in Bottrop-Kirchhellen, and the first Nick-themed adventure site in Europe. Mr. Smith has also helmed deals for Nickelodeon attractions at Universal Studios, Paramount Parks, and Dreamworld on Australia’s Gold Coast.

Under Mr. Smith’s direction, Nickelodeon, working with partner Broadway Across America (formerly Live Nation), has produced 14 of the industry’s most compelling and creative touring stage productions for kids and their families over the past 10 years. On March 28, the network will launch The Backyardigans Live! Tale of the Mighty Knights, which will travel to 50 markets across the United States. Go, Diego, Go Live! The Great Jaguar Rescue, currently touring nationwide, holds the box office record for a family show at Radio City Music Hall. Mr. Smith has also led the production teams for hit theatrical productions including: Dora The Explorer Live!, Blue’s Clues Live, Rugrats: A Live Adventure, as well as several All That Music and More music festivals.

 Mr. Smith first joined Nickelodeon as Vice President, Marketing in the Recreation Group, where he was responsible for developing marketing plans to build awareness and drive ticket sales for all Nickelodeon Recreation ventures. Prior to joining Nickelodeon, he worked in London as Director of Network Development for MTV Europe, where he was instrumental in launching MTV throughout 14 European countries building critical cable and satellite household distribution for MTV’s first international network. Beginning his career at Turner Broadcasting, Mr. Smith formerly negotiated cable distribution for CNN and other cable networks in the southeast and northeast regions of the U.S. He graduated from Washington and Lee University with a B.A. degree in mathematics.

Nickelodeon, in its 28th year, is the number-one entertainment brand for kids. It has built a diverse, global business by putting kids first in everything it does. The company includes television programming and production in the United States and around the world, plus consumer products, online, recreation, books, magazines and feature films. Nickelodeon’s U.S. television network is seen in more than 96 million households and has been the number-one-rated basic cable network for 13 consecutive years. Nickelodeon and all related titles, characters and logos are trademarks of Viacom Inc.

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