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Phil Roman: 1930—: Animator, Producer, Director

Founded Own Company

In 1984 Roman founded Film Roman, Inc., with a contract to produce animated specials based on popular comic-strip character, Garfield, created by Jim Davis. The first two Garfield specials, Here Comes Garfield, and Garfield on the Town, were directed by Roman while he was still working for Melendez Productions. The first special produced under Roman's new company was Garfield in the Rough. The special was awarded an Emmy. Film Roman went on to produce nine more Garfield specials. In 1986 two of Roman's Garfield specials were the only animated specials to receive Emmy nominations. He was assured an Emmy that year, winning it for Garfield's Halloween Adventure. The final Garfield Emmy came in 1989 with Garfield's Babes & Bullets.

In 1992 Film Roman began a relationship with a yellow family created by Matt Groening. The Simpsons, the longest-running animated series, became one of Film Roman's most successful ventures. Between the years of 1992 and 1999, Film Roman was responsible for seeing that the popular family made it to the television screen weekly. This responsibility paid off as the show garnered Film Roman three Emmys. Film Roman also produced the popular Butterfinger commercials that featured the Simpson characters.

In 1990 Roman brought his animation success to the former Soviet Union by co-founding ASK/Roman Animation Studios, one of the first full-service animation facilities in the former communist country. Known since the 1920s for their animation talent, the Russian animators welcomed the venture and the joint company went on to produce a five-minute animated short, "Lucky Start." This relationship continued in 1993 when Film Roman acquired old Russian cartoons from the 1920s. His company took the old cartoons and restored the prints plus added music. The result was the Animated Classic Showcase which featured these old cartoons refurbished for new viewers.

Stateside, Roman continued to take on more projects including such popular series as The Mask, Bobby's World, and The Critic. In 1996 Film Roman had exclusive animation rights to Izzy, the Olympic Games mascot, and Film Roman produced a prime time special featuring the character. Roman's company also created and produced Fox Network's hugely successful King of the Hill cartoon.

The late 1990s saw trouble brewing for Roman and his company. Since its start, Film Roman grew from freelancers to a staff of more than 300. Profits rose to approximately $50 million. The company went public to garner funds for more big budget projects. The UPN Network backed out of a deal that cost Film Roman $2 million. With investors shaky, Roman was demoted from CEO to creative director. With most animation being done by computer, many thought he would jump on the bandwagon. Instead, Roman tendered his resignation and started another animation production company, Phil Roman Entertainment. This company would focus on keeping the cell tradition alive. However, Roman remained a major shareholder in Film Roman. Under his new company, Roman continued to produce animated specials including, Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer. He rejoined Film Roman's board of directors in 2001. In 2002 his two companies combined focusing on both computer-generated and cell animation.

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