Michael Polis could make or break the likes of Elmo, Kermit the Frog and Cookie Monster.

Recently named vice president of marketing worldwide for Jim Henson Co., Polis will be responsible for marketing and promoting every Henson property to audiences in the U.S. and abroad.

"I'm pretty excited about it," Polis said. "For the first time, I'm actually going to have some control over what it is that we do."

In his most recent role as vice president of marketing worldwide, Polis worked with only a handful of Henson properties. His new post puts him in charge of everything from The Muppets to Bear in the Big Blue House and includes overseeing the company's home-entertainment projects.

Before joining Henson Co. in 1999, he served as executive director of marketing at Universal Studios Home Video and, earlier, he worked in new product development at Kraft Foods.

One of the projects Polis is developing is a commemoration of the 25th anniversary of "The Muppet Show," a yearlong celebration that will kick off with a "Muppetfest" event in September. He also plans to expand the company's direct-to-video efforts to include feature-length films.

While Polis is optimistic, Henson Co.'s fate is far from certain. EM.TV & Merchandising AG, the struggling German media group that purchased the company last year, reportedly has Henson Co. on the block.

A father of three toddlers and fan of Henson characters, Polis said his office is filled with toys. "It's been perceived that I'm the company store," he said. "Everyone likes to come into my office and borrow things permanently."

Claudia Peschiutta

Accounting and Consulting

Linda A. Bryson has been promoted to principal of IVI International, an architectural/engineering consulting firm in Los Angeles. She specializes in program management of due diligence services on behalf of institutional lenders and debt-rating agencies, particularly with respect to structured finance in the commercial-backed mortgage securitization market. Bryson was most recently vice president at the firm.

George Z. Fang has been admitted to the partnership at BDO Seidman LLP in Los Angeles. Fang will be an assurance partner, working with clients in the manufacturing, financial services, high tech, real estate, retail and wireless communications industries. Prior to joining the firm, Fang was an associate professor of accounting at Shanghai University of Finance and Economics in China.

Marilyn Simcox has been appointed director of the National Alumni Relations Program at Deloitte & Touche LLP in Los Angeles. She will head up the national program, which caters to clients and alumni of the firm by generating new and extended business through recruiting and networking events. Simcox was formerly director of strategic recruiting in the Los Angeles office of Deloitte & Touche.

Advertising & P.R.

Mel Harrison has been named to the new post of vice president, business development at Taffetdesign Inc., a marketing and communications agency in Santa Monica. He will be responsible for developing new business opportunities for the company from within all areas of the broadcast media entertainment industry. Most recently, Harrison was vice president, business development with Pittard Sullivan.

Lawrence E. Moore has been hired as executive director of public relations at Riester-Robb, a privately held advertising firm in Santa Monica. In his new role, Moore is responsible for the public relations functions at the three Riester-Robb offices located in Phoenix, Salt Lake City and Santa Monica.

Banking & Finance

John C. Erickson and Brian A. Maki have both been promoted at Union Bank of California N.A. in Los Angeles. Erickson has been promoted to executive vice president in the commercial financial services group, and he will head the communications/media unit. He was previously a senior vice president overseeing UBOC's corporate capital markets unit. Maki, who most recently served as vice president and regional director of Private Bank-Beverly Hills for Union Bank, has been promoted to senior vice president and regional director.

Sheena Rhee has been appointed assistant managing director of the Los Angeles office of the MONY Group, a financial services and asset accumulation service provider in Los Angeles. She will be responsible for recruiting, training and supervising financial professionals for MONY Life Insurance Co. and MONY Securities Corp.

James E. Wullschleger has been appointed vice president and manager of the business banking center at Manufacturers Bank in Los Angeles. He will be responsible for improving processing and service, making the center more efficient in processing loans under $1 million and bringing in addition revenue by increasing the number of loans in that category. Prior to joining the company, Wullschleger spent seven years at Sanwa Bank, where he most recently served as vice president and small business unit manager.

Entertainment

Kenneth D. Cron has been appointed chief executive of the Vivendi-Universal Games division of Vivendi-Universal, formerly Havas Interactive. Based in Torrance, Cron will be responsible for advancing the division's development of the company's branded products, while at the same time focusing on cross-platform distribution, global expansion and the development of online subscription-model content. He was formerly the CEO of the Flipside Network.

Steven Ste. Marie has been named president and chief operating officer at Intertainer, an entertainment-on-demand broadband network based in Culver City. He will be responsible for the company's day-to-day operations and will play a significant role in managing the company's strategic direction. Ste. Marie was previously chief executive for CareerPath.com, where he had overall responsibility for the company's operating management and strategy.

Hospitality

Jay Smith has been appointed director of group sales at the Century Plaza Hotel & Spa in Los Angeles. In this role, he will oversee nine sales managers responsible for booking more than 130,000 room nights each year, as well as manage all group sales activities relating to new and existing accounts at the hotel. Smith joined the hotel in 1998 as a national sales manager.

Insurance

Ronald L. Goldberg has been named senior vice president of underwriting at SCPIE Holdings Inc., a health care and professional liability insurance provider in Los Angeles. As manager of the company's underwriting department, Goldberg will be responsible for identifying and pursuing profitable business expansion strategies for the firm. He was previously a senior consultant for ChannelPoint, an insurance industry e-commerce provider.

Law

Allan W. Jansen has been admitted to the partnership in the Los Angeles office of Jones, Day, Reavis & Pogue. He is a member of the intellectual property section of the firm's litigation group. Jansen was previously a partner at Lyon & Lyon.

Manufacturing

Brent Bailey has been appointed president of Pharmative Corp., a provider of dietary supplements under the Nature Made and Nature's Resource brand names. Based in Northridge, Bailey will focus on new product development as well as expanding the company's overall market share and brand position. He will also continue to serve as Pharmative's chief operating officer, a role he has held since 1999, and maintain responsibility for managing various company operations including marketing, sales, manufacturing, finance, information systems, human resources and regulatory and legal affairs.

Media

Al Corral has been appointed news director of "Noticiero Telemundo 52" at KVEA-TV in Los Angeles. He will be responsible for the in-house news production, local news specials and management of all six locally produced "Noticiero Telemundo 52" newscasts, in addition to developing the station's newly created investigative unit. Corral was most recently the news director at KCET-TV, Channel 28.

Mark Shah has been named executive producer of Fox Sports Net and Fox Sports Net 2 in Los Angeles. He will be responsible for hiring talent and producers for both networks as well as overseeing production for the networks, which carry the Los Angeles Lakers, Los Angeles Kings, Anaheim Angels, Los Angeles Dodgers and Mighty Ducks of Anaheim, in addition to local college and high school events. Shah most recently served as a coordinating producer for Fox Sports Net.

New Media

Blair Harrison has been appointed executive vice president, technology and chief technology officer at ifilm, an Internet movie guide based in Los Angeles. He will be responsible for overseeing all engineering and technology strategy for the company. Prior to joining ifilm, Harrison served as CTO for FasTV in Los Angeles. Ifilm also has promoted Chris Elwell to senior vice president, general counsel and Brent Willman to senior vice president and chief financial officer.

Real Estate

Clemente Teng has been named director of investor relations at KB Home, a homebuilder in Los Angeles. Teng, who has more than 20 years of experience in the financial and investor relations arenas, most recently served as director of investor relations at Sempra Energy.

Technology

Scott Berlin has joined Encore Software Inc. in Los Angeles as senior vice president of worldwide sales. He is responsible for overseeing all of the company's sales activities, including distribution of entertainment, education and reference software in addition to spearheading Encore's diversification into the console and international markets. Berlin previously held senior-level positions at Infogames, Virgin Interactive Entertainment and Electronic Arts.

Transportation

David C. Miller has been named director of administrative services at Burbank-Glendale-Pasadena Airport. He will be responsible for overseeing the business affairs of the airport, including purchasing, accounting and budgeting. Miller previously managed fixed-base-operator facilities in Los Angeles and Houston, as well as directed regional aircraft sales programs.

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