Newark, N.J., September 29, 2004 – DPS Film Roman, an IDT Entertainment company, and recent Emmy award winner, Harry Connick Jr., will join forces to co-produce “The Happy Elf,” a one-hour 3D animated holiday special based on Connick’s original children’s song from his 2003 Sony/Columbia Records release “Harry for the Holidays.” “Harry for the Holidays” was the top selling holiday CD for 2003. IDT Entertainment is a subsidiary of IDT Corporation (NYSE: IDT, IDT.C), an international telecom, entertainment and technology company. HC Productions, whose partners include Connick, Scott Landis and Ann Marie Wilkins, will co-produce.
Based on Harry Connick’s original Christmas song of the same name, with script by Andrew Fishman and story by Fishman and Scott Landis, “The Happy Elf” is the story of Eubie, one of Santa’s helpers whose overly optimistic outlook is put to the test when he tries to bring Christmas joy to a sad little town aptly called Bluesville.
“Harry Connick Jr. is among an elite group of performers with the rare ability to connect with audiences of all ages,” said Jim Courter, IDT’s CEO. “The combination of his musical talent and DPS Film Roman’s animation expertise adds up to holiday entertainment magic. ‘The Happy Elf’ promises to be a must-watch special for television and a must-have DVD for families worldwide.”
Now in production for the 2005 holiday season, “The Happy Elf” will feature an animated Harry Connick Jr. serving as host and narrator of the story. Mr. Connick will also compose and produce the score for the special. “I am happy to be working with some of the best people in the animation world,” noted Connick. “This is going to be fun.”
“’The Happy Elf’ is family friendly entertainment at its best,” said Morris Berger, CEO of IDT Entertainment. “IDT Entertainment’s Anchor Bay plans to release ‘The Happy Elf’ to the domestic DVD market, while our newly created IDT Entertainment Sales company will handle worldwide television distribution.”
“The Happy Elf” marks the third holiday-themed special for Connick. His first, a 1993 CBS holiday special, coincided with the release of his first holiday CD, “When My Heart Finds Christmas.” That CD went on to become one of the best selling holiday CDs of all time. His second, a 2003 NBC holiday concert special, emerged as the highest-rated show on Thanksgiving night. In addition, Connick was honored by the Emmys last month, winning the award for Outstanding Music Direction for his 2004 PBS Great Performances concert “Only You: In Concert.” All of these achievements – not to mention his album sales of over 20 million, his three Grammy awards, his Tony nomination for music and lyrics composed for a Broadway play, and his performance of Oscar and Golden Globe nominated songs – reflect a creative energy that make Harry Connick Jr. unique in the world of contemporary entertainment.
Sidney Clifton, Senior Vice President of Programming and Development for Film Roman, will serve as Creative Executive for DPS Film Roman. Scott Landis will executive produce for HC Productions, which is also developing for 20th Century Fox a feature film musical called “Ben Invention,” based on an original idea by Connick.
IDT Entertainment, a division of IDT Corporation, is a vertically integrated entertainment concern that develops, produces and distributes proprietary and licensed entertainment content, with a particular focus on high-quality animation. IDT Entertainment also owns a minority interest in Stan Lee’s POW! Entertainment. In connection with IDT Entertainment’s investment in POW!, the companies agreed to co-develop and co-produce a minimum of six animation projects for Direct-to-DVD distribution and broadcast. Recently, IDT Entertainment entered into a multi-faceted development, production, and distribution agreement with Todd McFarlane Productions (TMP) to produce animated programming and merchandise based on Spawn and other TMP original intellectual properties.