Michael Hirsh is a significant figure in the Canadian television industry, a highly accomplished entrepreneur and executive who began his illustrious career in the entertainment industry as a filmmaker and later founded two remarkable children’s entertainment companies. He is recognized industry wide as a leading business and brand builder since his achievements have helped shape today’s era in animation production and distribution.
He is currently a principal with The Entertainment and Media Finance Group Inc. (“TEAM”). TEAM serves producers and distributors with innovative interim financing, merger and acquisition, international production structuring and financial advisory services.
In 1971, Michael co-founded Nelvana Limited where he developed and produced many of television’s most celebrated quality animated programs including The Care Bears, Babar, Rupert and The Adventures of Tintin. In the process, he pioneered many of the worldwide co-production, marketing and distribution techniques that have become standard industry practice. The company caught the eye of George Lucas a few years later. But it was Michael’s persuasion of the owners of The Care Bears franchise to have his studio produce their feature film and television series that lead to Nelvana’s success. Nelvana was sold to Corus Entertainment in 2000 for $540 million and Michael held the position of co-CEO until he left the company in 2002.
Michael is also a co-founder of TeleTOON Canada. He has Executive Produced over 5,000 live-action and animated television episodes as well as several feature films. In 2004, Michael led a consortium that acquired Cinar Corporation for C$190 million and became CEO of the new company, which was rebranded Cookie Jar Entertainment. Cookie Jar Entertainment became one of the world’s largest privately held children’s entertainment companies and was acquired by DHX Media in 2012 where Michael became Vice-Chairman and served on the board up until December 2015.
He has earned numerous Daytime Emmys and Gemini awards and nominations. He is a regular speaker at industry panels and events.