EXCLUSIVE: Jennifer Howell, who was Paramount’s Head of Comedy for the past two-and-a-half years, has joined DreamWorks Animation as the company’s new Head of Development. She is taking over for Gregg Taylor who began producing duties last August on DreamWorks’ Larrikins, the animated musical film. Like Taylor (who had the gig before her), Howell will report to Bonnie Arnold and Mireille Soria.
Taylor had been maintaining the job duties while also juggling his responsibilities on the CGI-film Larrikins while Arnold and Soria searched for his replacement. As Head of Development for the past five years, Taylor oversaw the development of both Trolls and The Boss Baby, for which he also served as the Production Executive (as he did on Home and the How To Train Your Dragon films).
He will now turn his attention to Larrikins, a film being directed by Tim Minchin and Chris Miller about an all-animal rock-n-roll musical. The story follows a desert-dwelling marsupial known as a bilby (which in reality looks like a rat and rabbit that was crossbred). The bilby has lived under a rock his entire life before he is kicked out by his parents and told to get a life. He does so by going on a road trip with a band in the Australian Outback. The project was written by Harry Cripps; Minchin is composing.
Minchin was the composer/lyricist of the Tony Award-winning Matilda the Musical.
Larrikins is scheduled for release on February 16, 2018 through Fox, but given the acquisition of DreamWorks Animation last month, we would not be surprised if the picture switched to Universal for distribution.
Taylor was instrumental in the formation of Oriental DreamWorks as well as the acquisition of Classic Media. He worked, too, to help in the creation of the company’s animation TV division.
Howell comes to DreamWorks Animation with a strong background in animation. She previously ran 20th Century Fox Television’s animation department, and served as EVP at Matt Stone and Trey Parker’s film company Important Studios. She was a supervising producer on South Park and served as a producer for 10 years on that series as well as their Team America, That’s My Bush and South Park: Bigger, Longer and Uncut.
In her nearly two years at Paramount, Howell also set up several comedies such as Soapdish, Grease: Live, First Wives Club, Kid Boss, Bajillion Dollar Brokers, and School of Rock, which was sold straight to series.
She has also set up such dramas as Shooter and The Truman Show. While at 20th Century Fox Television, she helped launch several series for Fox including Bob’s Burgers, The Cleveland Show, Napoleon Dynamite, Allen Gregory, Murder Police, and Sit Down Shut Up.
Prior to DreamWorks, Taylor was at the Kennedy/Marshall Company where he served as senior exec VP for six years.