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French Version

Rubicon, Layalina and Fat Rock announce the frst Arab/American children's production

“Companies Join Together to Produce and Distribute an Animated Home Video/DVD Series”

Ms. Randa Ayoubi, CEO of Rubicon in Amman, Ambassador Richard Fairbanks, Chairman of the Board of Washington, DC based Layalina Productions, Inc. and Mr. David Pritchard, CEO of Los Angeles based Fat Rock Entertainment, announced today a first-ever co-production of a thirteen episode series created specifically to address the cultural void that currently exists between the United States and the Arab world. Distribution will be principally for the explosive worldwide DVD market. The production will also air on satellite and television broadcast networks both in the Middle East and in the United States. The production will follow the exploits of two pre-teen boys, one Arab and one American. The boys meet in Amman, Jordan, where their respective grandfathers, who are life-long friends, are working on a massive archeology excavation project. There, the mischievous boys become friends, and through their adventures uncover an ancient treasure room containing a time travel mechanism that takes the boys back to great historical moments in the Middle East and the United States that illustrate to the boys the similar values and cultural developments that are shared by both cultures today.

Layalina Productions, Inc. was created by Richard Fairbanks in 2002 as a non-profit TV production corporation to produce and license thoughtful Arabic-language programming for the Middle East. Layalina’s educational, debate, entertainment, and children’s shows aim to strengthen the existing bridges of mutual understanding between the U.S. and the Arab world, and create new ones. “This production, titled Ben & Izzy, is the first step in helping children from both cultures discover and appreciate the deep and rich history and shared values from each others’ past”, said Fairbanks. Based in Washington, DC, and supported by an impressive list of individuals from the United States - Layalina will also assist in the financing and distribution of Ben and Izzy

Ms. Randa Ayoubi, CEO and founder of Rubicon in Amman, who will be the principal animation studio and production company on Ben & Izzy, said, “This project is the culmination of a lot of creative cooperation and hard work by the staff at Rubicon and our partners in the U.S., Fat Rock Entertainment. Rubicon, as a shareholder in Fat Rock, has been working to create a project we could co-produce and that would both educate and entertain a worldwide children’s audience. Rubicon’s state-of-the-art production facility in Amman was built for just this kind of production.”

“What attracted us to the project in the beginning” remarked Richard Fairbanks, a former Special Middle East Peace Negotiator and Chairman of Layalina, “was the unique format of using a children’s adventure story to explore the cultural differences and similarities in the two boys’ upbringing. We are excited to be launching Layalina with this exciting co-production project”

David Pritchard, founder and CEO of Fat Rock Entertainment, stated, “Fat Rock’s relationship with Rubicon has evolved over the last year and as we have seen their computer animation and artistic ability grow along with their production capacity, we now feel they are ready to take the lead in producing this project.” “What is most interesting,” Pritchard continued, “is the parties that have joined together to make this happen. Layalina, on the one hand, is this terrific group of caring world leaders who share Richard Fairbanks’ vision to use media and especially “edutainment” to bridge the cultural and social rift that has formed between the Arab world and the West. And then Rubicon on the other hand, is this talented group of animators, artists and software techies with a strong entrepreneurial spirit and it just so happens they are sitting in the middle of the Arab world. Rubicon started out three years ago to build a qualitative 3-D animation and computer graphics hub. With Jordan and the rest of the Middle East populated with a highly educated and technically skilled labor force, it is an ideal center for computer graphics, animation and digital production. And then there’s Fat Rock and through its affiliation with SD Entertainment, we have some of the best animation storytellers in America. The icing on the whole deal though, is that Paul Sabella, one of the founders of SD, was born and raised in Alexandria, Egypt. So I am especially happy for Paul, who gets to work on a project that brings him back to his cultural roots.”

Rubicon and its investment partners, along with Layalina, have joined together to contribute and raise the production budget for the thirteen episode project estimated at $5,000,000. The three party agreement and the financing business strategy for the project was put together by Baman Rusby of Atoka International in Washington, DC.

The parties plan to announce shortly the entire creative team who will produce the series. That team will be lead by multiple Emmy winning animation producer, David Pritchard (The Simpsons, King of the Hill, Dr Katz, Licensed Therapist) and SD Entertainment headed by animation director Paul Sabella (former president of Hanna Barberra and MGM animation) and animation producer Jonathan Dern (formerly of DIC and MGM animation). Writing teams and animation teams selected from both the Arab and American creative communities will soon join these executives. Distribution partners are being lined-up and will be announced shortly. The idea is to produce the series in both Arabic and English and market the programs as a boxed DVD/Home Video set to the over 300 million Arab language consumers in the world and to the TV Stations and Video/DVD distributors in the West.

Amman,17November2003
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