PBS Executive, Linda Simensky’s Favorite Indie Animated Shorts

This past Friday, I had the pleasure of speaking with one of the key women responsible for shaping my childhood, and in effect instigating my long and unwavering love affair with television. Of course, I didn’t tell her all this over the phone. Instead, I opted to give her a meek thank you for her years of work in children’s animation, in efforts to preserve some semblance of professionalism–I don’t think it worked.

Linda Simensky has held distinguished executive positions in the children’s television industry for more than 20 years. First, she worked her way up at Nickelodeon during the 80’s and 90’s, starting in the programming department and eventually moving into animation. During her nine-year tenure at Nick, she was responsible for overseeing the production of shows like ‘Doug‘ (the good, pre-Disney version) ‘Rocko’s Modern Life’ and ‘Hey Arnold.’

Around the time of ‘Hey Arnold,’ Simensky left Nick after being appointed Director of Programming of Cartoon Network. At Cartoon Network she worked on other memorable shows including ‘Dexter’s Laboratory‘ and ‘Powerpuff Girls.‘ Talk about 90’s cartoon royalty.

Since 2003, Simensky has been overseeing popular preschool and elementary, curriculum-based programming like ‘Sid the Science Kid‘ and ‘WordGirl’ as the Senior Director of Children’s Programming at PBS.

During our chat, Simenski highlighted three independent animated short films from the National Film Board of Canada that had a signficant impact on her view of animation:

1. The Cat Came Back (1988)

This hilarious Oscar®-nominated animation is based on the century-old folk song of the same name. Old Mr. Johnson makes increasingly manic attempts to rid himself of a little yellow cat that just won’t stay away… Also won the 1989 Genie Award for best animated short film.

2. The Big Snit (1985)

This poignant and hilarious animated film perfectly captures the intersection of a domestic quarrel and a global nuclear war. An Oscar®-nominee enjoyed by millions of fans, this film is a classic example of Richard Condie’s off-the-wall humor.

3. The Tender Tale of Cinderella Penguin (1981)

This short animation is a zany version of the classic fairy tale, with the leading role played by a mistreated, romantic penguin, with hilarious results. Cinderella Penguin loses her magic flipper as she runs to meet her midnight deadline, but all ends well when Prince Charming finds the right webbed foot and the nasty step-family is brought to heel. A 1981 Oscar®-nominee.

“It was so funny and so perfectly timed and the design was so funny that I really felt that was perfection for me,” Simensky said of ‘The Cat Came Back.’ ‘The Big Snit’ and ‘The Tender Tale of Cinderella Penguin’ were also examples of unique and funny animation at its best for Simensky.

For more on Simensky, check out this interview.

(All film synopses and photos courtesy of the National Film Board of Canada’s website)


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[…] on her time at Nickelodeon, her love of Bugs Bunny and some of her future plans. (See the post below for more background on Simensky). Simensky making a cameo on the PBS show, WordGirl. Courtesy of […]

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