Cartoon Network Chief Steps Down

Cites 'Aqua Teen' Bomb Scare as Reason for Departure

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DALLAS ( -- Jim Samples stepped down from his position as general manager of Cartoon Network today as a direct result of his company's involvement in last week's "Aqua Teen" marketing snafu in Boston.
Jim Samples has stepped down as Cartoon Network general manager.
Jim Samples has stepped down as Cartoon Network general manager. Credit: Rick Diamond

The failed stunt cost parent company Turner Broadcasting $2 million (shared with its agency, Interference) and caused a temporary shutdown of key parts of Boston after circuit panels used in a promotion for "Aqua Teen Hunger Force" were mistaken for bombs.

The amount will cover the cost of city workers whose time was tied up by the incident.

'Compelled to step down'
"As general manager of Cartoon Network, I feel compelled to step down, effective immediately, in recognition of the gravity of the situation that occurred under my watch," Mr. Samples told his colleagues in an internel memo today. "It's my hope that my decision allows us to put this chapter behind us and get back to our mission of delivering unrivaled original animated entertainment for consumers of all ages."

Mr. Samples had been with the network in Atlanta for 13 years, and helped introduce the Adult Swim lineup, of which the cult TV show "Aqua Teen Hunger Force" had been a part.

What started out as a small-budget guerilla street promotion for "Aqua Teen" -- some light boxes featuring the show's Mooninite characters surreptitiously dotted around Boston -- quickly descended into a full-scale emergency as they were taken for explosive devices. Then, almost as swiftly -- thanks to cable news, newspaper websites and an army of bloggers -- the whole incident was transformed into a national debate on whether this was marketing run amok or whether the authorities might have been able to defuse it with the help of a 15-year-old or a Google search rather than a bomb squad.

Search is on
In a separate e-mail, Mark Lazarus, president of Turner Entertainment Group, told employees, "Jim's decision to leave his post is a reflection of his regard for the business he helped build and the people he trusts to move it forward. He has our respect, appreciation and sincere best wishes."

The search to find a replacement for Mr. Samples has begun immediately, with the senior animation team reporting to Mr. Lazarus in the interim.

Cartoon Network's upfront event celebrating its year in children's programming will be held Feb. 14 in New York.
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