Thursday, April 27, 2006

Great Moments In Animation -- Employer-Employee Relations (Part II)

While we're on the subject of shaftings (and we are -- see below), here is another alleged misuse of animation artists. A few days ago we received complaints from employees at Fat Cat Animation in Arizona (this group was initially composed of former Fox Animation employees out of Phoenix). Allegedly, some or all of the employees down there haven't been paid wages in some weeks. And some or all of the employees are apparently starting to get steamed about it. The reports from workers on site are that the company is using the"you want to get paid, you better stay loyal and stick around" ploy, so people to keep their noses to the grindstones in hope that cash will eventually be received. We've tried to contact the company both by phone and e-mail, trying to find out if these representations are true. Thus far, all we've received is blank silence. We think that, if indeed employees aren't getting paid, they should put down their pencils and computer mouses NOW, and walk off the premises NOW. Just our opinion, of course. We're old fashioned that way.

19 comments:

Anonymous said...

you got it all wrong... what i heard is employees are getting paid - just not full salaries right now and nobody is being forced to stay! If you choose to listen to somebody like Steph
Olivieri than more fool you!! That is one screwed up nutcase that should be on medication for multiple personality disorder!

Anonymous said...

I happen to agree with you. Talked to someone close the other day and heard she's trying to shaft fatcat. Having worked with her for years and in many studios... I'm sure thats true.

Steve Hulett said...

Just to be clear: Stephanie Oliveri had NOTHING to do with this post.

She's not there, and she has said zero to me about the place. The above came from others working there.

Anonymous said...

This studio sucks.They use silent intimidation to make you work.They keep asking for loyalty yet they owe so much money from this year and last year that they can never pay anyone back.This is how they have done business in the past and will continue to do so.There is only ten people left from a crew of 70 people and I'm sure none of these people will ever see their money.Fatcat is finished.It's only a matter of time before the doors close.

Anonymous said...

I agree. it's how these guys have done business in the past and it has always finished with them going out of business and forgetting about the money they owe everyone.For them it's business as usual.This one will end like their other ventures.Get out while you can.

Anonymous said...

Of course, everyone has their opinion and will say negative things if they are pissed off. The fact is, the company has been honest with their employees, they pay them what ever they can, they been looking for investors, and although struggling to survive, they want to keep going. Just as the first commentor above, the company understands if employees have to leave. The founders of the company are in the same boat or financially worse than the employees. They are also struggling. But...have faith.

Anonymous said...

Fat cat,fooled everyone with their promises,they hoodwinked us all,they lied about the money they got from Ken Samura to do Curious George and bought big houses and BMW's while the people who came from all over the world got shafted.They are a bunch of crooks,they are now trying to get financing in Russia,wonder whos supplying that money?Steph got shafted like the rest of us,she and a few of us walked ,don't trust Len Simon,and James stoyanoff,they are crooks,and the Aussie guy in charge is a nut job,a violent one at that.I hope they all rot in hell for waht they did to the Artists from all over the world.They should be investigated for money laundering among other things.

Anonymous said...

This last post is certainly from someone who does not know what is going on at Fatcat Animation Studios. Len Simon and James have been honest from the beggining and have kept their promises. The fact is the studio is still going strong and we are told frequently about what's going on. There is no reason for them to try to "screw" us for we want to have a studio and a job for the next 15 years. It's very easy to point fingers and accuse someone without proven facts. We're still waiting too but at least we are working hard to make something out this great place instead of just whining because you are pissed off and haven't got our money yet. There's no Russia, no BMWs and the fact that someone likes to exercise using a punching bag does not make him "a violent one".

Grow up!!!

Anonymous said...

I agree with the previous comments. I do not work at the studio but I'm friends with James and Len and I know how much they have struggled the past year to make sure people are paid as consistently as possible. Despite all the problems Fatcat had, they are doing well and spirits are up. Do not listen to disgruntled ex-employees who don't know what is going on and blame all their misfortunes on other people.

Anonymous said...

lying thiefs, the lot of them.
They may say "disgruntled ex-employees" but make no mistake.
They "fatcat animation" owe a lot of money, to a lot of people.
Alas a few of us have given up all hope of seeing any of it.
Grow up indeed!!!

Gene Fowler said...

I wish they would have picked a different name to tarnish.. geez.

If people are talking shit like this, it's management's fault one way or another.

. said...

Mr. Fowler,

Your level of maturity and professionalism must not be very high. As the owner of your company it is obvious your lack of business acumen is demonstrated by your comment – it is also evident by the quality and content of your product. I’m sure other studios can take care of themselves. One could only hope you start improving yours.

Anonymous said...

Be sure to add to the list of companies involved in this debacle: CNW Entertainment and mainly it's CEO Nicholas Zaldastani. Mr. Zaldastani is a cheat and a liar who'll rob you blind and leave you homeless on Christmas. Much like he did to all ex-employees of the now closed FatCat Animation.

Anonymous said...

Thanks to FatCat, a complete incompetent fast talker was allowed to take them for a ride and leave everyone unemployed and owed major major back pay. To make matters worse, they also did not and have not followed up on any type of legal recourse for the highly illegal things that CEO Nicholas Zaldastani has done with the investor money. It appears he has funneled it into his own interests at the employee expense as well as stopping payment on employee insurance payments without telling anyone... among many many other shady things. If what people were told is true about what really happened to the demise of FatCat, then it is the duty of the heads of the studio to take legal recourse and try to make things right, at the very least on principal. If legal action has been taken, they certainly have not let any employees know about it. In fact, FatCat even eluded to employees that they can go after Nicholas Zaldastani legally if they want but it may jeopardize getting any back pay at all if he decides to file for bankruptcy. FatCat seems to want to pass the buck and act as if they had no idea what was happening, which no one believes anyway. They simply shirk any responsibility for their actions and what eventually lead to some bullsh!tter cooking the books and putting money into bogus and fictional "promotions".
Now CEO, Nicholas Zaldastani, based in San Francisco, seems to have skipped town with no intentions or attempts at getting employees monies owed and Len Simon and James Stoyanof have distanced themselves from any responsibility for allowing themselves to be swindled or admit to being in charge and control of their own studio. Which only means one thing... the employees are left as the ones who were the sacrificial lambs while the "captains of the ship" never stood up for them or looked out for the employees well being (or even their own).

What kind of studio allows some unknown sweet talker take over all monies, control and IP AND not even let their own bread and butter, the employees, know of the inevitable road of doom they are traveling?
The real kicker is that this isn't the first time this kind of thing has happened. There seems to be a history of owing people money and ripping people off. Its all on paper... so you cant say its just bitter grapes for some disgruntled employees. Research and see for yourself just how poorly run this company is, was and will be in the future again (if they restructure and make a go at it as they are attempting).
They absolutely do not look out for their employees... never have and never will. There were some great people who worked there and remained loyal to the very end... and to a fault. They were held hostage in the very studio they helped build. More than the money owed, this studio has taken the wind of out most peoples sails and tarnished the art of animation by using peoples passion and love for it and holding it ransom.

Anonymous said...

Let’s get one thing straight because the ignorance of the overall situation is staggering and apparent in your incoherent rant: Nicholas and CNWE purchased Fatcat studio from Len and James (which I know for a fact that they never got the money for - even at the very end). They didn’t own the studio anymore! They were kept on to run the studio but only as Director and General Manager. They were not even allowed to keep financials on FatCat! Everything was done up in SF or Utah! They have always had Fatcat employees best interest at heart and have many times fought hard over the apparent abuse we seem to get from Nicholas Zaldastani. I have, many times, overheard Len yelling at the top of his lungs on a conference call (in the conference room with the door shut) arguing with Nicholas (and everyone else who stayed hidden in San Francisco in the ‘parent office’) about the treatment we were receiving regarding missing payrolls, health insurance, etc as well as the direction of the company. Because they didn’t own the studio, they were not involved in how the studio was set up by Nicholas. All they had to go on was what they were promised how it would be, which in the end, were all lies. Lies that they found out after they resigned from the company. They resigned because of the abuse that was going on (non-payment of payroll at times, health insurance, etc) and all the broken promises that kept piling up concerning the studio and the direction of the company and to the employees. I know they gave up their weekly paycheck (often several months at a time) many times over to make sure that the employees got paid. You can’t sit there and say “it was their responsibility to do that” as I have heard many of my fellow employees say. I know in the business world, executives get paid first and then the employees. This was not the belief of Len and James (and Roger for that matter). They gladly gave up their paychecks because they felt that the employees of FatCat were the only reason CNWE was in business and able to raise money on Roger’s IP. What does it tell you when even the creator and founder of the IP (Roger) has walked away from Nicholas and the IP he had been creating for the last 20 yrs?

So many times Len and James sat in front of us and talk to us about what was going on and what they were trying to do to either correct or prevent something from happening - most of which was not in our best interest. Sometimes they were successful other times not. But the fact of the matter is - they always had our backs even to the bitter end. They asked us not to take legal action yet so they could try and rectify the situation and negotiate with Nicholas about everybodies back pay. They tried to keep Nicholas from shutting down (bankrupting) FatCat so that everyone stood a chance to get their back pay and keep people on work visas legal. And yes, they have been consulting with several lawyers concerning the situation for a while now. Everybody, including Len and James, were ‘sacrificial lambs’ in the end because that’s the way Nicholas set things up from the beginning all by himself!

Anonymous said...

It is so easy to talk about things now that you’ve been given information by Len and James about what they found out concerning the demise of the studio. They said to us, in our last meeting, that they feel responsible for what happened to us and the studio even though they had no control or knowledge of the underhandedness of Nicholas. Even now they are trying to get another studio going - by our request!!! Len asked us if we wanted them to continue in trying to put together a place where everybody could work out of - another studio. If not, then they would stop altogether and everyone go their separate ways. We asked them to continue, we want a new studio. And now you write this trash, and I quote: “Research and see for yourself just how poorly run this company is, was and will be in the future again (if they restructure and make a go at it as they are attempting). They absolutely do not look out for their employees... never have and never will.” I certainly hope if that’s how you feel that you will NOT be part of the new studio, if you were, because there is not place for you and that attitude.

Why is it that only now you can say that Len and James allowed an ‘unknown sweet talker’ and an ‘incompetent fast talker’ take control of everything especially after the fact? Remember – He owned the companies and was CEO and thus in charge of all finances and monies in the company. Were you not there with the rest of us when this ‘unknown sweet talker’ addressed us in person many times and convinced us that everything was going to be allright and the company/projects were almost funded? It would appear you believed him…you stayed on. And if you didn’t believe him, what stopped you from quitting FatCat and finding another job? Laziness? Certainly Len nor James did not hold anyone hostage and make them stay. Time and time again they said to us “In light of the what’s happening, we cannot and will not ask anyone to stay. You’re free to leave at anytime if you wish. No hard feelings.” They even offered to write a letter of recommendation for anyone who did. In fact I know first hand that James had on several occasions with people who chose to leave. At some point you have to take responsibility for your actions and decisions you made. No one forced you to stay with the people who were, and still are, loyal to Len and James. Obviously you never were one of us. You were just a coward hiding all this time. They say that stressful times really show what a person is made of and you, my friend, have nothing to brag about.

Anonymous said...

It's amazing to me to hear people saying bad things about Len and James after everything they have done help us out. I was there and I know how hard it is to be lied to and be deceived by someone(Nicholas)who kept telling us that the investors were putting money and everything was going to be okay.

There were times that Len and James paid employees out their own pockets to make sure people would have food on the table and a house to go to, while they themselves have to sell everything they had to support their own families because no one was helping them out. Someone comes in this blog and have the audacity to say that they never looked out for the employees and never will???? I bet you anything that the same person that is saying that is one of those that Len and James bent over backwards to help when they needed the most.

The primary job of the Director and GM is to make sure the movie is made and the process run as smooth as possible. They can not do everything. They had no idea that Nicholas Zaldastani was stealing money from the company. If they had another alternative they would have taken it but there was nothing else there. They always told us what was going on and let us know that it was up to us if we wanted to go through that or move on. It was, at the end of the day, our decision to stick around, mainly because I know for a fact that Len and James love what they do, put integrity above everything else and make sure that they do whatever they can to help anyone in need.

I believe legal action wasn't taken because that would jeopardize because potential investors and we knew that would take years to get anything from this guy if we took him to court. So they try to reason with Nicholas to at least get people some the money owe to them.

It is so easy to second guess Len and James not knowing what was going on, when even they were kept in the dark.

Nicholas Zaldastani was not an unknown sweet talker. it took many years to get things going with him and although people forget, for a period of a year and a half the studio did not miss a pay check. We got paid regularly and more responsibilities were given to Nicholas because it is impossible for Len and James to do everything. I mean, is this that hard to understand? Even when things were going okay, people still complaint about everything and anything, mainly a handful of people, the same people that are brave enough to post something as ridiculous as the last post but a coward when it comes to say to Len and James what they are thinking.

We are as guilty as them because we were lied and deceived by Nicholas too. When we went home to rest at night and on the weekend, Len and James were on the phone or at meetings to try to secure everybody future. No one worked harder that they did and still do. So please don't come over here and try to make them the bad guys, saying that they don't care and that they are the ones to blame.

Len and James have NEVER distanced themselves from what is going on, to the point of losing everything trying to get what is owed to us. Because you don't see it it doesn't mean they are not doing everything in their power to help everybody out.

Nicholas Zaldastani is the bad guy here. What happened to the studio was his fault. He lied, deceived, stole from everyone and left us in the dark. He is the one who didn't care and never thought of anyone but himself, at the same time selling integrity to his investors and to kids all over.

It is mindbogglingly that Nicholas is still out there lying to people and getting funds for whatever that he says he has. Those investors are going to painfully regret giving money to him....

Anonymous said...

It's amazing to me to hear people saying bad things about Len and James after everything they have done help us out. I was there and I know how hard it is to be lied to and be deceived by someone(Nicholas)who kept telling us that the investors were putting money and everything was going to be okay.

There were times that Len and James paid employees out their own pockets to make sure people would have food on the table and a house to go to, while they themselves have to sell everything they had to support their own families because no one was helping them out. Someone comes in this blog and have the audacity to say that they never looked out for the employees and never will???? I bet you anything that the same person that is saying that is one of those that Len and James bent over backwards to help when they needed the most.

Anonymous said...

When will these guys learn not to get ripped off? Right after Fox is was that one Pilipino guy who skipped town with money, then the whole Walrus/Anvil studios ordeal, and now the fat cat swindle. Fool me once shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. Fool me three times, just jump off a bridge.

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