PONTE VEDRA BEACH -- Bob Maerz adamantly denies playing with his company's Sky Dancer doll or watching its entire Van-Pires animation series. But he did blush when asked if he tries out the products.
The 49-year-old Maerz, who grew up in Jacksonville, is chief executive officer of Make Something Happen Entertainment Corp., a New York-based entertainment company he started in 1993.
When it started, MSH Entertainment concentrated on animation. Maerz says his company was the first in the United States to produce a TV cartoon series -- a syndicated show called Van-Pires -- using only a computer.
Since then, the company has broadened its horizons. Now its products include music and toys. And later this year, MSH Entertainment will launch a central Internet clearinghouse for youth-oriented material produced by a subsidiary of the company.
"We're a company for the new millennium," Maerz said. "Technology is a real factor today in entertainment."
Maerz was in town this week to thank his shareholders, many of whom are Jacksonville residents. At a presentation, company officials described where MSH Entertainment is and where it's headed.
Through its majority ownership in Abrams/Gentile Entertainment Inc., MSH Entertainment is revamping the Power Glove, used by Nintendo players in the early 1990s.
And a computerized chip it's developing will have Barbie talking by next year, Maerz said.
"We think it's going to be big for us," he said.
The chip, which acts like a beeper, will be installed in toys and games. MSH Entertainment then will be able to "page" the chips with personal messages, advertising and reminders, which the toy would then speak.
Hand-held games would receive a different message that will allow the user to play a different game.
"I feel like I'm watching the future and that I'm part of it with my money," said Jack Large, the company's first shareholder and a former Jacksonville resident.
Large and Maerz have known each other since the 1970s, after they met at a friend's wedding. When Maerz needed money to start MSH Entertainment, Large decided to invest.
"This has been a dream he's worked hard for," Large said. "I was really investing in him and his dream."
MSH Entertainment is in talks with an Australian company that wants to acquire majority ownership. Maerz said part of the deal includes him not losing control of the company.
In the meantime, company officials are finishing an MSH Entertainment Internet network called KidsandFamily.com. The clearinghouse will include three affiliated sites for kids: BeAnything.com, Cartoonson-demand.com and Tuneson-demand.com. The sites should be up this fall. …