UrbanEntertainment.com has signed HOUSE PARTY director Reginald Hudlin and WHY DO FOOLS FALL IN LOVE-writer Tina Andrews to produce two new Net series. Hudlin, who just finished directing the live-action flick LADIES MAN, will write and executive produce the Webtoon MACKIN, which allows Net surfers to control a young man as he tries to seduce women. Andrews will write and executive produce SISTAS N THE CITY, which follows the lives of three black women living in Chicago. Andrews just finished penning the CBS miniseries JACUELINE BOUVIER KENNEDY ONASSIS.
Stan Lee Media, Inc. (SLM) has signed a deal with R&B superstar Mary J. Blige to create a new series portraying the multi-platinum singer as an original Stan Lee Hip-Hop Super Heroine. The Web series will be based off an animated short, featuring the Blige super persona, which shows before each of Blige's concerts. The short, created by Blige and SLM, has garnered a tremendous fan response. The agreement is modeled after Stan Lee Media's partnership with the Backstreet Boys (www.backstreetproject.com) with joint ownership of the superhero franchise.
Curious Pictures has signed a deal with Cartoon Network On-line for nine original Web toons. The nine shows are being created and directed by Curious directors and artists Denis Morella, Nick Hewitt, Mike Bade, Damon Ciarelli, Molly Schwartz, Sam Crees and Patricia Ross. Four of the Web Premiere Toons are being created in Curious' New York City flagship studio, while five others are being developed out of the company's San Francisco SoMa office. UNCLE SQUIRLY will follow the crazy antics of a wacky children's television show.
HEAVY METAL 2000 co-creator and illustrator Kevin Eastman has inked a content deal with TheThreshold.com. No monetary details were released. Threshold Entertainments CEO and chairman, Larry Kasanoff told the HOLLYWOOD REPORTER, "Kevin is an incredible creator and entrepreneur. Wed want to be involved with him even if he didnt have HEAVY METAL but HEAVY METAL is ripe with opportunity, talent and ideas. Its extraordinary what its already accomplished, and we think its just the beginning." Eastman and Threshold are planning several sci-fi oriented projects.
For people who want a sneak peek or for fans who want a free look, DreamWorks has placed the opening sequence from CHICKEN RUN on the Net. The clip is available at Countingdown.com and will be available there starting Monday, July 10 and ending 6 pm PST Friday, July 14, 2000. The site will also have links to CHICKEN merchandise from Amazon.com and eBay. "We think showing Web audiences even the first few minutes of CHICKEN RUN will show people the magic that has captured the hearts and imaginations of moviegoers across the country.
Disney Interactive has enlisted Into Networks PlayNow.com to create the Disney Interactive Channel for Disney-themed games on the Net. The new channel will be like Sonys Station, which features on-line versions of JEOPARDY and WHEEL OF FORTUNE. Into Networks will produce 12 titles for Disney that will be available on a pay-for-play basis through high-speed Internet services available from cable set-top box providers. Games will be based on Disneys feature films THE LION KING, TOY STORY and TARZAN.
Mattel Interactive has signed a licensing agreement with Harmony Gold to create games based on the popular anime series, ROBOTECH. Mattel Interactive plans to have ROBOTECH games ready for next-generation console systems and PCs beginning in fourth quarter 2001. Specific details regarding platforms and developers have yet to be announced. The ROBOTECH series helped ignite the anime phenomenon in America, with an 85-episode animated series that aired in early 1985. The series was re-aired in 1994 on Sci-Fi Channel and once again on Cartoon Network in 1999.
With CHICKEN RUN claiming victory at theatres, Aardman Animations ANGRY KID on AtomFilms Web site has set Internet records. In just seven weeks, ANGRY KID, Aardman's first character created exclusively for the Web, has been watched by over 1 million people -- an Internet record. With roughly 300,000 people downloading the mischievous miscreant and sending it to their friends, the total audience is nearing one and a half million people. "We knew that the Internet had vast potential as a major entertainment medium," said Dave Sproxton, co-founder and managing director of Aardman.
Icebox, Inc., an original animation destination, has inked a content deal with comedian and co-creator of DR. KATZ, Jonathan Katz, to write and produce new animated shows. The first series will be AGAINST THE GRAIN, which Katz will co-create with Tom Snyder, co-creator of DR. KATZ. "Jonathan is one of only a handful of successful creators of smart, primetime animated television series," said Icebox CEO Steve Stanford.
Tom Snyder Productions announced a deal with CartoonNetwork.com to create, develop and produce three original Web Premiere Toons. The first series is SWITCHEROO, which interviews children and animates their daydreams with a satirical twist. OVERDUE chronicles an over-aggressive librarian and the extremes to which she will go to retrieve overdue books and collect fines. Finally, LETS HAVE FUN watches the slow break down of a live-TV childrens show host who really has no patience with kids. "Did we get three shorts?
Hot off signing a deal that will transform his Urban Entertainment series UNDERCOVER BROTHER into a feature at Universal, writer and producer John Ridley (THREE KINGS) is revving up his new animated series for UrbanEntertainment.com. The new series will be an adaptation of Ridleys crime novel WALK IN DARKNESS. Urban Media, parent of the Web site, will produce the show, and revenues will be shared 50/50 with Ridley. The story chronicles the perils of a rookie cop whose mission is to hunt down mutants with superhuman powers. Ridley is set to produce, write and direct the series.
Shockwave.com announced a production pact with Artists Management Group (AMG). As part of the deal, shockwave.com will provide a US$10 million fund for AMG and its clients to develop animated content for distribution on the site. All work produced through the deal will be co-owned by both companies. Additionally, AMG and its affiliates will help shockwave cut deals in other entertainment mediums. "This partnership will allow us to provide even more opportunity for AMGs roster of clients," said Ellen Goldsmith-Vein, head of the AMG Animation Group.
Warner Bros. On-line (www.warnerbros.com), DC Comics and Warner Bros. Animation have teamed up to create the first all-new original Internet animation shorts and entertainment destinations based on DC Comics characters. Launching on Thursday, June 15 with the redesigned Warner Bros. On-line site, www.loboonline.com features Lobo, the cult classic ruthless anti-superhero. The new "Gotham Girls" site (www.gothamgirls.com) featuring the vivacious vixens from the Batman comics -- Batgirl, Cat Woman, Poison Ivy and Harley Quinn -- will launch mid-July. The redesigned Warner Bros.
Nickelodeon and Toys'R'Us have announced an agreement to create a new Nickelodeon boutique channel on Toysrus.com to launch by fall of 2000. As part of the deal, the two companies will co-develop a Nickelodeon channel that will offer a wide variety of Nickelodeon licensed products, links between the sites, customized content and cross promotions. Moreover, Toysrus.com will acquire the inventory of Nick On-lines now defunct on-line toy store, Red Rocket. Terms were not disclosed.
In the wake of the booming on-line entertainment world, the Writers Guild of America (WGA) has created a new contract for made-for-Internet writers of live-action and animation scripts. As part of the new contract, Guild affiliated Net firms will have to sign a Minimum Basic Agreement (MBA) and provide financial reports regarding Internet revenue. The new rules guarantee scribes MBA minimums for Internet content that is the impetus for a TV pilot or series.
Z.com announced it will preview the upcoming NBC animated series SAMMY on the Web. This deal coincides with the Internet entertainment programming companys recent acquisition of Comedy.com. The series is loosely based on the real-life experiences of creator David Spade and his father. The seemingly unfunny plot line centers on Sammy, a deadbeat dad who abandoned his son, but comes back into the childs life once the son has become rich. The toon premieres on TV, July 25, 2000, with actors Maura Tierney (ER), Andy Dick (NEWSRADIO) and Spade providing voices.
Shockwave.com announced Jim Belushi will join their ranks to create an animated show entitled THE GREEDY SHOW. The deal calls for 13 episodes and will debut before the end of the calendar year. Each two to five-minute episode is expected to contain several sketches with recurring characters. Belushi, who began his career as a member of Chicago's legendary Second City Improvisation Troupe, will be joined in the cast by fellow Second City alumni Danny Breen, Mark Belzman, John Rubano and Michael McCarthy, as well as Sue Nelson from the Los Angeles-based improv group The Groundlings.
WireBreak.com, an Internet entertainment destination, announced the debut of its first slate of interactive animated series. "We are thrilled to launch into the animated world with three digital shows that are consistent with our vision of Internet programming that is interactive as well as bold and outrageous," said David Wertheimer, chairman and chief executive officer of WireBreak.com. FRASIER co-executive producer Jon Sherman will produce the first show, THE SHAPE OF THINGS. The series follows Graham, Wex and Ira, who are drawn as simple squares.
AtomFilms, a leader in next-generation entertainment, and Bill Plympton, world-renowned traditional animator, announced a new spotlight channel at www.plympton.atomfilms.com. This agreement grants Atom "first look" rights to new Plympton content while showcasing his earlier works and providing a profile of the animators career. At the World Animation Celebration, Plympton unveiled his first Flash produced animation. A new Flash flick will premiere on Atom Films each week.
Warner Bros. has announced THE OBLONGS will hit the Net before the network. Warner Bros. On-line will produce 25 30-second sketches based on the characters that will appear in the TV series in early 2001. THE OBLONGS follows five friends who develop abnormal physical and emotional attributes after extensive exposure to a local industrial waste dump. The OBLONGS MOMENTS Webisodes will roll out on the newly designed Warner Bros. On-line next month. To coincide with the Web sketches, Warner will launch interactive games and behind-the-scenes info about the series.
France-based Alphanim Digital Corp. and Magelis - Pôle Image Angoulême have partnered to create verysmallcity.com. Magelis is an organization set up in Angoulême to help support and develop animation and technology in the city. The image center (Pôle Image) will hold shares in the new Net firm and help provide human and technical resources when Alphanim opens this new production division in Angoulême in July 2000. The new site will be targeted toward the 18 to 25 age group. Verysmallcity will feature short animation series and interactive fiction and games.
Mondo Media has announced that it will produce six new original Web shows. The Internet content provider will be unveiling the six new Mondo Mini Shows at their booth at World Animation Celebration's Tradeshow and Recruitment Expo in Los Angeles. "We are very proud of our new lineup and believe it reflects our commitment to creating character-based, witty animated shows for audiences both on-line and off," said John Evershed, co-founder and CEO of Mondo Media.
Icebox, Inc., an original Web-based animated content destination, has signed an exclusive three-year agreement with REN & STIMPY creator John Kricfalusi. As part of the agreement, Icebox will commission and air three new Kricfalusi series and will be the exclusive Web home for Spumco entertainment which includes the GODDAMN GEORGE LIQUOR PROGRAM. In addition, Icebox will serve as the exclusive Internet distribution outlet for RealCartoons.net, the new on-line animation network founded by Kricfalusi.
Lycos becomes the first major Internet portal to launch a programmed video network with tv.lycos.com. Three of the twelve channels will feature animated content. The first of the channels presents Mondo Media's Webtoons LIKE, NEWS and THUGS ON FILM. The second channel presents Animation Express' Net series WENCHELL BOGUM, BULBO, MR. MAN, SEX SLAVE and FATMAN, which is produced by Honkworm International. The final channel broadcasts Animation Express shorts like SLEEP ELUSIVE and THE BUS STOP. Lycos plans to launch more Webcasters in the upcoming months.
VanHook Studios, a Hollywood-based effects and animation house, has ventured into cyberspace with a new episodic program for whatsonweb.com. VanHook has worked on the visual effects for such features as MY FAVORITE MARTIAN and 13TH WARRIOR and TV series ALLY MCBEAL, ZENA, HERCULES and MAX STEEL. The first series to hit whatsonweb.com will be the fantasy series KIRA: THE CURSED, staring adult film star Kylie Ireland. "Kylie is a great choice for us. Not only is she a wonderful actress, with great screen presence she also has an enormous and incredibly loyal fanbase.