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.
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.
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.
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.
The troubled Digital Entertainment Network (DEN) has closed up shop. Nearly one week after its relaunch, DEN execs laid off 150 employees stating that the low money flow could no longer support the company in its present form. The employees were informed of the news at 5:30 pm on Wednesday, May 17, 2000. The final straw that broke the camels back was this weeks decline from a key investor to supply additional funding. The Netcaster has been plagued with problems from the start.
Digital Entertainment Network (DEN), a Gen Y-targeted Netcaster, has relaunched its site. The new version has a slicker look and features a Flash comic strip called CRIME TIME. Director, producer and writer Steve Oedekerk (ACE VENTURA: PET DETECTIVE) has also signed a deal to bring his Thumb.com content to the site, which includes WORLD THUMB WRESTLING. In the next 60 days, DEN plans to relaunch the Flash animated THE FAT KID NETWORK.
Wild Brain, Inc. announced that the animation studio is producing a slate of original Web shows for the Cartoon Network On-line. The 15 Webtoons will air on both of the companies' Internet channels. The two companies have worked together before, most recently on EL KABONG, a Cartoon Network retro TV short featuring the famous 1960s cartoon character, Quick Draw McGraw. Reflecting Cartoon Network's wide array of animated genres, Wild Brain's 15 new creations will vary in terms of art-direction, character design and overall tone.
Honkworm International, a leading producer of original on-line entertainment content, has unveiled three new animation projects at the Cannes Film Festival. Each title will consist of no less than 20 Webisodes, ranging from two to six minutes in length. Honkworm executive VP of content Chris Cobb said, "We approach each of our short-form series from a filmmakers perspective, for us, first and foremost, it's about storytelling.
With the Internet becoming a place for strange bedfellows, veteran actor George Hamilton has joined Stan Lee Media as their new president of global branded entertainment. Hamilton will be responsible for signing new Hollywood talent and provide voice work for animated programs. In addition, Hamilton will develop an on-line lifestyles magazine that may have cross-over hopes in television. Hamilton is a proven business man running a successful bar and restaurant chain, production company and cigar brand.
Tom Snyder Productions announced that it has signed a deal with Shockwave.com to create, develop and produce three original shows for the Internet. Each of the three shows will debut over the summer with eight two-minute episodes. The first of the new Webisodes is EXTREMELY RELAXED FLIGHT CONTROL TOWER where a sensitive consultant tries to help air traffic controllers relax on the job. O'GRADY HIGH follows alien invaders who have minimal effects on teens. The third toon, CLEAR!, centers on an inner city emergency medical crew that works hard at avoiding emergencies.
Mondo Media's weekly Web toon, THUGS ON FILM, will hit BBC America's summer primetime line up. Mondo, a leader in Web content production, also announced that bbcamerica.com will air THUGS ON FILM which will include a co-branded show introduction and a special launch page on the bbcamerica.com Web site. The pact also includes a Mondo/BBC America co-production, which will create two brand new animated characters exclusively for BBC America and bbcamerica.com. THUGS ON FILM is a film review show hosted by Cecil and Stubby, two English hoods.
The convergence between the Net and TV gets narrower as KING OF THE HILL steps into the game in a big way. On Sunday, May 14, 2000, Fox will air an episode of KING where Peggy Hill is lured into making an inspirational video about her long time embarrassment her big feet. However, the shifty photographer just posts Peggys plus-sized piggys on a fetish Web site called peggysfeet.com.
Popular syndicated cartoonist Rich Moyer and Celluloid Studios has exploded onto the Web with a new entertainment site called Bunny Grenade. Celluloid Studios executive producer Olivier Katz will oversee the new Net company as executive producer. Rich Moyer is known for his one panel comic strip ICK, which he has now left to focus on Bunny Grenade. Moyer said the main reason for coming to the Web is the chance to "connect with the audience and get them more involved.
The two guys behind Nova Scotia-based RDAStudio's TALES OF IRTH have signed a deal to produce the Flash animated series for DreamWorks and Imagine Entertainment's new Web venture POP.com. About a year ago, Robert Leth, 47, and Frank Forrestall, 27, started working together to bring Forrestalls fantasy TALES OF IRTH to the Web. POP.com has been actively searching the Net for intelligent and forward thinking Webisodes to bring to POP.com. Jamie Tosi, head of Flash animation at POP.com said to AWN, "TALES OF IRTH is very sophisticated, but with a subtle humor.