Animation World Magazine, Issue 3.3, June 1998


Todd MacFarlane's Spawn.
Image courtesy of HBO.

TV Tidbits. HBO launched its second season of Spawn on May 15, and will air five additional new episodes on Friday nights (very early Saturday morning!) at 12:30 a.m. On the kids' side, Hyperion is in production on another season of Happily Ever After: Fairy Tales for Every Child for HBO . . Nickelodeon recently premiered John Schnall's short film produced through Nickelodeon's Creative Lab, Short Films for Short People: The Great Switcheroo. It was created by manipulating still photographs in the computer and pasting the images onto cels which were filmed frame by frame. Nickelodeon's Los Angeles Nicktoons studio is gearing up for the production of a new animated series, Sponge Bob. . . . . Mr. Bill, the not-quite-animated clay star of Saturday Night Live past, is coming back to TV (Oh, nooo!) as host of a new sketch comedy show called Ohhh, Noooo!!!, Mr. Bill Presents, which will air on Fox Family Channel after its launch in August. . . . DreamWorks' animated science-fiction drama, Invasion America will air on the WB network this summer, as a prime time mini-series which will air one-hour episodes for four weeks starting on June 8 at 9:00 p.m. The show was originally intended to air as a half-hour series but is being tested as an hour-long program instead. . . . Film Roman has signed a deal with Claster Television (owned by toy company Hasbro) to produce The Mr. Potato Head Show, a hybrid animation/live-action/puppetry series for Fox Kids Network's fall 1998 Saturday morning line-up. Doug Langdale (Earthworm Jim) will write the show, and Chiodo Brothers Productions (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles) will also be involved, designing and fabricating puppets. Film Roman's recently-appointed vice president of development Andi Copley will be executive producer. . . .

Sailor Moon. © DIC Entertainment.

Cartoon Network will include the animated series Sailor Moon in its "Toonami" weekday afternoon program block, starting June 1 at 4:00 p.m. . . . On June 22, Comedy Central will expand its animation line-up by following Dr. Katz with the debut of Bob and Margaret, the prime time animated series based on Alison Snowden and David Fine's animated short, Bob's Birthday. The show will simultaneously debut on U.K.'s Channel 4. . . . Tokyo-based TMS Kyokuichi Corporation and Vancouver, Canada-based Network Of Animation (NOA) are co-producing an animated series called Cybersix. Thirteen half-hours will be available in April 1999. Korean studio Galaxy World is in production on John Kricfalusi's two "Yogi Bear" cartoon shorts for Cartoon Network. . . . Granada Media Products is producing a second season (13 new episodes) of the animated series Titch and Tom and Vicky for the ITV Network in the U.K. Random House will produce a line of tie-in children's books to coincide with releases of Titch videos (comprised of episodes from the first season) in 1999. . . .

Nick & CTW Launch New Cable Net. Nickelodeon and Children's Television Workshop (CTW) have formed a joint venture to launch an educational television network for kids called Noggin. The 24-hour cable channel is set to launch in the U.S. in January 1999 with a slate of second-run programming from both partner's libraries, including Blue's Clues and Sesame Street. Nickelodeon president Herb Scannell said the network, aimed at 2-14 year-olds, will aim to "make learning cool." He added, "This is an idea whose time has come." Continuing with its international expansion, Nickelodeon also recently announced plans to launch its network in Hungary.

Henson & Hallmark To Launch Kermit Channel. The Jim Henson Company and Hallmark Entertainment will launch a new 24-hour, global pay-television channel called The Kermit Channel. Broadcast will begin in September 1998 in Asia and Latin America, where Hallmark's own 24-hour channel, the Hallmark Entertainment Network (HEN) is already carried. Additional territories will be launched in the future. The operation will be jointly overseen by Henson Television Group president Margaret Loesch and Hallmark Entertainment Network president and CEO George Stein. Each company will have 50% ownership of the network and will contribute programming from its library. As a result of the joint venture, both companies will also produce new programming to be featured on the channel. Animated series within each of the libraries include Space Monkeys, Fat Albert and Archie (Hallmark), and Muppet Babies (Henson). "The creation of the Kermit Channel is something that we have been working toward for quite some time. [This is] an incredibly exciting step for us," said Brian Henson, president and CEO of The Jim Henson Company.

Bohbot Gets Into Production. Kids' programming syndicator Bohbot Entertainment is getting into the production side of the animation business with a new animated series being produced under a new banner, Bohbot Studios. To facilitate this production, Bohbot plans to acquire Epoch Ink, a Los Angeles-based animation studio founded and run by Joe Pearson, who is signed on as supervising producer of the series. In addition, Rick Ungar (Bike Mice From Mars) will be executive producer and Greg Weisman (Gargoyles) will be writer and producer. Titled Roswell Conspiracies-Aliens, Myths & Legends, the science-fiction series is based on the concept that a NATO Alliance was formed to seek out and destroy alien trespassers. It will combine CGI with traditional 2-D animation, and each of the 22 episodes will run one-hour, intended for a Saturday afternoon time slot. For weekday afternoon slots, these episodes will be cut in half, making 44 episodes, for sale to broadcasters which prefer 30-minute blocks. The per-episode budget is $850,000.

Boop Is Back! Betty Boop, the curvaceous cartoon star of yesterday, may soon be making her television debut in a new animated series called Betty Boop's Misguided Tours, being developed by Warner Bros. International Television Production and Fleischer Studios. Richard Fleischer, son of Betty Boop creator Max Fleischer and president of Fleischer Studios, developed the series concept and will be executive producer. An air date and broadcast outlet will not be confirmed until a series commitment is announced.

South Park-ed On Com Central Til 2000. Comedy Central has ordered two additional seasons of the animated series South Park, a move which will bring the total number of episodes to 73 and keep the show on air until at least the year 2000. Series co-creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone will stay with the show, even while they plan a South Park feature film, which is in development for a possible spring 1999 release. Comedy Central president and CEO Doug Herzog said, "Matt Stone and Trey Parker have truly visionary talent. We are thrilled that they are on board through the millennium." Parker and Stone are represented by Mike Simpson of The William Morris Agency and P. Kevin Morris of Barnes Morris & Yorn.

Kids Upfront Update. The advertising buying period referred to as the "kids upfront" advertising market has finally taken place, after nearly three months of delays. Tim Spengler, senior vice president of national TV for one of the buyers, Western International Media, said, "It looks like it will be very similar to last year." After all was said and done, it is estimated that media buyers for companies targeting kids, such as cereal, toy and fast food sellers, spent about $750 million on advance ad purchases this year. But while the ad budgets are about the same as last year, buyers' options have expanded. The addition of new kids programming venues has increased the inventory of ad units, and has also resulted in lower ratings (i.e. fewer viewers) per network. Advertising rates range from U.S. $3 to $20 per thousand viewers, or CPMs. This year, ABC and Kids WB! sold CPMs at a price increase over last year, while Fox sold at a decrease. But Spengler points out that ad sales are "very relative," and can't be judged according only to increase or decrease in CPM prices. For instance, Fox Kids new sister cable network, The Fox Family Channel, will bring an additional seven days of kids programmingthat's 800 ad unitsper week when it launches in August.

Still confusing? For further reading on this subject, delve into AWN's September 1997 issue and read Buzz Potamkin's article,
The Cost of Eyeballs: Advertising Dollars & TV.

Cartoon Net Ties Up `98 Tie-Ins. While many television networks were still waiting for media buyers to purchase advance blocks of air time in this year's delayed "kids' upfront" ad market, Cartoon Network closed promotional sponsorship deals, valued at over $53 million, with several major advertisers for the `98 season. Turner Kids/Turner Broadcasting Sales senior vice president Karl Kuechenmeister said this marks the network's "most profitable year-long schedule of corporate-sponsored on-air events in its history." In addition to co-branded contest promotions, sponsors will also receive commercial air time for advertising not related to the contests. Some of the promo deals are part of larger package deals of upfront advertising buys for the rest of the year. Six Flags Theme Parks and Got Milk? will sponsor "Coaster 2 Coaster," a spring contest to send kids on a roller coaster journey across America. Discovery Zone will sponsor "Dexter's Duplication Summer" tying in with the weekday prime time launch of Dexter's Laboratory. LEGO will sponsor "Zoinks!," a Scooby Doo-thon in October, and Hasbro will sponsor a holiday toy giveaway called "Say When." In June, Nintendo is sponsoring a giveaway contest of game units and games to promote its upcoming release, Banjo and Kazooie. "Stay Tooned," a recent three-month marketing program Cartoon Network ran for Kraft Foods, ended last week when an 11 year-old girl from New Jersey was randomly chosen from more than 60,000 kids to "star" in a two-minute animated short.

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