ANIMATION WORLD MAGAZINE - ISSUE 4.2 - MAY 1999

Television

Gary And Mike Hit The Road. Big Ticket Television has teamed-up with Will Vinton Studios to produce a new Claymation and dimensional animation series entitled Gary And Mike, slated to air on FOX this Fall. The series will be executive produced by creators Fax Bahr and Adam Small, along with Academy Award winning Will Vinton and Tom Turpin (CEO/president of Will Vinton Studios). Gary And Mike features Gary Bonner and Mike Newton, suburban twentysomethings on the road trip of their lives as they search for America at the dawn of the new millennium, from a cult in rural Kansas to a close encounter in Roswell, New Mexico to a surprise appearance on the Jerry Springer Show. Gary (voiced by Chris Moynihan) is an asthmatic hypochondriac, who is deeply under the thumb of his die-hard Marine Corps dad, but he's got the car and the gear. Mike (voiced by Harland Williams), a grungy undisciplined dreamer, unfortunately considers himself a ladies man, and is along for the ride.

Big Ticket Television has produced the syndicated shows Judge Judy, Judge Joe Brown, and Night Stand With Dick Dietrick, as well as the comedy series Moesha for the UPN network. The production part of the team, Will Vinton Studios, based in Portland, Oregon, is currently executive producing the hit Foamation prime time weekly animated television series The PJs with Imagine Entertainment and Eddie Murphy, in association with Touchstone Television. Over the last twenty years, Will Vinton Studios has created hundreds of characters for commercials including the California Raisins, television specials, and a feature film, The Adventures Of Mark Twain. They have won an Academy Award, six Emmies, and numerous Clio awards. They are also the force behind the current M&M commercials that feature computer animated M&M's interacting with live-action humans.

Futurama Has Popular Premiere. Matt Groening's new animated series, Futurama, was watched by more than nineteen million viewers when it premiered on Sunday, March 28. It was the eleventh most watched TV show in the USA for the week ending March 28, 1999 as it received a 11.2 rating and a 17 share, better overall ratings than both The Simpsons (9.3/15) that preceded it, and The X-Files (10.1/15) that followed it. Futurama settles into its Tuesday time slot tonight. While Groening reportedly was not pleased with the Tuesday slot given to him by Fox, ratings like this must surely make him smile.

Futurama Has A Future. Fox Broadcasting Co. has ordered another season (22 episodes) of Matt Groening's animated series, Futurama, just four weeks after its premiere. Although the show had a strong debut on Sunday, March 28th as the eleventh most watched TV show in the USA for that week, receiving a 11.2 rating and a 17 share, after it moved to Tuesday nights its ratings fell by about 50%. However, the show still delivered ratings slightly better than King Of The Hill and The PJs. Futurama now joins its Fox Tuesday night compatriots King Of The Hill, The PJs, and The Simpsons as a series that has been renewed for another season. For capsule descriptions of Futurama's first season episodes, including those yet to be broadcast, visit www.fox61.com/insidefuturama.html.

Animania Schedule For April. Here was the April schedule for the National Film Board of Canada's Animania TV programme, which features NFB produced animated shorts, and is shown on Teletoon Network in Canada:

Friday, April 9, 11:30 pm: Mindscape by Jacques Drouin.
Sunday, April 11, 9:30 pm: Five Billion Years by Joyce Borenstein.
Tuesday, April 13, 11:30 pm: Lord of the Sky by Eugen Spaleny and Ludmila Zema.
Friday, April 16, 11:30 pm: Nocturnes by Francois Aubry.
Sunday, April 18, 9:30 pm: Felicity by Bernard Longpre.
Tuesday, April 20, 11:30 pm: La Salla by John Weldon.
Friday, April 23, 11:30 pm: Taa Tam by Andre Leduc.
Sunday, April 25, 9:30 pm: Dinner for Two by Janet Perlman.
Tuesday, April 27, 11:30 pm: The Irises by Jacques Giraldeau and Suzanne Gervais.
Friday, April 30, 11:30 pm: The Cruise by John and Faith Hubley.

All programs contained additional shorts.

TV Tidbits. The Learning Channel's program Slice Of Life, which features a day in the life of women in various careers, profiled independent animator Cynthia Wells. The episode aired on April 5 at 12:30 pm (ET), and will repeat on June 2. The Slice Of Life crew filmed a day in the making of Shadow Of Doubt, a theatrical short film currently being produced by Wells' The Digital Theater Group. The film stars Wells' Talullah Le Roux character who was in one of her earlier films, Interview With Talullah, Queen Of The Universe. . . . Lacey Entertainment sold the hit show Pokemon to the following European broadcasters: RTL 2 (Germany), Sky TV (UK) and MediaSet (Italy). Sky TV began broadcasting the show the week of March 29, while RTL 2 and MediaSet will begin airing the series in September. All three networks will air the series as a five-day-a-week strip. In a related announcement, EM TV & Merchandising of Germany has secured Pokemon merchandise and promotion licensing representation in that territory. . . . The half-hour comedy series Home Movies [AF 12/22/98] premieres Monday, April 26, at 8:30 pm ET/PT. The show, featuring a "SquiggleVision" technique, is being produced by Tom Snyder Productions, makers of Comedy Central's Dr. Katz: Professional Therapist and ABC's Saturday morning series, Squigglevision. The show centers around a single mom (Paula Poundstone) raising a precocious tot and an eight-year-old son who aspires to be the next Steven Spielberg.

Disney's Whomptastic. © Disney.

Disney Is Whomptastic. Buena Vista Television and Walt Disney Television Animation have announced that Disney's Whomptastic will be the banner name for the two hour block of children's programming set to premiere September 6, 1999 on UPN and in syndication. The block will present the premiere of Sabrina The Animated Series, as well as include the already established shows Disney's Recess, Disney's Doug and Disney's Hercules. The origin of the word "whomptastic" is found in an episode of Disney's Recess when one of the characters invents a harmless word - "whomps" - that could be substituted for any word. "We loved 'whomps,' but we wanted to make it more of a feeling, a fun emotion, and it evolved into 'whomptastic'," explained Barry Blumberg, executive vice president, Walt Disney Television Animation. "'Whomptastic' describes our environment, our attitude and our shows. It's a great name for a branded environment that will make an immediate connection with our viewers." Sabrina The Animated Series is a prequel to ABC's primetime live-action series, Sabrina The Animated Series. Primetime series star Melissa Joan Hart plays a dual role in the animated series when she voices the roles of Sabrina's Aunt Zelda and Aunt Hilda, while her younger sister, Emily Hart, voices the 12-year-old Sabrina. The series is from DIC Entertainment and Paula Hart/Hartbreak Productions. Disney's Recess debuted on Disney's One Saturday Morning in 1997 to critical and popular acclaim with its ensemble cast of fourth-graders who often prove that some of the most important lessons are learned not at the blackboard, but on the blacktop. Disney's Doug follows the trials and tribulations of Disney's newest movie star, Doug Funnie, and his friends as they struggle through the ups and downs of growing up. The series began its Saturday morning network run on ABC in 1996 and has been hailed for reinforcing positive attitudes and bolstering self-esteem in today's children. Disney's Hercules, inspired by Disney's 1997 animated theatrical release, features the so-called "hero-in-training" Hercules, who not only must learn the family trade, but also must graduate from the elite Greek high school, Prometheus Academy. In addition to the regular series episodes on Disney's Whomptastic, more than 750 brand new character "sketches" will be produced for the 1999-2000 season. This unprecedented collection of imaginative animated interstitials featuring characters from the shows will be programmed throughout the block. Distributed by Buena Vista Television and premiering September 6, 1999, the Disney's Whomptastic programming block will air on UPN and in syndication Sunday through Friday. A Disney's Whomptastic website will be unveiled in the near future.

Arthur Shall Return. Cinar Corporation and WGBH Boston have announced that Emmy award-winning Arthur, PBS' top-rated children's series, will return with 10 new programs and 65 encore broadcasts in its fourth season, premiering October 1999. This daily animated series is based on the award-winning children's books by author Marc Brown, who is also Arthur's creative producer. Arthur's fourth season begins with, not one, but two musical guest stars: classical cellist Yo-Yo Ma, and jazz saxophonist Joshua Redman who "appear" as themselves in the season's opener My Music Rules. Through a series of mix-ups, Arthur and D.W. invite both Ma and Redman to perform at the Elwood City Library's music series. If that weren't enough, both musicians agree to play, which causes a huge argument between the kids over which music is better, classical or jazz. Arriving at the concert, Ma and Redman must settle the score. The finale - a spirited cello and sax rendition of that Arthur "favorite," Crazy Bus - shows kids that it's ok to like more than one kind of music. Committed to educational programs that bring young audiences into contact with music, Yo-Yo Ma said, "My hope is that by appearing and performing on Arthur , young children will want to make music and creativity a vital part of their lives." This episode marks Ma's third appearance on a PBS children's series, having already appeared on past episodes of Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood and Sesame Street. For Joshua Redman, appearing in the episode clicked with what he aimed to do on his 1998 hit album, Timeless Tales (For Changing Times). "That album is about collapsing what I think are artificial barriers between different types of music," Redman says, "which is exactly what this Arthur episode does." This summer, Arthur will guest star on another of PBS' popular children's series, Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood. Arthur, Marc Brown, and Michael Yarmush -- the teen-age actor who does the voice of Arthur -- will appear in an upcoming episode scheduled to air Wednesday, July 28, 1999 during the show's "Go-Stop-Go" theme week. In the episode, Marc Brown shares with Mr. Rogers his secrets to drawing Arthur and what it takes to animate a daily series; Michael Yarmush reveals what it's like to be the voice of the world's most famous aardvark, and Arthur pays a special visit to the Neighborhood of Make Believe. "This appearance marks the continuing of a great 'partnership' that began during Arthur's second season, when Fred Rogers starred as himself in Arthur Meets Mr. Rogers," WGBH Executive Producer Carol Greenwald says. "The response by kids to that episode was great, so you can imagine how happy we are to return the honors by appearing on such a beloved show as Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood." Arthur follows the adventures and misadventures of eight-year-old Arthur Read, his little sister, D.W., and his friends and family. Each of the seventy-five Arthur episodes consists of two independent stories that focus on themes and events central to children's lives. The animated stories are linked by a live-action segment featuring school children who create their own Arthur-related activities. Executive Producer for WGBH is Carol Greenwald. Executive Producer for CINAR is Micheline Charest.

Archie On Pax TV. DIC Entertainment, a subsidiary of Disney, has sold two new animated series to Pax TV, a new family-oriented network in the US. Archie's Weird Mysteries and Sherlock Holmes in the 22nd Century will appear this Fall as part of the weekday "Pax Power Mystery Hour." Archie's Weird Mysteries, a co-production with M6 France, is based on the long running Archie comics series. In the series, lab experiments go awry, creating such characters as a 50-foot Veronica, and Dr. Jughead and Mr. Hyde. Sherlock Holmes in the 22nd Century, a co-production with Scottish Television, brings the Sir Arthur Conan Doyle detective to the 22nd century where he is assisted by a robot Dr. Watson and battles the clone of his arch nemesis Prof. Moriarty. Both series will be produced by DIC president and CEO Andy Heyward, DIC executive vp creative affairs Robby London, and DIC executive vp development Mike Maliani.


Note: Readers may contact any Animation World Magazine contributor by sending an e-mail to editor@awn.com.


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