The fledgling Fox Family Channel has added ten new animated series to its kid and teen-targeted daytime lineup for the 1999-2000 season. The lineup represents a major investment from Fox Family in creating original and entertaining animated programming. Animation World Network spoke to Joel Andryc, Senior Vice President, Programming & Development about this lineup and how they're working to create a unique identity in the already overcrowded world of cable. "We're looking to have a good mix of animation in the daytime kids lineup along with reality-based game shows (GREAT PRETENDERS) and live-action programming (FOX FAMILY COUNTDOWN, I WAS A SIXTH-GRADE ALIEN, THE ADVENTURES OF SHIRLEY HOLMES, DETECTIVE). This broader palette of programming is what is helping differentiate ourselves from Cartoon Network which is just all cartoons. Another thing is if you look at our shows, each has a unique style, whether it's CGI, stop-motion, etc. So as kids are surfing through the hundred channels, they might stop and take a look at what we have to offer." Fox Family Channel is relying on animated product from studios in Canada, France, Germany and the UK among others to supply this varied, and hopefully eye-catching, look. Andryc noted that the shows were found at numerous markets such as MIP, MIPCOM and NATPE. "One of the things that helped grow our company was that ten years ago, Haim Saban was really into the global marketplace while most of the people were just looking at the home market and didn't think about international. The trend is moving in that direction as it's become so much more of a worldwide marketplace and economy."
The 1999-2000 lineup is comprised of:
ROTTEN RALPH (26 episodes/Italtoons), a stop motion clay-animated series based on the Harper Collins book series about a rule-breaking cat with a "Bart Simpson attitude." Andryc says, "At first glance, it looks a little young, but once you get into the program, it's a lot more complex. Hopefully it'll appeal to the same crowds that watch THE SIMPSONS."
MEGA BABIES (26 episodes/Sony Wonderworks and Lionsgate/Cinegroupe), the adventures of three messy babies who protect the Earth. "It has a RUGRATS spin with a little gross-out humor," Andryc explained.
WEIRD OHS (13 episodes/Weird Ohs Production), a "squash and stretch" CG-animated comedy about hot-rod car lovers Digger and Eddie.
ANGELA ANACONDA (26 episodes/Angela Production), a cutout-style animated series created by PEPPER ANN creator Sue Rose.
FREAKY STORIES (13 episodes/Decode Entertainment and Vujade Entertainment), an anthology of spooky shorts and urban legends in a variety of animation styles.
ROOM 402 (13 episodes/Cinegroupe), focusing on a classroom of 10-year-old eccentrics where even the smallest event is blown out of proportion.
JELLABIES (13 episodes/produced by Optical Image Broadcast Company and distributed by Winchester Television), a 3D animated show about six lovable, bounceable and stretchable characters living in the land of Jelly.
RIPLEY'S BELIEVE IT OR NOT! THE SERIES (26 episodes/Cinar Films), following a trio of heroic youngsters as they discover the world of the bizarre and unexplained.
WILDLIFE (13 episodes/Hahn Film), a series of five-minute animated shorts created by Ted Sieger that explain the ways of Mother Nature in an amusing manner.
BILLY THE CAT (52 episodes/EVA Entertainment), about a bad-mannered, 10-year-old boy who is transformed into a cat after harassing Ali Kazam, a cat-loving magician.
In addition, Fox Family has ordered new episodes of these returning shows: THOMAS THE TANK ENGINE (The Britt Allcroft Company), ENIGMA (Millesime Productions), DONKEY KONG COUNTRY (NELVANA), BAD DOG (Cinegroupe), and THREE FRIENDS AND JERRY (Happy Life Productions). Regarding the latter, Andryc said, "Three Friends and Jerry was a real success in the first year, and has been picked up for 52 11-minute segments in addition to the 13 original half-hours. We thought we could get better stories and characters with the longer format." These acquisitions and renewals are a clear sign of Fox Family Channel's major commitment to children's entertainment and animation plays a big role in their overall gameplan. "We're very excited about this year's lineup," Andryc comments. "We have the shows; now it's just patience. It's going to take time to get kids to sample us instead of always tuning in to Nick. It took Nickelodeon fifteen years to reach where they are and we'll eventually get there."