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Fuse Cable Network Premieres Empire Square

On Tuesday, April 18, 2006, the music television network fuse, premiered EMPIRE SQUARE, its entry into the in-your-face, envelope-pushing animated cable series sweepstakes.

EMPIRE SQUARE and its creators hail from England: Lloyd Salmons and Ant Cauchi of the design shop Outside Line (creators of the Beatles website and currently designing Quadrophenias DVD release) and Dave Rowntree, drummer for Blur. The show began as downloadable three-minute segments for British mobile phone users, but was snapped up by Fuse and expanded into a half-hour show.

The show is deliberately reminiscent of the 1980s British comedy series, THE YOUNG ONES, with Empires trio of slackers involved with bizarre schemes and obsessions. Rowntree also credits SEINFELD and CURB YOUR ENTHUSIASM as influences, where people make a bad decision early on and it snowballs completely out of control.

EMPIRES cast consists of purple-haired Richie, who according to Rowntree has the attention span of a goldfish and learned everything he knows from TV; Rabbit, a proto-nerd who is always dressed in a bunny suit, and Hooks, the shows relative voice of reason who should know better than to associate with her two housemates, but doesnt have the will power to break free of them. The series promises to be full of raunchy sex jokes, nudity, entertainment/media parodies and general bad taste.

The artwork, various mouth shapes and body positions are created in Photoshop and assembled in Flash, with the latter programs animation tools only used to move characters about the screen. The problem with animating in Flash is that everything winds up looking similar, says Rowntree.

The project is not a dilettantes indulgence for the drummer, or a rivalry with his Blur bandmate Damon Albarn, music composer for the animated virtual pop group Gorillaz. (While EMPIRE episodes end with a brief musical number, they are composed by Alex Androni to lyrics from the shows writers.) Rowntree, who directs the series is a self-taught animator and sees the medium as his next profession not if, he corrects an interviewer, but when his music career dies out.

reported by Joe Strike