The Jim Henson Company will partner with Los Angeles PBS station KCET to produce WHAT'S THE BIG IDEA?, a new animated TV series to debut on PBS KIDS in 2008. The educational preschool series, which will promote science readiness by encouraging kids' instinctive curiosity about the world around them, is the latest in a long line of Henson-KCET co-productions, which include FRAGGLE ROCK, BEAR IN THE BIG BLUE HOUSE and MUPPET BABIES.
WHAT'S THE BIG IDEA? has a sketch-comedy format and features Josh, an inquisitive youngster who tackles the everyday ideas that preschoolers find fascinating: Why do bananas go "bad"? How does my juice-box straw work? How does a bird fly without a plane? Forty half-hour episodes of the series will be created using the Henson Digital Performance Studio, a proprietary technology that allows puppeteers to perform digital characters in real time, creating a more spontaneous and fresh result.
The show will be exec produced by Brian Henson, Lisa Henson and Halle Stanford of The Jim Henson Company. Mary Mazur is exec in charge of production and Joyce Campbell is exec producer for KCET. The Jim Henson Company is handling all ancillary exploitation of the property, including licensing, video and merchandising.
Through a partnership with the multimedia design studio FableVision, the series' online component at pbskids.org will feature activtities that further develop the show's world of wonder and pre-science discovery. Complementary online and offline tools will support family- and caregiver-based learning environments and inspire a "call to action" for children to embrace and celebrate their own curiosity.
The Jim Henson Company has been an established leader in family entertainment for over 50 years and is recognized worldwide as an innovator in puppetry, animatronics and computer graphics. Best known as creators of the world-famous Muppets (the rights to which are now owned by The Walt Disney Company), Henson is the recipient of over 50 Emmy Awards and nine Grammy Awards.
KCET, the West Coast flagship station of PBS, is public television for southern and central California. KCET is watched by four million viewers a month in 11 counties, the largest broadcast reach of any public television station in the United States. The station also serves as a content provider for national and regional PBS member stations. Series produced from the station's Hollywood studios include TAVIS SMILEY, WIRED SCIENCE and LIFE & TIMES. KCET recently received a Peabody Award for its companion series A PLACE OF OUR OWN and LOS NINOS EN SU CASA, which offer information and support to parents and caregivers of young children.