Canadian independent entertainment company CinéGroupe is beginning production on two new animated TV series, THE THREE PIGS and EDWARD, bringing its current production slate to nine new and five returning animated and live-action entertainment productions set for airing on U.S., Canadian and international television networks during the 2001-2002 television season.
U.K.-based animation producers Cosgrove Hall have been given the go ahead by U.K. channel CiTV for 26 x 10 episodes of their new stop-motion/CGI series ENGIE BENJY, scheduled to debut on the channel in 2002. The show is geared toward pre-schoolers and follows the escapades of Engie Benjy the mechanic and his friends Dan the van and Jollop the dog. No distribution deals have been announced, but the show will be available internationally in 2002.
THE SIMPSONS season premiere, which aired in its regular time slot of Sunday at 8:00 pm, scored high ratings it its 13th season kick-off. Although the show was delayed by 11 minutes in some time zones due to the NFL game wrap-up, it landed in 28th place with an excellent 8.8 rating/13 share. THE SIMPSONS lead-in KING OF THE HILL, also delayed, did not receive such stellar ratings, finishing in 53rd place with a 6.6 rating/10 share. The number two toon was THE SIMPSONS Halloween Special, which had been postponed from its original air date of October 31 due to the World Series.
U.K. animation company Peppers Ghost Productions (PGP) has aligned with U.S.-based Beckett Entertainment to develop animation properties and have announced their first project. Entitled GENE-FUSION, the concept is pitched as an adventure property designed for multiple formats including TV series, gaming, feature film and Web entertainment. PGP is currently involved in all aspects of design and modeling for the GENE-FUSION concept plus scripting for the TV series.
Cartoon Networks previously announced weekly series IM POPEYE, has been renamed THE POPEYE SHOW and is ready for its debut. The network will air weekly half-hour episodes, beginning this Sunday, November 11, 2001 at 1:00 am. Each episode will include three Popeye cartoons that have been restored to their original theatrical state. The show will also present facts and trivia about Popeye and his supporting cast.
Over the next six weeks the U.K.s Channel 4 will be showing a wide variety of animation, including illustrator John Callahans new project QUADS, experimental animation from Animate! and the U.K. television premiere of the acclaimed anime feature BLOOD: THE LAST VAMPIRE. Also premiering will be a new series called CELMATES. The animation worlds answer to reality shows like BIG BROTHER, CELMATES follows a group of animators shut in a small room, competing against each other (and the clock!) to create an animated film in a sleepless 72 hours.
In the first network initiative to unite all its global divisions, Cartoon Network will be airing a 12-hour marathon of fans favorite DEXTERS LABORATORY episodes, selected by viewers from around the world. Viewers can cast their votes now through November 15, 2001 by logging on to their region's Cartoon Network Website. The fan picks will be aired on all Cartoon Networks worldwide on November 18, 2001 from 8:00 am to 8:00 pm and will include the winning episode from each country.
With the U.S.s baseball World Series over, Fox is ready to premiere the new seasons of its animated series. Look for the season premiere of THE FAMILY GUY on Thursday, November 8th at 8:00 pm, followed by the series premiere of THE TICK, a live-action sitcom based on Ben Edlund's cult comic book. Then on Sunday, November 11th beginning at 7:30 pm KING OF THE HILL kicks off its sixth season followed by the season premiere of Emmy-award winner THE SIMPSONS.
Victory Film Productions and Neptuno Films Deutschland have signed a co-production deal to produce two animated series for the worldwide market. Series in the pipeline are the classic story of the cat PUSS IN BOOTS (52 x 26) who travels around the world in search of adventure, and AMBI & LANCE (104 x 7). The preschool property follows the adventures of Ambi the ambulance and Lance the doctor, who look after the health of everyone in the county in an original and amusing way. Both co-producers will cover the budget expenses and distribution will be handled by Neptuno.
Cartoon Network Latin America has secured television rights to CORRECTOR YUI, STATIC SHOCK, X-MEN EVOLUTION, ANGELINA BALLERINA and POPOLOCROIS to premiere on the channel in December 2001. In addition, the network will be premiering the fourth season of POKEMON beginning in January 2002 and launches the original series, TIME SQUAD in February 2002. Speaking of TIME SQUAD, TV GUIDE recently voted it one of the ten best new shows for kids in the U.S. FAIRLY ODDPARENTS and JUSTICE LEAGUE made the top ten as well.
STVDIO Media, an American-run animation house based in Hong Kong and specializing in 2D character animation, has been awarded a grant by the Hong Kong Arts Development Council to develop THE FENG SHUI DETECTIVE. Based on characters from author Nury Vittachi's book, a bestseller in Australia and Hong Kong, the animated version has already generated interest from regional media companies. The FENG SHUI DETECTIVE follows the adventures of a Chinese feng shui expert and his Australian teenage girl assistant who travel across Asia assisting the police with their investigations.
Spanish-based animation company BRB Internacional secured a number of pre-sales for its two animation comedy series ZIP & ZAP and GLADIATOR ACADEMY. Portuguese broadcaster TVI will begin airing ZIP & ZAP in January 2003, as will Arab distributor Universal Productions. GLADIATOR ACADEMY was picked up by Mediatrade (Italy), NOGA (Israel), Turkish Media Corporation and MVS Latin America. Currently in production, the first 13 episodes are scheduled for delivery in July 2002.
Continuing its successful revival of classic cartoons, Cartoon Network will present the new weekly series IM POPEYE. Each half-hour episode, airing Sundays at 1:00 am, will include three Popeye cartoons that have been restored to their original theatrical state. Many of these cartoons have never been shown on television in their original form.
TV-Loonland, in cooperation with German kids TV channel Super RTL and German production company GUM Studios, will start production of its first CGI project called DRAGONS ROCK in November 2001. Delivery of the 26 episodes of 24-minutes each are due at the beginning of summer 2002. Super RTL is co-financing the project and own the German rights and TV-Loonland holds all other worldwide rights to the series.
4Kids Entertainments TAMA & FRIENDS has been licensed for TV broadcast with YTV of Canada, TV Record in Brazil, Media Set in Italy, SIC TV in Portugal and KM Productions for Arabic language markets. The animated childrens series features the adventures of Tama the kitten, who, along with his buddies, finds ways to solve complex problems that seem to elude their human companions. The 26 episode series premiered in U.S. first run syndication in September and has enjoyed a long running TV ratings success in Japan on Tokyo Broadcast System.
Greenlight International, the international sales arm of Berlin-based Greenlight Media, has finalized a pan-Asian multi-rights deal with First Asia Resources Ltd. of Hong Kong for the first four animated series from the Berlin Animation Fund (BAF). The series in the deal are ADVENTURERS, MEADOWLANDS, BOBS BEACH and ACARIA. First Asia also has a first look agreement with Greenlight on all other animated properties for the next two years.
Universal Studios, Just Group, Mike Young Productions and DCDC have entered into a broad arrangement for BUTT-UGLY MARTIANS, the new CGI-animated action-adventure-comedy TV series, which debuted on the U.K. channel CITV in February 2001. The series, backed by a list of licensees including Hasbro and Scholastic, will premiere on Nickelodeon in the U.S. in early 2002 and has begun debuting on other children's outlets around the world.
Silver Lining Productions has inked a deal with independent animation company King Rollo Films to develop a new childrens series DENNIS AND THE MONSTERS, based on the Bristish book series. Silver Lining has also entered into an agreement with European animation producer Millimages to develop a holiday special and TV series based on TOOT & PUDDLE, a childrens book series written and illustrated by Holly Hobbie. The series will be geared to young children.
According to organizer Reed Midem, MIPCOM concluded its 2001 run with a grand total of 1244 exhibiting companies, up nearly 5% from the previous year. Although attendance was down almost 15% from last year, the optimistic attitude of the participants, despite the troubling world events, made this years MIPCOM a success. As MIPCOMs Personality of the Year, MTV CEO Tom Freston stated, TV will bounce back. MIPCOM Junior saw encouraging signs for the international childrens programming business.
Cartoon Network has signed a multi-year deal with the Holland Media Group (HMG) to provide a daily Cartoon Network block on its station Yorin The Movement. Beginning November 5, 2001, Cartoon Network will provide an hour long block which will include its top shows THE POWERPUFF GIRLS, COW AND CHICKEN, JOHNNY BRAVO, DEXTER'S LABORATORY and DRAGONBALL Z. The Cartoon Network block will run from Monday to Friday at 3:45 pm to 4:45 pm and on Sunday from 11:00 am to 12:00 pm. Under the terms of the deal Cartoon Network will provide local versions of the shows and creative packaging for the channel.
German distributor peppermint and U.S. animation studio Wild Brain have entered into a strategic partnership for Asia and the U.S. Under the terms of the deal, peppermint will distribute Wild Brain's Flash animation catalogue throughout Asia, while Wild Brain will represent peppermints animation catalogue under the pepperkids label for TV distribution, home video and DVD, licensing, publishing and merchandising throughout the U.S.
DIC Entertainment and Japans Dentsu have formed a strategic alliance under which Dentsu will co-produce and handle Japanese and Asian distribution of DICs new animated series ALIENATORS: EVOLUTION CONTINUES. Dentsu will also be responsible for television, home video distribution and licensing for DICs MADELINE in Japan. DIC has also joined forces with U.K.-based media/marketing outfit Universal McCann and Cereal Partners Worldwide to form The International Media Exchange (TIME).
Peppers Ghost Productions CGI-animated series TINY PLANETS has been licensed to Germanys Super RTL network and ITV1 in the U.K. The show recently received two BAFTA Interactive awards nominations and is scheduled to debut in the U.K. and Germany in the first quarter 2002.
French childrens cable and a satellite channel Canal J has partnered with Nickelodeon U.K., Spain, Australia and Latin America and acquired Japanese anime series YU-GIOH, which will be broadcast in France in spring 2002.
Blur Studio designed and produced more than 80 visual effects ranging from digital matte paintings to a fully rendered 3D creature for the new Sci Fi Channel series SOULKEEPER. One of the more challenging effects for the studio was a 10-foot reptilian creature with a particularly nasty disposition that battles the shows hero. A full-size animatronic was used during the production, but as it couldn't walk, computer graphics were relied on for the moving shots.
Mainframe Entertainment, Inc., a creator of computer animation for television, has entered into a co-venture with professional skateboarder Tony Hawk to develop an animated series. Hawk will serve as executive producer for the new series, which is in the early stages of development. The lead character will be based on the famous skateboarder, who will team with a group of kids who look up to him and become involved in various capers. The teen CGI comedy will feature many of the impressive stunts that have made Hawk a top player in the world of extreme sports.