Animation chat rooms are buzzing with the news that Cartoon Network has partnered with Lucasfilm Ltd. to create STAR WARS: CLONE WARS, an interstitial series of 20 animated shorts that will begin airing this fall and continue into 2004. This was part of an overall announcement Cartoon Network made when it unveiled its new 2003 programming slate February 20, 2003.
FUNKY COPS by AnteFilms, is the latest in a growing roster of French-made animated series to be broadcast on a U.S. network. 4Kids Entertainment acquired the 26x30 series to air in the FOX BOX Saturday morning kids block. FUNKY COPS features a pair of cops who turn into disco stars in '70s San Francisco. The show was created by brothers Christophe and Benoit Di Sabatino. It is produced in AnteFilms' digital studios based in Levallois and Angouleme.
The upfront season has started with Cartoon Network first out of the toon gate as it unveiled its substantial new programming slate for 2003 in New York City. All the networks are embarking upon the annual dog and pony show (upfronts) to attract potential advertisers and sponsors to support their season slates. Highlights include three new series, 20 shorts with Lucasfilm Ltd. and new episodes of returning series that will provide more than 400 new half-hours of programming.
Vintage comic strip hero Dick Tracy is being adapted as a new animated series by Film Roman, which signed a development deal with Classic Media. This announcement follows on the heels of former AOL Time Warner exec Robert Friedman's appointment as president of Classic Media (AF February 18, 2003). Friedman said his mandate was to take his company's comic characters into the television and film mediums.
This Summer Kids' WB! has added a new anime series, MEGAMAN: NT WARRIOR, to air in the U.S. Saturday mornings this summer 2003. Currently airing in Japan on TV Tokyo since March 2002, MEGAMAN: NT WARRIOR is a top-rated animated television series produced by ShoPro Entertainment. "We are excited to be working once again with the creative team that helped bring POKÉMON to Kids' WB!," said John Hardman, SVP at Kids' WB! "The newest incarnation of this beloved and time-proven character is sure to captivate kids and delight audiences everywhere.
THE VENTURE BROS., a new animated special from Noodlesoup Productions, premieres Sunday, February 16 at 11:30 pm on Cartoon Network's Adult Swim block. It's a spoof of the old-fashioned JONNY QUEST cartoons from the mid-sixties, as well as THE HARDY BOYS and TOM SWIFT boys' adventure novels of the past. With elements of spy and science fiction, the Venture brothers -- Hank and Dean Venture -- travel with their father, renowned scientist Doctor Venture, to New York for the unveiling of a fantastic new invention at the United Nations.
Watch Bart Simpson scrawl his 300th "I will not" lesson at his school chalkboard this Sunday, February 16, 2003 at 8:00 pm on FOX as THE SIMPSONS will air its historic 300th episode during a special 90-minute presentation. "Barting Over" shows Bart splitting from the family when he discovers Homer spent money Bart unknowingly earned to pay off a blackmailer to get back photos of Homer dangling Bart as a baby over the railing of a hotel balcony.
London-based Elephant Prods. is expanding its slate of animated projects it will take to MIP-TV. Heading the slate is WAVERLY A HAMSTER OF SOME IMPORTANCE. The 2D series follows the adventures of the Wilson family and daughter Jessicas most unusual pet, a quirky hamster that speaks only to Jessica. The series is written by Roger Planer whose previous credits include, ROMUALD THE REINDEER for the BBC, THE NEW MAGIC ROUNDABOUT and HILLTOP HOSPITAL. The companys animation studio, Elephant Egg, is producing the show for kids 4-8.
Bibi Blocksberg is one of Germany's most popular and enduring characters. The story of the mischievous little witch has been adapted to a radio play and an animated series, which currently airs in Germany on ZDF. The 14-part series and an animated Christmas special has also been sold to other countries, and pre-production has begun on new episodes at Berlin-based KIDDINX Studios. Bibi has also gained fame in a live-action feature film, which premiered in Germany on September 26, 2002 and has since been seen by over 2 million people, making it Germany's most successful film of 2002.
This Valentine's Day, Cartoon Network premieres a new 30-minute special starring its pompadoured ladies' man, Johnny Bravo. IT'S VALENTINE'S DAY, JOHNNY BRAVO features a bevy of guest stars, including Maureen McCormick (THE BRADY BUNCH), Molly Shannon (SNL), Joey McIntyre (*N'SYNC) and singer/game show host Donny Osmond, along with series regulars Johnny, Mama and Little Suzy. It's Valentine's Day, and Johnny's Mama has set him up on a blind date with a beautiful and smart woman named Heather.
EM.TV has completed another big sale for its children's animation series THE WORLD OF TOSH. Fox Kids UK has acquired 26 x 22-minute episodes of the series, scheduled to air in the UK in October 2003. THE WORLD OF TOSH follows Tosh, a nine-year-old Swedish boy whose one goal in life is to get his first kiss.
Cartoon Network is offering a creative pre-NBA all-star game programming option this weekend. On February 9, 2003, from 12:00-6:00 pm, 12 NBA players will tell viewers about their favorite cartoon characters and introduce some of the best cartoons featuring those characters in a special mini-marathon leading up to tip-off of the NBA all-star game on sister network TNT.
The new animated series CLONE HIGH, which airs on MTV in the U.S., is already causing controversy, but not with activists who oppose human cloning, rather with the people of India, who object to the series' depiction of independence leader Mohandas K. Gandhi.
TV-Loonland has signed a 52-episode agreement with 4Kids Entertainment for animation series THE CRAMP TWINS. 4Kids Entertainment will serve as the exclusive merchandise licensing agent and representative of television broadcast and home video rights for the series within the United States. 4Kids Entertainment's ever-growing portfolio includes well-known children's properties such as POKÉMON, TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES and YU-GI-OH!
In a deal with Entertainment Rights, U.K. broadcaster CBBC has commissioned 26 x 15-minute episodes and 4 half-hour direct-to-video specials of the classic kids' show POSTMAN PAT. Since its original creation in 1981, POSTMAN PAT has been a regular series on CBBC as well as having been seen in over 60 countries over the past 20 years. The new episodes will introduce the first new character in nearly a decade -- train station attendant Mr. Bain, who is of Indian origin.
Cartoon Network has acquired 26 episodes of .HACK//SIGN and added the Japanese animated series to its Saturday lineup of action/adventure programming, starting Saturday, February 1, 2003 at 3 pm (ET, PT). .HACK//SIGN (typically referred to as "dot hack") takes place in "The World," an immersive virtual gaming environment of the future where millions of players log on each day to test their skill in virtual adventures and battles.
VTV:Varsity Television, the recently launched 24-hour network exclusively dedicated to teenagers, has announced its spring 2003 programming lineup. VTV aims to fill the gap in youth programming between Nickelodeon (kids 3 to 12) and MTV (adults 18 to 34) by delivering a wide variety of original programming that is compelling and relevant to today's teens.
At NATPE, Monster Distributes has acquired the half-hour special HERMIE AND WORMIE from U.S.-based GlueWorks Entertainment. With voice-over talent from Tim Conway, Don Knotts and Melissa Disney, Max Lucados HERMIE AND WORMIE is the 3D-animated story of two caterpillars who long to escape their dull, boring lives and become something great. Post Central Charlottes Demetre Gionis directed the animation team and RAE Creative supervised all post-production for the show.
Entertainment company channelzero brings a "fowl" new animated series entitled THE FUPDUCK SHOW to NATPE 2003. Series creator and producer Dave Warren describes the offbeat show as "POPEYE meets THE SOPRANOS." The adult comedy is set in the seedy underworld of topless dancehalls. The company will also be screening the brand new animated music video "Girl, What's The Deal," from the series SOSOPHIE, which debuted at NATPE 2002.
Heading into NATPE 2003, Canada's Studio B has announced new shows and deals, and is aiming to attract some international co-production deals during the upcoming trade show. Currently the studio is in development on SIMON STIMPLE (26 x 22-minutes) for TELETOON.
Adult animation is certainly making in-roads on the major cable channels. Cartoon Network's Adult Swim block is now 5 nights a week, The New TNN announced that it is launching an adult animation block as it transitions the network toward a male audience, and now AMC is replacing its mainstay of classic films with some original programming, including a new prime-time adult animation series called THE WRONG COAST. Debuting Wednesday, April 2, 2003 at 8:00 pm, THE WRONG COAST is a stop-motion comedy that lampoons well known Hollywood films, television shows and celebrities.
Education Comics will showcase a new cartoon series called THE ADVENTURES OF SCOOTER MCDOOGAL at this year's NATPE. Derived from the popular educational comic book series and targeting kids 6-12 years old, the educational series follows quirky hero McDoogal as he visits famous historical figures throughout the ages on his super rocket-powered scooter that defies the laws of physics. The series, which is executive produced by Diane Russomanno, premiered in 2002 at a holiday benefit in Los Angeles for the Danny Thomas St. Jude's Hospital Fund.
At this year's NATPE, Canada's Portfolio Entertainment will offer a sneak peek at its new animated series CARL SQUARED, currently in development for Canadas Family Channel. The half-hour series is a comedic look at cloning and other cutting-edge scientific techniques that are now a part of everyday life. Portfolio will also bring back its hit series ROBOROACH (52 x 30-minutes), which is currently distributed worldwide outside the U.S. by Fox Kids Europe. The series has recently been renewed for a third season of 26 episodes by Canadas Teletoon.
DAILY VARIETY reports that the Fox network has picked up two more seasons of THE SIMPSONS, giving America's favorite dysfunctional family two more years to wreak havoc on the town of Springfield. The series, which is currently in its 14th season, is still widely acclaimed as one of the best sitcoms on air. It is nominated for a 2002 Golden Globe in the Best Comedy Series category, the first time ever an animated series has been so honored.
The third season of the animated adventure STATIC SHOCK, set to debut on Kids' WB! January 25, 2003, features super-charged hero Static in a hip new costume as he confronts the villains of Dakota and patrols the city with his friend, and now superhero partner, Richie. Richie's newly acquired superhero identity will be revealed in the episode "Gear," debuting on February 1, 2003.