Nickelodeon U.K. is offering its viewers a British-produced version of THE SIMPSONS, based upon a real life family from Leicestershire in the U.K. MEET THE MOORES bowed May 5, 2003 featuring the animated antics of the dad, Robert, 50, a used car salesman and the mother, Tania, 35, an administrative assistant at Loughborough University and a former airline hostess.
Twenty years after the first international Disney theme park opened in Tokyo and the Disney Channel debuted in the U.S., Disney will launch the Disney Channel Japan on cable and satellite in winter 2003/2004. Satellite platform Sky PerfecTV will offer the 24-hour channel as an á la carte option in winter 2003/4, with the channel also going into basic tier on Japanese cable networks around the same time.
Comedy Central is testing a new animated show from comic Denis Leary and Jim Serpico's Apostle studio via a series of interstitial spots pulled from the HOUSE ARREST pilot. The spots started airing on May 1, 2003 and offer animated interpretations of classic stand-up routines from comedians such as Jay Mohr, Leary, Dane Cook, Fitzsimmons, Patrice Oneal, Jeffrey Ross and Janeane Garofalo.
Canadian animation Studio B Productions has hit one into the U.S. network ballpark, scoring a slot on Kids' WB! for a toon about baseball-playing birds that will debut in September 2003. This original production by Vancouver-based Studio B, features the adventures of a team of birds who barnstorm the circuit of D'MYNA LEAGUES playing baseball, and learn a lesson or two along the way. "We're very excited to break into the U.S. with the first ever baseball cartoon series," says Blair Peters, creator and executive producer. "I think kids will really dig the unique combination of traditional 2D characters and 3D backgrounds that capture the exciting on-field action. And adults will get a kick out of the nostalgic tributes to the likes of Shoeless Joe Jackson, Harry Carey and Babe Ruth." D'MYNA LEAGUES already has a strong batting average in its home territory of Canada, with success on both CTV (it was the broadcaster's first venture into kids programming), and kids network YTV. The show, which is distributed by Sony Pictures Television International globally, also airs in territories from Venezuela to Singapore.
The UK's Entertainment Rights has chalked up a number of recent licenses for its kids properties resulting from MIP-TV, in Europe and in North America, via its New York City office. The NYC office has placed several shows with U.S. and Canadian networks. Discovery's Hispanic channel has acquired CGI preschooler CUBEEZ for a 2003 launch and HAMILTON MATTRESS has been sold to HBO while TeleQuebec in Canada has taken PRESTON PIG, SHORT CUTS and MERLIN THE MAGICAL PUPPY. ER's new boy action series TRANSFORMERS ARMADA debuted well on Carton Network in the U.S.
Kids' WB! will offer a special sneak-peek of its new adventure series TEEN TITANS on May 3, 2003. The series, coming to Kids' WB!'s 2003-04 season, is produced by Warner Bros. Animation and will be offered in conjunction with Cartoon Network. TEEN TITANS features Robin The Boy Wonder (without Batman) and fellow teens Cyborg, Beast Boy, Starfire and Raven - five superheroes, each with special powers, who unite to form a defensive force to protect the Earth from a new generation of villains as well as the tribulations of being a teenager. An eclectic group, their powers complement each other while their personalities often clash. Discovering how to control their powers, these Teen Titans must learn to work and grow as a team despite their stylistic differences. The series is produced by WBA under the guidance of Glen Murakami and is based on the DC comic book series. The series will debut on Cartoon Network in August 2003 and re-launch on Kids' WB! in mid-season 2004.
The animated series MIMI & MR. BOBO will return to Spain's RTVE at 1:45 pm on May 7, 2003, which co-produced the series with MB Productions. It was a ratings success when it launched on the channel in September 1999. The re-broadcast is being managed by Icon Prods., the new production and distribution company recently created by Sergi Reitg and Myriam Ballesteros in February 2003 in Barcelona. MIMI & MR. BOBO features the misadventures of an enthusiastic girl and her gang of friends. While innocent looking these youngsters get into mischievous adventures. Storekeepers, mafiosos, rock stars and reality show hosts no one is safe when they decide to turn the town upside down.
Icon's animated catalog includes MIMI & THE GANG (26x6 or 7x26), THE LIVING FOREST (82 mins.), LOLA & VIRGINIA (52x11) and RIP XL (52x11). The distributor is also in negotiations with different companies regarding other properties. Before forming Icon, Reitg worked at Cromosoma for the last seven years, working in different areas, until becoming managing director. In 1992 Ballesteros launched MB Producciones. For more information on Icon, check out www:icon-productions.com
Phil Lord and Chris Miller, the writing/producing team behind MTV's animated comedy CLONE HIGH USA, have landed at two-year seven-figure deal with Twentieth Century Fox Television to develop live-action and animated fare, according to THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER. Fox TV president Gary Newman said the pair have the "fresh and twisted view of the world" his network looks for and they will also work on existing projects. CLONE HIGH, which features a high school populated with teenage clones of historical figures like Abraham Lincoln, John F.
DECODE Entertainment has concluded a number of pre-sales for its illustrative digital 2D animated show FRANNYS FEET. The pre-school series features a little girl whose fantastic feet step into magical adventures when she tries on shoes in her grandfathers repair shop. Commissioned by Channel Five in the U.K. and the Family Channel in Canada, the 13x30 minute show will step onto the schedules at Discovery UK and ABC in Australia. DECODE is seeking licensing partners for all categories.
A guest appearance by Lil' Romeo on April 19, 2003 sparks up the third season of STATIC SHOCK on Kids' WB! with the super rapper starring as an animated version of himself. In "Romeo In The Mix," the hip-hop musician joins forces with Static in an attempt to defeat The Leech - a metahuman that is stealing metahuman powers. The music-driven episode also will feature two of Lil' Romeo's hot songs - "Play Like Us" and "Bring It" from his most recent hit album, GAME TIME.
Discovery Kids will introduce animated series to its fall lineup, launching the REALTOONS block to air Saturday mornings on NBC in the U.S. and on the Discovery Kids Channel. Offering a mix of cool stories and real facts, the series TUTENSTEIN and KENNY THE SHARK are based on prototypical Discovery themes ancient history and sharks.
Third time's a charm? The Nashville Network started in 1983, was renamed the New TNN when it was bought by Viacom in 2000 and will now be called Spike TV, as of June 16, 2003, reflecting its new brand positioning as the first network for men. The network's new logo will be unveiled at the MTV Networks upfront presentation in New York City on Tuesday, May 6, 2003, according to network president Albie Hecht. "Spike TV captures the attributes and essence of what we want the first network for men to be," said Hecht. "It's unapologetically male; it's active; it's smart and contemporary with a personality that's aggressive and irreverent. It's a name we feel our audience will get and make a connection with. I like Spike! This is a first major step in our journey to super-serving men in a way no one has done before."
U.K. producer Passion Pictures joined forces with director Pierre Coffin at Tiger Aspect in London and Paris-based animation and post production house MacGuff Ligne to produce THE POLAR BEARS, a series of seven short films as new installments for the second series of LENNY HENRY IN PIECES airing since March 2003 on BBC1.
After a hiatus from primetime animation, NBC and DreamWorks are jumping into the genre again with a 13-episode order for a CG animated series, FATHER OF THE PRIDE, from DreamWorks TV about the lives of the family of lions who perform in Siegfried & Roy's Las Vegas magic show, it was reported by THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER and confirmed by a DreamWorks spokesman.
Cartoon Network is adding 3D animated series, SITTING DUCKS and PECOLA, to air weekday mornings, starting April 21, 2003. "PECOLA and SITTING DUCKS are both whimsical and sweet series that feature popular CGI animation. We think they'll be perfect additions to our weekday morning line-up," said Jim Samples, gm/vp of Cartoon Network.
MR. BEAN, the eccentric character created by British writer/actor Rowan Atkinson, is set for his U.S. animated television debut on American Public Television (APT) in April 2003 and will launch on home video in fall 2003 via a full-scale retail release by A&E Home Video. "We have quite a few stations who have committed to airing this series," an APT spokesperson said. They expect high carriage from this series especially since "adult animation is quite a hot topic at the moment." APT has U.S. distribution rights from April 1, 2003 through March 30, 2004.
The SOUTH PARK boys learn about the politics of war and the consequences of homework in the 100th episode, "I'm A Little Bit Country," which premiered at 10:00 pm April 9, 2003 on COMEDY CENTRAL and with repeats at 12:00 am on April 11, at 10:30 p.m. on April 12, as well as 2:00 a.m. and at 11:00 pm on April 13. Stan, Kyle, Kenny and Cartman join in anti-war protests in order to get out of school and find themselves in the middle of the opposing sides of the war issue. Mr. Garrison, an extreme supporter of the war, retaliates by assigning them book reports on the country's founding fathers.
Toronto-based CCI Entertainment, which just recently formed a cross-Atlantic partnership with Collingwood OHare in the U.K., now has a co-production deal with Australian production outfit Ambience Entertainment to produce ERKY PERKY, a (26x11) 3D animated series. The show was developed in-house by Ambience, a Sydney-based animation and broadcast design firm.
NOGGIN, Nickelodeon's commercial-free, educational network for kids 2-5 launched three new series for spring, OOBI, TWEENIES and MIFFY AND FRIENDS on April 7, 2003.
Nick at Nite will produce its first ever original animated series, FATHERHOOD. David Alan Grier (LIFE WITH BONNIE, DAG) has been signed to star in the series, which is based on Bill Cosby's bestselling book, FATHERHOOD. Cosby will executive produce the primetime series for Nick at Nite along with Charles Kipps (LITTLE BILL, COSBY MYSTERIES, LAW & ORDER) and David Brokaw (LITTLE BILL). Sal Maniaci, VP, development & production, TV Land and Nick at Nite, is overseeing the project, which is scheduled to premiere December 2003. "We are thrilled and honored to join forces with America's most beloved and creative funnyman for the network's first original project," said Jones. "We've been looking for an original property much like THE COSBY SHOW, that truly fits the Nick at Nite family viewing brand," according to by Larry W. Jones, EVP/GM, TV Land and Nick at Nite. "What better way to launch our first original series than with an original Cosby gem." This project marks the third installment of Cosby's animation "trilogy" which includes LITTLE BILL for Nickelodeon, FAT ALBERT and now FATHERHOOD for Nick at Nite. Each installment of the animated series will be a comedic/insightful look at the challenges, life lessons and comical confusions of family life. David Alan Grier will star as the voice of Dr. Bindlebeep, a high school teacher, loving husband and father of three. "I hope the audience will enjoy the art of New Yorker cartoonist George Booth that inspired the look of these characters," said Cosby. Bill Cosby was represented by William Morris Agency chairman Norman Brokaw and Mark Itkin, exec VP. Nick at Nite, the evening and overnight programming arm of Nickelodeon, offers new and timeless TV shows restored to their original graphic quality such as THE COSBY SHOW, CHEERS, THREE'S COMPANY and ALL IN THE FAMILY.
Vancouver-based Mainframe Entertainment, Inc., a leading creator of computer animation, has digitized the last pixel on it's first one-hour primetime special, SCARY GODMOTHER HALLOWEEN SPOOKTAKULAR, scheduled to air on Canada's YTV network this coming Halloween, October 31, 2003. Mainframe CEO, Rick Mischel, said this is the first time an animation company has made a television special using feature-film quality SOFTIMAGEXSI software. The show is based on the popular comics and children's books by the award-winning artist and writer, Jill Thompson, who also served as the art director.
Vancouver-based animation company SecondSun Entertainment and Minds Eye Entertainment, will produce CREEPSHOW, a new half-hour animated series in development with YTV for an older 12-17 audience. "It will be a suspense thriller series with all kinds of bizarre characters and unique plot twists and turns to keep kids on the edge of their seats," series producer Chris Delaney. "We are confident that the series edgy and stylish content will appeal to teenage viewers in Canada and around the world," Minds Eye Entertainments executive producer Kevin DeWalt. SecondSun designer John Delaney (BATMAN, SUPERMAN, FUTURAMA) has created a stylish, hybrid look for the series that combines an anime style with North American design sensibilities. Delaney (CHRISTOPHER THE CHRISTMAS TREE, THE LITTLEST ANGEL) is developing the creative concept with consultants Ivan Cohen and Barney Cohen (FOREVER NIGHT, SABRINA THE TEENAGE WITCH). A teen character in each episode will encounter a seemingly normal, everyday situation that quickly turns into a variety of terrifying, suspense filled situations. It may be that a babysitter is attacked by 'monster' children or a robot comes to life and does battle with its owner. Aaron L. Gilbert brought the parties together who will executive produce the series with DeWalt. CREEPSHOW is licensed from Jim Dudleson's Taurus Entertainment (NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD). Minds Eye International, a division of Minds Eye Entertainment, will distribute the series worldwide. Production is expected to begin in Vancouver in the fall of 2003. Established in 1986, Minds Eye Entertainment (formerly Minds Eye Pictures) is a fully integrated production, post-production and distribution entity with offices across western Canada. Check out the company's Website at www.mindseyepictures.com. SecondSun Entertainment (secondsunentertainment.com) is a "transmedia" company specializing in the creation of animation based content for various media platforms, formed in May 2002 by the amalgamation of Brainchild Studios Inc. a 3D company, its interactive game division Furious Entertainment, and Delaney & Friends Cartoon Productions Ltd., a 2D animation company.
As SOUTH PARK approaches it's 100th episode on April 9, 2003, the demented duo who create and exec produce the Comedy Central hit animated series for adults have re-upped with the cable channel through the end of 2005 with an option for an additional year. The deal has Trey Parker and Matt Stone making 15 episodes of SOUTH PARK each year, giving them time to work on other projects during a summer hiatus. If they exercise their option in 2006, that would stretch SOUTH PARK to a 10th season, making it the longest-running primetime comedy series in basic cable history. A pretty long stretch for two guys who claim they never wanted to do animation and don't particularly like it. But it pays the bills and given them a certain cache to go after live-action dreams in their quest to become the next Monty Python. Anne Garefino, exec producer of the series since the beginning, renewed her deal with the network as well. Comedy Central president/CEO Larry Divney claims SOUTH PARK is a huge part of Comedy Central's current and future success. He said, "I really love working with Matt and Trey. They are brilliantly creative producers and I'm just thrilled to have them commit to continuing our relationship well into the future. It's great for our viewers, our affiliates and our advertisers." Parker and Stone's deal was negotiated by their attorney Kevin Morris of Barnes, Morris, Klein & Yorn and agents Mike Simpson and Gaby Morgerman of the William Morris Agency. Garefino's deal was also negotiated by WMA and she is represented by Chris Silbermann of the Broder, Webb, Chervin, Silbermann firm. Comedy Central is the only all-comedy network seen in more than 82 million homes in the U.S. The cabler is owned by Comedy Partners, 50-50 joint venture of Time Warner Entertainment Co. and Viacom, visit www.comedycentral.com.
Cambium Catalyst International Entertainment (CCI) in Toronto, Canada has reacquired the majority of the Gullane Entertainment library from HIT Entertainment. CCI was associated with Gullane through the merger of Cambium and Catalyst in February 2002. The combined new entity had been operating alongside its U.K. affiliate Gullane when it was acquired by HIT and HIT became the minority shareholder of CCI. A year later, CCI amicably has ended its relationship with HIT, re-acquired HIT's share of CCI and hundreds of hours of the Gullane library. "We have a company that is larger than either Cambium or Catalyst was before. As a result, our distribution division, CCI Releasing, has grown. Its current library includes childrens (live action and animation), documentaries, family movies and lifestyle programming," said Arnie Zipursky, chairman/CEO of CCI. CCI recently formed a partnership with Collingwood OHare in the U.K. to produce HARRY AND HIS BUCKETFUL OF DINOSAURS. For more on CCI, check out www.ccientertainment.com.
While most of Nelvana's computer animated programs have been done with the assistance of outside studios, the Toronto-based production house, which is part of Corus Entertainment, turned out an entire 3D CGI one-hour special, ç, completely in-house, now airing on Nickelodeon. It premiered in primetime March 31 with rebroadcasts on April 1 and 14 at noon. The studio is becoming increasingly more self-contained, under the direction CGI pioneer and production chief Scott Dwyer. Based upon the best-selling book series by acclaimed children's author, David Kirk, MISS SPIDER stars Brooke Shields as the voice of a full-grown spider who discovers she doesn't know everything there is to know about being a terrific mom. Having been adopted herself when she was young, Miss Spider's lessons multiply when she and her young ones try to reunite an abandoned chicken egg with its mother. Nelvana used primarily Maya and combustion to create the rich, colorful natural environments and soft characters. The Nelvana production in association with Callaway & Kirk was exec. produced by Michael Hirsh, Dyer, Kirk, Nicholas Callaway and Nadine va der Velde. Pam Lehn served as supervising producer and Susie Grondin was producer. Mike Fallows directed the script by van der Velde while Mike Shiell was animation director. While animation remained at Nelvana, voice recording was done in Canada and the U.S. Tony Jay as the voice of the evil Spiderus was recorded at Voice Trax West in Los Angeles. Shields and Rick Moranis (the voice of her husband Holley) were recorded at Magno Sound in New York City. The majority of the voices were recorded at Studio 306 in Toronto under the direction of Jessie Thomson. Nelvana also produced in-house the ROLIE POLIE OLIE: GREAT DEFENDER OF FUN special last year that aired on Disney in the U.S. and CBC in Canada. MISS SPIDER'S SUNNY PATCH KIDS will air later this year on TELETOON in Canada. The special is sponsored by U.S. retailer Target, which just launched a lifestyle brand for children called Sunny Patch, in stores across America featuring images of Miss Spider and friends on clothing, garden tools and home décor.