The hit Japanese show POKéMON, currently in syndication in the U.S. and exclusively on Kids WB! next season, has been sold to Televisa (Mexico) and Record-TV (Brazil). Both networks will premiere the show in April/May as a five-day-a-week program. The show has also been sold to numerous other Latin American broadcasters including Magic TV and Channel 11 (Argentina), Etcetera and Chilevision Channel 6 (Chile), Caracol (Colombia), Telecorporation (El Salvador), Televicentro (Honduras), Frecuencia Latina (Peru) and Venevision (Venezuela).
Todd MacFarlane, creator of the comic book and late-night HBO animated series, SPAWN, revealed he was the anonymous person that bought baseball star Mark McGwire's 70th home run ball at a recent auction for over $3 million dollars. MacFarlane, who has had a lifelong love of the game, said that he will have the ball mounted in a glass case and tour the country speaking to kid groups about baseball.
Cable network FX has ordered 13 episodes of their first-ever animated comedy series, THE DICK AND PAULA CELEBRITY SPECIAL, produced by Tom Snyder Productions. The show, set to premiere in spring '99, will use a derivation of Snyder Productions' trademark computer-generated process, "SquiggleVision." The weekly half-hour series is about the behind-the-scenes goings on of a husband-and-wife talk show team (Dick and Paula). They interview contemporary stars, fictionalized characters and major historical figures.
This Valentine's Day weekend, February 12-14, animation lovebirds can watch a couple of Valentine-themed specials on Nickelodeon and ABC. Nickelodeon will air An Off-Beats Valentine's Special on February 12 at 8:00 p.m. and the 14th at 1:00 p.m. (ET/PT). Based on The Off-Beats, a series of shorts created at Curious Pictures by Mo Willems, which appear on Nickelodeon's animated sketch comedy show Kablam!, the special features four adorably hapless kids who are tormented by the Populars.
Nickelodeon received their highest Nielsen ratings ever on January 18 with the premiere of a new half-hour "Rugrats" episode in primetime. The show garnered a 13.8 rating and 35 share among kids 2-11, representing one-third of all 2-11 year-olds watching TV between 8:00 and 8:30 p.m. that evening. The record-breaking number was the climax of an all-day "Rugrats" marathon during Martin Luther King Day.
In the show's first outing on Monday, January 25, "Dilbert" delivered UPN's highest-rated telecast of a comedy in adults 18-49 (3.3 rating/9 share) and 18-34 (3.7/11). The show's performance among total viewers (4.2/6) more than tripled UPN's season averages in the 8:00 p.m. Monday time slot and was UPN's best household rating for a comedy since a February '97 airing of "Moesha."
The animated feature "Princess Mononoke," Japan's highest-grossing feature of all-time, had an amazing television debut in Japan on January 22. Airing on Nippon Television Network (NTV), the Hayao Miyazaki film brought in a 35.1 rating, the eighth highest ranking in Japanese television history for movie broadcast ratings and the highest rating for a broadcast movie in 15 years.
The second season of MTV's "Celebrity Deathmatch" starts Thursday, February 4th at 10:00 p.m. (ET/PT). The clay-rendered matches for the season opener are Ice Cube vs. Ice-T, Robert DeNiro vs. Al Pacino and the Backstreet Boys vs. the Beastie Boys. Upcoming matches in the second season include "Battle of the Teen Scream Queens," "Battle of the Bonds" and a match with the cast of "Friends," along with "Deathmatch Fashion Show," where clay supermodels fashion the latest in Deathmatch body armor and weapons.
Kids WB! has ordered 13 additional episodes of the futuristic "Batman Beyond," which debuted in January to strong ratings in both its primetime preview and regular Saturday morning slot. The new episodes will be ready for the 1999-2000 season.
HBO Family, a new 24-hour commercial-free channel dedicated exclusively to family programming, launched February 1. The channel is teaming up with producers like Nelvana, Cinar, S4C and Hit Entertainment to deliver original animated programming. Among the new animated series premiering are "George and Martha," "The Adventures of Paddington Bear" and "Anthony Ant," as well as a new mixed-media pre-school series from Curious Pictures, "A Little Curious." In addition, a variety of original specials will have a "sneak preview" on HBO Family Channel before they premiere on the main HBO channel.
"Kevin Saves the World" is Monster Productions' newest entry, based on books by Daniel Postgate, produced and directed by Kine Aune and Oscar-winning British animator Bob Godfrey ("Great," 1964). The series (13 x 5 minutes) follows the misadventures of Kevin, a boy who always manages to come out on top despite his apparent ineptitude. The series, targeted for kids 4-8, has already been acquired by Nickelodeon U.K., Nickelodeon Scandinavia, RTE and ABC Australia among others.
1999 marks the 40th anniversary of the longest running television series in history, "Bonanza," and New York-based Abrams/Gentile Entertainment is producing a new animated series based on the perennial Western. The show is a prequel of sorts taking place on the Ponderosa Ranch with a young Ben Cartwright and his teenage sons. Abrams/Gentile also presents numerous other new projects including:"Open Call" (13 x 22 minutes): a comedy about two divorcees who become casting directors, as unqualified as they may be, in a unique blend of "real-time" animation and live-action.
Columbia TriStar Television Children's Programming (CTTCP), who currently produces and distributes shows like "Jumanji," "Men in Black" and "Godzilla: The Series," announces a number of show pre-sold to U.S. broadcasters: "Dragon Tales," a co-production with Children's Television Workshop for PBS, "Big Guy & Rusty the Boy Robot" for Fox Kids Network and "Bug Wars: A Starship Troopers Adventure" for BKN. In direct-to-video, CTTCP is currently developing "5,000 Fingers of Dr. T," "Berenstein Bears," "Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer" and "I Dream of Jeannie."
GoodTimes Entertainment announced that "Rudolph, The Red-Nosed Reindeer, The Movie," made its Latin American debut this Christmas on Cinecanal and Sky. This marked Cinecanal's first acquisition of an independently-produced animated feature and was the first time Cinecanal ran two versions of a single animated feature: neutral Spanish dubbed version for children and the original, English-language version with Spanish subtitles for family audiences.
Interactive Television Entertainment has firmed deals with Columbia and Peru for the interactive television show "Hugo, the TV Troll." Hugo premiered in Columbia on Canal Capital in December '98, and in Peru in January '99. The show, which allows the TV audience to respond instantaneously to programming content by using their telephone touchpad, currently airs in over 20 countries.
Superfresh Productions (Booth 3331) brings with them "SpaceBuddies!," best described as "The X-Files" from the alien's point of view. The half-hour clay animated sitcom recalls the old serials of the 1950s, only this time the hero, Nanook, is a little chartreuse man from outer space. "SpaceBuddies!" aims to explain Earth's mysteries...from the alien autopsy video to the success of Celine Dion.
Toronto, Canada-based Cambium Releasing has three new products - "Kit and Kaboodle" for the US and Latin American markets, "Littlest Angel's Easter," and "Infosaurus News Flash." "Kit and Kaboodle" (26 x 12 minutes) is from 1985 Academy Award-winning director Jon Minnis (Best Animated Short Film - Charade) and is a co-production between Cambium Film & Video Production and Cinegroup in Montreal. This pre-school series not only entertains, but also teaches children about themselves and how to interact with one another, says Cambium Senior VP Rita Carbone Fleury.
GLC Productions, a New York-based production/post-production company, debuts their maiden series venture at this year's show, The Buddy System, an animated Seinfeld meets The Odd Couple. The show, created by Big Nate syndicated cartoonist Lincoln Peirce, centers on the escapades of Buddy and Howie, a pair of sports-crazy twenty-something bachelors. Projected as a weekly half-hour 3D animated series, GLC has produced a 7-minute segment from the premiere viewable at NATPE.
Cubic Enterprises introduces two new children's programs - KoKo, The Pink Rabbit and Koni and the Starjammers. KoKo, two 45-minute clay animated specials follows KoKo and friends as they discover the value of friendship and the simple treasure of life. Koni is a 2D cel sci-fi action/adventure animated series starring Koni, Yena, Icon and Kobot as they bravely battle to retrieve the Hadron Batteries and ultimately, save the Earth in thirteen half-hour episodes.
Barcelona, Spain-based animation company D'Ocon Films Productions announces the launch of a co-production with Sony Wonder on Myths&Legends, a 13-episode series (with an option of a second set of 13), about two kids who discover a magic cavern which allows them to travel back through history. Their adventures take them to ancient Greece, the shores of Loch Ness and amongst the Knights of the Round Table; in each case making sure that good triumphs over evil.
Among Paris, France-based Salsa Distribution's predominantly science fiction genre programming slate is the animated Tommy and Oscar. Produced by Rainbow s.r.l., Salsa is offering 26 half-hour episodes to Latin territories. Tommy is a young boy who befriends a loveable alien named Oscar, who feeds on music instead of edible foods. Salsa is also overseeing Latin American merchandising on the series.
After nine holiday-themed specials, Encore Enterprises has created 26 new episodes of Chucklewood Critters with educational structures and guidance provided by the UCLA Department of Education. The show has been pre-sold to Ravensburger Film & TV in Germany, BBC in the UK and Daro Film in the rest of the world. Additionally, Encore has two hundred 1-minute fillers of Goofballs, a dialogue-less, gag-driven series featuring two handymen - Tiny the elephant and Jake the lizard. The show is a co-production between Riverstar Entertainment and SPI International.
Catalyst Distribution has a number of shows to offer including The Adventures of Captain Pugwash (13 x 30 minutes or 26 x 10 minutes), James the Cat (52 x 5 minutes), The Raccoons (65 x 30 minutes) and Britt Allcrofts Magic Adventures of Mumfie (39 x 30 minutes). Representatives are located at their U.S. associate company, Gullane Pictures.
Beginning in February, Kids WB! Saturday morning line-up will start airing the hit Japanese animated series, "Pokémon," a cartoon which gained infamy in late '97 when hundreds of young Japanese viewers simultaneously suffered seizures while watching an episode that featured a high-contrast flash sequence [AF 12/23/97]. While the series currently completes its first season in first-run syndication, Kids WB! will premiere twelve all new episodes of "Pokémon," which will join the series syndication package of 52 episodes for the completion of the '98-'99 season.
This year's Super Bowl footballweekend (January 30-31) is turning out to be a big weekend for animationfans as well. CLICK HERE for a guide to what sort of TV animation you can expectbefore, during and after the big game on Super Sunday!