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.
When Spanish newcomer Zinkia Entertainment attended MIPCOM, the Madrid-based company received more interest in its older-skewed series, SHURIKEN SCHOOL (6-10-years-old). But at the conclusion of MIP-TV, Maria Doolan, director of int'l co-productions at Zinkia, reports a mood change with buyers showing interest in her pre-school show POCOYÓ. "The pre-school market appeared to be more buoyant again," said Doolan. Zinkia is close to signing int'l pre-sales on both series. POCOYÓ is a 52-part, 3D animated series starring Pocoyó, an inquisitive toddler who wants to reach out and touch everything, as well as a plastic yellow duck, a magic clown, an athletic elephant and a friendly narrator. The series is created in short stimulating blocks for infant learning and development, using vibrant sound, music, movement and images. Zinkia has developed its own technology to give a clay-like quality to the characters. The comedy action series SHURIKEN SCHOOL (52x13), aimed at kids 6-10, features a manga style student, Eizan Kaburagi, attending the oldest and most respected ninja academy in the world, a weird and wild place where anything can and does happen. Produced entirely in Flash animation, the series is due to start production in spring 2003. Both series, which have been developed and created in English, have been created as multimedia concepts and are fully compatible with all kinds of multi-platform applications. Zinkia Entertainment (www.zinkia.com), is a multi-platform production company, creating quality entertainment, animation, commercials, IDs, graphics and music.
Some critics say that a monkey can make better decisions than a TV programming executive, while others, especially in the Animation Nation chatroom, say monkeys run production and broadcasting companies. To prove a point, Cartoon Network brought an actual chimpanzee (technically an ape, not a monkey), named Jimbo in to select the cartoons from CN's programming library during its April Fools' Day Monkey Marathon April 1, 2003 from 8:00 a.m.-11:00 pm (ET/PT). Jimbo picked a lineup of toons starring monkeys and apes in prominent roles.
WHAT'S NEW SCOOBY-DOO? takes to the airwaves on Cartoon Network March 28, 2003, with a new batch of creature-related mysteries fashioned after the popular animated series that debuted in 1969. The Hanna-Barbera creation was revamped by Warner Bros. Animation last year, airing on Kids' WB! and now Cartoon Network at 8:00 pm. Original cast members Casey Kasem (Shaggy) and Frank Welker (Fred & Scooby-Doo) are joined by Grey DeLisle (Daphne) and Mindy Cohn (Velma) as well as special guest stars.
FXDigital/DiFarm, a Korean and Los Angeles based digital studio specializing in 3D animation production, is debuting its BUMPER KING ZAPPER (26x30) animated series aimed at kids 7-12, at MIP-TV. Set to broadcast on SBS Korea in September 2003, BUMPER KING ZAPPER takes place in the year 2034 in the city of Kore, where a young boy named Tyron dreams of becoming the king of "Bumper Cross," the remote control racing game that dominates pop culture society.
DIC Entertainment is offering four brand new STRAWBERRY SHORTCAKE specials at MIP, according to Pat Ryan, EVP of worldwide sales for DIC. STRAWBERRY SHORTCAKE was originally launched by American Greetings in 1979 as a series of greeting cards. The brand was an immediate hit generating $1.2 billion at retail. The fun-loving, scented characters gave birth to 25 million dolls, 10 million toy accessories, 12 million books, 15 million pieces of children's apparel, 35 million accessories, three gold records, six animated specials and a series of home videos. The four specials are titled MEET STRAWBERRY SHORTCAKE, STRAWBERRY SHORTCAKES'S BERRY MERRY CHRISTMAS, SPRING FOR STRAWBERRY SHORTCAKE and STRAWBERRY SHORTCAKES'S GET WELL ADVENTURE. They take place in Strawberryland where Strawberry Shortcake, her sister Apple Dumplin' and her friends Ginger Snap, Orange Blossom, Angel Cake, Huckleberry, Custard, Pupcake and Honey Pie Pony engage in a series of magical adventures. There are five to seven original songs per special that highlight the themes of friendship, sharing and caring. DIC Entertainment (www.dicentertainment.com), headquartered in Burbank, California, is a leading children's entertainment company with more than 3,000 half-hours of programming in its library, ranked as the third largest library of American animation. DIC is a full service studio with production, development, distribution, home video, marketing and licensing departments.
Sunwoo USA, the Burbank, California based division of Sunwoo Entertainment in Korea, has entered into a co-production and co-development agreement with the National Wildlife Federation (NWF), to make THE UNHUGGABLES, a 26x30 animated series based on the book published by the NWF. The NWF will premiere a comic strip based on the book in spring of 2003. THE UNHUGGABLES features a group of school-aged animals, whose unappealing characteristics make them the outcasts. The action-packed coming-of-age misadventures of a spider, snake, porcupine, skunk, armadillo and an Asian False Vampire Bat is targeted for kids 2-11 and tentatively scheduled for the 2003/2004-television season. "We are very excited to be working with Sunwoo, one of the most innovative production and animation companies in the business," said Christopher Palmer, president/CEO of National Wildlife Productions, the production arm of the NWF. In addition, Sunwoo USA is offering in its first MIP product slate, SPACE HIP HOP DUCK, a 52x11 animated series already sold to KBS Network in Korea, according to Jae Moh, president/CEO of Sunwoo USA. SPACE HIP HOP DUCK features two near-do-well slackers who hip hop across the Hip Hop Galaxy in search of odd jobs while pursuing their dreams of becoming rock stars. It stars Hip Hop, a green sharp billed female duck and her human companion Wangja, a young male with a talent for gadgetry, who travel aboard Argo, a multi-purpose robot who serves as both a butler, a spaceship and a peacemaker. Sunwoo Entertainment, headquartered in Seoul, Korea, is comprised of three animation studios: Sunwoo Animation, Grimsaem Animation and Anivision Korea. These studios work closely together with Sunwoo Digital International to provide state of the art animation services. Its recently launched U.S. division seeks co-production deals, recruits talent and develops content with international appeal for its Korean-based studios.
Vancouver-based Atomic Cartoons is showcasing four new properties at MIP-TV 2003. The creators of ATOMIC BETTY (recently picked up by TELETOON Canada, Teletoon France and Cartoon Network Europe), are presenting animated trailers of DENNIS, DYSFUNCTION JUNCTION, DIRTY LIL BASTER and THE CARNEYS at the spring television market in France. DYSFUNCTION JUNCTION (26x22) is an irreverent primetime social commentary for adults about a well-to-do family that goes bankrupt and is forced to move into a trailer park.
FOX has ordered a digitally animated pilot presentation for THE AFTERLIFE from Santa Monica, California-based Threshold Digital Research Labs. The primetime animated sitcom follows the adventures of the Franklin family after a "slight photo glitch" kills them all by accident, landing them in a purgatory that looks a lot like suburban Los Angeles. Due to an administrative hiccup, processing them to their next life might take two or 300 years. Barry Bostwick (SPIN CITY) will voice the character of the earnest and eternally optimistic patriarch, Stan.
The North Sydney, Australia-based Kapow Pictures is taking its first animated series YAKKITY YAK the brainchild of KPs founder Mark Gravas to MIP-TV. The co-production with Canadas Studio B for kids 8-12 is already airing on Canada's TELETOON and has been sold to sold to TF1 (France) and Channel 10 (Australia). KP partner and executive producer Sandra Walters is presenting the 52x11 series at MIP. "Its a character-driven series, and its quirky by nature, she said. "That gives us license to reference reality, but to really push the boundaries," she said. Kapow (www.kapowpictures.com) has built its six-year-old reputation doing commercials for Kellogg's, Optus and Bonds, as well as pilots EGO FROM MARS and AGENT GREEN, which aired on Nickelodeon. The outfit made a big impact with its animated short film SHOW AND TELL, which was nominated for an AFI in 2002, and was named best short film at the Telluride Indie Fest and Most Popular Animated Film at Ausfest 2002. It followed on the heels of Kapows first short film, WYATT EARP, which won Best Animated Short in the Vancouver animation festival in 2000. WYATT EARP has since screened at more than 20 festivals, while Australian television rights have been bought by SBS.
Umbrella organization European Broadcasting Union is coproducing an animated series PITT & KANTROP (26x26) with Millimages (France), using funding from nine EBU member broadcasters ARD (Germany), BBC (U.K.), France 2 and France 3, RAI (Italy), RTBF and VRT (Belgium), RTVE (Spain) and SRG-SSR (Switzerland). Targeted at kids 6-12, the toon features 13-year-old Pitt and his pterodactyl pet Kantrop, created by Isabeau Merle and Fethi Nedjari. The series is an off-beat modern comedy set in prehistoric times, which recounts the adventures of Pitt, and Kantrop, the last pterodactyl, as they try to bring progress to Pitt's tribe. Wolfgang Wegmann (ARD), Theresa Plummer-Andrews (BBC) and Babette Vimenet (France) are set to exec produce. Millimages Licenses, Millimages UK and Millimages USA will handle international distribution rights when the series launches in fall 2004. "We are confident that the series PITT & KANTROP will be another success for the EBU and its members in providing quality European programming to children across Europe," said Philippe Jacot, head of the EBU coproduction unit. Millimages, based in Paris (www.millimages.com), is one of the largest producers and distributors of animated programming with its own post production and stop-motion service studios. The Geneva-based EBU (www.ebu.ch) is the largest professional association of national broadcasters in the world. It serves 71 active members in 52 countries of Europe, North Africa and the Middle East and 45 associate members in 28 countries around the world. Working on behalf of its members, the EBU negotiates broadcasting rights for major sports events, operates the Eurovision and Euroradio networks, organizes program exchanges, stimulates and coordinates coproductions, and provides a full range of other operational, commercial, technical, legal and strategic services.
France Animation, one of Europes leading production and distribution companies specializing in youth programming, has a number of MIP-TV 2003 offerings for the teen and pre-school markets. COSY CORNER is a preschool series (52x6 or 13x26) that features a host of soft, cuddly CGI animated animal characters with strong merchandising potential. It tells the story of a group of Stella, Margot, Arthur and Jacky, who have been thrown together by chance. Living as neighbors in a huge tree, called COSY CORNER, they soon discover that it isnt always easy to get along and put up with each other! Produced by French production company Storimages and co-produced by France 5 and Teletoon France, France Animation has worldwide distribution rights. Also on France Animations MIP-TV 2003 slate, is the second season of hit show WHEEL SQUAD 2 (13x26) which completes the series of 39 episodes. WHEEL SQUAD combines wheel sports, rap, hip-hop and techno for older children. Is a co-production between France Animation, M6, Praxinos, Colorland, RAI and for series one Canal + Belgique. The show can already be seen on the Disney Channel in Asia, Hong Kong and the Middle East, and in Latin America (Fox Kids), Spain (Antena 3), The Netherlands (Kindernet), Portugal (SIC) and Poland amongst other territories. Concluding France Animations animated lineup is the well-known TITEUF (78x7 or 26x26), a successful property all over Europe based on the comic books by Swiss cartoonist Zep. Already a major hit on France 3, the series has already sold to broadcasters in Canada, Germany, Italy, Spain, Belgium, Greece, Turkey, North Africa, Switzerland, The Netherlands, Denmark, Norway, Poland, Korea, Ukraine, Singapore, Hong Kong, Israel, Indonesia, Malaysia, Morocco, Iceland, Japan, Korea, Ireland and the Middle East. In addition, TITEUF has inspired lucrative product ranges across a variety of markets with 250,000 GameBoy games sold by Infogrames in Europe alone and 250,000 video cassettes selling in the last 12 months through Universal Pictures Video France. Other merchandising available includes Lafuma school bags, a confectionery deal with Cadbury and a pan-European card deal with Hallmark. Various deals have also been struck with Hasbro, McDonalds, Danone and Kellogg's. TITEUF is a co-production between France Animation, Editions Glenat, Canal J, France 3 and SMEC, in partnership with RAI, Infogrames and Universal. France Animation also brings factual entertainment to MIP-TV with new completed episodes of the fascinating documentary series INSECTOSCOPE and live-action kids series CYBERGIRL. Maia Tubiana, managing director of France Animation said: "We are maintaining our strategy of seeking quality properties for our catalog, partnering at the earliest possible stages on new projects and developing or co-developing series in formats varying from 5 to 26 minutes. We are also happy to announce that we have started production on PETIT VAMPIRE (working title LITTLE VAMPIRE) which we launched with our co-production partner Story at Cartoon Forum this year. The 52x13 series will be ready for delivery in 2004. PETIT VAMPIRE is a Story, France Animation, France 3 and Telegael co-production." Formed in 1984, France Animation (www.france-anim.com) is subsidiary of Wanadoo (France Télécom) and has a sales catalog with more than 1,200 half-hours sold in more than 100 countries.
French broadcaster FR1 and CGI animation producer Sparkling are showing their first episode of ZOÉ KÉZAKO (26x13). The 3D animated series is based on books of the same name written by Véronique Säuquère. The show, directed by Serge Elissade, revolves around the adventures of seven-year-old girl and her friends. Zoé loves to speak her mind about annoying things that others would choose to ignore, then learns how to transform the negative into a positive. TF1 greenlit the series last October following a presentation at Cartoon Forum.
Broadcasters have increasingly been making adjustments to their programming during horrific events when topics or references might be seen as upsetting to children. AWN polled a number of TV outlets catering to kids to see if any had decided to reschedule any episodes that seem questionable or inappropriate when many children are alarmed by the bombings and combat waging on in Iraq. Kid's WB! is not making any changes. Others responded:
Nickelodeon will add five new animated series, two live-action series, one animated primetime special, plus a miniseries of live-action specials to its 2003-2004 schedule. The diverse programs range from an older cast of RUGRATS, a spin-off series from OH YEAH! CARTOONS and a new show from THE FAIRLY ODDPARENTS creator Butch Hartman, it was announced by Cyma Zarghami, EVP/GM of Nickelodeon during the network's upfront meeting in New York City on March 19, 2003. ALL GROWN UP takes a look at the RUGRATS baby brigade as pre-teens. Tommy, Chuckie, Phil, Lil, Susie and Dylan display a bit more confidence and smarts to negotiate the bossy Angelica. This first-ever RUGRATS spin-off is created and produced by Klasky Csupo, to premiere in fall 2003. MY LIFE AS A TEENAGE ROBOT, a spin-off of the hit show OH YEAH! CARTOONS, centers on Jenny, a super-powered robot who has to protect the planet while coping with typical teenage trials and tribulations. Created by Rob Renzetti, who will serve as exec. producer with Fred Seibert for the series that premieres in summer 2003. From FAIRLY ODDPARENTS creator Butch Hartman comes DANNY PHANTOM, a 14-year-old kid who transforms into a phantom-fighting superhero with ghost-like superpowers. The series will be produced at the Nicktoons Animation Studio in Burbank, Calif. The 3D animated preschool series THE BACKYARDIGANS is an interactive music and dance-driven show about three animal friends who embark on fantastic singing and dancing adventures. The show features original music with an interactive dance segments for viewers. The series was created by exec. producer Janice Burgess (LITTLE BILL). Co-exec. producer Robert Scull (LITTLE BILL, LITTLEBURG) directs the show produced at Nick Jr. in New York City. Premiering in August 2003 is RUBBADUBBERS, a stop-motion preschool series about a spirited group of bath-toy friends whose lively imaginations take them on fantastic journeys. It is produced by HIT Entertainment in the U.K. MISS SPIDER AND THE SUNNY PATCH KIDS, featuring the voices of Brooke Shields and Rick Moranis, will air as a one-hour animated primetime special. Geared to a preschool audience, the show is based on David Kirk's best-selling children's book series LITTLE MISS SPIDER and is produced by Nelvana. Other shows include WHOOPI'S LITTLEBURG, a series of three live-action specials starring Whoopi Goldberg with puppets, preschool kids and celebrity guest stars. Nick alumni Drak Bell and Josh Peck reunite as an odd couple of teen stepbrothers in DRAKE AND JOSH, a new live-action comedy series from Tollin Robbins Prods. Nick will also feature hip-hop icons Master P and Lil' Romeo in ROMEO!, a live-action comedy series from the Tom Lynch Co.
Fox Kids Europe will move its German consumer products operations from Cologne to Munich to consolidate its entire channel and related business activities. Markus Pottgeisser, managing director, Saban Consumer Products Germany, departs and all operations will be overseen by Christophe Erbes, MD of Fox Kids Germany. Ian Downes, MD of Saban Consumer Products Europe, said, "We are expecting a strong year in 2003 from POWER RANGERS and WHAT'S WITH ANDY, due to improve scheduling on Super RTL. We are also working closely with Bandai on an integrated marketing campaign."
Toronto-based Cambium Catalyst International Entertainment (CCI) has partnered with U.K. animation studio, Collingwood OHare Entertainment (COE), to co-produce the animated series HARRY AND HIS BUCKETFUL OF DINOSAURS. Based on the successful book of the same name, the animated pre-school series explores the vivid imagination of a child and his dinosaur companions. Production is set for fall 2003 in the U.K. and Canada. CCI Releasing will hold worldwide distribution rights.
In one of its few buys of an American animation series, 4Kids Entertainment's FOX BOX has added BACK TO THE FUTURE from Universal Cartoon Studios to its Saturday morning lineup, starting March 22, 2003 at 8:30 am. Based on the popular feature film trilogy, BACK TO THE FUTURE series debuted on 1991 on CBS, starring Christopher Lloyd in live-action wrap-arounds featuring scientific demonstrations by Bill Nye, the host of BILL NYE THE SCIENCE GUY. In the animated segments, Doc Brown was voiced by Dan Castellaneta, best known as the voice of Homer Simpson.
Firestone Communications will launch the first digital 24-hour Hispanic kids service in the U.S., ¡Sopresa,! on March 15, 2003 to be carried on three cable platforms on 350 systems reaching approximately 400,000 subscribers. Spanish-language programming acquired from Spain, Latin American and the U.S. aims to reach a broad kids audience. Mornings and afternoons are targeted at pre-school and younger children with animation, pre-school series, variety, documentaries and special events.
SOUTH PARK returns with more action, more social satire, more life lessons, as well as pointers from legendary television producer Norman Lear as the seventh season of the series created by Matt Stone and Trey Parker begins Wednesday, March 19 at 10:00 pm on Comedy Central. Lear will collaborate with the SOUTH PARK creators who said they are thrilled to be working with one of their idols. "Norman is a genius," said Parker in a release.
Bardel Entertainment will be unveiling its new animated action series SILVERWING at MIP-TV. Based on the first novel in a trilogy by Ken Oppel, it follows the coming-of-age tale of Shade, who is in search for his father. The book is selling well in the U.S., Canada, U.K., Germany, France, Denmark, Australia, Holland and will soon be available in Italy. Negotiations are underway for the trilogy to be re-released to coincide with the launch of the television series in fall 2003 on TELETOON in Canada.
Shortly after Turner Broadcasting head Jamie Kellner resigned, newly appointed TBS chairman/CEO Philip I. Kent announced March 11, 2003 AOL Time Warner is restructuring the Turner Broadcasting System, Inc.'s network businesses to create three broader, integrated operating units Cartoon, Entertainment and News - with direct oversight for their respective programming, marketing, advertising sales and other business functions. Key executives have been reassigned immediately to new management positions.
Restructuring continues at Egmont Imagination as its president Tom van Waveren follows the company's programming catalog to Telescreen. The Egmont Group sold the media exploitation rights, outside of the Nordic territories, to Palm Plus Multimedia BV, which in turn has handed over the rights to its subsidiary Telescreen, a stable animation player for the past 20 years. The extended Telescreen catalog will now include properties such as LIZZIE MCGUIRE, PAZ, THE FAIRYTALER, HAMILTON MATTRESS, REX THE RUNT, TRACY MCBEAN, SKIPPER & SKEETO and UPSTAIRS DOWNSTAIRS BEAR.
The UPN network has bought its first CG animated primetime pilot, MEET THE BREAKNECKS, exec produced by Carsey-Werner-Mandabach in Los Angeles and animated by DKP Effects in Toronto, Canada. It's an original concept created by David Sacks, David Goetsch, Jason Venokuris and Ross Venokur about a suburban family that are actually video game characters dealing with its unique everyday problems.
Broadcaster CBBC in England debuted NELLY NUT on Monday, March 3, 2003, the children's channel's first totally live interactive animated on-screen character, which hosts a weekday 7-9:00 am breakfast show. Nelly Nut is a nine-year-old bundle of energy, smart, sassy and strong-minded who never leaves her trusty teddy bear friend, Miss Bunny, far behind.