The chairman of Jim Henson Co., Brian Henson, has signed on to direct CBS' four-hour miniseries JACK AND THE BEANSTALK: THE REAL STORY. The production will start within the next two months in London with the Creature Shop handling the job of bringing the land of giants to the small screen. Henson and Bill Haber will executive produce the program with writer James V. Hart. Martin G. Baker and Tom Smith are producing and Alex Rockwell co-producing.
One-time L.A. Laker cheerleader/singer/choreographer Paula Abdul and her Planet Paula Productions have signed a deal with Fox Kids Network to develop a new live-action/animated children series. The untitled show will follow a garage band's climb to success. Abdul is set to produce, choreograph and perform an animated character's voice or play a live-action character. The series idea was inspired by Abdul's work on her "Opposites Attract" music video, in which she interacted with an animated character named M.C. Scat Kat.
Dotcomix online hit SISTER RANDY will make her TV debut on BBC America, Saturday, October 21, 2000. SISTER is the second Webtoon to be licensed for TV broadcast on BBC America. Earlier this year the cable network began airing Mondo Medias THUGS ON FILM. Like THUGS, SISTER will serve as interstitials between programming. As part of the deal, the Webtoons will also air on bbcamerica.com. "Sister Randy is sure to be habit-forming television.
The hit British comedy program, MR. BEAN, is about to be transformed into an animated series. The live-action series production company, Tiger Aspect, will be producing the US$15 million animated television series, which will air on ITB. Rowan Atkinson, who plays the live-action Bean, will voice the animated character. In addition, Robin Driscoll, who served as the original writer on the live-action series, will be scribing the new toon version. Currently, Tiger Aspect is looking for an animation company to perform the physical production.
CBS Saturday morning ratings have been sky rocketing since beginning airing the Nick Jr. block, with shows such as BLUES CLUES and LITTLE BILL. On September 30, 2000, the Nick Jr. programming on CBS averaged a 3.8 rating/18 share among kids 2-5. The ratings were up 58% from the previous week and up 388% from last year. WB ran second in the same demographic with a 2 rating/9 share, followed by ABC with 1.9/10 and Fox .9/4.
For the third quarter, Cartoon Network has reported ratings 25% higher than a year ago. The toon channel drew an average of 1.26 million households, compared with just over a million in the third quarter of 1999. "Our original animated shows like POWERPUFF GIRLS and DEXTERS LABORATORY have been doing very well, with POWERPUFF GIRLS giving us the highest ratings ever," said Cartoon Network executive vice president Tim Hall.
Barcelona-based Neptuno Films has signed a deal to co-produce, with Planeta 2010, a childrens series entitled PUSS IN BOOTS. Based on the classic tale of Perrault, the story is being adapted by Neptuno director Josep Lluis Viciana. Neptuno also produces THE UGLY DUCKLING, THE THREE BEARS, THE GRAVEDIGGERS SQUAD and BANDOLERO. This production will be the first in what both companies hope to be a long-term co-production relationship.
At MIPCOM, Cosgrove Hall Films has launched their new pre-school series FETCH THE VET. Based on an original concept by childrens author Stephen Thraves, FETCH THE VET tells the story of the day-to-day life of veterinarian Tom Fetch. The series was commissioned by CITV and is co-produced by Flextech Rights Ltd. and ITEL. Currently, 26 11-minute installments have been completed. In promotion of the series, Cosgrove Hall Digital has created a FETCH Website at www.fetchthevet.com.
London-based rights holder Chorion is launching a new 3D animated childrens series entitled MAKE WAY FOR NODDY. Based on author Enid Blytons books, NODDY follows the Toyland gang as they try to teach children social values and simple life lessons. The NODDY books have sold over 200 million copies in forty languages worldwide. Chorion has commissioned Los Angeles-based SD Entertainment to produce the series, which will combine 2D and 3D animation. SD Entertainment is the animation house formed by former MGM Animation executives Paul Sabella and Jonathan Dern.
ABC has secured broadcast rights for the classic holiday PEANUTS specials from rights holder United Media ending the specials 35-year run on CBS. The main reason for the switch was that the new deal was more lucrative for the rights holder. However no specific monetary details were released. The agreement also guarantees that ITS THE GREAT PUMPKIN, CHARLIE BROWN and A CHARLIE BROWN THANKSGIVING will be aired each year, which wasnt always an absolute on CBS.
ANGRY KID, the love-or-loathe-him ginger-haired horror from the home of WALLACE AND GROMIT, has proved so popular even the Internet isn't big enough for him. The SUNDAY TELEGRAPH paper reports that the Aardman Animations character is to make the move to television. At present, there are twenty-five different Webisodes, each about a minute long, available on the AtomFilms Website. The character is played by an actor shot frame-by-frame (pixelation), wearing one of Angry Kid's four hundred masks. The series was launched exclusively online on May 8, 2000.
According to the new issue of the trade magazine ANIMATION UK, a range of new TV productions are in preparation in Britain. HAMILTON MATTRESS is a "stop-frame comedy drama" about an Aardvark and his caterpillar companion. The director is Barry Purves, celebrated director of films including NEXT and SCREENPLAY, while the writers are John Webster and Anna Farthing. The film will be made by Harvest Animation, commissioned by BBC1, with global TV/video rights handled by Link and Egmont Animation.
From September 23 - 29, 2000, the British terrestrial station Channel 4 is screening a veritable deluge of animation, ranging from the far-flung universe of FUTURAMA to the sharply-observed mundane world of POND LIFE. The only catch is most of it's being shown in the small hours, so set your video recorders. Saturday is the main night, kicking off at 9 pm with Channel 4 regular SOUTH PARK, followed FUTURAMA with a special introduction from creator Matt Groening. This is the series first time airing on British terrestrial TV.
Nickelodeon and HIT Entertainment PLC, a leading supplier of children's programming, have agreed to co-produce 26 half-hour episodes of a new Nick Jr. series entitled, OSWALD. As part of the deal, HIT Entertainment will control all international rights in all media excluding the U.S., which Nickelodeon will handle. The show tells the story of a blue octopus who lives in a whimsical city with his best friends, a pet hot dog, penguin and daisy. The animated series, which will be produced by Nicktoons, is based on characters created and designed by childrens book author Dan Yaccarino.
The WB TV network has decided to pick-up its newest toon, BABY BLUES, for a second season. The channel has ordered 13 more episodes of the series, which debuted in late July. The toon has preformed well in a tough Friday time slot for the WB and is one of the highest rated comedies the network has ever had. BABY could serve as the WBs quick replacement series if any of its new live-action comedy series dont work out. BABY is based off the newspaper comic strip of the same name and features the voice talents of Mike O'Malley, Julia Sweeney and Nicole Sullivan.
pasi (Philippine animation studio, inc.) and Nelvana have teamed up to co-produce 13 episodes of COMMITTED, an animated series based on the popular Michael Fry comic strip. The United Feature Syndicate comic strip is a chronicle of the day-to-day life of a working mom with three children and her stay-at-home writer husband. Eugene Levy, Catherine O'Hara and Andrea Martin are providing the lead voices for the series. The new toon is being produced for Fox Family Channel and CTV in Canada.
Throughout the summer Cartoon Network has been airing a different pilot on Friday evenings, cumulating in the August 25-27, "Voice Your Choice Weekend." Viewers voted for their favorite pilot and the top three will become the next series on Cartoon Network. Surviving the length of the summer after being the first pilot broadcast, THE GRIM ADVENTURES OF BILLY AND MANDY was the top pick to join the channels 2001 schedule.
Playboy TV is ready to unveil its newest TV series, the completely CGI animated satire/adventure, DARK JUSTICE. Debuting on September 3, 2000 at 10 pm, the 3D toon chronicles the exploits of Justina, a vigilante vixen who must dodge the pursuits of the law as she fights Metro Citys most dangerous villains. Adult filmmaker Michael Ninn directs the series. "Playboy's Dark Justice is the ideal animated series for Playboy TV," said Jim English, president, Playboy TV Networks Worldwide.
Nickelodeons newest series DORA THE EXPLORER debuted as the highest rated show in Nick Jr. history. The Monday, August 14 11 am airing scored an 11.22/43 rating/share (1.3 million viewers) among kids 2-5 years old. To top its own success the second airing of DORA at 11:30 am scored a 12.85/48 rating/share (1.5 million viewers) among kids 2-5 years old. The new series beat out the September 9, 1996 premiere of BLUES CLUES, which scored a 10.68/48 rating/share among the same demographic.
As counter-programming to the Summer Olympics, the WB Network has decided to begin airing new episodes of THE PJS. The foamation toon will make its official switch from Fox to the WB in a special airing on Friday, September 8, 2000 at 8:30 pm. The Warner Bros./Imagine/Will Vinton Studios production will then join the Sunday line-up on September 10, 2000 at 8:30 pm and will move to 7 pm once the regular season starts. The Eddie Murphy-voiced toon will also have another Friday run on September 15.
Like its doomed toon brother CLERKS, SAMMY has been sacked by NBC after only airing two episodes. The network pulled the plug on the long-shelved comedian David Spade series after it was down 1.1 million views from its lackluster debut of 4.1 million. The beleaguered toon scored a dismal 1.6 rating among adults 18-49 in its Tuesday 8:30 pm time slot. The cancellation isnt much of a surprise, especially when insiders have said that the series ranked as one of the networks lowest-scoring shows in front of test audiences.
TOPIX/Mad Dog was tapped to create the visual effects for the HDTV animated retelling of the Prodigal Son tale entitled, CHOICE. The 25-minute film was produced for Expo 2000s "Pavilion of Hope" in Hanover, Germany. Presented in six languages, the film started airing in June and will run until October. The project was animated by Canuck Creations in Toronto and digitally scanned, inked and painted in Viet Nam at One Shot Pro and Planet Wave. "Originally, our job was to handle the post to finish off the process and put the footage into continuous form.
Swedish-based animation studio Filmtecknarna has wrapped on a 40-second animated sequence for the latest Madonna music video entitled "Music." Within the video, the tooned Madonna beats up British comedian Ali G who also appears in the live-action part of the video. The animation was directed by Jonas Odell at Filmtecknarna and produced by Leila El-Zein. The backgrounds were designed by Boris Nawratil. Jonas Akerlund of Petterson & Akerlund helmed the live-action portion. Filmtecknarna has previously worked with Akerlund on videos for Madonna and Metallica.
Nelvana Limited has announced plans to produce two new animated series. BRACEFACE will be a co-production between Nelvana and Chinese studio Jade Animation. Voiced by Alicia Silverstone (CLUELESS), the series tells the story of Sharon Spitz, a 13-year-old who turns her metal mouth into a winning smile. The first 26 episodes are set for completion in spring 2001 for Fox Family in the U.S. and Teletoon in Canada. CYBERCHASE will be a co-production between Nelvana and WNET/13 in New York, which will air nationally on PBS KIDS in winter 2002.
On Tuesday August 8, 2000, David Spades new animated series, SAMMY, made a lackluster debut in the bottom of its 8:30 pm time slot. Despite a decent lead-in by a rerun of 3RD ROCK FROM THE SUN, the new primetime toon drew only 4.1 million viewers and a 1.8 rating/6 share for adults 18-49. The long shelved series follows the reunion of a newly famous son and his deadbeat dad. How long will the series last only time can tell. The last two heavily hyped primetime toons, GOD THE DEVIL & BOB and CLERKS, never made it past six episodes combined.