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.
The Disney Channel U.S. is the latest in a raft of major broadcasters to prebuy THE KOALA BROTHERS, the first project from a new production house, Spellbound Entertainment. London-based Spellbound was launched in 2002 by the ex-HIT executive, Peter Curtis and ex-Endemol executive, Nick Barrington. Produced by Famous Flying Films for Spellbound, the stop-frame model animation series follows the adventures of Frank and Buster, two koalas on a mission to help others in need in the Australian outback.
Brett Merhar's cult comic strip FREE FOR ALL will be brought to life in a new animated series by Showtime Networks, in association with independent animation studio Film Roman to debut in summer 2003 in the U.S. The series of seven episodes follows Johnny and Clay, the strip's cynical, dysfunctional bestfriends, struggling with out-of the ordinary daily woes with Clay's sidekick, Angus, a strung-out ferret.
Anime fans should rejoice that ASTRO BOY will be getting a new animated series from Sony Pictures Television based on the original 50-year-old series from Manga master, Osamu Tezuka. Aimed at kids 6-11, Sony Picture Television International sales execs will launch the new ASTRO BOY at MIP-TV this month. The show continues Tezuka's comics-to-TV tale of a scientist who builds a robot boy after the death of his own son.
STUART LITTLE premieres on HBO Family in an all-new 2D animated series Saturday, March 1 at 8:00 am and replays at 1:30 the same day, as well as on the following Tuesdays and Thursdays. Sony Pictures Television and Red Wagon are producing the half-hour series of 13 episodes, based upon the book by E.B. White. The series features the adventures of the three-inch tall mouse (voiced by Hugh Laurie) who has been adopted by the Little family. Other characters featured in the series are Stuart's brother George; Mr. and Mrs.
HEY MONIE will reach a new audience as the series produced by Soup2Nuts debuts as the first animated comedy on BET (Black Entertainment Television) Tuesday, March 4 at 8 pm. The first network animated series based on an African-American woman and her friends started as a short on Oxygen's X-CHROMOSOME. Oxygen has been airing it as a series of shorts and has partnered up with BET and Soup2Nuts to turn it into a half-hour program. Oxygen will also be airing the shows in summer 2003.
The strategy for FOX BOX during the busy network upfront ad selling season is to make customized presentations for clients and advertising agencies instead of doing a mass meeting according to Daniel Barnathan, EVP of sales, marketing and promotion. AWN caught up with the marketing veteran in Los Angeles. Based in the FOX BOX/4Kids headquarters in New York City, Barnathan will be on the road through May, selling space for the programming block his company airs on the Fox TV network on Saturday mornings in the U.S.
Kids' WB! will add three new animated series to its Saturday morning and weekday slates with shows to roll out throughout the year, starting in summer 2003. The network will be sharing more series with sister cablecaster Cartoon Network and is combining the ad sales units of each it was announced Tuesday, February 25, 20003, at the joint Kids' WB! and Cartoon Network upfront sales presentations in New York City.
On February 24, 2003 Cartoon Network kicks off a week of some of the best action/anime series starring giant fighting machines in TOONAMI'S first Giant Robot Week, culminating with a special presentation of the acclaimed animated feature THE IRON GIANT on Friday, February 28, 2003, at 8:00 pm ET/PT. DAI-GUARD and NADESICO, which have never aired on U.S. television, are part of the anime series featured Monday, Feb. 24 Friday, Feb. 28 from 4-5:00 pm ET/PT each day.
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.