This week at MIPCOM, LEGO Media and Miramax Films unveiled the first production and marketing materials available for its direct-to-home video movie, BIONICLE: MASK OF LIGHT, based on the successful LEGO Company toy line. The 70-minute, CGI-animated feature is currently in production at Los Angeles-based Creative Capers, with a debut date scheduled for fall 2003. The trailer, which can be viewed at www.maskoflight.com, will be featured on Miramax Films upcoming home video release of SPY KIDS II, scheduled to hit shelves in January 2003.
The award-winning team of writer Neil Gaiman and artist Dave McKean are in development with TV-Loonland subsidiary Sunbow Entertainment to create a series based on their children's book THE DAY I SWAPPED MY DAD FOR TWO GOLDFISH. This week at MIPCOM, Sunbow is presenting the 13 x 22-minute animated series, targeted at 6 -11 year-olds. Gaiman is best known for his critically acclaimed and widely successful graphic novels SANDMAN and the 3-part series DEATH: THE HIGH COST OF LIVING which he is currently adapting to a feature film for Warner Bros.
Studio B will be attending MIPCOM with their latest series in development including TINSELLANIA, a Canada/France co-production with Saban International Paris. The series features the inhabitants of a fairy-tale kingdom that collide with the modern world. Studio B just confirmed a development deal for 26 x 22-minute episodes of TINSELLANIA with Family Channel Canada. Studio B is also highlighting INTO THE SHADOWS and BEING IAN at MIPCOM. Based on a series of popular books published by Smart Kids, Family Channel Canada has already ordered 52 x 11-minute episodes of INTO THE SHADOWS.
This week at MIPCOM, Los Angeles-based Mike Young Productions (MYP) introduced the companys international roster of partners for its new extraterrestrial property, PET ALIEN from John Doze Studios. The partners are: Frances Antefilms Production, based in Paris; jadooWorks PVT. LTD. of Bangalore, India; and Abú Media in Galway, Ireland. The partners are joining forces to create the CGI-animated project, a series of 52 x 11-minute episodes aimed at 4 to 11 year-olds.
Curious Pictures is currently in production on HEY JOEL, a 13 x 22-minute adult-themed sitcom that focuses on the behind the scenes action at a music talk show. The series is being developed in conjunction with VH1 and is scheduled to air on VH1 in the U.S. and Chum in Canada. Jon Cryer (PRETTY IN PINK) voices Joel Stein, the obnoxious host of a 3-minute rock-star interview show on VH1. Artist Robert Risko designed the characters, who include Joel's producer Michele; loyal P.A. Kevin; VH1 star (and Joel's nemesis) Leif; and Z, the no-nonsense head of programming.
Mike Young Productions (MYP) announced that renowned filmmaker-writer-actor Mel Brooks (THE PRODUCERS, HIGH ANXIETY, YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN, SPACEBALLS) will voice the role of Wiley the Sheep in the new half-hour CGI series, JAKERS! THE ADVENTURES OF PIGGLEY WINKS, based on original stories by Irish writer Denise Fitzpatrick. The series, a co-production from MYP, Entara Limited and PBS affiliate WLIW, features 26 episodes aimed at children aged 4-8.
Atomic Cartoons will roll into Cannes with its latest cartoon, CONEY ISLAND CARNEYS, created by animation artists Garnet Syberg-Olsen and Jared Deal. The series centers on the lives of eccentric carnival characters.
Tremendous! Entertainment has secured the international television rights to the animated television series GARFIELD & FRIENDS, and plans on reintroducing the lasagna-loving feline to broadcasters at this years MIPCOM. To promote the series, Tremendous! Entertainment will produce and distribute a Garfield 25th anniversary television special, slated to begin production in January 2003 for broadcast in June 2003. The company also plans to release special home video and DVD Collector Editions in fall 2003.
Banjax, a new digital animation company based in Belfast and London, will be at MIPCOM Jr. and MIPCOM with four new animated projects: GENE-FUSION, SICK AND FAMOUS, GNARPH and THINGIES. GENE FUSION (26 x 22 minutes) is set in an authoritarian future society where mutant creatures, called Fusimals, battle a spectacular gladiatorial road show owned and run by the World Fusing Federation. The series is based on a comic book created by U.S. Publisher/IP House Beckett Entertainment. SICK AND FAMOUS (26 x 22 minutes) is a comedy about a series broadcast from an exclusive rehab clinic.
Germany's EM.TV continues to move into the tween age group with its animation slate. At MIPCOM the media group will be presenting TIMM THALER, a story about a young orphan boy named Timm who uses mysticism and magic to battle the evil Baron Lived. EM.TV holds TV and video rights for all territories except for Germany, Austria, Alto Adige, Switzerland, Luxemburg and Liechtenstein.
On Saturday, September 21, Kids' WB!'s new 2002-2003 season dominated the Saturday morning competition to rank number one in kids 6-11 (5.7/25), beating Nickelodeon for the first time since March 18, 2000. The network also led all competition for the morning in boys 2-11 (6.0/26), boys 6-11 (8.0/32) and tweens 9-14 (5.0/25). Taking the top six program spots in the key demographic of boys 6-11, the network beat the combined performances of Nickelodeon (5.4/23) and Fox Box (1.8/7). Among kids 2-11, Kids' WB! also outperformed ABC Kids (1.7/8) and Fox Box (1.1/5) combined. Kids' WB!
Warner Bros. Animation is bringing Daffy Duck back to television in an all-new half-hour series for Cartoon Network. DUCK DODGERS showcases the classic Looney Tunes characters Daffy Duck and Porky Pig in the 24th century as they attempt to protect the planet Earth from its enemies. "This series embraces the timelessness of the classic Looney Tunes characters," said Sander Schwartz, president, Warner Bros. Animation.
There is more new animation coming from Warner Bros. Animation. TEEN TITANS, a series based on the popular DC Comics comic book characters, is scheduled to debut in 2003 on Cartoon Network and Kids WB! The series will follow Boy Wonder Robin as he leads fellow teen superheroes Cyborg, Beast Boy, Starfire and Raven in a battle to protect the Earth from a new generation of villains. Slated to debut on Cartoon Network in 2003, followed by broadcast on Kids WB!, this half-hour animated action series is being produced by Warner Bros.
Although Egmont Imagination is substantially diminishing its production and development infrastructure while at the same time pursuing the sale of the companys assets, they will be at MIPCOM with a full slate of programs. Tom van Waveren, president of Egmont, said, "While Egmont Imagination no longer fits within the Egmont Groups strategy, our companys distribution structure remains in place for the foreseeable future as options are being considered.
TV-Loonland has started production on its latest animation series METALHEADS (26 x 11-minutes), a comedy adventure set in the Middle Ages and aimed at 6 to 11 year-olds. TV-Loonlands UK-based animation studio Telemagination is producing the series, which has an anticipated delivery of summer 2003. METALHEADS centers on a motley crew of five kids and their enthusiastic efforts to become knights. Its described by Loonland as a little bit Monty Python and a little bit THE KNIGHT'S TALE.
Colorland Animation Ltd. and Tundra Productions, Inc. are introducing their first original co-produced series to buyers at MIPCOM 2002. Entitled OH MAX, the 26 x half-hour children's series is currently in production. OH MAX and the new animated film IN SEARCH OF SANTA mark Colorland's debut as producers of their own product. Max is an overgrown, accident-prone, recently adopted puppy with an overactive imagination. In his waking life (portrayed in CG animation), Max is still adjusting to his newly adopted household and resident pets.
Bazley Films, a new UK-based animation company formed by animator Richard Bazley, has teamed up with High Eagle Productions to direct, animate and produce a section of THE CUNNING LITTLE VIXEN for the BBC. THE CUNNING LITTLE VIXEN is an animated opera based on the novel by Rudolf Tésnohlídek featuring an original libretto by Czechoslovakian composer Janácek. Bazley, whose team includes former Disney and Warner Bros.
Effective October 1, 2002, animation studio Saban International Paris is changing its name to SIP Animation. The newly named company will be at MIPCOM to present its latest animated series W.I.T.C.H., adapted from a popular comic book series. W.I.T.C.H. is an action series combining epic adventure and comedy, magic and realism through the adventures of five young heroines gifted with magic powers, designated to maintain the natural order of the universe while at the same time coping with the daily trials and tribulations of teenage life.
Entertainment Rights will launch its new series LITTLE RED TRACTOR at MIPCOM and the Brand Licensing Show. Co-produced by Entertainment Rights and The Little Entertainment Company in partnership with the BBC, the preschool series will begin airing on BBC's kids' channel CBeebies in 2004. The series follows the adventures of an optimistic Little Red Tractor who has to rely on his cleverness and determination to compete with the big modern machines that appear in the series. Entertainment Rights owns the global TV, home entertainment, licensing and merchandising rights for LITTLE RED TRACTOR.
Oxygen's original short animation HEY MONIE will be turned into a 13-episode series thanks to cable networks Oxygen and Black Entertainment Television (BET). According to a report in TVInsite.com, the two networks will team to co-finance and share rights to the series, which will air simultaneously on both networks. The series is scheduled to premiere in the spring of 2003. HEY MONIE currently airs as part of Oxygen's X-Chromosome series, and is the first network animated series based on an African-American woman and her friends.
Quebec, Canada-based Sarbakan, a provider of animated content for the Internet and television, is taking its popular Internet-based game GOODNIGHT MR. SNOOZLEBERG to MIPCOM in the form of a 65 x 5-minute animated series. Mr. Snoozleberg is an important diplomat who also happens to be an incurable sleepwalker. So he must dodge all kinds of obstacles while he sleepwalks in order to make it back to bed so he can perform his diplomatic duties the next morning. The Mr. Snoozleberg online Flash-animated game is available at www.sarbakan.com. Sarbakan will be at Mipcom booth # C1.05.
Variety brings us the news that Comedy Central's next "edgy" project will be an animated series based on the life of colorful Hollywood producer Robert Evans. Evans, who was recently featured in the theatrically released biopic THE KID STAYS IN THE PICTURE, will executive-produce with THE KID's director Brett Morgan, who will also write the series with SOUTH PARK alum Pam Brady. The network has ordered 10 episodes of the series, which is scheduled to debut in 2003. The show will be based on Evans notorious life as a maverick Hollywood executive and womanizer.
Newly formed visual effects studio Zoic is providing effects for FIREFLY, a new adventure drama series created by Joss Whedon (BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER and ANGEL) debuting on FOX, Friday, September 20, 2002 at 8:00 pm. Loni Peristere, Zoic co-founder and visual effects supervisor, has been working with Joss Whedon for six years, on both BUFFY and ANGEL. "Loni Peristere is a mad genius, which, apart from his endless attempts to destroy Metropolis, is useful," said Whedon.
Los Angeles-based entertainment company channelzero will be attending MIPCOM with the pilot episode of their animated series SOSOPHIE. The short entitled "Dead Dog Double-Dare," is a co-production between channelzero, Atomic Cartoons, SMEC Media & Entertainment and Hacienda Post. SOSOPHIE is an action series that is described by its creators as THE SIMPSONS meets THE DUKES OF HAZARD. SOSOPHIE debuted at NATPE in January 2002.
HOWDI GAUDI, a new animation series inspired by the designs of Spanish architect Antoní Gaudí, will be launched at Mipcom Junior. The Gaudins Project, Steve Walsh Productions and Agogo Entertainment, in association with TV Catalunya, have completed the 26 episode half-hour series which was supervised by SIMPSONS' producer Phil Roman. The series had its Spanish premiere this September 11th on TV Catalunya, which aired a "Making Of' special along with 3 episodes of the series. HOWDI GAUDI will debut September 17, 2002 on Disney Channel Spain.