Brett Merhar's cult comic strip FREE FOR ALL premieres as a new, very adult animated series on the Showtime Network, at 11:00 pm on July 11, 2003. Produced by Showtime Networks, in association with the primetime animation expert Film Roman, 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 ferret strung out on drugs.
The CNX daytime anime programming block, Toonami, has become so popular in Europe that the third kid's animation channel from the Cartoon Network stable will be rebranding under that name in September 2003.
The Toonami concept began as a programming block on Cartoon Network and was then expanded into the daytime hours on CNX. Shows like DRAGONBALL Z and X-MEN: EVOLUTION have consistently been amongst the highest rated cartoons with boys 10 to 15, the target audience for the new channel.
Movie icon Robert Evans will star in and exec produce an eight-episode animated series, KID NOTORIOUS, premiering on Comedy Central October 22, 2003 at 10:30 pm. The adult series features the real-life and fictional adventures of Evans as he charms Hollywood, battles global corruption and, of course, always gets the ladies.
FUNimation Prods., Ltd. has acquired the rights to DETECTIVE CONAN, a Japanese mega-hit series produced by TMS Entertainment, Ltd., the Fort Worth-Texas-based company announced during the recent Anime Expo 2003 in Anaheim, California.
DETECTIVE CONAN is one of the highest rated series in Japan, is in its sixth season with 300 half-hours produced as well as two movies, THE TIME BOMBED SKYSCRAPER and THE FOURTEENTH TARGET, which FUNimation also acquired the rights to. Home video release dates for the features are tentatively scheduled for late spring 2004.
UPN gave its pilot project, MEET THE BREAKNECKS, from Carsey-Werner-Mandabach, the greenlight to series, renaming it GAME OVER. UPN entertainment president Dawn Ostroff ordered the series as a mid-season replacement for the net's first ever CGI series in prime time.
Animal Planets top-rated program, THE FUTURE IS WILD, returns with three all-new episodes, which take a look at how natural selection (with some CGI help) will push Earths flora and fauna to some amazing adaptations. The two-hour documentaries made their world premiere on Tuesdays, July 8, 15 and 22, 2003 from 9:00-11:00 pm.
U.K.-based Glasshead Ltd. has been commissioned to produce a 13x13 animated series entitled, THE BLUE DRAGON, for 4Learning, Channel 4's education division. The series is geared toward 5-7 year olds with the goal of teaching them to look at the world in scientific ways. The series boasts voice talent such as Jane Horrocks (LITTLE VOICE & ABSOLUTELY FABULOUS) and Andrew Sachs (FAWLTY TOWERS). 4Learning plans to start airing the series in January 2004.
Kids' WB! has picked up Warner Bros. Animations superhero series STATIC SHOCK for an additional 13 episodes for the 2003-2004 season. In addition, the series will be going to strip, airing Monday through Saturday.
Cartoon Network has acquired 50 episodes of TOTALLY SPIES, which started airing July 7, 2003 at 4:30 pm. The series, from French producer Marathon, first aired in the U.S. on Fox Family Channel in 2001. It features three teenage girls who are super agents in sort of an animated CHARLIE'S ANGELS with a distinctive visual style influenced by everything from JOSIE AND THE PUSSYCATS to anime.
TBS has picked up reruns of FUTURAMA and THE FAMILY GUY. Starting Monday, July 7, 2003, the two shows will air weekdays at 2:00 pm and 2:30 pm, respectively. This move continues the crossover between Cartoon Network and its fellow AOL Turner channels, as well as TBSs pursuit of the young adult audience.
The Oscar-winning creators of the acclaimed animated TV series BOB AND MARGARET, Alison Snowden and David Fine, are set to produce their latest primetime animation series, SIMON SIMPLE, with Vancouver's award-winning Studio B Productions. The 26x22 series is in development for Canadian broadcaster TELETOON.
The series premiere and first two episodes of DEAD LIKE ME, the new Showtime/MGM Television Entertainment series, will be combined in a mini-marathon on the cable network, July 12, 2003, beginning at 9:00 pm. Laced with gallows humor about life, death and what happens next, the hour series airs Fridays at 10:00 pm. Bob Habros is the visual effects supervisor for Showtime, with Rainmaker Digital serving as the main VFX house. DEAD LIKE ME stars Ellen Muth (THE TRUTH ABOUT JANE), Callum Blue (DEVIL'S GATE), Rebecca Gayheart (SCREAM 2), Laura Harris (24), Jasmine Guy (A DIFFERENT WORLD), Cynthia Stevenson (HOPE & GLORIA) and Mandy Patinkin (CHICAGO HOPE). Exec producers include John Masius (PROVIDENCE) and Bryan Fuller (STAR TREK: VOYAGER).
Montreal-based CinéGroupe Distribution, a division of CinéGroupe, has signed with HOLA Entertainment to sell its shows in Latin America and the Caribbean. Marie-Christine Dufour, evp of distribution, licensing and marketing for CinéGroupe said HOLA president Mercedes Alvarez "offers an unbeatable combination. She has extensive experience in television sales in Latin America, and, she is based in Montreal. She will be able to build on the relations CinéGroupe has acquired over the years, and solidify our position in this growing market." CinéGroupe (www.cinegroupe.com) is the animation partner of Lions Gate Entertainment.
Some of the shows Alvarez will handle include THE CHINESE SIAMESE CAT, (CinéGroupe/Sesame Workshop) and PIG CITY (CinéGroupe /AnimaKids). CinéGroupe has more than 800 half-hours of animation and live-action family programming. CinéGroupe is producing TRIPPING THE RIFT, a 3D animation series with Film Roman for primetime on the Sci Fi Channel (U.S.) and Space (Canada) plus P3K: PINOCCHIO 3000, a 3D animated feature with Animakids and Castelao.
Comedy Central plans to celebrate America's birthday on July 4, 2003 with a 1:00 am broadcast of SOUTH PARK: BIGGER, LONGER & UNCUT, uncensored by the cablenet with encore presentations July 5 and 6 at 1:00 am. The feature film based upon the hit series by Trey Parker and Matt Stone grossed more than $52 million in the U.S. and won both New York and L.A. Film Critics awards. It also received an Oscar nomination for Best Original Song, "Blame Canada."
Cyborg 009 will join Cartoon Network's "Toonami" line-up on Monday, June 30, 2003, airing weekdays at 6:00 pm. Combining elements of JAMES BOND movies and ASTRO BOY, CYBORG 009 follows the adventures of a world-class sprinter who, after being seriously injured, is kidnapped by the Black Ghost, a villain plotting to take over the world. The athlete is rescued by a kind-hearted professor, who turns him into the ninth series of cyborg warriors that were originally designed as "super soldiers" to help carry out the plot to conquer the world, but are now dedicated to stopping them.
For the past three weeks, members of the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences have been coming home to mysterious packages set upon their doorsteps as networks, TV producers and their public relations firms vie to get their vote for the Primetime Emmy Awards. Some of the gimmicks are so arresting that AWN decided to look into who is responsible for these bizarre campaigns and what is involved. The votes to nominate productions, talent and craft people were due June 20, 2003, so a bit of disclosure should not sway results.
Vancouver-based Bardel Entertainment seems to be doing exceptionally well with holiday programming. Bardel's big Leo Award-winning production, THE CHRISTMAS ORANGE, has recently been sold to SVT Sweden and is in final negotiations with TV2 Denmark and CBBC London. This family holiday classic has aired on ABC Family in the U.S., TELETOON in Canada, TV12 in Singapore, Asia TV in Hong Kong and Teletoon in France, charming audiences with its thoughtful message and unique 2D and Flash-animatied style.
Bravo! NewStyleArtsChannel got animated with the world premiere of the new sitcom HEY JOEL on June 3, 2003 at 10:30 pm. Produced by Blueprint Entertainment and Curious Pictures in association with CHUM Television, this half-hour, 13-part adult-themed cartoon series depicts the adventures of Joel Stein, the host of a daily three-minute rock star interview show on the music channel VH1, and offers an irreverent behind-the-scenes look at the recording industry.
THE ORLANDO JONES SHOW debuted June 16, 2003 at 11:00 pm on the FX cable network, featuring the popular former 7-Up TV spokesman and writer for MAD-TV, promising to offer an alternative to late night talk shows. This alternative show's slogan is "No white guy, no desk, no band." It does feature sketches, fake commercials and animated shorts in sort of a one-man MAD-TV or SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE meets DENNIS MILLER LIVE. Half-hour episodes will air Monday through Thursday with a rerun on Fridays.
Spike Lee has temporarily prevented Viacom from relaunching its TNN channel as Spike TV in a branding campaign that was supposed to roll out June 16, 2003. The New York Supreme Court in Manhattan granted the filmmaker a preliminary injunction to stop the name change. Lee and his lawyer, Johnnie L. Cochran Jr., argued that the network is trying to capitalize on his celebrity status and that he does not wish to be associated with male-oriented programming, which includes the upcoming adult animated series STRIPPERELLA and GARY THE RAT. Viacom is seeking an immediate stay of the injunction.
Will fathers want to watch hours of cartoons or are Cartoon Network and Nickelodeon scheduling Father's Day programming marathons to keep the kids busy while dad relaxes in his easy chair? Nick plans to give dads their due on June 15, 2003 from 2-6:00 pm with a new special show of THE ADVENTURES OF JIMMY NEUTRON, BOY GENIUS titled "Make Room for Daddy-O." Jimmy invents a device that alters Hugh's personality, making him the coolest dad in Retroville.
Disney's new branded service, Disney Channel on Demand, will be offered to Cablevision's 400,000 digital TV subscribers across the nation for an additional $4.95 per month. As part of a pact with ABC Cable Networks Group, this video-on-demand package consists of original series programming for preschoolers from Playhouse Disney and original movies and series for older kids.
THE GRIM ADVENTURES OF BILLY AND MANDY returns June 13, 2003 to Cartoon Network, as a full-fledged 30-minute series at 7:00 pm and replays at 10:00 pm. The toon net obviously isn't afraid of American superstitions about Friday the 13th, considered a bad luck day by many in the U.S. Then again, this macabre yet hilarious tale had good luck when it won The Big Pick in August 2000. The toon, created by Maxwell Atoms, beat out a number of different pilots to be selected by the viewers to become a 13-episode series, launched in October 2001.
Does an animated star like Johnny Bravo flub a line? What happens when an anvil does not fall the right way? Cartoon Network digs through the archives of animated outtakes for a one-hour special that delivers some goofy goof-ups during CARTOON NETWORK BLOOPERS AND OTHER EMBARRASSING MOMENTS, airing Friday, June 6, 2003 at 7:00 pm (ET/PT). We're not talking bad paint jobs and characters floating off their baseline, but hilarious mess-ups like live-action pros do. Tom Kinney, the animated voice of SpongeBob SquarePants and The Mayor in THE POWERPUFF GIRLS, hosts the special. Included will be the funniest blown lines, a cavalcade of mishaps starring Wile E. Coyote and shots to the groin. Among the stars contributing outtakes are Ed, Edd and Eddy, The Flintstones, Samurai Jack, Foghorn Leghorn and The Jetsons. For more on Cartoon Networking programming go to CartoonNetwork.com (AOL Keyword: Cartoon Network).
Despite increasingly vocal opposition, the FCC approved changes in media ownership regulations on June 2, 2003 that are expected to lead to a new series of mergers as media companies seek to expand and enter into new combinations in local markets across the U.S. Changes the FCC made included raising the percentage of the nation's TV households one company can reach from 35% to 45%. It lifted a 28-year band on allowing newspaper and broadcast combinations in larger markets and is also allowing one company to own more radio stations locally. The vote split along party lines 3-2, with three Republication commissioners voting for the change and two Democrats objecting. The FCC did not touch the ban on mergers among the four major TV networks, but they do stand the most to gain from the vote. The FCC received more than 750,000 pieces of mail -- the most related to any one issue in the history of the FCC. Many critics claim that further consolidation will drown out minority viewpoints and destroy competition. Some say it will lead to more unemployment in the entertainment industry.