Ren & Stimpy is back on TV, thanks to VH1. After kicking off the series with a special four-episode mini-marathon on Friday, November 30, the music network will air one episode every weeknight at midnight during the month of December, concluding on New Year's Eve. Billy West, the voice of both Ren and Stimpy, will host the series, giving viewers a look at the creation of each episode, and (here's the VH1 tie-in) discussing how the music played such a pivotal part of the of the groundbreaking animated series' success.
Major U.S. networks Fox and NBC may soon be announcing who will take over their Saturday morning time slots. An article in the November 29, 2001 issue of THE LOS ANGELES TIMES reports the networks are in "serious negotiations" with outside programmers including Nickelodeon, Warner Bros., Discovery Channel, DIC Entertainment, 4 Kids, Nelvana and others, to sell their Saturday morning time slots. Last year CBS leased its Saturday morning time period to sister channel Nickelodeon (both networks are owned by Viacom) and has seen its ratings nearly double.
Visual effects company A52, by way of FM Rocks, has completed 3D design and effects work for No Doubt's "Hey Baby," the first video and single from the band's upcoming release Rock Steady. The video, directed by Dave Meyers, debuted on MTV on November 7. Crafted as a tribute to the band's female groupies, the video involves live-action scenes shot in various locations around Los Angeles, as well as green-screen footage that was composited into three CG worlds created by the artists at A52.
Distribution outfit Oasis Pictures has picked up international distribution on Mischief City, a new series that Canada's Shaftesbury Films is developing. It takes place in a rule-bending world where kids escape when things go wrong and they are blamed for things they just know they did not do.
Peppermint's Malaysia-based office has sealed key sales of its catalogue across Asia. Indonesian TV7 has picked up free television rights for pepperkids upcoming animated series, The Spheriks, featuring the official mascots of the 2002 FIFA World Cup, along with preschooler Lena and Paul. Another new property, Evolution - The Animated Series, based on the Ivan Reitman film Evolution, is currently in production with all 26 x 30 episodes to be delivered February 2002.
Sitting Ducks Productions, in association with The Disney Channel, Nelvana and Film Roman, will premiere its CGI animated holiday special The Santa Claus Brothers on the Disney Channel in December 2001. The show follows the misadventures of Santa's three bumbling sons as they try to prove that they are worthy of taking over the reins of the big sleigh. Additionally, Sitting Ducks is developing the CGI animated feature film Noah's Blimp with Sony Pictures Family Entertainment with scribe Tab Murphy (Tarzan, Atlantis, The Hunchback of Notre Dame) attached to write the script.
Fox Network preempted its regularly scheduled Sunday night block of animated comedies to air the television premiere of Star Wars: Episode One "The Phantom Menace." The move paid off for the network, with Episode One landing in 17th place for the week, drawing a 9.8 rating/15 share, which translates into over 10 million viewers. Holiday favorite Rudolph The Red-nosed Reindeer aired on CBS on Saturday night at 8 pm and garnered a 6.5 rating/12 share for 43rd place. The U.S.
Vancouver animation house Delaney & Friends Productions has created a new animated Christmas special titled THE LEGEND OF THE CANDY CANE, based on the book of the same name. The one hour direct-to-video movie was produced with Mainstreet Entertainment and Dean River Productions for Zondervan Publishing, a subsidiary of Harper Collins. It will air this Thanksgiving (November 22) on the PAX network in the U.S. THE LEGEND OF THE CANDY CANE is the first of a series of specials based on the Zondervan Publishing library "Legend of" series.
Fox Networks THE SIMPSONS stayed strong in the ratings as it embarked on its 13th season. Sundays episode ranked 29th with a stellar 8.4 rating/13 share. KING OF THE HILL was preempted by the NFL and did not air. Another Fox toon, FAMILY GUY, airing Thursday night, garnered a 3.3 rating/5 share for 94th place. An ABC special animated Thanksgiving block featuring A CHARLIE BROWN THANKSGIVING and A WINNIE THE POOH THANKSGIVING landed in 66th and 74th place respectively, with CHARLIE BROWN grabbing a 5.5 rating/10 share. WINNIE THE POOH ended the night with a 5.3 rating/9 share.
Nickelodeon has picked up a second season (20 episodes) of Butch Hartmans THE FAIRLY ODDPARENTS and has given the greenlight for the third season (13 episodes) of the Nick Jr. preschool show DORA THE EXPLORER. THE FAIRLY ODDPARENTS will premiere its second season in 2002 and DORA THE EXPLORER, will begin its third-season in 2003. DORA is currently readying its second season for first quarter 2002.
Canadian independent entertainment company CinéGroupe is beginning production on two new animated TV series, THE THREE PIGS and EDWARD, bringing its current production slate to nine new and five returning animated and live-action entertainment productions set for airing on U.S., Canadian and international television networks during the 2001-2002 television season.
U.K.-based animation producers Cosgrove Hall have been given the go ahead by U.K. channel CiTV for 26 x 10 episodes of their new stop-motion/CGI series ENGIE BENJY, scheduled to debut on the channel in 2002. The show is geared toward pre-schoolers and follows the escapades of Engie Benjy the mechanic and his friends Dan the van and Jollop the dog. No distribution deals have been announced, but the show will be available internationally in 2002.
THE SIMPSONS season premiere, which aired in its regular time slot of Sunday at 8:00 pm, scored high ratings it its 13th season kick-off. Although the show was delayed by 11 minutes in some time zones due to the NFL game wrap-up, it landed in 28th place with an excellent 8.8 rating/13 share. THE SIMPSONS lead-in KING OF THE HILL, also delayed, did not receive such stellar ratings, finishing in 53rd place with a 6.6 rating/10 share. The number two toon was THE SIMPSONS Halloween Special, which had been postponed from its original air date of October 31 due to the World Series.
U.K. animation company Peppers Ghost Productions (PGP) has aligned with U.S.-based Beckett Entertainment to develop animation properties and have announced their first project. Entitled GENE-FUSION, the concept is pitched as an adventure property designed for multiple formats including TV series, gaming, feature film and Web entertainment. PGP is currently involved in all aspects of design and modeling for the GENE-FUSION concept plus scripting for the TV series.
Cartoon Networks previously announced weekly series IM POPEYE, has been renamed THE POPEYE SHOW and is ready for its debut. The network will air weekly half-hour episodes, beginning this Sunday, November 11, 2001 at 1:00 am. Each episode will include three Popeye cartoons that have been restored to their original theatrical state. The show will also present facts and trivia about Popeye and his supporting cast.
Over the next six weeks the U.K.s Channel 4 will be showing a wide variety of animation, including illustrator John Callahans new project QUADS, experimental animation from Animate! and the U.K. television premiere of the acclaimed anime feature BLOOD: THE LAST VAMPIRE. Also premiering will be a new series called CELMATES. The animation worlds answer to reality shows like BIG BROTHER, CELMATES follows a group of animators shut in a small room, competing against each other (and the clock!) to create an animated film in a sleepless 72 hours.
In the first network initiative to unite all its global divisions, Cartoon Network will be airing a 12-hour marathon of fans favorite DEXTERS LABORATORY episodes, selected by viewers from around the world. Viewers can cast their votes now through November 15, 2001 by logging on to their region's Cartoon Network Website. The fan picks will be aired on all Cartoon Networks worldwide on November 18, 2001 from 8:00 am to 8:00 pm and will include the winning episode from each country.
With the U.S.s baseball World Series over, Fox is ready to premiere the new seasons of its animated series. Look for the season premiere of THE FAMILY GUY on Thursday, November 8th at 8:00 pm, followed by the series premiere of THE TICK, a live-action sitcom based on Ben Edlund's cult comic book. Then on Sunday, November 11th beginning at 7:30 pm KING OF THE HILL kicks off its sixth season followed by the season premiere of Emmy-award winner THE SIMPSONS.
Victory Film Productions and Neptuno Films Deutschland have signed a co-production deal to produce two animated series for the worldwide market. Series in the pipeline are the classic story of the cat PUSS IN BOOTS (52 x 26) who travels around the world in search of adventure, and AMBI & LANCE (104 x 7). The preschool property follows the adventures of Ambi the ambulance and Lance the doctor, who look after the health of everyone in the county in an original and amusing way. Both co-producers will cover the budget expenses and distribution will be handled by Neptuno.
Cartoon Network Latin America has secured television rights to CORRECTOR YUI, STATIC SHOCK, X-MEN EVOLUTION, ANGELINA BALLERINA and POPOLOCROIS to premiere on the channel in December 2001. In addition, the network will be premiering the fourth season of POKEMON beginning in January 2002 and launches the original series, TIME SQUAD in February 2002. Speaking of TIME SQUAD, TV GUIDE recently voted it one of the ten best new shows for kids in the U.S. FAIRLY ODDPARENTS and JUSTICE LEAGUE made the top ten as well.
STVDIO Media, an American-run animation house based in Hong Kong and specializing in 2D character animation, has been awarded a grant by the Hong Kong Arts Development Council to develop THE FENG SHUI DETECTIVE. Based on characters from author Nury Vittachi's book, a bestseller in Australia and Hong Kong, the animated version has already generated interest from regional media companies. The FENG SHUI DETECTIVE follows the adventures of a Chinese feng shui expert and his Australian teenage girl assistant who travel across Asia assisting the police with their investigations.
Spanish-based animation company BRB Internacional secured a number of pre-sales for its two animation comedy series ZIP & ZAP and GLADIATOR ACADEMY. Portuguese broadcaster TVI will begin airing ZIP & ZAP in January 2003, as will Arab distributor Universal Productions. GLADIATOR ACADEMY was picked up by Mediatrade (Italy), NOGA (Israel), Turkish Media Corporation and MVS Latin America. Currently in production, the first 13 episodes are scheduled for delivery in July 2002.
Continuing its successful revival of classic cartoons, Cartoon Network will present the new weekly series IM POPEYE. Each half-hour episode, airing Sundays at 1:00 am, will include three Popeye cartoons that have been restored to their original theatrical state. Many of these cartoons have never been shown on television in their original form.
TV-Loonland, in cooperation with German kids TV channel Super RTL and German production company GUM Studios, will start production of its first CGI project called DRAGONS ROCK in November 2001. Delivery of the 26 episodes of 24-minutes each are due at the beginning of summer 2002. Super RTL is co-financing the project and own the German rights and TV-Loonland holds all other worldwide rights to the series.
4Kids Entertainments TAMA & FRIENDS has been licensed for TV broadcast with YTV of Canada, TV Record in Brazil, Media Set in Italy, SIC TV in Portugal and KM Productions for Arabic language markets. The animated childrens series features the adventures of Tama the kitten, who, along with his buddies, finds ways to solve complex problems that seem to elude their human companions. The 26 episode series premiered in U.S. first run syndication in September and has enjoyed a long running TV ratings success in Japan on Tokyo Broadcast System.