Major U.S. networks have been bitten by an animation bug and have recently announced a slew of primetime animated series. ABC has worked out a deal with Miramax and Touchstone TV for six episodes of CLERKS, based on director Kevin Smiths 1994 indie film of the same name. Slated for a midseason or fall 2000 launch, the show will be executive-produced by Smith and former SEINFELD supervising producer, Dave Mandel. Like the film, the TV series, only the second ever produced by Miramax, focuses on two young slackers who keep minimum-wage jobs in New Jersey.
Fox Kids will start airing WOODY WOODPECKER on May 8. The series, produced by Universal Cartoon Studios, features new adventures of Woody, Wally Walrus and Chilly Willy. It was originally scheduled to air during the fall '98 season. The show's supervising director and producer is animation veteran Bob Jaques.
Disney's HERCULES has its world television premiere on Saturday, February 27th, on the Disney Channel at 7 p.m. (ET/PT)
The Carsey-Werner Co., a dominant live-action TV production company having produced shows like COSBY and ROSEANNE, is developing their first animated show. The primetime cartoon, BOB, THE DEVIL AND GOD, is in the early development stages, and will reportedly be picked up by NBC. The show is created by Matthew Carlson (an executive story editor on WONDER YEARS, and creator of the U.S. version of MEN BEHAVING BADLY and TOWNIES). A Carsey-Werner spokesman said that the voice cast will be comprised of James Garner (God), Robert Downey Jr.
Seth MacFarlanes FAMILY GUY has edged out Matt Groenings FUTURAMA for Foxs golden post-SIMPSONS Sunday timeslot...
World Events Productions has licensed the 3D animated series, VOLTRON: THE THIRD DIMENSION to Teletoon, Canadas all-animation network. The show will make its Teletoon Canadian premiere on Wednesday, March 3. Voltron, based on the popular 80s cartoon, is produced for World Events by Mike Young Productions (THE SECRET GARDEN) and Netter Digital Entertainment (BABYLON 5).
A recent deal between Canadas Teletoon and Hostess Frito-Lay will result in Chester Cheetah hosting CINETOON, an animated feature-length movie which airs on Teletoon the first Saturday of every month, starting March 6. The promotion will celebrate the March launch of the new Chee.tos Shockwaves snack food, and a CINETOON Trivia Challenge will enable viewers to win Sony Playstations and other prizes.
On Sunday, February 21, Cartoon Network will present ALVIN AND THE CHIPMUNKS GREATEST HITS, an 8-hour marathon from 12-8 p.m. (ET/PT) featuring 32 "hot" tunes from the 1980s. The programming stint will feature sixteen half-hour episodes along with a live-action dance party with Alvin groupees dancing to the high-pitched music. Among the songs that will be played include: "Beat It," "Born to be Wild," "Ghostbusters," "The Heat is On," "Twist and Shout," "I Love L.A.," "Celebration," "On the Road Again," "Bad to the Bone" and 23 others.
Cartoon Networks afternoon programming block Toonami will start airing the CG-animated show, REBOOT, as part of its daily Monday-Friday line-up, from 4:30 - 5:00 p.m., starting March 15. The show, which was the first entirely computer-generated cartoon, is produced by Vancouver, Canada-based Mainframe Entertainment.
CBS has renewed three NELVANA childrens series and placed 13-episode orders for three new series to debut this fall. Returning this fall for a second season are ANATOLE, FLYING RHINO JUNIOR HIGH and MYTHIC WARRIORS: GUARDIANS OF THE LEGEND. The new Nelvana series, all of which are designed to meet the FCC mandate, are BLASTER, RESCUE HEROS and THE NEW TALES FROM THE CRYPTKEEPER. The three NELVANA series that CBS cancelled are BIRDZ, FRANKLIN and DUMB BUNNIES.
Buena Vista International Television (BVI-TV) has signed a first-time volume agreement with NELVANA Enterprises (Paris) to air their programs on Disney Channel in Spain and Italy. BVI-TV will have first rights to NELVANAs production slate for Spain and Italy, acquiring between two and four new series a year. Disney Channel currently plans to air the following NEVLANA titles: NEDS NEWT (Spain), FRANKLIN (Italy, Spain), STICKIN AROUND (Italy, Spain), SAM AND MAX (Spain), LITTLE BEAR (Italy), JAKE AND THE KID (Italy), BIRDZ (Spain) and Rupert (Spain).
UPN has renewed the animated comedy, DILBERT, for a second season of 22episodes to air in the 191999/2000 television season. In the three episodesthat have aired so far, DILBERT has been UPN's top new comedy this seasonin household ratings and all key adult and male demographics. "This pickuporder rewards the ratings' promise Dilbert has shown, with strongdemographics and a bull's-eye for our target of young male viewers," statedTom Nunan, UPN Entertainment President.
The hit Japanese show POKéMON, currently in syndication in the U.S. and exclusively on Kids WB! next season, has been sold to Televisa (Mexico) and Record-TV (Brazil). Both networks will premiere the show in April/May as a five-day-a-week program. The show has also been sold to numerous other Latin American broadcasters including Magic TV and Channel 11 (Argentina), Etcetera and Chilevision Channel 6 (Chile), Caracol (Colombia), Telecorporation (El Salvador), Televicentro (Honduras), Frecuencia Latina (Peru) and Venevision (Venezuela).
Todd MacFarlane, creator of the comic book and late-night HBO animated series, SPAWN, revealed he was the anonymous person that bought baseball star Mark McGwire's 70th home run ball at a recent auction for over $3 million dollars. MacFarlane, who has had a lifelong love of the game, said that he will have the ball mounted in a glass case and tour the country speaking to kid groups about baseball.
Cable network FX has ordered 13 episodes of their first-ever animated comedy series, THE DICK AND PAULA CELEBRITY SPECIAL, produced by Tom Snyder Productions. The show, set to premiere in spring '99, will use a derivation of Snyder Productions' trademark computer-generated process, "SquiggleVision." The weekly half-hour series is about the behind-the-scenes goings on of a husband-and-wife talk show team (Dick and Paula). They interview contemporary stars, fictionalized characters and major historical figures.
This Valentine's Day weekend, February 12-14, animation lovebirds can watch a couple of Valentine-themed specials on Nickelodeon and ABC. Nickelodeon will air An Off-Beats Valentine's Special on February 12 at 8:00 p.m. and the 14th at 1:00 p.m. (ET/PT). Based on The Off-Beats, a series of shorts created at Curious Pictures by Mo Willems, which appear on Nickelodeon's animated sketch comedy show Kablam!, the special features four adorably hapless kids who are tormented by the Populars.
Nickelodeon received their highest Nielsen ratings ever on January 18 with the premiere of a new half-hour "Rugrats" episode in primetime. The show garnered a 13.8 rating and 35 share among kids 2-11, representing one-third of all 2-11 year-olds watching TV between 8:00 and 8:30 p.m. that evening. The record-breaking number was the climax of an all-day "Rugrats" marathon during Martin Luther King Day.
In the show's first outing on Monday, January 25, "Dilbert" delivered UPN's highest-rated telecast of a comedy in adults 18-49 (3.3 rating/9 share) and 18-34 (3.7/11). The show's performance among total viewers (4.2/6) more than tripled UPN's season averages in the 8:00 p.m. Monday time slot and was UPN's best household rating for a comedy since a February '97 airing of "Moesha."
The animated feature "Princess Mononoke," Japan's highest-grossing feature of all-time, had an amazing television debut in Japan on January 22. Airing on Nippon Television Network (NTV), the Hayao Miyazaki film brought in a 35.1 rating, the eighth highest ranking in Japanese television history for movie broadcast ratings and the highest rating for a broadcast movie in 15 years.
The second season of MTV's "Celebrity Deathmatch" starts Thursday, February 4th at 10:00 p.m. (ET/PT). The clay-rendered matches for the season opener are Ice Cube vs. Ice-T, Robert DeNiro vs. Al Pacino and the Backstreet Boys vs. the Beastie Boys. Upcoming matches in the second season include "Battle of the Teen Scream Queens," "Battle of the Bonds" and a match with the cast of "Friends," along with "Deathmatch Fashion Show," where clay supermodels fashion the latest in Deathmatch body armor and weapons.
Kids WB! has ordered 13 additional episodes of the futuristic "Batman Beyond," which debuted in January to strong ratings in both its primetime preview and regular Saturday morning slot. The new episodes will be ready for the 1999-2000 season.
HBO Family, a new 24-hour commercial-free channel dedicated exclusively to family programming, launched February 1. The channel is teaming up with producers like Nelvana, Cinar, S4C and Hit Entertainment to deliver original animated programming. Among the new animated series premiering are "George and Martha," "The Adventures of Paddington Bear" and "Anthony Ant," as well as a new mixed-media pre-school series from Curious Pictures, "A Little Curious." In addition, a variety of original specials will have a "sneak preview" on HBO Family Channel before they premiere on the main HBO channel.
"Kevin Saves the World" is Monster Productions' newest entry, based on books by Daniel Postgate, produced and directed by Kine Aune and Oscar-winning British animator Bob Godfrey ("Great," 1964). The series (13 x 5 minutes) follows the misadventures of Kevin, a boy who always manages to come out on top despite his apparent ineptitude. The series, targeted for kids 4-8, has already been acquired by Nickelodeon U.K., Nickelodeon Scandinavia, RTE and ABC Australia among others.
1999 marks the 40th anniversary of the longest running television series in history, "Bonanza," and New York-based Abrams/Gentile Entertainment is producing a new animated series based on the perennial Western. The show is a prequel of sorts taking place on the Ponderosa Ranch with a young Ben Cartwright and his teenage sons. Abrams/Gentile also presents numerous other new projects including:"Open Call" (13 x 22 minutes): a comedy about two divorcees who become casting directors, as unqualified as they may be, in a unique blend of "real-time" animation and live-action.
Columbia TriStar Television Children's Programming (CTTCP), who currently produces and distributes shows like "Jumanji," "Men in Black" and "Godzilla: The Series," announces a number of show pre-sold to U.S. broadcasters: "Dragon Tales," a co-production with Children's Television Workshop for PBS, "Big Guy & Rusty the Boy Robot" for Fox Kids Network and "Bug Wars: A Starship Troopers Adventure" for BKN. In direct-to-video, CTTCP is currently developing "5,000 Fingers of Dr. T," "Berenstein Bears," "Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer" and "I Dream of Jeannie."