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."
GoodTimes Entertainment announced that "Rudolph, The Red-Nosed Reindeer, The Movie," made its Latin American debut this Christmas on Cinecanal and Sky. This marked Cinecanal's first acquisition of an independently-produced animated feature and was the first time Cinecanal ran two versions of a single animated feature: neutral Spanish dubbed version for children and the original, English-language version with Spanish subtitles for family audiences.
Interactive Television Entertainment has firmed deals with Columbia and Peru for the interactive television show "Hugo, the TV Troll." Hugo premiered in Columbia on Canal Capital in December '98, and in Peru in January '99. The show, which allows the TV audience to respond instantaneously to programming content by using their telephone touchpad, currently airs in over 20 countries.
Beginning in February, Kids WB! Saturday morning line-up will start airing the hit Japanese animated series, "Pokémon," a cartoon which gained infamy in late '97 when hundreds of young Japanese viewers simultaneously suffered seizures while watching an episode that featured a high-contrast flash sequence [AF 12/23/97]. While the series currently completes its first season in first-run syndication, Kids WB! will premiere twelve all new episodes of "Pokémon," which will join the series syndication package of 52 episodes for the completion of the '98-'99 season.
Superfresh Productions (Booth 3331) brings with them "SpaceBuddies!," best described as "The X-Files" from the alien's point of view. The half-hour clay animated sitcom recalls the old serials of the 1950s, only this time the hero, Nanook, is a little chartreuse man from outer space. "SpaceBuddies!" aims to explain Earth's mysteries...from the alien autopsy video to the success of Celine Dion.
Toronto, Canada-based Cambium Releasing has three new products - "Kit and Kaboodle" for the US and Latin American markets, "Littlest Angel's Easter," and "Infosaurus News Flash." "Kit and Kaboodle" (26 x 12 minutes) is from 1985 Academy Award-winning director Jon Minnis (Best Animated Short Film - Charade) and is a co-production between Cambium Film & Video Production and Cinegroup in Montreal. This pre-school series not only entertains, but also teaches children about themselves and how to interact with one another, says Cambium Senior VP Rita Carbone Fleury.
GLC Productions, a New York-based production/post-production company, debuts their maiden series venture at this year's show, The Buddy System, an animated Seinfeld meets The Odd Couple. The show, created by Big Nate syndicated cartoonist Lincoln Peirce, centers on the escapades of Buddy and Howie, a pair of sports-crazy twenty-something bachelors. Projected as a weekly half-hour 3D animated series, GLC has produced a 7-minute segment from the premiere viewable at NATPE.
Cubic Enterprises introduces two new children's programs - KoKo, The Pink Rabbit and Koni and the Starjammers. KoKo, two 45-minute clay animated specials follows KoKo and friends as they discover the value of friendship and the simple treasure of life. Koni is a 2D cel sci-fi action/adventure animated series starring Koni, Yena, Icon and Kobot as they bravely battle to retrieve the Hadron Batteries and ultimately, save the Earth in thirteen half-hour episodes.
Barcelona, Spain-based animation company D'Ocon Films Productions announces the launch of a co-production with Sony Wonder on Myths&Legends, a 13-episode series (with an option of a second set of 13), about two kids who discover a magic cavern which allows them to travel back through history. Their adventures take them to ancient Greece, the shores of Loch Ness and amongst the Knights of the Round Table; in each case making sure that good triumphs over evil.
Among Paris, France-based Salsa Distribution's predominantly science fiction genre programming slate is the animated Tommy and Oscar. Produced by Rainbow s.r.l., Salsa is offering 26 half-hour episodes to Latin territories. Tommy is a young boy who befriends a loveable alien named Oscar, who feeds on music instead of edible foods. Salsa is also overseeing Latin American merchandising on the series.
After nine holiday-themed specials, Encore Enterprises has created 26 new episodes of Chucklewood Critters with educational structures and guidance provided by the UCLA Department of Education. The show has been pre-sold to Ravensburger Film & TV in Germany, BBC in the UK and Daro Film in the rest of the world. Additionally, Encore has two hundred 1-minute fillers of Goofballs, a dialogue-less, gag-driven series featuring two handymen - Tiny the elephant and Jake the lizard. The show is a co-production between Riverstar Entertainment and SPI International.
Catalyst Distribution has a number of shows to offer including The Adventures of Captain Pugwash (13 x 30 minutes or 26 x 10 minutes), James the Cat (52 x 5 minutes), The Raccoons (65 x 30 minutes) and Britt Allcrofts Magic Adventures of Mumfie (39 x 30 minutes). Representatives are located at their U.S. associate company, Gullane Pictures.
Toronto, Canada-based animation studio NELVANA Enterprises (Booth 1910) has reached a deal with cable and satellite channel TELETOON France giving the broadcaster 200 half-hours of animation programming per year from NELVANA.
This year's Super Bowl footballweekend (January 30-31) is turning out to be a big weekend for animationfans as well. CLICK HERE for a guide to what sort of TV animation you can expectbefore, during and after the big game on Super Sunday!
Over four decades, Zagreb Film produced about 600 animated films that won hundreds of international awards and became world renowned for a unique animation style that became known as "the Zagreb School." For the first time, the studio's library will be offered for international distribution at NATPE through Rembrandt Films. Rembrandt has divided the films into thirteen episodes of 26 minutes each.
Four animated series are making their U.S. debuts at NATPE this year through Paris-based Canal+ Distribution/Canal+ Image International: Fennec (52 x 13 minutes), Blazing Dragons (26 x 13 minutes) created by Monty Pythons Terry Jones, The Pirate Family (26 x 26 minutes) and Tristan & Isolde (26 x 26 minutes). Canal+ is also offering the feature-length version of the animated feature, Trouble with Sophie, based on the famous childrens book by the Countess Segur.
Premiered at MIPCOM, Korean company Samsung Entertainment Group will again offer their newest animated series for adults called Alexander. Peter Chung, creator of Aeon Flux, is designing the characters for the fantasy-adventure show, which is set in 4th Century B.C. Macedonia, and is based on the novel Alexanders War Chronicles by Hiroshi Aramata. The executive producer is Haruki Kadokawa, with Masao Maruyama producing, Rintaro directing and Yoshinori Kanmori supervisor directing. Animation is being produced by Mad House in Japan.
Budapest, Hungary-based Varga Studios has been commissioned to co-produce a series of animated projects: Liza (13 x 6 minutes), Wolves, Witches and Giants (13 x 7.5 minutes), Animated Tales of the World, Percy, the Parkkeeper (13 x 7.5 minutes) and Kipper. In addition, Vargas sister company, VARGA tvc Ltd., premiered their first project, Oi! Get Off Our Train, a half-hour animated special produced by the company in association with BBC Bristol, Miramax Films and ZDF, which made its television debut in the U.K.
MTV brings five different animated shows to NATPE including their newest entry, MTV Downtown, a look at the lives of a group of diverse, multi-ethnic characters who live, work and play in the East Village of New York City. The cast centers on a pair of siblings who are polar opposites: older brother Alex is introverted and thoughtful, while teenage Chaka is wild and impulsive. Thirteen half-hour episodes of the show are being offered.
DIC is introducing three new half-hour series at NATPE: Sabrina: The Animated Series, Sonic Underground and Sherlock Holmes in the 22nd Century. Sabrina is based off the ABC TV series which was originally based on the Archie comic books. 65 episodes, scheduled to air in the U.S. on UPNs Disney Afternoon and distributed by Buena Vista Television internationally, will feature the voice of Emily Hart as 12-year old Sabrina and Melissa Joan Hart as the voice of Sabrinas two aunts.
Kaleidoscope Media Group has entered a deal with Brilliant Digital Entertainment to distribute Gravity Angels, (viewable at http://www.multipathmovies.com) the Internets first full-length 3D computer animated movie. The two-hour sci-fi thriller, which will be offered at NATPE for domestic and international broadcast and home video rights, uses Brilliants proprietary production technology. Brilliants president Kevin Bermeister explains, Our tools allow us to create scalable animation in one production process.
The new animated comedy from Eddie Murphy and Will Vinton Studios, The PJs, has been generating great ratings and some harsh words from the African-American community. A special Sunday night preview of the show on January 10 garnered an incredible 12.6/18 rating, the second-highest preview or premiere numbers in Fox history, topped only by the 12.7 from the January 1990 premiere of The Simpsons. Likewise, the show delivered strong numbers when it moved to its regular Tuesday, 8:30 p.m.
Cartoon Network has announced the launch of three new animated series for the 1999 season - Courage, The Cowardly Dog, Mike, Lu & Og, and I Am Weasel. Courage is based on the 1995 Academy Award-nominated Cartoon Network short Chicken from Outer Space, created, written and directed by John R. Dilworth. Thirteen episodes, launching in November 1999, will chronicle the adventures of a timid dog as he defends his elderly owners in the small town of Nowhere from paranormal elements.
Fox will debut the new mid-season animated sitcom, "The P.J.s," on Sunday, January 10 at 8:30 p.m. following a divisional conference football playoff game. The show will start the following Tuesday in its regular 8:30 p.m. slot following "King of the Hill." The "foamation" series was produced at Will Vinton Studios and is executive produced by comedian/actor Eddie Murphy.