SANTA, BABY!, a new animated holiday special, will premiere Monday, December 17 at 8:00 pm on FOX. The one hour special is produced by Rankin/Bass and sponsored by Coca-Cola. Featuring the voices of Gregory Hines, Eartha Kitt, Patti LaBelle and Vanessa Williams, SANTA BABY! tells the story of Noel, a once successful songwriter who becomes a sidewalk Santa in the hope of breaking his writer's block. With the help of his wife, daughter, a Christmas partridge named Melody Songbird and a cat named Emerald, Noel discovers his hit song and the true meaning of Christmas.
Monster Distributes has just completed a deal with Discovery Kids UK to broadcast its educational animated series WHY? The series, which is scheduled to begin airing January 1, 2002, was also recently sold to Mediapark for Pay TV in Spain. A Pay TV deal in Brazil is currently in negotiation. The 24 x 2 minute pre-school series was animated by Irish animation company Brown Bag Films, and explains how things work.
Hollywood-based animation studio Toonshoppe has delivered the first of many interstitial episodes of CISCO AND RIPPLE for Urban Entertainment and Encore Media Group's Black Starz! cable network. The 3:30 interstitial features two animated hosts, Cisco and Ripple, who review the movies airing on Black Starz! Toonshoppe recreated the show for television based on character designs by creators A.J. Jamal and Spencer, who also voice the characters. The show originally appeared on Urban Entertainment's Website, and was animated for the Internet by Flip Your Lid Animation.
Although ranking slightly higher than last week, FAMILY GUY is still drawing poor ratings. Its Thursday night at 8:00 pm time slot is a tough one, and the show only managed 86th place this week with a 2.8 rating/7 share. FUTURAMA is not doing much better. In its regular time slot on FOX, Sunday at 7:00 pm, the show is not finding viewers. In 83rd place, FUTURAMA drew a 3.1 rating/5 share. KING OF THE HILL, which follows FUTURAMA, ranked slightly higher, with a 4.6 rating/7 share. Once again, THE SIMPSONS reigned supreme, landing in 35th place with a 7.1 rating/11 share.
Buena Vista International Television has licensed its collection of Disney and Disney/Pixar animated features to German terrestrial broadcaster RTL. The "Classic Treasures" package includes A BUG'S LIFE, MULAN, POCAHONTAS, TOY STORY and TOY STORY 2. The first movie to be broadcast will be Disney/Pixar's A BUG'S LIFE on Dec. 16, 2001. The Classic Treasures package has also been sold for broadcast in the U.K., Austria, Ireland, Denmark, Switzerland and Netherlands.
'Tis the season for festive holiday specials and the networks are rising to the occasion. Here is a selection of this holiday's television offerings:
The Disney Channel's new animated comedy series THE PROUD FAMILY will air "Seven Days of Kwanzaa," a special holiday episode featuring the guest voices of Samuel L. Jackson, Vivica A. Fox (THE HUGHLEYS, INDEPENDENCE DAY) and Raven Symone (THE COSBY SHOW). THE PROUD FAMILY Kwanzaa episode will air on the Disney Channel on Friday, December 7, at 7 pm ET/PT.
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.
THE SIMPSONS was back in its regular Sunday night time slot after a week off and ranked 34th with a 7.9 rating/12 share. CBS aired holiday specials FROSTY THE SNOWMAN and FROSTY RETURNS on Friday night beginning at 8 pm. The original FROSTY came in 53rd with a 6.3 rating/11 but his RETURN could only garner a 6.0 rating/10 share for 59th place. CBS also aired two RUGRATS specials on Saturday night in primetime. RUGRATS "Chanukah" and RUGRATS "Santa Experience" didn't fare so well, landing in 92nd and 93rd place respectively with around 4 million viewers each.
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.
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.
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.
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.