Third time's a charm? The Nashville Network started in 1983, was renamed the New TNN when it was bought by Viacom in 2000 and will now be called Spike TV, as of June 16, 2003, reflecting its new brand positioning as the first network for men. The network's new logo will be unveiled at the MTV Networks upfront presentation in New York City on Tuesday, May 6, 2003, according to network president Albie Hecht. "Spike TV captures the attributes and essence of what we want the first network for men to be," said Hecht. "It's unapologetically male; it's active; it's smart and contemporary with a personality that's aggressive and irreverent. It's a name we feel our audience will get and make a connection with. I like Spike! This is a first major step in our journey to super-serving men in a way no one has done before."
U.K. producer Passion Pictures joined forces with director Pierre Coffin at Tiger Aspect in London and Paris-based animation and post production house MacGuff Ligne to produce THE POLAR BEARS, a series of seven short films as new installments for the second series of LENNY HENRY IN PIECES airing since March 2003 on BBC1.
After a hiatus from primetime animation, NBC and DreamWorks are jumping into the genre again with a 13-episode order for a CG animated series, FATHER OF THE PRIDE, from DreamWorks TV about the lives of the family of lions who perform in Siegfried & Roy's Las Vegas magic show, it was reported by THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER and confirmed by a DreamWorks spokesman.
Cartoon Network is adding 3D animated series, SITTING DUCKS and PECOLA, to air weekday mornings, starting April 21, 2003. "PECOLA and SITTING DUCKS are both whimsical and sweet series that feature popular CGI animation. We think they'll be perfect additions to our weekday morning line-up," said Jim Samples, gm/vp of Cartoon Network.
MR. BEAN, the eccentric character created by British writer/actor Rowan Atkinson, is set for his U.S. animated television debut on American Public Television (APT) in April 2003 and will launch on home video in fall 2003 via a full-scale retail release by A&E Home Video. "We have quite a few stations who have committed to airing this series," an APT spokesperson said. They expect high carriage from this series especially since "adult animation is quite a hot topic at the moment." APT has U.S. distribution rights from April 1, 2003 through March 30, 2004.
NOGGIN, Nickelodeon's commercial-free, educational network for kids 2-5 launched three new series for spring, OOBI, TWEENIES and MIFFY AND FRIENDS on April 7, 2003.
The SOUTH PARK boys learn about the politics of war and the consequences of homework in the 100th episode, "I'm A Little Bit Country," which premiered at 10:00 pm April 9, 2003 on COMEDY CENTRAL and with repeats at 12:00 am on April 11, at 10:30 p.m. on April 12, as well as 2:00 a.m. and at 11:00 pm on April 13. Stan, Kyle, Kenny and Cartman join in anti-war protests in order to get out of school and find themselves in the middle of the opposing sides of the war issue. Mr. Garrison, an extreme supporter of the war, retaliates by assigning them book reports on the country's founding fathers.
Toronto-based CCI Entertainment, which just recently formed a cross-Atlantic partnership with Collingwood OHare in the U.K., now has a co-production deal with Australian production outfit Ambience Entertainment to produce ERKY PERKY, a (26x11) 3D animated series. The show was developed in-house by Ambience, a Sydney-based animation and broadcast design firm.
Nick at Nite will produce its first ever original animated series, FATHERHOOD. David Alan Grier (LIFE WITH BONNIE, DAG) has been signed to star in the series, which is based on Bill Cosby's bestselling book, FATHERHOOD. Cosby will executive produce the primetime series for Nick at Nite along with Charles Kipps (LITTLE BILL, COSBY MYSTERIES, LAW & ORDER) and David Brokaw (LITTLE BILL). Sal Maniaci, VP, development & production, TV Land and Nick at Nite, is overseeing the project, which is scheduled to premiere December 2003. "We are thrilled and honored to join forces with America's most beloved and creative funnyman for the network's first original project," said Jones. "We've been looking for an original property much like THE COSBY SHOW, that truly fits the Nick at Nite family viewing brand," according to by Larry W. Jones, EVP/GM, TV Land and Nick at Nite. "What better way to launch our first original series than with an original Cosby gem." This project marks the third installment of Cosby's animation "trilogy" which includes LITTLE BILL for Nickelodeon, FAT ALBERT and now FATHERHOOD for Nick at Nite. Each installment of the animated series will be a comedic/insightful look at the challenges, life lessons and comical confusions of family life. David Alan Grier will star as the voice of Dr. Bindlebeep, a high school teacher, loving husband and father of three. "I hope the audience will enjoy the art of New Yorker cartoonist George Booth that inspired the look of these characters," said Cosby. Bill Cosby was represented by William Morris Agency chairman Norman Brokaw and Mark Itkin, exec VP. Nick at Nite, the evening and overnight programming arm of Nickelodeon, offers new and timeless TV shows restored to their original graphic quality such as THE COSBY SHOW, CHEERS, THREE'S COMPANY and ALL IN THE FAMILY.
Vancouver-based Mainframe Entertainment, Inc., a leading creator of computer animation, has digitized the last pixel on it's first one-hour primetime special, SCARY GODMOTHER HALLOWEEN SPOOKTAKULAR, scheduled to air on Canada's YTV network this coming Halloween, October 31, 2003. Mainframe CEO, Rick Mischel, said this is the first time an animation company has made a television special using feature-film quality SOFTIMAGEXSI software. The show is based on the popular comics and children's books by the award-winning artist and writer, Jill Thompson, who also served as the art director.
Vancouver-based animation company SecondSun Entertainment and Minds Eye Entertainment, will produce CREEPSHOW, a new half-hour animated series in development with YTV for an older 12-17 audience. "It will be a suspense thriller series with all kinds of bizarre characters and unique plot twists and turns to keep kids on the edge of their seats," series producer Chris Delaney. "We are confident that the series edgy and stylish content will appeal to teenage viewers in Canada and around the world," Minds Eye Entertainments executive producer Kevin DeWalt. SecondSun designer John Delaney (BATMAN, SUPERMAN, FUTURAMA) has created a stylish, hybrid look for the series that combines an anime style with North American design sensibilities. Delaney (CHRISTOPHER THE CHRISTMAS TREE, THE LITTLEST ANGEL) is developing the creative concept with consultants Ivan Cohen and Barney Cohen (FOREVER NIGHT, SABRINA THE TEENAGE WITCH). A teen character in each episode will encounter a seemingly normal, everyday situation that quickly turns into a variety of terrifying, suspense filled situations. It may be that a babysitter is attacked by 'monster' children or a robot comes to life and does battle with its owner. Aaron L. Gilbert brought the parties together who will executive produce the series with DeWalt. CREEPSHOW is licensed from Jim Dudleson's Taurus Entertainment (NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD). Minds Eye International, a division of Minds Eye Entertainment, will distribute the series worldwide. Production is expected to begin in Vancouver in the fall of 2003. Established in 1986, Minds Eye Entertainment (formerly Minds Eye Pictures) is a fully integrated production, post-production and distribution entity with offices across western Canada. Check out the company's Website at www.mindseyepictures.com. SecondSun Entertainment (secondsunentertainment.com) is a "transmedia" company specializing in the creation of animation based content for various media platforms, formed in May 2002 by the amalgamation of Brainchild Studios Inc. a 3D company, its interactive game division Furious Entertainment, and Delaney & Friends Cartoon Productions Ltd., a 2D animation company.
Cambium Catalyst International Entertainment (CCI) in Toronto, Canada has reacquired the majority of the Gullane Entertainment library from HIT Entertainment. CCI was associated with Gullane through the merger of Cambium and Catalyst in February 2002. The combined new entity had been operating alongside its U.K. affiliate Gullane when it was acquired by HIT and HIT became the minority shareholder of CCI. A year later, CCI amicably has ended its relationship with HIT, re-acquired HIT's share of CCI and hundreds of hours of the Gullane library. "We have a company that is larger than either Cambium or Catalyst was before. As a result, our distribution division, CCI Releasing, has grown. Its current library includes childrens (live action and animation), documentaries, family movies and lifestyle programming," said Arnie Zipursky, chairman/CEO of CCI. CCI recently formed a partnership with Collingwood OHare in the U.K. to produce HARRY AND HIS BUCKETFUL OF DINOSAURS. For more on CCI, check out www.ccientertainment.com.
As SOUTH PARK approaches it's 100th episode on April 9, 2003, the demented duo who create and exec produce the Comedy Central hit animated series for adults have re-upped with the cable channel through the end of 2005 with an option for an additional year. The deal has Trey Parker and Matt Stone making 15 episodes of SOUTH PARK each year, giving them time to work on other projects during a summer hiatus. If they exercise their option in 2006, that would stretch SOUTH PARK to a 10th season, making it the longest-running primetime comedy series in basic cable history. A pretty long stretch for two guys who claim they never wanted to do animation and don't particularly like it. But it pays the bills and given them a certain cache to go after live-action dreams in their quest to become the next Monty Python. Anne Garefino, exec producer of the series since the beginning, renewed her deal with the network as well. Comedy Central president/CEO Larry Divney claims SOUTH PARK is a huge part of Comedy Central's current and future success. He said, "I really love working with Matt and Trey. They are brilliantly creative producers and I'm just thrilled to have them commit to continuing our relationship well into the future. It's great for our viewers, our affiliates and our advertisers." Parker and Stone's deal was negotiated by their attorney Kevin Morris of Barnes, Morris, Klein & Yorn and agents Mike Simpson and Gaby Morgerman of the William Morris Agency. Garefino's deal was also negotiated by WMA and she is represented by Chris Silbermann of the Broder, Webb, Chervin, Silbermann firm. Comedy Central is the only all-comedy network seen in more than 82 million homes in the U.S. The cabler is owned by Comedy Partners, 50-50 joint venture of Time Warner Entertainment Co. and Viacom, visit www.comedycentral.com.
While most of Nelvana's computer animated programs have been done with the assistance of outside studios, the Toronto-based production house, which is part of Corus Entertainment, turned out an entire 3D CGI one-hour special, ç, completely in-house, now airing on Nickelodeon. It premiered in primetime March 31 with rebroadcasts on April 1 and 14 at noon. The studio is becoming increasingly more self-contained, under the direction CGI pioneer and production chief Scott Dwyer. Based upon the best-selling book series by acclaimed children's author, David Kirk, MISS SPIDER stars Brooke Shields as the voice of a full-grown spider who discovers she doesn't know everything there is to know about being a terrific mom. Having been adopted herself when she was young, Miss Spider's lessons multiply when she and her young ones try to reunite an abandoned chicken egg with its mother. Nelvana used primarily Maya and combustion to create the rich, colorful natural environments and soft characters. The Nelvana production in association with Callaway & Kirk was exec. produced by Michael Hirsh, Dyer, Kirk, Nicholas Callaway and Nadine va der Velde. Pam Lehn served as supervising producer and Susie Grondin was producer. Mike Fallows directed the script by van der Velde while Mike Shiell was animation director. While animation remained at Nelvana, voice recording was done in Canada and the U.S. Tony Jay as the voice of the evil Spiderus was recorded at Voice Trax West in Los Angeles. Shields and Rick Moranis (the voice of her husband Holley) were recorded at Magno Sound in New York City. The majority of the voices were recorded at Studio 306 in Toronto under the direction of Jessie Thomson. Nelvana also produced in-house the ROLIE POLIE OLIE: GREAT DEFENDER OF FUN special last year that aired on Disney in the U.S. and CBC in Canada. MISS SPIDER'S SUNNY PATCH KIDS will air later this year on TELETOON in Canada. The special is sponsored by U.S. retailer Target, which just launched a lifestyle brand for children called Sunny Patch, in stores across America featuring images of Miss Spider and friends on clothing, garden tools and home décor.
When Spanish newcomer Zinkia Entertainment attended MIPCOM, the Madrid-based company received more interest in its older-skewed series, SHURIKEN SCHOOL (6-10-years-old). But at the conclusion of MIP-TV, Maria Doolan, director of int'l co-productions at Zinkia, reports a mood change with buyers showing interest in her pre-school show POCOYÓ. "The pre-school market appeared to be more buoyant again," said Doolan. Zinkia is close to signing int'l pre-sales on both series. POCOYÓ is a 52-part, 3D animated series starring Pocoyó, an inquisitive toddler who wants to reach out and touch everything, as well as a plastic yellow duck, a magic clown, an athletic elephant and a friendly narrator. The series is created in short stimulating blocks for infant learning and development, using vibrant sound, music, movement and images. Zinkia has developed its own technology to give a clay-like quality to the characters. The comedy action series SHURIKEN SCHOOL (52x13), aimed at kids 6-10, features a manga style student, Eizan Kaburagi, attending the oldest and most respected ninja academy in the world, a weird and wild place where anything can and does happen. Produced entirely in Flash animation, the series is due to start production in spring 2003. Both series, which have been developed and created in English, have been created as multimedia concepts and are fully compatible with all kinds of multi-platform applications. Zinkia Entertainment (www.zinkia.com), is a multi-platform production company, creating quality entertainment, animation, commercials, IDs, graphics and music.
Some critics say that a monkey can make better decisions than a TV programming executive, while others, especially in the Animation Nation chatroom, say monkeys run production and broadcasting companies. To prove a point, Cartoon Network brought an actual chimpanzee (technically an ape, not a monkey), named Jimbo in to select the cartoons from CN's programming library during its April Fools' Day Monkey Marathon April 1, 2003 from 8:00 a.m.-11:00 pm (ET/PT). Jimbo picked a lineup of toons starring monkeys and apes in prominent roles.
WHAT'S NEW SCOOBY-DOO? takes to the airwaves on Cartoon Network March 28, 2003, with a new batch of creature-related mysteries fashioned after the popular animated series that debuted in 1969. The Hanna-Barbera creation was revamped by Warner Bros. Animation last year, airing on Kids' WB! and now Cartoon Network at 8:00 pm. Original cast members Casey Kasem (Shaggy) and Frank Welker (Fred & Scooby-Doo) are joined by Grey DeLisle (Daphne) and Mindy Cohn (Velma) as well as special guest stars.
FXDigital/DiFarm, a Korean and Los Angeles based digital studio specializing in 3D animation production, is debuting its BUMPER KING ZAPPER (26x30) animated series aimed at kids 7-12, at MIP-TV. Set to broadcast on SBS Korea in September 2003, BUMPER KING ZAPPER takes place in the year 2034 in the city of Kore, where a young boy named Tyron dreams of becoming the king of "Bumper Cross," the remote control racing game that dominates pop culture society.
DIC Entertainment is offering four brand new STRAWBERRY SHORTCAKE specials at MIP, according to Pat Ryan, EVP of worldwide sales for DIC. STRAWBERRY SHORTCAKE was originally launched by American Greetings in 1979 as a series of greeting cards. The brand was an immediate hit generating $1.2 billion at retail. The fun-loving, scented characters gave birth to 25 million dolls, 10 million toy accessories, 12 million books, 15 million pieces of children's apparel, 35 million accessories, three gold records, six animated specials and a series of home videos. The four specials are titled MEET STRAWBERRY SHORTCAKE, STRAWBERRY SHORTCAKES'S BERRY MERRY CHRISTMAS, SPRING FOR STRAWBERRY SHORTCAKE and STRAWBERRY SHORTCAKES'S GET WELL ADVENTURE. They take place in Strawberryland where Strawberry Shortcake, her sister Apple Dumplin' and her friends Ginger Snap, Orange Blossom, Angel Cake, Huckleberry, Custard, Pupcake and Honey Pie Pony engage in a series of magical adventures. There are five to seven original songs per special that highlight the themes of friendship, sharing and caring. DIC Entertainment (www.dicentertainment.com), headquartered in Burbank, California, is a leading children's entertainment company with more than 3,000 half-hours of programming in its library, ranked as the third largest library of American animation. DIC is a full service studio with production, development, distribution, home video, marketing and licensing departments.
Sunwoo USA, the Burbank, California based division of Sunwoo Entertainment in Korea, has entered into a co-production and co-development agreement with the National Wildlife Federation (NWF), to make THE UNHUGGABLES, a 26x30 animated series based on the book published by the NWF. The NWF will premiere a comic strip based on the book in spring of 2003. THE UNHUGGABLES features a group of school-aged animals, whose unappealing characteristics make them the outcasts. The action-packed coming-of-age misadventures of a spider, snake, porcupine, skunk, armadillo and an Asian False Vampire Bat is targeted for kids 2-11 and tentatively scheduled for the 2003/2004-television season. "We are very excited to be working with Sunwoo, one of the most innovative production and animation companies in the business," said Christopher Palmer, president/CEO of National Wildlife Productions, the production arm of the NWF. In addition, Sunwoo USA is offering in its first MIP product slate, SPACE HIP HOP DUCK, a 52x11 animated series already sold to KBS Network in Korea, according to Jae Moh, president/CEO of Sunwoo USA. SPACE HIP HOP DUCK features two near-do-well slackers who hip hop across the Hip Hop Galaxy in search of odd jobs while pursuing their dreams of becoming rock stars. It stars Hip Hop, a green sharp billed female duck and her human companion Wangja, a young male with a talent for gadgetry, who travel aboard Argo, a multi-purpose robot who serves as both a butler, a spaceship and a peacemaker. Sunwoo Entertainment, headquartered in Seoul, Korea, is comprised of three animation studios: Sunwoo Animation, Grimsaem Animation and Anivision Korea. These studios work closely together with Sunwoo Digital International to provide state of the art animation services. Its recently launched U.S. division seeks co-production deals, recruits talent and develops content with international appeal for its Korean-based studios.
Vancouver-based Atomic Cartoons is showcasing four new properties at MIP-TV 2003. The creators of ATOMIC BETTY (recently picked up by TELETOON Canada, Teletoon France and Cartoon Network Europe), are presenting animated trailers of DENNIS, DYSFUNCTION JUNCTION, DIRTY LIL BASTER and THE CARNEYS at the spring television market in France. DYSFUNCTION JUNCTION (26x22) is an irreverent primetime social commentary for adults about a well-to-do family that goes bankrupt and is forced to move into a trailer park.
FOX has ordered a digitally animated pilot presentation for THE AFTERLIFE from Santa Monica, California-based Threshold Digital Research Labs. The primetime animated sitcom follows the adventures of the Franklin family after a "slight photo glitch" kills them all by accident, landing them in a purgatory that looks a lot like suburban Los Angeles. Due to an administrative hiccup, processing them to their next life might take two or 300 years. Barry Bostwick (SPIN CITY) will voice the character of the earnest and eternally optimistic patriarch, Stan.
The North Sydney, Australia-based Kapow Pictures is taking its first animated series YAKKITY YAK the brainchild of KPs founder Mark Gravas to MIP-TV. The co-production with Canadas Studio B for kids 8-12 is already airing on Canada's TELETOON and has been sold to sold to TF1 (France) and Channel 10 (Australia). KP partner and executive producer Sandra Walters is presenting the 52x11 series at MIP. "Its a character-driven series, and its quirky by nature, she said. "That gives us license to reference reality, but to really push the boundaries," she said. Kapow (www.kapowpictures.com) has built its six-year-old reputation doing commercials for Kellogg's, Optus and Bonds, as well as pilots EGO FROM MARS and AGENT GREEN, which aired on Nickelodeon. The outfit made a big impact with its animated short film SHOW AND TELL, which was nominated for an AFI in 2002, and was named best short film at the Telluride Indie Fest and Most Popular Animated Film at Ausfest 2002. It followed on the heels of Kapows first short film, WYATT EARP, which won Best Animated Short in the Vancouver animation festival in 2000. WYATT EARP has since screened at more than 20 festivals, while Australian television rights have been bought by SBS.
Umbrella organization European Broadcasting Union is coproducing an animated series PITT & KANTROP (26x26) with Millimages (France), using funding from nine EBU member broadcasters ARD (Germany), BBC (U.K.), France 2 and France 3, RAI (Italy), RTBF and VRT (Belgium), RTVE (Spain) and SRG-SSR (Switzerland). Targeted at kids 6-12, the toon features 13-year-old Pitt and his pterodactyl pet Kantrop, created by Isabeau Merle and Fethi Nedjari. The series is an off-beat modern comedy set in prehistoric times, which recounts the adventures of Pitt, and Kantrop, the last pterodactyl, as they try to bring progress to Pitt's tribe. Wolfgang Wegmann (ARD), Theresa Plummer-Andrews (BBC) and Babette Vimenet (France) are set to exec produce. Millimages Licenses, Millimages UK and Millimages USA will handle international distribution rights when the series launches in fall 2004. "We are confident that the series PITT & KANTROP will be another success for the EBU and its members in providing quality European programming to children across Europe," said Philippe Jacot, head of the EBU coproduction unit. Millimages, based in Paris (www.millimages.com), is one of the largest producers and distributors of animated programming with its own post production and stop-motion service studios. The Geneva-based EBU (www.ebu.ch) is the largest professional association of national broadcasters in the world. It serves 71 active members in 52 countries of Europe, North Africa and the Middle East and 45 associate members in 28 countries around the world. Working on behalf of its members, the EBU negotiates broadcasting rights for major sports events, operates the Eurovision and Euroradio networks, organizes program exchanges, stimulates and coordinates coproductions, and provides a full range of other operational, commercial, technical, legal and strategic services.
France Animation, one of Europes leading production and distribution companies specializing in youth programming, has a number of MIP-TV 2003 offerings for the teen and pre-school markets. COSY CORNER is a preschool series (52x6 or 13x26) that features a host of soft, cuddly CGI animated animal characters with strong merchandising potential. It tells the story of a group of Stella, Margot, Arthur and Jacky, who have been thrown together by chance. Living as neighbors in a huge tree, called COSY CORNER, they soon discover that it isnt always easy to get along and put up with each other! Produced by French production company Storimages and co-produced by France 5 and Teletoon France, France Animation has worldwide distribution rights. Also on France Animations MIP-TV 2003 slate, is the second season of hit show WHEEL SQUAD 2 (13x26) which completes the series of 39 episodes. WHEEL SQUAD combines wheel sports, rap, hip-hop and techno for older children. Is a co-production between France Animation, M6, Praxinos, Colorland, RAI and for series one Canal + Belgique. The show can already be seen on the Disney Channel in Asia, Hong Kong and the Middle East, and in Latin America (Fox Kids), Spain (Antena 3), The Netherlands (Kindernet), Portugal (SIC) and Poland amongst other territories. Concluding France Animations animated lineup is the well-known TITEUF (78x7 or 26x26), a successful property all over Europe based on the comic books by Swiss cartoonist Zep. Already a major hit on France 3, the series has already sold to broadcasters in Canada, Germany, Italy, Spain, Belgium, Greece, Turkey, North Africa, Switzerland, The Netherlands, Denmark, Norway, Poland, Korea, Ukraine, Singapore, Hong Kong, Israel, Indonesia, Malaysia, Morocco, Iceland, Japan, Korea, Ireland and the Middle East. In addition, TITEUF has inspired lucrative product ranges across a variety of markets with 250,000 GameBoy games sold by Infogrames in Europe alone and 250,000 video cassettes selling in the last 12 months through Universal Pictures Video France. Other merchandising available includes Lafuma school bags, a confectionery deal with Cadbury and a pan-European card deal with Hallmark. Various deals have also been struck with Hasbro, McDonalds, Danone and Kellogg's. TITEUF is a co-production between France Animation, Editions Glenat, Canal J, France 3 and SMEC, in partnership with RAI, Infogrames and Universal. France Animation also brings factual entertainment to MIP-TV with new completed episodes of the fascinating documentary series INSECTOSCOPE and live-action kids series CYBERGIRL. Maia Tubiana, managing director of France Animation said: "We are maintaining our strategy of seeking quality properties for our catalog, partnering at the earliest possible stages on new projects and developing or co-developing series in formats varying from 5 to 26 minutes. We are also happy to announce that we have started production on PETIT VAMPIRE (working title LITTLE VAMPIRE) which we launched with our co-production partner Story at Cartoon Forum this year. The 52x13 series will be ready for delivery in 2004. PETIT VAMPIRE is a Story, France Animation, France 3 and Telegael co-production." Formed in 1984, France Animation (www.france-anim.com) is subsidiary of Wanadoo (France Télécom) and has a sales catalog with more than 1,200 half-hours sold in more than 100 countries.