Animated pre-schooler WHY? has been awarded a production loan by the Irish Film Board, who is co-financing the series with Monster Distributes and Brown Bag Films. The new series goes into production in January 2002 and will be presented at NATPE. Monster Distributes will also be introducing new animated Christmas specials, THE LEGEND OF THE CANDY CANE and THE LEGEND OF THE THREE TREES, as well as selling its 13 x 30 award-winning series STORYKEEPERS, directed by Jimmy Murakami. STORYKEEPERS presents stories from the life of Jesus within an adventure story context.
Egmont Imagination will bring its interactive mystery series, SOLVE THE MYSTERY WITH INSPECTOR MCCLUE, to NATPE 2002. This 2D Flash animated family series is a television and Internet based crime-puzzle where the viewer watches a mystery unfold on television, and must then try and solve the mystery themselves by going online and using the clues provided. Created by Werner Wejp-Olsen, SOLVE THE MYSTERY WITH INSPECTOR MCCLUE combines interactivity with engaging stories.
Another Japanese import comes to NATPE via Nelvana. BEYBLADE is a 51-episode animé series acquired from D-Rights, Inc. BEYBLADE tells the story of a boy who learns to harness the power of his ancestors to perfect his technique in the sport of Beyblade. The heroes bond as they battle their way to the world championship. Nelvana will be located in Booth #3025.
4Kids Entertainment will launch the Japanese animated series KINNIKUMAN at NATPE 2002. The 52-episode series combines comedy and super hero action with the flair of pro-wrestling. As a baby, Kinnikuman was accidentally displaced as prince of his home planet. Now, to prove himself worthy as heir to the throne of Kinniku, he must compete in the ultimate intergalactic tournaments. As a result, Kinnikuman confronts hundreds of the most diverse and powerful superhero wrestlers that the world has to offer.
The hour-long documentary MILL TIMES, premiering on PBS January 2, 2002 at 8:00 pm, uses four animated sequences to tell the story of a small New England community where the first textile mill in America was established. The program is hosted by author and illustrator David Macaulay (THE WAY THINGS WORK) and is based on his book MILL.
Baby Blues has been added to Cartoon Network's line up as part of its "Adult Swim" block of programming. Aimed at adults ages 18-34, the animated block airs Sunday and Thursday nights from 10 pm-1 am (ET/PT). Adult Swim's rotating line-up includes SPACE GHOST COAST TO COAST, THE BRAK SHOW, HARVEY BIRDMAN, ATTORNEY-AT-LAW, AQUA TEEN HUNGER FORCE and SEALAB 2021, as well as the animé series COWBOY BEBOP.
RTV Family Entertainment has recently signed licensing deals with German broadcasters Super RTL and ORF. ORF will be picking up THE COUNTRY MOUSE AND THE CITY MOUSE ADVENTURES, the second season of Rolf Kaukas FIX & FOXI AND FRIENDS as well as the series ROTTEN RALPH, which was successfully introduced to Germany in the branded block "Ravensburger TV" on Super RTL. Super RTL acquired the TV licenses for RTVs new animation series GNARFS.
Toon Disney, ABC Cable Network Group's 24-hour all-animation network, will add DISNEY'S TEACHER'S PET to the channel's schedule. Produced by Walt Disney Television Animation, the series, including 18 previously unaired episodes, will air on Toon Disney Monday - Friday at 4 p.m. and 10 p.m. ET/PT beginning January 7, 2002. New episodes will premiere on Fridays. DISNEY'S TEACHER'S PET will continue to air as part of "Disney's One Saturday Morning" at 8:30 a.m. ET/7:30 a.m. PT on the ABC Television Network.
Gullane Entertainment has acquired a 50% interest in the popular S4C International property FIREMAN SAM. The joint venture between S4C International and Gullane Entertainment will see a new 26-part TV series co-produced, followed by a worldwide distribution, marketing and licensing program. Over the past decade, FIREMAN SAM has appeared in four animated television series as part of the BBC children's schedule and has sold one million videos and five million storybooks in the UK. The series is broadcast in Welsh on S4C and has been translated into forty other languages.
The Disney Channel has ordered additional episodes of two of its newest animated shows -- preschooler-oriented series Stanley and the NAACP Image Award-nominated series THE PROUD FAMILY. Both shows premiered in September 2001. Stanley, developed by Jim Jinkins and David Campbell (DISNEY'S DOUG, DISNEY'S PB&J OTTER) and based on characters from the popular book series of the same name, is currently Disney Channel's highest rated series with two to five year olds.
There is still time to catch Bill Plymptons original holiday special 12 TINY CHRISTMAS TALES. Cartoon Network is airing the special, which features stories based on Bill Plympton's hand-drawn Christmas cards, on December 21, 2001 at 9:30 pm and again on December 24th at 7:00 pm as part of Cartoon Networks 24-Hour Christmas Party.
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.