Studio City, California-based Phil Roman Entertainment company, in partnership with Quarter Star Productions (QSP) of Charlotte, North Carolina, will produce SOAP ON THE RANGE, a new primetime animated half-hour comedy TV series. Headed by animator and producer, Phil Roman, RANGE lampoons soaps and Westerns with a story about two rival family ranches in Colorado. Twenty-six episodes of SOAP ON THE RANGE will be set for delivery in time for the 2001 television season. Serving alongside Roman, as executive producers will be the husband and wife team of Joyce Wade-May and Patrick W.
Pushing the boundaries of bedtimes everywhere, Nickelodeon will extend their Friday night line-up to 10 pm. Cyma Zarghami, Nick exec VP and general manager, said that the new hour block might be filled with U-PICK, a show that gives kids the chance to vote on what Nick series they want to watch. Currently, U-PICK airs on Friday nights and Zarghami said, "[U-PICKs] performing very well right now. We may expand that to 10 pm. We may put an anchor block in there. We havent decided yet." This decision comes amid rumors that ABCs TGIF Friday family programming is on the skids.
SOUTH PARK creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone have signed a three-year deal with Comedy Central. The profanity purveyors announced an exclusive multimillion-dollar deal with the cable network ending rumors they were fleeing to ABC for a $1 million an episode pact. The deal calls for 30 new episodes of SOUTH PARK and a new live-action series to debut next year. "For the last three years we have been exceptionally lucky to have our show on a network that respects creative freedom," said Parker.
The heirs of Chico and Harpo Marx dont like being left out of the Groucho estates desire to go ahead with an animated series based on the three silly siblings. Friday, April 28, 2000, U.S. district judge Dickran Teverizian stopped the distribution of a new toon until the three brothers estates can come to an agreement over financial issues. Chico and Harpos heirs contest that the Groucho estate bamboozled them by hiding the TV deal and not sharing the US$130,00 paid for the rights.
WALKING WITH DINOSAURS rules cable. The original U.S. broadcast on April 16, 2000 drew nearly 10.7 million people. The show was seen as a three-hour special on the Discovery Channel instead of a six-night mini-series as it was originally shown on the BBC. The large audience made it the most-watched non-sports event on cable TV during the 1999-2000 season with a rating of 8.0. Based on Discovery Channel numbers, approximately 40 million viewers saw some part of the special during its back-to-back Sunday telecasts at 7 pm and 10 pm.
FAMILY GUY and THE PJS are among the animated series seeking new network homes for next season. Fox is in early talks with UPN to bring THE FAMILY GUY to the channel. The edgy animation has seen low ratings on Fox, however rates high with young men 18-34, which makes it prefect for the testosterone, targeted TV network, UPN. The only thing hurting the deal is the high price tag dangling from the toon. Fox is also speaking with UPN about sending stop-motion series GARY & MIKE to the network. The show, produced by Big Ticket, was scheduled to debut on Fox this summer.
U.K. football hero and sports anchorman Gary Lineker is about to get the cartoon treatment from the BBC. Lineker's animated alter ego appears in a regular slot on a new BBC1 Sunday morning magazine programme, FOOTBALL FEVER. The segment has been created by Alive Animation, which built up a library of Lineker's movements and expressions on computer. This means the character can be animated at the last minute, allowing for topical script changes. According to the UK newspaper EVENING STANDARD, the technology is so advanced that the cartoon could even be created 'live' on air.
Twentieth TV has signed a cable-TV rights deal for KING OF THE HILL with the Fox Channels Group. Either FX or Fox Family Channel will get the series in September of 2004 on a four-year licensing deal. Twentieth TV has licensed out the series to syndicated networks for US$3 million dollars per episode. The series will start airing off-network in the fall of 2001. So far, Twentieth TV is nearing $300 million in off-net syndication deals for the series.
BROADCASTING AND CABLE has reported that SOUTH PARK creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone are currently being lured by ABC to create new material for the network. Currently, Comedy Central pays the team of tastelessness between US$400,000 to $500,000 per episode for SOUTH PARK. Reportedly, ABC is offering the cross-dressing crew $1 million per episode for the new programming. THE NEW YORK POST reported that Comedy Central has countered ABC by offering the SOUTH PARK partners artistic freedom on a new series, an offer ABC could never make.
Prague-based SAF Studia Animovaneho Filmu.a.s. is currently producing a series of short inserts for a Disney TV pilot, NONE OF THE ABOVE. The primary client for the project is Tapehouse Toons in New York. The clips are being produced by Zdenka Deitchova, senior producer at Animovany Film Prague. The project is being produced in cooperation with Frame, s.r.o., who are providing the computer animation and special effects facilities.
Walt Disney has announced that the new animated series TEACHER'S PET will join ABC's "Disney's One Saturday Morning" line-up this fall. Tony award-winner Nathan Lane will voice the knowledge-fiend dog, Spot, who disguises himself as a boy to go to school. TEACHER'S PET is being produced at Walt Disney Television Animation by the team of cartoonist Gary Baseman and Emmy Award-winning primetime sitcom writers Bill & Cheri Steinkellner (CHEERS, THE JEFFERSONS).
On May 27, 2000 in Europe, Turner Broadcasting will launch Boomerang, a brand new animation channel from the Cartoon Network stable. The new network will feature over 2,000 characters such as Top Cat, Wacky Races, Yogi Bear and the Hair Bear Bunch. The new channel will run from 6 am until midnight and will be available along with Cartoon Network and Cartoon Network Plus to all Sky Digital homes. Discussions with operators for digital cable and DTT carriage are also underway.
Nelvana Limited has acquired the worldwide development, production, distribution and merchandising rights to LITTLE CRITTER. The series will be based on the best-selling books by Mercer Mayer. Beginning in 1976, the 90-book LITTLE CRITTER series has sold over 100 million copies worldwide. The story follows the everyday life of Little Critter and his friends Tiger and Gator. As the oldest sibling of five, Critter has to balance his responsibilities with playing sports, going to the mall and reading comics.
THE MIRACLE MAKER is set to air on Easter Sunday at 7 pm screening on ABC. Set in 1st Century Israel, the story follows a sick young girl, Tamar (Rebbeca Callard), her Pharisee father Jairus (William Hurt), and her desperate mother Rachel (Julie Christie) as they encounter the charismatic preacher Jesus (Ralph Fiennes). Can Tamar be healed before those in authority strike against Jesus? THE MIRACLE MAKER was created by Christopher Grace of S4C following the success of SHAKESPEARE: THE ANIMATED TALES, TESTAMENT: THE BIBLE IN ANIMATION and THE CANTERBURY TALES.
POKEMON is still going strong. KIDS WB! has ordered 52 more episodes of the phenomenon for September 2000. The latest broadcasters to catch the series are TV4 Sweden, TV2 Denmark, TV2 Norway, MTV Finland, RTL-Klub (Hungary) and RTL-TVI (Belgium), as well as Cartoon Network in Australia and New Zealand. The total number of episodes for the series is now 156.
Portuguese broadcaster RTP has begun airing the interactive gameshow STINKY AND BEAVER. The ITE property is created using Silicon Graphics software and 3D animation. The series introduces players to CGI characters who test the participants and serve as the show's hosts. The series is included in RTP's Interactive Hour next to ITE's successful HUGO series.
Mattel Interactive has entered into a deal with Danish company, TV Animation, the creators and owners of the animated interactive TV series THE NELLY NUT SHOW and the real-time technology, The Cartoon Broadcast System. The partnership will further develop the series for world TV markets. Mattel Interactive will represent the partnership in North America and other English speaking territories around the globe.
Bristol-based Harvest Films has been commissioned by BBC1 to produce a half-hour animated special entitled, HAMILTON MATTRESS. Developed in conjunction with the BBC Animation Unit, the stop-motion special features a cast of characters created by John Webster, writer of some of the most successful television advertising campaigns. The special will follow the story of an unloved Aardvark and his canny caterpillar companion, who embark on an epic adventure in which friendship and talent triumph over vanity and greed.
If you're waiting for the bus and a poster talks to you don't be startled. To promote, the debut of the hit series ANGELA ANACONDA on Cartoon Network Europe, the toon TV channel has designed talking posters to be placed in bus shelters all over the U.K. The posters will be fitted with a hidden movement sensor that will make it talk whenever a person passes by. There will be five different sound bites plus a song emanating from the posters for Cartoon Network Europe's new 52 part series created by Joanna Ferrone and Sue Rose, creator of the highly successful PEPPER ANN and voice of Angela.
Blue Sky Studios has brought dead fish to life for THE SOPRANOS. Blue Sky's Animation Director Mark Baldo and Lead Technical Director Cliff Bohm were given the task to create the special effects for a pivotal scene in the season finale. The scene features Tony Soprano (James Gandolfini), who is wracked with guilt and indecision about his long-time friend, Pussy (Vincent Pastore), who he knows has turned FBI informant.
Turner Broadcasting System (TBS) has signed a multi-year deal with Israel's first and only DTH operator Yes to show Cartoon Network. The Turner toon network will be offered as a 24-hour channel alongside TCM (Turner Classic Movies) and CNN International on Yes' channel packages which will launch in the second half of 2000. "Yes is extremely proud of its association with TBS," said Yona Wiesenthal, Senior Vice President of Content, Yes.
"The turn-out was terrific. It's better than we ever imagined. It shows the depth of emotion in Hollywood toward this issue," said Tom Sito, president of the Screen Cartoonists' Union Local 893. With bright, artistic signs in hand, a crowd of nearly 250 people consisting of both working and non-working animation professionals showed up to picket in front of Los Angeles PBS affiliate KCET. The picket even drew members from SAG and the American Film union. The event was a show of support against the recent move by PBS that sent their network's animation work to Canada.
Mainframe Entertainment is set to produce two new TV movies based on the characters from their TV series REBOOT. The two telepics are being produced in partnership with Canadian cable broadcaster YTV Canada, Inc. for broadcast in the Spring and Fall of 2001. REBOOT was the first ever half-hour computer animated TV series produced in the world. The series was originally shown in North American in September of 1994 on YTV in Canada and on ABC Television in the U.S.
The Harvey Entertainment Co. has entered into a deal with Vancouver-based Studio B to produce a new TV series based on their character Wendy the Witch. Studio B has acquired the rights to the popular children's series from Harvey and has partnered with Harvey in producing 26 half-hour episodes for the worldwide television and video marketplace. The series is expected to be available for delivery beginning in January 2001. Studio B also produces D'MYNA LEAGUES, WHAT ABOUT MIMI and YVON OF THE YUKON.
Perhaps, Neitchze was correct because GOD is dead. At least NBC's rendition of him is. The troubled toon GOD THE DEVIL AND BOB has been excommunicated from NBC's line-up. The decision to pull the series out of the line-up came in response to the lowest ratings ever for a regularly scheduled program in the Tuesday 8:30 pm time slot. Nearly 5% of the country's NBC affiliates had already pre-empted the show from their schedule for either religious concerns or they felt it just wasn't funny. Recently, advertisers were even turning their attention away from the ify animation series.