This February Nickelodeon Preschool will introduce millions of young viewers to Chinese culture and language on Nick Jr.'s groundbreaking new animated series NI HAO, KAI-LAN. The original 20x30 series will teach 2- to 5-year-olds Mandarin words and phrases for the first time on television. The premiere episode, titled "Dragon Boat Festival," will debut on Nick Jr. on Thursday, Feb. 7 at 11:00 am ET/PT, the first day of the Chinese New Year (Year of the Rat). Additionally, Nick Jr. will roll out six new NI HAO, KAI-LAN episodes weekdays from Friday, Feb. 8 to Friday, Feb.
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Disney Interactive Studios today announced the addition of Jean-Marcel Nicolai to its executive team as SVP, global production. He will oversee Disney's worldwide video game production, including the company's five internal development studios, externally developed projects and future studio expansion. Nicolai will be based at headquarters in Glendale, Calif., reporting to Graham Hopper, exec VP and general manager.
Speed Racer Enterprises has completed another set of licensing agreements for both the new animated television series SPEED RACER: THE NEXT GENERATION, as well as the classic animated TV series. SPEED RACER: THE NEXT GENERATION is scheduled to air on Nicktoons Network, Nickelodeon's 24-hour animation network, in May of 2008.
Cartoon Network's CODENAME: KIDS NEXT DOOR, about an undercover international alliance of top-secret 10-year-olds, is gearing up for its final mission Jan. 21, when the network will honor the operatives with a special tribute. The day begins at 6:00 am (ET/PT) with a marathon of the best episodes and a countdown of creator Tom Warburton's top five favorites, all leading up to the premiere of the one-hour series finale at 7:00 pm (ET/PT).
Canadian-based production and animation studio 9 Story Ent. heads into 2008 with the addition of two new senior executives. Jill Fraser has been named VP, Business Affairs and Krista Barron, Manager Production Finance. The two will report directly to Steve Jarosz, VP and COO, 9 Story Ent.
As VP, Business Affairs, Fraser will be responsible for legal and business affairs matters for all areas of 9 Story's operations. Barron will be responsible for administration and certifications relating to tax credits, film agency and other domestic funding on all 9 Story productions.
DEX HAMILTON: ALIEN ENTOMOLOGIST (26x30), a new animated comedy-adventure series about an intrepid young explorer, has begun production, with delivery slated for fall 2008. Australian commercial broadcaster Ten Network has already pre-bought the series.
Created by Matthew Fenandez, DEX HAMILTON is a Canadian/Australian co-production between Toronto- and Sudbury-based March Ent. and Sydney-based SLR Prods. Parthenon Kids is also a co-production partner on the series and will be distributing it internationally.
Dave Howe, erstwhile General Manager of SCI FI Channel, has been appointed president of the network, it was announced today. Howe will oversee Original Development, Programming and Marketing, Global Brand Strategy and Market Development, Strategic Planning, SCI FI Digital (SCIFI.COM, SCI FI Pulse, DVICE.com), SCI FI MAGAZINE, Media Relations and SCI FI's recently launched public affairs initiative, Visions for Tomorrow.
Sundance Institute and Sundance Channel announced today the program of 2008 Sundance Film Festival short films that will be available for free on www.sundance.org/watch and for sale on the iTunes Store, Netflix and Xbox 360. Premiering Jan. 18 and running all 10 days of the festival, the films will be shown one at a time for 24 hours.
Aardman Int'l has appointed Spiral Int'l as its distribution agency for Latin America in order to extend its presence in the area. Spiral will represent the whole of Aardman's catalogue across free TV, DVD and digital rights in Latin America and will be looking to start securing deals at NATPE 2008, where they will be presenting Aardman's children's show SHAUN THE SHEEP to Latin American buyers for the first time. The hit series, launched in October 2006, has already been sold to 150 countries around the world, including Disney Latin America.
MGM will launch a full promotional campaign for the hit reality show AMERICAN GLADIATORS, including a cartoon series being developed with Flor-Jon Films Inc. The media blitz also includes a broadband website that will pay homage to the original series and a special U.S. cross-city tour.
"The new series and multimedia promotional campaign truly fulfills my dream and vision for AMERICAN GLADIATORS," said Johnny Ferraro, Flor-Jon owner and creator of the original series. "It's truly exciting to see the GLADIATORS franchise grow and continue to succeed on all levels."
U.K.-based Galleon Holdings Plc will premiere the first-ever toy line for the hit kids animated series SKUNK FU! at UK Toy Fair 2008.
Developed and made in-house by Croco Sourcing Worldwide, a wholly owned subsidiary of Galleon, the range will consist of collectible action figures, fighting plush, deluxe action figures with added play features, a SKUNK FU bop bag with sounds, and electronic feature plush. The line will be supported by extensive marketing across the U.K.
Hong Kong-based animation producer Jidou has inked new broadcast deals in Japan, Spain, Greece and Cyprus for its series JIDOUGAMES, reports C21 MEDIA. The series has already been sold in its home country, as well as in Indonesia and the Philippines.
In Japan, JIDOUGAMES' representative TI ComNet has closed deals with broadcasters Chubu-Nippon Broadcasting (CBC) and J-Sports, in which the series will make its Japanese debut later this year in TV, mobile, online and DVD.
Mark Lazarus has vacated the position of president of the Turner Ent. Group, reports VARIETY. Three high-ranking Turner execs -- Steve Koonin, Stuart Snyder and David Levy -- will assume new duties in the new corporate structure. The three, who previously reported to Lazarus, will now report to Phil Kent, Turner Broadcasting chairman and CEO.
Marketing executive Sue Kroll has been named to the newly created position of President, Worldwide Marketing, Warner Bros. Pictures, it was announced today.
Three high-profile promotional partners have joined with Paramount Pictures and previously announced partner LG Electronics to publicize Marvel Studio's upcoming IRON MAN, reports KIDSCREEN. Audi will have a sports car featured in the movie, Burger King will mount a QSR promo at locations worldwide, and 7-Eleven will offer IRON MAN Slurpee cups at its 6,000 locations in the U.S. and Canada. More than 100 licensees worldwide have been signed by Marvel. The film is scheduled for release in the U.S. on May 2.
Online animation school AnimationMentor.com celebrated its third commencement Saturday, Jan. 12, in San Francisco. Pixar Animation Studios filmmaker Pete Docter (MONSTERS, INC.), joined onstage by animators from ILM, Pixar Animation Studios and DreamWorks/PDI, all of whom teach at the school, delivered the inspirational commencement address. The graduating class included students from 20 countries and an equal number of states.
Hip-hop artists from the U.S., U.K., Japan and Europe have collaborated on a one-off music video to protest the continued presence of U.S. troops in Iraq. The video was released today online, with additional broadcasts planned for other cross-channel digital media platforms.
Leading U.K.-based media group Entertainment Rights Plc today announced it has sealed significant broadcast agreements for the new TRANSFORMERS ANIMATED series (26x22), plus a 70-minute special episode. ER secured the worldwide television distribution rights (excluding North America), covering television distribution across both free and pay TV platforms for the series.
Award-winning 3D animator TJ Galda announces the publication of ADVANCED CHARACTER RIGGING, the first of a new series of books on the subject. The initial book explains how to create muscles and tendons using computer graphics software such as Autodesk's Maya, and is designed to make the techniques as accessible as possible, so that even beginners can create and animate lifelike muscles for their animated characters. ADVANCED CHARACTER RIGGING is available through digital publishing site Lulu.com and major outlets such as Amazon and Barnes & Noble.
Vicon Ent.'s Los Angeles-based House of Moves has launched a new state-of-the art motion-capture studio at the University of Central Florida on the grounds of the Florida Interactive Entertainment Academy, UCF's graduate video-game development school. The 3,500-square-foot studio, one of the largest on the East Coast, is described by House of Moves executives as a "world-class facility" for industry professionals and academia.