ANIMATION WORLD MAGAZINE - ISSUE 3.12 - March 1999
Rembrandt Offers Zagreb. Over four decades, Zagreb Film produced about 600 animated films that won hundreds of international awards and became world renowned for a unique animation style that became known as "the Zagreb School." For the first time, the studio's library was offered for international distribution at NATPE through Rembrandt Films. Rembrandt has divided the films into thirteen episodes of 26 minutes each. They include all of Zagreb's award-winning short films, including the works of such masters as Dusan Vukotic (including his Oscar-winning Ersatz), Borivoj Dovnikovic (Bordo), and Zlatko Grgic (Devil's Work).
The Superfresh SpaceBuddies! Superfresh Productions brought with them SpaceBuddies!, best described as The X-Files from the alien's point of view. The half-hour clay animated sitcom recalls the old serials of the 1950s, only this time the hero, Nanook, is a little chartreuse man from outer space. SpaceBuddies! aims to explain Earth's mysteries...from the alien autopsy video to the success of Celine Dion.
Cambium Has Kaboodles. Toronto, Canada-based Cambium Releasing has three new products - Kit and Kaboodle for the US and Latin American markets, Littlest Angel's Easter, and Infosaurus News Flash. Kit and Kaboodle (26 x 12 minutes) is from 1985 Academy Award-winning director Jon Minnis (Best Animated Short Film - Charade) and is a co-production between Cambium Film & Video Production and Cinegroup in Montreal. This pre-school series "not only entertains, but also teaches children about themselves and how to interact with one another," says Cambium Senior VP Rita Carbone Fleury. Littlest Angel's Easter is a half-hour special following the success of The Littlest Angel's Christmas and is being used as a pilot for a potential series. Infosaurus is a 3D series of 26 1-minute interstitials that brings the mysterious and fascinating world of dinosaurs to life through educational and entertaining segments.
A scene from The Buddy System, a 1/2 hour weekly HDTV 3D animated series. © GLC Productions.
GLC Productions Has A Buddy System. GLC Productions, a New York-based production/post-production company, debuted their maiden series venture at this year's show, The Buddy System, an animated Seinfeld meets The Odd Couple. The show, created by Big Nate syndicated cartoonist Lincoln Peirce, centers on the escapades of Buddy and Howie, a pair of sports-crazy twenty-something bachelors. Projected as a weekly half-hour 3D animated series, GLC has produced a 7-minute segment from the premiere. "We've come up with off-the-wall storylines and a collection of bizarre supporting characters that, and I say this in all humility, have a shot at changing the face of TV animation," says Peirce. "We're going to have a lot of fun with The Buddy System, and so will the viewers." The show is also unique from a technological standpoint by being the first HDTV/NTSC 3D animated TV series.
MTV Goes Downtown. MTV brought five different animated shows to NATPE including their newest entry, MTV Downtown, a look at the lives of a group of diverse, multi-ethnic characters who live, work and play in the East Village of New York City. The cast centers on a pair of siblings who are polar opposites: older brother Alex is introverted and thoughtful, while teenage Chaka is wild and impulsive. Thirteen half-hour episodes of the show are being offered. Also available for the first time at NATPE was thirteen or twenty-two half-hour episodes of the outrageous clay animated, Celebrity Deathmatch, and four half-hour episodes or fifty individual pieces from Cartoon Sushi Shorts, an assortment of fresh and funny animated films from around the world. Daria, going into her third season in spring `99, will have thirty-nine half-hours and the perennial Beavis & Butt-head presented ninety half-hours, plus the hour-long Beavis & Butt-head Christmas Special with parodies of It's A Wonderful Life (It's A Miserable Life) and A Christmas Carol (Huh Huh Humbug).
Cartoons From Cubic. Cubic Enterprises introduced two new children's programs - KoKo, The Pink Rabbit and Koni and the Starjammers. KoKo, two 45-minute clay animated specials, follows KoKo and friends as they discover the value of friendship and the simple treasure of life. Koni is a 2D cel sci-fi action/adventure animated series starring Koni, Yena, Icon and Kobot as they bravely battle to retrieve the Hadron Batteries and ultimately, save the Earth in thirteen half-hour episodes. In addition, pre-sales for True Heart also took place - a 40-minute 35mm clay animated featurette about Malcolm, a young turtle who breaks out of his shell and goes on a journey to save the King of the Under-Water world, learning along the way the meaning of having a 'true heart.'
D'Ocon Is D'there. Barcelona, Spain-based animation company D'Ocon Films Productions announced the launch of a co-production with Sony Wonder on Myths&Legends, a 13-episode series (with an option of a second set of 13), about two kids who discover a magic cavern which allows them to travel back through history. Their adventures take them to ancient Greece, the shores of Loch Ness and amongst the Knights of the Round Table; in each case making sure that good triumphs over evil. In addition, D'Ocon's numerous other children's animated series at NATPE included Pocket Dragon Adventures, The Fruitties, Delfy and His Friends, Basket Fever, Chip and Charly, Problem Child, Spirou and The Herlufs among others.
Oscar, the alien, amazes the humans by only feeding on music. © Salsa Distribution.
Salsa's Sizzling Sci-Fi Series. Among Paris, France-based Salsa Distribution's predominantly science fiction genre programming slate is the animated Tommy and Oscar. Produced by Rainbow s.r.l., Salsa is offering 26 half-hour episodes to Latin territories. Tommy is a young boy who befriends a loveable alien named Oscar, who feeds on music instead of edible foods. Salsa is also overseeing Latin American merchandising on the series.
Sabrina, Sonic And Sherlock. DIC introduced three new half-hour series at the show: Sabrina: The Animated Series, Sonic Underground and Sherlock Holmes in the 22nd Century. Sabrina is based off the ABC TV series which was originally based on the Archie comic books. 65 episodes, scheduled to air in the U.S. on UPN's Disney Afternoon and distributed by Buena Vista Television internationally, will feature the voice of Emily Hart as 12-year old Sabrina and Melissa Joan Hart as the voice of Sabrina's two aunts. Sonic Underground is based on the popular Sega video game series and is the third animated Sonic series that DIC has produced. Buena Vista will distribute the 40 episodes internationally while Bohbot Kids Network will air the show in the U.S. The show, featuring the voice of Jaleel "Steve Urkel" White as three different characters, pits Sonic and friends against the evil Dr. Robotnik. The futuristic Sherlock series is a 2D/3D combination co-produced with Scottish Television, who will air the show in the U.K. with Buena Vista handling other territories. In the show, legendary detective Sherlock Holmes is brought back to life as a clone by Scotland Yard, and is assisted by a robotic Dr. Watson in order to solve the crimes of the 22nd century.
Encore For Critters And Goofballs. After nine holiday-themed specials, Encore Enterprises has created 26 new episodes of Chucklewood Critters with educational structures and guidance provided by the UCLA Department of Education. The show has been pre-sold to Ravensburger Film & TV in Germany, BBC in the UK and Daro Film in the rest of the world. Additionally, Encore has two hundred 1-minute fillers of Goofballs, a dialogue-less, gag-driven series featuring two handymen - Tiny the elephant and Jake the lizard. The show is a co-production between Riverstar Entertainment and SPI International.
A Catalyst Of Animation. Catalyst Distribution offered a number of shows at NATPE including The Adventures of Captain Pugwash (13 x 30 minutes or 26 x 10 minutes), James the Cat (52 x 5 minutes), The Raccoons (65 x 30 minutes) and Britt Allcroft's Magic Adventures of Mumfie (39 x 30 minutes). Representatives were located at their U.S. associate company, Gullane Pictures.
Canal+ Distribution Hits U.S. Shores. Four animated series made their U.S. debuts at NATPE this year through Paris-based Canal+ Distribution/Canal+ Image International: Fennec (52 x 13 minutes), Blazing Dragons (26 x 13 minutes) created by Monty Python's Terry Jones, The Pirate Family (26 x 26 minutes) and Tristan & Isolde (26 x 26 minutes). Canal+ is also offering the feature-length version of the animated feature, Trouble with Sophie, based on the famous children's book by the Countess Segur.
Chung Designing For Samsung. Premiered at MIPCOM, Korean company Samsung Entertainment Group again offered their newest animated series for adults called Alexander. Peter Chung, creator of Aeon Flux, is designing the characters for the fantasy-adventure show, which is set in 4th Century B.C. Macedonia, and is based on the novel Alexander's War Chronicles by Hiroshi Aramata. The executive producer is Haruki Kadokawa, with Masao Maruyama producing, Rintaro directing and Yoshinori Kanmori supervisor directing. Animation is being produced by Mad House in Japan. Screenmusic Studios in Los Angeles will handle post-production. Thirteen 30-minute episodes are planned.
Read Peter Chung's article "The State of Visual Narrative in Film and Comics" in the July issue of Animation World Magazine.
Mighty Kong And Mega Kong. Lana Films is going gigantic with two monstrous projects: The Mighty Kong produced by LA Animation and Nippon Animation and Mega Kong developed by ACME Animation and LA Animation. The Mighty Kong is an animated feature released last year with the voices of Dudley Moore and Jodi Benson and music by Richard and Robert Sherman. Mega Kong is a 26 episode half-hour series in development with all rights still available.
Monster Helps Kevin Save The World. Kevin Saves the World is Monster Productions' newest entry, based on books by Daniel Postgate, produced and directed by Kine Aune and Oscar-winning British animator Bob Godfrey (Great, 1964). The series (13 x 5 minutes) follows the misadventures of Kevin, a boy who always manages to come out on top despite his apparent ineptitude. The series, targeted for kids 4-8, has already been acquired by Nickelodeon U.K., Nickelodeon Scandinavia, RTE and ABC Australia among others. Monster's other available projects include 13 finished half-hours of Storykeepers, two animated features Christmas Storykeepers and Easter Storykeepers, 26 half-hours of Tapend Tales in development and Guardians of the Millennium, a 26-episode 3D animated series in conjunction with an interactive, multimedia web site (www.theguardians.com) that features an environmental theme.
AGS Has Animal-Themed Cartoons. AGS Media, the kids entertainment division of American Guidance Service, launched Wild Life and Duso the Dolphin. Wild Life (working title) is an animated comedy for kids 6-11 with over-the-top characters like Rocco Raccoon, a Joe Pesci-type, and mischievous twin otters Orfa and Curly. Duso is an underwater edutainment series for kids 2-8.
Made For `Net Movie Becomes TV Movie. Kaleidoscope Media Group has entered a deal with Brilliant Digital Entertainment to distribute Gravity Angels, (viewable at www.multipathmovies.com) the Internet's first full-length 3D computer animated movie. The two-hour sci-fi thriller, which will be offered at NATPE for domestic and international broadcast and home video rights, uses Brilliant's proprietary production technology. Brilliant's president Kevin Bermeister explains, "Our tools allow us to create scalable animation in one production process. This means we can produce for the Internet and CD-ROM and then scale-up the output resolution for direct-to-video, DVD and broadcast platforms...we can reach all of these end markets for less than it typically costs to produce one half-hour of traditional cel animation for broadcast." Additionally, Brilliant's Multipath Movies technologies create an interactive experience where each story has multiple-user influenced plot alternatives that lead to a variety of conclusions. Harry Siegel, Kaleidoscope Media's CEO, commented on the Multipath innovation, "The capability is particularly exciting for the television syndication market because each episode can have a number of different versions, increasing its shelf life and value in the re-run market." In addition, Kaleidoscope is also offering Micronauts, a joint-venture with Abrams/Gentile Entertainment, based on the Marvel comic book series.
240, The First Hero of the Third Millennium is a unique look at the future. © Cromosoma.
Cromosoma's Triplets. Barcelona, Spain-based Cromosoma has numerous products including The Triplets (65 x 30 minutes), a show about a group of mischievous triplets who are constantly being punished by the Bored Witch who sends them off into a different "modernized" fairy tale each episode. If the triplets manage to resolve the fairy tale with a happy ending, they are able to return home. Another unique series, 240, The First Hero of the Third Millennium, (26 x 13 minutes) is a cynical yet entertaining view of how our lives are being changed by genetic engineering, the power of the media, computerization and economic and cultural globalization.
Cartwrights Move Back To The Ponderosa. 1999 marks the 40th anniversary of one of the longest running television series in history, Bonanza, and New York-based Abrams/Gentile Entertainment is producing a new animated series based on the perennial Western. The show is a prequel of sorts taking place on the Ponderosa Ranch with a young Ben Cartwright and his teenage sons. Abrams/Gentile also presented numerous other new projects including:
Open Call (13 x 22 minutes): A comedy about two divorcees who become casting directors, as unqualified as they may be, in a unique blend of "real-time" animation and live-action.
Hammer Horror Films (13 x 22 minutes): Animated versions of horror films from the classic British film studio Hammer Films including such titles as Horror of Dracula and Curse of the Werewolf.
Benny & the Car-Toonz: A show for the Blue's Clues set of viewers about an ordinary kid, Benny, who is sucked into the world of TV and meets up with the wacky Car-Toonz. This edutainment entry combines live-action, puppetry and animation, and is distributed internationally by The Fremantle Corporation.
Micronauts (26 x 22 minutes): Based on the classic Marvel comic series, this is a co-production between Abrams/Gentile and Annex Entertainment with Kaleidoscope Media Group handling distribution. Combining traditional 2D and computer animation, the show takes viewers into a subatomic universe known as the Microverse.
Columbia Tristar Has 5000 Fingers. Columbia TriStar Television Children's Programming (CTTCP), who currently produces and distributes shows like Jumanji, Men In Black and Godzilla: The Series, announced a number of shows pre-sold to U.S. broadcasters: Dragon Tales, a co-production with Children's Television Workshop for PBS, Big Guy & Rusty the Boy Robot for Fox Kids Network and Bug Wars: A Starship Troopers Adventure for BKN. In direct-to-video, CTTCP is currently developing 5,000 Fingers of Dr. T, Berenstein Bears, Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer and I Dream of Jeannie.
Mark Anthony Presents Filbert Fopp. Mark Anthony Entertainment releases the unique Filbert Fopp Can't Stop (13 x 30 minutes), an educational series that teaches kids about money and life.
Goodtimes With Rudolph. GoodTimes Entertainment announced that Rudolph, The Red-Nosed Reindeer, The Movie, made its Latin American debut this Christmas on Cinecanal and Sky. This marked Cinecanal's first acquisition of an independently-produced animated feature and was the first time Cinecanal ran two versions of a single animated feature: neutral Spanish dubbed version for children and the original, English-language version with Spanish subtitles for family audiences. This year at NATPE, GoodTimes Entertainment offers the action-adventure, animated series Heroes and Legends of the Bible, the animated feature film Camelot, The Legend and the Animated Classics collection.
Varga Is Very Busy. Budapest, Hungary-based Varga Studios has been commissioned to co-produce a series of animated projects: Liza (13 x 6 minutes), Wolves, Witches and Giants (13 x 7.5 minutes), Animated Tales of the World, Percy, the Parkkeeper (13 x 7.5 minutes) and Kipper. In addition, Varga's sister company, VARGA tvc Ltd., premiered their first project, Oi! Get Off Our Train, a half-hour animated special produced by the company in association with BBC Bristol, Miramax Films and ZDF, which made its television debut in the U.K. during Christmas `98.
Gaumont Has Roaches And Magicians. Gaumont Multimedia, the first European producer to sell a show (Space Goofs) to a U.S. network (Fox), offered Oggy and the Cockroaches, The Magician and Tune of the Moon.
NELVANA Has Shows All Over. Toronto, Canada-based animation studio NELVANA Enterprises has reached a deal with cable and satellite channel TELETOON France giving the broadcaster 200 half-hours of animation programming per year from NELVANA. The shows that TELETOON acquired in the deal include: The Dumb Bunnies, Robin, Birdz, Bob and Margaret, Franklin, Tales from the Cryptkeeper and Little Bear. TELETOON has committed to co-produce one project per year with NELVANA commencing with Flying Rhino Junior High and are already looking at a development slate of new French/Canadian projects. In another major move, NELVANA announced that its animated series Franklin will move to U.S. specialty service Nickelodeon from CBS Television. Subsequently, NELVANA's Rupert, currently airing on Nickelodeon, will move to CBS Television replacing Franklin as part of CBS's Saturday morning lineup for the balance of the current broadcast season. Michael Hirsh, Co-CEO of NELVANA Limited, stated, "This agreement is like a very good baseball trade..." In addition, NELVANA's NATPE slate is very expansive with new programming such as George & Martha (HBO Family Channel), Elliot Moose, Redwall, Ricky the Rhino and Really Rosie; as well as current programming including Dumb Bunnies (CBS), Ned's Newt (Fox), Bob and Margaret (Comedy Central), Rolie Polie Olie (Disney Channel) and Donkey Kong Country (Fox Family Channel).
Interactive TV With Hugo. Interactive Television Entertainment has firmed deals with Columbia and Peru for the interactive television show Hugo, the TV Troll. Hugo premiered in Columbia on Canal Capital in December `98, and in Peru in January `99. The show, which allows the TV audience to respond instantaneously to programming content by using their telephone touchpad, currently airs in over 20 countries. Other ITE products at NATPE included Throut and Neck in Sheepheaven, an outrageous gameshow targeting 15-25 year-olds, originally commissioned by MTV Brasil; and Tush Tush, a brand new interactive format, introducing the funny character Mr. Wannabe who has extraordinary adventures searching for treasure.
Toon Factory's Kid Clones. Paris-based Toon Factory, established in 1995 as a leading subcontractor and supplier to major animation companies, is currently developing two new children's series: Kid Clones in Space and Calamity Ark.
A RAI Of Light. Rome, Italy-based RAI Trade had numerous series at NATPE including Lupo Alberto (52 x 6 minutes), Sandokan (26 x 26 minutes), Parables and Acts (18 x 5 minutes), Topo Gigio (20 x 12 minutes) and New Pimpa Adventures (26 x 5 minutes).
South Park Creators Take On NATPE. Matt Stone and Trey Parker, creators of the phenomenally popular Comedy Central animated series South Park, spoke at NATPE as well. The informal talk, "Coffee With Trey Parker and Matt Stone," took place Wednesday, January 27, from 7:30 to 8:45 a.m. in Room 245.
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