The Downtowners. © 1998 The WB Network.

TV Tidbits. North-Hollywood-based Film Roman has been hired as the production company for the WB's new prime-time cartoon, The Downtowners, the first animated series to be developed by Castle Rock Entertainment's Television unit, whose live-action credits include Seinfeld. Thirteen half-hour episodes of The Downtowners have been ordered, for debut on the WB network in fall 1999. Series creators Bill Oakley and Josh Weinstein (former executive producers of The Simpsons) are executive producers, Lauren MacMullan is supervising director, Colin ABV Lewis is producer and Mike Wolf is animation producer. Film Roman has become something of a prime-time animation hot-house, as it is also in production on three other such series, The Simpsons, King of the Hill, and Family Guy, all for Fox. What's the secret? Read Mike Wolf's article, "In the Spotlight: Creating Prime Time Animation" in the March 1998 issue of Animation World Magazine . . . . Nickelodeon plans to launch a 24-hour version of its network in Russia, per a recently-signed agreement with Metromedia International Group. Programming will consist of Russian-language dubbed U.S. shows such as Rugrats. This will be Nickelodeon's sixth territory-specific network, following existing channels in Australia, Latin America, the Nordic countries, Turkey and the U.K. . . . . Nickelodeon has signed a deal with Italian broadcaster Radio Televisione Italiana (RAI) to produce the first localized foreign-language version of Blue's Clues. The show will premiere on the RAI Uno network in the second quarter of 1999. In Italy, RAI will localize the series by using the same blue-screen technology used on the original production to insert an Italian, live-action host into the existing computer animation. Nickelodeon plans to make similar sales to other countries, as this production concept was designed into the show from its inception. Read about the production process used on Blue's Clues in the September 1998 issue of Animation World Magazine. . . . . Nickelodeon has signed a volume output deal with Television New Zealand (TVNZ) for the broadcast rights to 17 animated and live-action series--755 episodes in all--including CatDog, Rugrats, Hey Arnold!, KABLAM!, Angry Beavers, Aaahh!!! Real Monsters, The Wild Thornberrys and Oh Yeah! Cartoons! The deal extends into 2003. In a similar deal, the German broadcaster RTL has purchased four Nicktoons shows for broadcast in its weekend morning kids programming block. Hey Arnold!, Rocko's Modern Life, CatDog and Angry Beavers will be introduced to the network's program line-up starting in November. The sale comes on the heels of Nickelodeon's withdrawal from the tough German market [AF 6/2/98] as a network. Nickelodeon ceased broadcasting on German airwaves in May, a decision motivated by weak ad sales and increased competition for viewers. Undaunted, the Disney Channel is still planning to launch a digital pay TV channel in Germany, but no date has been announced. . . .

Mike, Lu & Og, a new "World Premiere Toon" by Chuck Swenson. © 1998 Cartoon Network, a Time Warner Company.

Cartoon Network will debut two new "World Premiere Toons" shorts on November 6 at 8:00 p.m. Mike, Lu & Og by Chuck Swenson is about a girl named Mike who leaves her home in New York City and ends up on a remote island where the natives are friendly. Kenny and the Chimp by Tom Warburton is about an awkward 11-year-old and his best friend, a primate named Chimpy. The debuts kick off the network's "Cartoon Cartoon Weekend" special, a 52-hour marathon of more than 100 shorts from the "What a Cartoon!" series as well as Dexter's Laboratory, Cow and Chicken and Johnny Bravo. Plus, for those of you who are wondering, John Kricfalusi's long-awaited "What a Cartoon!" shorts are still in production, but no air date has been set. . . . Bonjourno, Mickey! The Italian version of The Disney Channel began broadcast on October 3, launching with the country's first TV broadcast of the animated feature, The Lion King. All programming is dubbed in Italian. The channel is being transmitted daily from 6 a.m. to midnight, as part of a digital bouquet of channels offered by Telepiu. Disney Channel Italy is headquartered in Milan and headed up by vice president and managing director Janet Scardino. The former Sunbow Entertainment VP joined the company in March 1998. An additional 40 people, mostly Italians, will staff Disney Channel Italy. Programming will start out with 15% Italian-produced acquisitions combined with 85% Disney productions. This is the seventh country in which Disney Channel has launched, following Australia, France, Malaysia, the Middle East, Taiwan and the U.K.. . . .

Walt Disney and actress Margie Gay as Alice, surrounded by animated characters in Alice's Spanish Guitar. © The Walt Disney Company. All Rights Reserved.

In celebration of Disney's 75th anniversary, the Disney Channel will air a collection of rarely seen early films by Walt Disney. Films such as the 1920s live-action/animation shorts, The Alice Comedies aired October 16-29, nightly on the "Vault Disney" programming block, Monday-Saturday at 11 p.m., Sunday at 9 p.m. Although other studios had been putting animated characters into live-action environments, Disney, with The Alice Comedies, was the first to place a live-action character into a cartoon world. The Disney Channel aired some of the 56 Alice films, including the never-before-released pilot, Alice's Wonderland. . . .

Gaumont-IGEL Pact.
Paris, France-based Gaumont Multimedia and Hamburg, Germany-based IGEL Media have reached a multi-year, multi-million dollar first-look distribution agreement giving IGEL all television and home video rights on future Gaumont Multimedia animated series for Germany, Scandinavia, Japan and Korea. The deal, sealed at MIPCOM, reflects both companies' need to address the increased competition and decreased number of broadcast slots available in Germany and Asia. As a result of the agreement, the two companies project launching at least two new animated series each year, throughout the unspecified, multi-year term of the deal. IGEL Media, a 15-year-old company that is on the verge of going public, recently hired managing director Marie-Line Petrequin away from ProSieben [AF 9/22/98], a bold move signaling the company's new commitment to animation. She said, "Our relationship is based on long-term trust and a mutual vision, ingredients that are certain to generate continued success." Gaumont president Marc duPontavice said, "I have enjoyed a long and successful relationship with Marie-Line...As an executive, she fully understands all facets of international partnerships and co-productions."

The Big Snit by Richard Condie. Could it be a full series? © Richard Condie.

NFBC Developing Its Library. The National Film Board of Canada (NFBC) has entered into a license agreement with Los Angeles-based producer Jean Madar to develop new TV series and films based on a collection of popular animated shorts from its library. Madar, a Montreal native whose background includes work with Pixibox and Medialab, will use the animated shorts as ready-made pilots for new projects. He has grouped the NFBC films into four collections: "Kids" for children's animation, "Tunes" for musical shorts, "Crazy" for more adult-oriented films, and "Insane" for late-night fare. Madar believes the NFBC collection is an untapped resource that will appeal to idea-hungry Hollywood networks searching for animation properties. Comedy Central's animated series Bob and Margaret, for instance, spawned from a short called Bob's Birthday (1995) produced at the NFBC. Lynne Williams, manager of U.S. sales and international market development for the NFBC, said, "We are delighted to be working with Jean to develop bigger audiences for this wonderful work." The NFBC, known worldwide for its vast collection of animated shorts, has experienced a resurgence of popularity in recent years. Animation channels Cartoon Network and Locomotion have been airing NFBC shorts for some time, and similar compilation programs debuted this month on Canada's all-animation channel Teletoon (the 13-part series Animania) and a New York PBS affiliate station (Leonard Maltin and His Animation Favorites From The National Film Board Of Canada).

Get `em while they're hot! Original production cels from one of NFBC's most favorite animated shorts, Richard Condie's The Big Snit are available for purchase exclusively in the Animation World Store.

Epoch Ink's character design for the "Do the Evolution" Pearl Jam video. © 1998 Todd McFarlane Entertainment, Inc.

Epoch & McFarlane Jam On Music Video. Santa Monica, California-based Epoch Ink Animation and Phoenix, Arizona-based Todd McFarlane Entertainment collaborated on a fully-animated music video for Pearl Jam's song "Do the Evolution." The four-minute video was produced in just 12 weeks with a budget of U.S. $220,000. The dark, comic-style 2D animation was produced traditionally on hand-inked cels at Epoch Ink and its partner studios Sun Min and Jireh, in Korea, under the direction of animation director Kevin Altieri and Todd McFarlane, creator of Spawn. Pearl Jam's leader Eddie Vedder decided he wanted the band's first video in seven years to be animated, and personally edited a mock-up for the video using scenes from taped episodes of Spawn. Once the job was assigned to McFarlane and Epoch, the directors had no script to work from, only Vedder's mock-up video, song lyrics, and an audio-recorded conversation between Vedder and Todd McFarlane, from which a storyboard was created. Epoch's president and creative director Joe Pearson and McFarlane executive Terry Fitzgerald co-produced. The video, which is now in heavy rotation on MTV, depicts a dark history of the world covering the "creation comet's" impact on primordial earth, the death of the dinosaurs, the ascent of man, ending with a bleak technological future and eventual destruction of the planet.

Alexander. © Samsung.

Chung Designing For Samsung. Korean company Samsung Entertainment Group is launching a new 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, the producers are Masao Maruyama and Rintaro, and the supervising director is Yoshinori Kanemori. Animation is being produced at Mad House in Japan. Screenmusic Studios in Los Angeles will handle post-production. Thirteen 30-minute episodes are planned.

Varga Charging on Don Quixote. Budapest, Hungary-based Varga Studio is working on a new, stop-motion animated special, Don Quixote de La Mancha, based on the classic novel by Miguel de Cervantes. The 30-minute program has been in development for two years, and is now being co-produced with S4C, HBO America and BBC for Spring 1999. The stop-motion materials used--metal skeletons with rubber and clay heads--were developed by studio founder Csaba Varga, who will assume the role of director for the first time since his 1993 short, Beasts.

Pokémon. © Lacey Entertainment.

Pokémon Hits The World. New York-based 4 Kids Entertainment is bringing the popular Japanese animated series Pokémon to the international market. The show started in U.S. syndication in September, and is signed to appear on Italy's MediaSet network, Australia's Channel 10, Mexico's Televisa, Canada's YTV and Brazil's Globo TV. Also known as Pocket Monsters, the cartoon caused a stir last December when hundreds of young Japanese viewers simultaneously suffered seizures while watching an episode that featured a high-contrast flash sequence, an effect known as "photosensitive epilepsy." The offending sequence has since been removed, so broadcasters can rest easy. More than 52 half-hour episodes are available.

Nelvana Greens Redwall. Nelvana Limited has greenlit production on 13 episodes of their new animated series, Redwall based on the book series by Brian Jacques. The show is about the legends of a mythical medieval abbey populated by woodland creatures. Nelvana co-CEO Michael Hirsh said, "It has all the elements of a medieval fairy tale."

BKN Starting Conspiracies.
Bohbot Kids Network (BKN) is launching the animated series Roswell Conspiracies--Aliens, Myths and Legends for a Fall 1999 U.S. debut and BKN affiliate debut in 2000. It's unusual format will be comprised of 20 one-hour episodes that can also be split into 40 half-hour episodes. With a production budget of U.S. $850,000 per episode, the show is described as Bohbot's most ambitious children's series to date. The science-fiction show, based on the concept that a NATO Alliance was formed to seek out and destroy alien trespassers, is aimed at kids aged 7-13. It will be produced with a blend of cel animation and special effects at Epoch Ink in Santa Monica, California, with the talents of Joe Pearson, Rick Ungar and Gregg Davidson.

Kids + Turns One. One year ago, CANAL + Distribution launched KIDS + to handle international sales of its more than 800 hours of children's programming. Kids + has since sold programming to Italy's Disney Channel Italy and RAI, Germany's Super RTL, Ireland's RTE, Switzerland's Television Suisse-Romande and France's France 3. Kids +'s new animation being launched at MIPCOM this year includes a feature-length version of Trouble With Sophie, as well as new episodes of Fennec and Blazing Dragons.

Cosgrove Hall Busts Out 2D Toon. Manchester, England-based animation studio Cosgrove Hall, known for its stop-motion production on series such as Brambly Hedge and The Animal Shelf, is launching production on a new, 26-part, drawn 2D animated series called Foxbusters. The show is about a group of renegade chickens that challenge the process of natural selection and try not to get eaten by foxes. David Freedman and Alan Gilbey are writing scripts. The ITV Network Centre has commissioned 11 episodes for debut in September 1999. Foxbusters will be distributed by Cosgrove's sister company, ITEL.

Energee Entertainment is reviving classic cartoons such as Clutch Cargo. Image courtesy of Energee Entertainment.

Retro Toons Get Energized. Sydney, Australia-based independent producer and distributor Energee Entertainment Pty Ltd., producers of the animated series Crocadoo, has acquired two cartoon series from the 1960s to sell to the nostalgia niche market. Clutch Cargo follows the seaplane travel adventures of Clutch and his friends Spinner and Paddlefoot, and Space Angel follows the intergalactic adventures of law enforcer Scott McCloud from the Earth Bureau of Investigation. Both are contained in half-hour episodes which can also be shown as five-minute daily strips or used as fillers. Energee has also acquired Go to Hell, a feature-length animation completed last year by Australian animators Ray and Leaf Nowland, and Mr. No, a series of 3D animation shorts without dialogue. Finally, Energee will also be selling its own productions, The Legend Of Mulan, a 45-minute special derived from the same Chinese legend on which the Disney feature is based; The Digswell Dog Show, a 13-episode half-hour cartoon about a suburban dog; Scrooge Koala's Christmas, a half-hour Christmas special and, lastly, Poetica, a series of 30 mixed-media shorts (2.5 min. each, co-produced with La Cinquieme in France) by 18 directors, illustrating narrated poems by William Blake, Lewis Caroll, Dylan Thomas, Charles Baudelaire, and others.

Salsa Sales Strong. Paris, France-based Salsa Distribution has sold several animated series to the international market. Buddy Buddy has been sold to Cartoon Network Latin America; The Animated World Faiths (S4C/Channel 4/BBC) has been sold to The Discovery Channel and Simmsala Grimm has been pre-sold to HBO, a network which also bought Salsa's animated series Shéhérazade. Salsa has also acquired the Australian animated series Skippy--Adventures in Bushtown produced by Yoram Gross, Telé Images and VIDEAL, and is introducing the live-action/animation series The Adventures of Dudley the Dragon to the Latin American market.

Little Company Making Big Deals. One-year-old Gloucester, U.K.-based The Little Entertainment Company (LEC Ltd.) has two new series, Magical Mystery Merlin and Charlie Marmalade. The company's first two animated shows have recently secured broadcast spots on BBC (Little Monsters) and ITV (Billy).

The Buddy System. © GLC Productions.

GLC Opts for Buddy System. New York-based GLC Productions is seeking partners for a computer-animated series called The Buddy System. The pilot episode, titled "The Third Ticket" portrays a couple of hockey fans at a game, one of whom, to the disappointment of his buddy, invited his girlfriend. Animation was produced on SGI machines with Alias|Wavefront's PowerAnimator and Maya software. "The Third Ticket" is also being screened as a short film at festivals such as the recent Los Angeles International Short Film Festival.

Interactive TV Gets Animated.
Copenhagen, Denmark-based Interactive Television Entertainment is launching several new interactive game shows, including two that will incorporate animation, based on the concept used for the series Hugo the TV Troll. Tush Tush will use real-time motion-capture animation to allow viewers to interact with the program via the Internet and telephone. Yo-Yo, developed with Los Angeles-based Dream Entertainment, will offer animated carnival-type games linked to video games which viewers can play simultaneously on consoles in their homes.

Fairwater Launches WWW Shorts. U.K. company Fairwater Films has a new series of animated interstitials for the international market, titled World Wide Webley. The 52 one-minute shorts depict the adventures of the title character, a spider, in cyberspace, covering such topics as electronic mail and Internet etiquette. The series was made with backing from Glamorgan University, and directed by Tony Barnes, creator of Transylvania Pet Shop. Fairwater Films is also seeking production partners for animated series in development including Toenail Folk (move over, South Park), Pubic Hare (definitely for adults) and Vegetable Hospital (soap opera satire).

Monster Animating Arcade. Dublin, Ireland-based Monster Productions, an animation studio and distribution company formed in 1995 by former management and artists from the Don Bluth studios, has acquired the rights to produce a television series based on 7th Level's video game Arcade America. Monster is also currently distributing the 13-episode animated series The Storykeepers, while seeking co-production partners for several other animated projects including an animated feature film based on Jack and the Beanstalk, a series called Kwiatkowski based on detective novels by Jurgen Banscherus, and a series called Tap End Tales, which has received development aid from Cartoon and The Irish Film Board.

Voltron: The Third Dimension. © World Events Productions.

Voltron Returns. World Events Productions is introducing a new animated series to the international market. Voltron: The Third Dimension debuted in September in over 180 U.S. markets. The 3D computer-animated show is based on the original Voltron cartoon made in the 1980s. The first 26 episodes of the new series were produced by Mike Young Productions (Prince of Atlantis) and Netter Digital Entertainment (Babylon 5).

September Nielsen Ratings. By special arrangement with Nielsen Media Research, AWN publishes the Nielsen ratings for animated programs on a monthly basis in the Animation Flash. The ratings included herein are only for U.S. national network television. The following list of animated national network programs is ranked by Household Ratings. A Rating is the percentage of households that tuned into the program. This percentage can provide us with the number of households that tuned into the program on average during the month. The universe estimate for the 1997-98 television season is 98 million TV homes. Each rating point represents one percent of that universe, or 994,000 TV households. Translation: The Simpsons, with a 6.4 rating, was viewed in just over 6 million (6.4 x 994,000) households. The below ranking is an average for the month of September 1998 (monthly cycle includes the last day in August).

Rating/Program (Network, Day, First Telecast, Time)
6.4 The Simpsons (Fox, Sunday, 9/07, 8:00 p.m.)
6.1 King of the Hill (Fox, Tuesday, 9/15, 8:00 p.m.)
5.0 King of the Hill 2 (Fox, Tuesday, 9/01, 8:30 p.m.)
4.7 King of the Hill 1 (Fox, Tuesday, 9/01, 8:00 p.m.)
4.0 Disney's One Saturday Morning special (ABC, Friday, 9/11, 8:30 p.m.)
2.5 Disney's One Saturday Morning 3 (ABC, Saturday, 9/05, 9:30 a.m.)
2.4 Disney's One Saturday Morning 4 (ABC, Saturday, 9/05, 10:00 a.m.)
2.3 Disney's One Saturday Morning 2 (ABC, Saturday, 9/05, 9:00 a.m.)
2.3 Godzilla (Fox, Saturday, 9/12, 9:00 a.m.)
1.8 Bugs Bunny and Tweety Show 1 (ABC, Saturday, 9/05, 10:30 a.m.)
1.8 Bugs Bunny and Tweety Show 2 (ABC, Saturday, 9/05, 11:00 a.m.)
1.8 Disney's One Saturday Morning 1 (ABC, Saturday, 9/05, 8:30 a.m.)
1.8 Spy Dogs (Fox, Saturday, 9/12, 10:30 a.m.)
1.7 Disney's Jungle Cubs (ABC, Saturday, 9/05, 10:30 a.m.)
1.7 Invasion America 2 (WB, Saturday, 9/19, 10:00 a.m.)
1.7 Men in Black (WB, Saturday, 9/05, 10:00 a.m.)
1.7 The New Adventures of Winnie the Pooh (ABC, Saturday, 9/05, 12:00 p.m.)
1.7 Pinky & The Brain (WB, Saturday, 9/05, 10:30 a.m.)
1.6 Mad Jack (Fox, Saturday, 9/12, 11:00 a.m.)
1.6 Men in Black special (WB, Saturday, 9/12, 9:30 a.m.)
1.6 Science Court (ABC, Saturday, 9/05, 12:30 p.m.)
1.6 Spider-Man (Fox, Monday-Friday, 8/31, 4:00 p.m.)
1.6 Spiderman (UPN, Sunday, 9/26, 10:30 a.m.)
1.6 Sylvester/Tweety special (WB, Saturday, 9/12, 10:30 a.m.)
1.5 Batman/Superman 2 (WB, Saturday, 9/12, 10:30 a.m.)
1.5 Histeria (WB, Saturday, 9/19, 11:30 a.m.)
1.5 Invasion America 1 (WB, Saturday, 9/19 9:30 a.m.)
1.5 Oggy & the Cockroaches (Fox, Saturday, 9/12, 11:30 a.m.)
1.5 Pinky & The Brain special (WB, Saturday, 9/12, 10:00 a.m.)
1.5 Pinky, Elmyra & Brain (WB, Saturday, 9/19, 10:30 a.m.)
1.5 Sylvester/Tweety Mysteries 2 (WB, Saturday, 9/05, 11:30 a.m.)
1.5 Sylvester/Tweety Mysteries (WB, Saturday, 9/05, 11:00 a.m.)
1.5 World's Finest special 2 (WB, Saturday, 9/12, 8:30 a.m.)
1.5 World's Finest special 3 (WB, Saturday, 9/12, 9:00 a.m.)
1.4 Disney's 101 Dalmatians (ABC, Saturday, 9/05, 8:00 a.m.)
1.4 Disney's Hercules (ABC, Saturday, 9/12, 8:00 a.m.)
1.4 Squigglevision (ABC, Saturday, 9/12, 12:30 p.m.)
1.4 X-Men (UPN, Sunday, 9/25, 10:00 a.m.)
1.3 Batman/Superman 2 (WB, Monday-Friday, 9/14, 4:30 p.m.)
1.3 Histeria special (WB, Saturday, 9/12 11:00 a.m.)
1.2 Batman/Superman (WB, Monday-Friday, 8/31, 4:30 p.m.)
1.2 Batman/Superman 1 (WB, Saturday, 9/05, 9:00 a.m.)
1.2 Hulk and Friends (UPN, Sunday, 9/26, 9:30 a.m.)
1.2 Spider-Man (Fox, Tuesday-Friday, 9/15, 3:00 p.m.)
1.2 Superman (WB, Saturday, 9/05, 8:30 a.m.)
1.2 Toonsylvania (Fox, Monday, 9/14, 3:30 p.m.)
1.1 Batman/Superman 1 (WB, Monday-Friday, 9/14, 4:00 p.m.)
1.1 Incredible Hulk (UPN, Sunday, 9/06, 9:30 a.m.)
1.1 World's Finest 1 (WB, Saturday, 9/12, 8:00 a.m.)
1.0 Batman/Superman Labor Day special (WB, Monday, 9/07, 4:30 p.m.)
1.0 Jumanji (UPN, Sunday, 9/06, 9:00 a.m.)
1.0 Mr. Potato Head (Fox, Saturday, 9/12, 8:00 a.m.)

AWN is interested in publishing additional ratings from cable television and ratings systems outside the U.S. To contribute information, please contact us at

Note: Readers may contact any Animation World Magazine contributor by sending an e-mail to

News Table of Contents
Table of Contents
Past Issues

About | Help | Home | | Mail | Register

Animation World Magazine | Animation World Store | The AWN Vault 
The AWN Gallery | Animation Village | Calendar of Events | Career Connections | Forums & Chats | Home

©1998 Animation World Network