ANIMATION WORLD MAGAZINE - ISSUE 4.6 - SEPTEMBER 1999
It's Show Time! The Fall TV Preview
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On the other hand, Mike, Lu & Og is a totally different creature. Mike is a sophisticated girl from New York who leaves the Big Apple for adventure on a secluded island in the middle of the vast, open seas. There she meets the quirky natives, including her new friends Lu, the self-proclaimed princess, and Og, a quiet genius who holds philosophical discussions with his talking barnyard animals. The show is created by Rugrats creative producer Chuck Swenson, commercial director Mikhail Shindel, and Russian independent animator Mikhail Aldashin. When asked about the overall tone of the show, co-creator Swenson says, "There's a bigger fantasy element than many reality-based cartoons like Pepper Ann and Rugrats." Another novel aspect of Mike, Lu & Og is the fact that the show has a continuously moving production schedule as the primary creators work out of both Moscow (Pilot Studio) and Los Angeles (Kino Film), while the final animation is done in Korea. Even more interesting is the show's production process which insures that artists are involved in the scripting stage (a rarity in TV animation if there ever was one). "First we come up with a premise at Kino Film," explains Swenson, "and then a couple page outline. This outline is sent to Pilot Studio in Moscow where the artists do a rough storyboard to help create the setting as well as come up with visual gags. Then, the final screenplay is written off of that in the States, and sent back for final storyboards in Moscow. It's not the old-time tradition of completely storyboard-driven cartoons that John Kricfalusi endorses, nor is it the limiting TV process where cartoons are entirely script-driven. It's sort of the best of both worlds."
Other Cartoon Network programming highlights include Hanson, Jerry Springer, Steven Wright and Bob Costas guesting on the new season of Space Ghost: Coast to Coast starting in October, a one-hour Dexter's Lab millennium special called "Ego Trip," and on September 24 there's the you've-got-to-see-it-to-believe-it Ranger Smith special with new cartoons featuring Yogi, Boo-Boo and the Ranger from Ren & Stimpy creator John Kricfalusi.
The comic cabler keeps it safe by continuing to air episodes of Dr. Katz, Professional Therapist, Bob and Margaret, South Park and The Tick. In January 2000, Comedy Central will start exclusively airing re-runs of Duckman, the cult animated series that stars Seinfeld's Jason Alexander (George Costanza) as a bumbling private dick who's a duck.
Fox Family Channel
Continuing their rapid expansion as the revitalized version of the Family Channel, Fox Family premieres a slew of animated programming through the fall. The network is trying to set themselves apart from other kid broadcasters like Nickelodeon and Cartoon Network by offering animated shows using a variety of animation techniques and medias, instead of just the traditional, hand-drawn 2D style. For example, Angela Anaconda (October premiere), from Pepper Ann creator Sue Rose, has an innovative cut-style using real pictures of kids, Rotten Ralph (premiered in July) uses stop-motion with 3D custom-crafted puppets staged on real sets, and Weird Ohs (October premiere) is a computer-animated series done in a squash-and-stretch style. Other animated shows on the fall schedule include Jellabies, Mega Babies, Room 402 and It's Itsy Bitsy Time!
Two new star-studded cartoon specials will appear on HBO by the end of '99. Premiering on September 14, The Sissy Duckling is a story about an ostracized chick named Elmer who likes to play make-believe instead of sports. Written by actor Harvey Fierstein, the special is narrated by Sharon Stone, and features the voices of Ed Asner, Andy Dick, Melissa Etheridge, Fierstein, Debi Mazar, Kathy Najimy, Dan Butler, Estelle Getty, and Stephen Root, along with an original song performed by Fierstein and Dionne Warwick. The other special, Goodnight Moon and Other Sleepytime Tales, debuts in December. Using animated segments, the show is a compilation of bedtime stories narrated by Natalie Cole, Billy Crystal, and Susan Sarandon, combined with songs by Tony Bennett, Patti LaBelle, Lauryn Hill and Aaron Neville.
HBO is also premiering new episodes of Happily Ever After: Fairy Tales for Every Child throughout the fall. However, the network is still undecided whether they will produce a fourth season of their acclaimed late-night animated series Spawn.
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