Cartoon Network announced its programming line-up for 2008 at the New York upfronts, held Thursday.
On the heels of February's announcement that STAR WARS: THE CLONE WARS will come to Cartoon Network as a series in the fall, George Lucas, the creator and steward of the STAR WARS brand, attended the Upfront event to provide additional details on this highly anticipated offering.
Building on the unprecedented success of last fall's live-action movie BEN 10: RACE AGAINST TIME -- the highest-rated telecast in Cartoon Network history -- and the standout new series CHOWDER, the network announced a two-pronged, 360-degree programming strategy that speaks to its success in developing and acquiring first-rate brands.
This approach incorporates a Sunday night movie franchise, two new nights of original programming, the launch of The Cartoonstitute -- an unprecedented, swift development program for animated pilots -- and a continued commitment to healthy living through its "Get Animated" initiative.
Mirroring the network's effort to diversify its on-air offerings with live-action originals as well as more sophisticated dramatic and adventure programming, Cartoon Network will develop content in two primary tracks: fantasy/adventure and comedy.
STAR WARS: THE CLONE WARS will anchor this strategy with fantasy/adventure on Friday nights, the network announced, along with the new animated action series from Warner Bros. Animation, BATMAN: THE BRAVE AND THE BOLD; BEN 10: ALIEN FORCE; and the previously announced THE SECRET SATURDAYS, which will premiere with 26 episodes in the fall.
Cartoon Network announced today that it is also developing a sequel to the record-breaking original live-action movie BEN 10: RACE AGAINST TIME.
Cartoon Network has designated Thursday nights as the new destination for comedy. Anchored by its new animated hit CHOWDER, which the network announced today has been picked up for a second season, Thursdays will also feature existing laughers FOSTER'S HOME FOR IMAGINARY FRIENDS, CAMP LAZLO and GEORGE OF THE JUNGLE and offer a platform for new series launches including this summer's THE MARVELOUS MISADVENTURES OF FLAPJACK.
"These are just the first steps in the evolution of a programming strategy that will lay the groundwork for highlighting all of our strengths moving forward," said chief content officer, Rob Sorcher. "We now have great tentpoles to launch these new nights and a platform to showcase established and up-and-coming talent."
Sunday nights will be the destination for Cartoon Network's new movie franchise (as yet unnamed). Launching in June, the network will showcase a must-see movie each week, including the world television premieres of much-loved films such as ANT BULLY, HOODWINKED, MONSTER HOUSE and OPEN SEASON, as well as Cartoon Network firsts like KICKING AND SCREAMING and CHEAPER BY THE DOZEN.
The Cartoonstitute will continue Cartoon Network's long-standing tradition of developing innovative and original animated content. The initiative will endeavor to create up to 150 pieces of programming over a period of 20 months.
A veritable think tank for animators, the program will be artist-led and spearheaded by executive producer Craig McCracken (THE POWERPUFF GIRLS, FOSTER'S HOME FOR IMAGINARY FRIENDS) and supervising producer Rob Renzetti (MY LIFE AS A TEENAGE ROBOT, DEXTER'S LABORATORY).
Furthermore, The Cartoonstitute will create an in-house, all-star team of artists, directors, storyboarders and writers to generate content across a number of platforms. The program will broaden Cartoon Network's proud tradition of shepherding successful animated programs from pilot to series.
Cartoon Network continues to prioritize its vision to help kids lead healthier lives through its comprehensive "Get Animated" initiative. As part of this campaign, the Network announced this morning it will again be partnering with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to take their public education campaign "Spot The Block" to the next level.
Introducing an all-new 2008 expanded edition of the online and on-air promotion to launch Monday, April 7, "Spot The Block" stresses to kids the importance of regularly finding and reading the nutrition labels on packaged food and drinks and using them to make healthy choices.
New creative elements targeted to kids, tweens (ages 9-13) and families include an original rap song, a customized online game, multiple desktop character downloadables and brand new streaming videos that serve to encourage young people to use the Nutrition Facts Label on food packages to make healthier food choices.
"Spot The Block" also will be featured in Cartoon Network's "Get Animated" interactive U.S. tour, which will present a giant puzzle game challenge for kids as well as updated take-home information for parents.
The fully refreshed and redesigned Website, www.spottheblock.com, will work in tandem with new "Spot The Block" customized public education on-air spots to be featured regularly on Cartoon Network throughout 2008.
The fully animated spots showcase characters from popular original programs like the Emmy-winning FOSTER'S HOME FOR IMAGINARY FRIENDS, CAMP LAZLO, CHOWDER and THE GRIM ADVENTURES OF BILLY & MANDY, and were created to promote good nutrition, portion control and a healthy eating lifestyle.
The "Spot The Block" project is a first-of-its-kind partnership between Cartoon Network and the FDA and was originally introduced on Feb. 14, 2007.
"Our goal with 'Spot The Block' from the beginning was to build gradually on our campaign messages so that kids have time to develop a consistent habit of properly reading and understanding nutrition labels on the food they enjoy," explained Janice Hamilton, President of JMH Education, the agency that created the program on behalf of the FDA.
"Naturally, we want the program to be entertaining as well as informative, so we're delighted that Cartoon Network has created new videos, a new game and a new colorful format for the Web site that will engage kids as they learn about such issues as calorie count, serving sizes and portion control."
"We're extremely honored to continue as the FDA's media partner for communicating these important nutrition messages to kids and families," said Alice Cahn, Cartoon Network vice president of social responsibility. "For several years now, our mission through our 'Get Animated' outreach programs is to teach and inspire kids to get healthy, get active and get involved. 'Spot The Block' gives kids and parents the information they need to make good choices about what they eat and how much of it they should enjoy at any given time. And using our most popular characters to deliver the message helps make it fun and personal."
During its 2007 introductory year, "Spot The Block" stressed the importance to kids of regularly finding and reading the nutrition labels on packaged food and drinks, and taking note of listed serving sizes, as food packaging often contains multiple servings.
This year's extended "Spot The Block" messages include "Size Up the Calorie Count," which encourages kids to investigate the following: What is the serving size? How many servings are in the container? And how many calories are in a single serving? The program presents the following benchmarks: 40 calories per serving is low, 100 calories per serving is moderate, and 400 calories per serving is high.
An additional 2008 message is "See What's In It for You," designed to help kids get the most nutrition from the calories they eat, which will help with healthy weight management. A checklist kids should start using as they consider their food choices includes looking for the percentage daily value listed beside each nutrient to determine if a food is high or low.
As a guideline, 5 percent daily value or less is consider low while 20 percent daily value or more is high. Kids also will be encouraged to limit food high in certain fats, cholesterol and sodium that may have a negative impact on optimum health, and inspired to select foods that provide enough of desired nutrients including potassium, fiber, vitamins A and C, iron and calcium that they need to reach their health goals.
A major highlight of the 2008 SPOT THE BLOCK campaign is an original downloadable nutrition-focused song, "Dishin' the Nutrition." Kids can drop the song into their iPods or MP3 players and print the lyrics so that they can sing along at any time.
Another new feature to the Website is a series of eight favorite Cartoon Network characters with "Spot The Block" messages that can be downloaded as colorful computer wallpaper. Later this spring, the site will introduce an additional new online game that will both entertain and challenge kids to keep lessons from "Spot The Block" top of mind.
Cartoon Network will produce and run two new animated public education on-air spots this year to complement the two original spots created last year. The first new spot, CALORIES! YO!, includes a rhythmic, tuneful song performed by favorite Cartoon Network original characters that stresses the first key message, "Size Up the Calorie Count." The second new spot, NUTRIENTS! YO!, features an animated song and dance number to inspire kids to "See What's In It for You."
The online destination for "Spot The Block," www.spottheblock.com, will offer all 2008 campaign elements and many from 2007, allowing kids the opportunity to engage with the FDA's key messaging, play the interactive games, and to interact with the tools that enable them to better understand the Nutrition Facts Label on their favorite foods.