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HBO birthing family channel

HBO will launch its new 24-hour channel, HBO Family, in February 1999. The venture is being headed up by Sheila Nevins, senior vice president of original programming for HBO, and Dolores Morris, who left Children's Television Workshop (CTW) in June to become vice president of HBO Family [AF 6/2/98]. Nevins said, "With this new venture, HBO enters the family programming business on a full-time basis for the first time." The network's programming line-up will include several new programs, of which four are animated series aimed at pre-schoolers: "A Little Curious" is a mixed-media show that is being produced by New York-based Curious Pictures. It will feature CGI and puppet characters based on everyday objects, such as Bob the Ball, Mr. String, Doris the Door and the Shoe Family. "George and Martha" is a 2D-animated show based on James Marshall's children's books about two hippopotamuses. It will be produced by Nelvana with Maurice Sendak, author of "Where the Wild Things Are," as executive producer. Cinar Films will also deliver a 2D-animated series, "The Adventures of Paddington Bear," based on Michael Bond's classic books, and from Hit Entertainment will be "Anthony Ant," a 2D-animated story of an ant and his adventures in Antville.

In addition, several animated series which have already aired on HBO will be moved to HBO Family: Nelvana's "Pippi Longstocking," "Babar," and Cinar's "The Little Lulu Show" and "The Country Mouse and City Mouse Adventures." HBO Family will also serve as a testing ground for pilots before they air on the main HBO channel: "The Sissy Duckling" an animated musical written and produced by Harvey Fierstein, will air in June 1999 and "Goodnight Moon," a mixed-media special about bedtime stories that will include animated shorts, will debut in late 1999. Acquisitions include "Animated Epics" from S4C and "Animated Odyssey," a mini-series from Poseidon Pictures. HBO is developing other new projects, and is actively seeking partnerships with outside producers. New programs will be announced as they are confirmed.