Major U.S. networks have been bitten by an animation bug and have recently announced a slew of primetime animated series. ABC has worked out a deal with Miramax and Touchstone TV for six episodes of CLERKS, based on director Kevin Smiths 1994 indie film of the same name. Slated for a midseason or fall 2000 launch, the show will be executive-produced by Smith and former SEINFELD supervising producer, Dave Mandel. Like the film, the TV series, only the second ever produced by Miramax, focuses on two young slackers who keep minimum-wage jobs in New Jersey.
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CBS has renewed three NELVANA childrens series and placed 13-episode orders for three new series to debut this fall. Returning this fall for a second season are ANATOLE, FLYING RHINO JUNIOR HIGH and MYTHIC WARRIORS: GUARDIANS OF THE LEGEND. The new Nelvana series, all of which are designed to meet the FCC mandate, are BLASTER, RESCUE HEROS and THE NEW TALES FROM THE CRYPTKEEPER. The three NELVANA series that CBS cancelled are BIRDZ, FRANKLIN and DUMB BUNNIES.
Cable network FX has ordered 13 episodes of their first-ever animated comedy series, THE DICK AND PAULA CELEBRITY SPECIAL, produced by Tom Snyder Productions. The show, set to premiere in spring '99, will use a derivation of Snyder Productions' trademark computer-generated process, "SquiggleVision." The weekly half-hour series is about the behind-the-scenes goings on of a husband-and-wife talk show team (Dick and Paula). They interview contemporary stars, fictionalized characters and major historical figures.
Deborah Reber profiles three applications of motion capturetechnology that are currently in production. In "Voltron Returns...ThisTime In 3D," the television show Voltron: The Third Dimension
Batman, Bruce Timm, and animation fans finally have the glossy coffee table book they've always wanted of the caped crusader. Aaron Severson takes a look.
Batman Beyond might be just another gimmick, butTerrence Briggs has high hopes for this new action-adventure series.
"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.
1999 marks the 40th anniversary 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 presents 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.
GLC Productions, a New York-based production/post-production company, debuts 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 viewable at NATPE.
Barcelona, Spain-based animation company D'Ocon Films Productions announces 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.
Beginning in February, Kids WB! Saturday morning line-up will start airing the hit Japanese animated series, "Pokémon," a cartoon which gained infamy in late '97 when hundreds of young Japanese viewers simultaneously suffered seizures while watching an episode that featured a high-contrast flash sequence [AF 12/23/97]. While the series currently completes its first season in first-run syndication, Kids WB! will premiere twelve all new episodes of "Pokémon," which will join the series syndication package of 52 episodes for the completion of the '98-'99 season.
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.
DIC is introducing three new half-hour series at NATPE: 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 UPNs 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 Sabrinas two aunts.
Cartoon Network has announced the launch of three new animated series for the 1999 season - Courage, The Cowardly Dog, Mike, Lu & Og, and I Am Weasel. Courage is based on the 1995 Academy Award-nominated Cartoon Network short Chicken from Outer Space, created, written and directed by John R. Dilworth. Thirteen episodes, launching in November 1999, will chronicle the adventures of a timid dog as he defends his elderly owners in the small town of Nowhere from paranormal elements.
Originally intended as a direct-to-video film, Walt Disney Pictures hasannounced that "Doug's 1st Movie," based on the ABC series "Disney's Doug,"will be released to theaters on March 26 in time for the spring break andEaster holidays. Both the TV series and film are produced by New York-basedJumbo Pictures Inc., a subsidiary of Disney acquired in 1996. "Doug's 1stMovie" follows the misadventures of 12-year old Doug Funnie as he findshimself caught between saving the endangered "monster" of Lucky Duck Lake
Fox will debut the new mid-season animated sitcom, "The P.J.s," on Sunday, January 10 at 8:30 p.m. following a divisional conference football playoff game. The show will start the following Tuesday in its regular 8:30 p.m. slot following "King of the Hill." The "foamation" series was produced at Will Vinton Studios and is executive produced by comedian/actor Eddie Murphy.
Actor/comedian Eddie Murphy and Oregon-based Will Vinton Studios have teamed up to create "The PJs," the first stop-motion animation series to air in prime-time. Set in a big city housing project, the "foamation" series centers around a unique cast of characters led by building superintendent Thurgood Stubbs (voiced by Eddie Murphy). The premiere episode, "Hangin' With Mr. Super," airs Sunday, January 10, at 8:30 p.m. (ET/PT) on FOX network following "The Simpsons." The show moves to its regular day and time on Tuesday, January 12 at 8:30 p.m. (ET/PT) following "King of the Hill."
An ever-expanding animated prime-time. An increase in CGI programming. Some studios are hiring, others aren't. Some networks are riding high...others aren't. Michael Swanigan looks at 1998's television world and what it could mean for 1999.
UPN has ordered thirteen episodes of "Home Movies," a new half-hour primetime animated sitcom from Tom Snyder Productions, the producers of Comedy Central's "Dr. Katz: Professional Therapist" and ABC's Saturday morning series, "SquiggleVision" (aka "Science Court"). The series will be done in the producer's trademark production technique, "SquiggleVision" which is also used on Snyder's other shows. Tentatively scheduled to premiere in April, comedian Paula Poundstone, Brendon Small, and H.
MEDIALAB, a real-time performance animation production company, and Cine-Groupe, a production house and distributor of animation, have joined forces for the first time in a co-production deal that will see two properties, Pinocchio 3001 and Sphinx@com, developed into computer-generated animated feature films and television series. These projects will be produced over the next four years using MEDIALABs propietary performance animation techniques.
Nickelodeon made a major announcement Tuesday, December 8 regarding their 1999 lineup. 259 original episodes of returning shows, both live-action and animated, are scheduled for the 1999 TV season. The animated shows that will have new episodes are Rugrats, featuring the addition of new family member Baby Dil Pickles, Hey Arnold!, The Wild Thornberrys, CatDog, Oh Yeah!
Twenty-five-year-old Seth MacFarlane, the creator of the upcoming Fox TV primetime animated series Family Guy, has signed a five-year, multi-million dollar development deal with Twentieth Century Fox Television. Under the deal, MacFarlane will develop new programming and remain the executive producer and principal voice actor on his series Family Guy. Fox has guaranteed MacFarlane $2 million to $2.5 million for the first three years and if the show continues to air after that time, he will receive large increases the final two years.
Canadian-based CINAR Films has signed an agreement with Shanghai Animation Film Studio, a subsidiary of Shanghai TV, Chinas second largest broadcasting company, to co-produce a 52 ten-minute episode animated series called Rumble and Growl. The Chinese-developed educational series chronicles the adventures of two friends, Rumble and Growl, who are always hungry. In their quest to find food, the pair uncovers scientific wonders and never-before explained natural phenomena. This is the first-ever official Canada-China co-production for an animated series created in China.
Canada's television and cinema production and distribution group, Coscient Group, announced that their subsidiary Cactus Animation has started production on two new animated series: "Pirate Family" and "Fantomette." The animated comedies are a co-production with French company Elma Animation and have a total budget of $22 million. The series, each composed of 26 half-hour episodes, have already been pre-sold by Motion International, Coscient Group's distribution subsidiary, to a number of markets.
* Monday, October 26. San Francisco, California, U.S.A.
The Ideas in Animation series continues at Minna Street Gallery with two performances at 7:30 and 9:30 p.m. Nik Phelps and the Sprocket Ensemble, with guest musician Jana Herzen will perform live music to animated films by Meredith Root, Martha Colburn and Michael Rudnik. Admission is $10.00 general, $7.00 for students. For information and reservations call (415) 681-3189.