Not only are the RUGRATS burning up the big screen but they're also settingrecords on the small screen. A Thanksgiving-themed episode, "The Turkey WhoCame to Dinner," which aired on November 10 garnered Nickelodeon's biggestratings ever among the age 2-11 demographic. The special outperformed allcompetition, even broadcast networks, in its time period earning a 9.4/28national rating share (3.7 million viewers) among kids 2-11.
A half-hour special, THE MAKING OF THE RUGRATS MOVIE will air on November 26 at 6:00 p.m. (ET) on U.S. cable network TV Land with segments on the Rugrats voices, the unique animation style, and the star-studded soundtrack.
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.
The newest incarnation of the successful animated Batman franchise, "Batman Beyond," is set for a U.S. premiere of Saturday, January 16, 1999 at 9:30 AM on Kids WB! The show takes place in the 21st century when a mature Bruce Wayne decides it's time to train a younger Caped Crusader to keep Gotham safe. Another highly anticipated comic-turned-cartoon series, "Dilbert," is set for a U.S. premiere on UPN's prime time lineup Monday, January 25, 1999 at 8:00 PM (PT/ET).
This Saturday, November 21, at 8:00 PM (ET), THE CARTOON NETWORK will air the animated direct-to-video Batman feature released earlier this year, "Batman and Mr. Freeze: SubZero." The film, which was directed by Boyd Kirkland and written and produced by Kirkland and Randy Rogel, won an Annie Award this past Friday for Outstanding Animated Home Video Production.
Los Angeles-based Rough Draft Studios has been awarded five episodes of the animated "Baby Blues" series. Thirteen episodes of "Baby Blues" have been ordered and will air in fall '99 on the WB prime time schedule. The first eight episodes are being completed by Warner Bros. Television Animation. This recent development fuels rumors that Warner Bros. Television Animation is in the midst of cutbacks. Inside sources have said that Warners will cease production on "Histeria!" after only 52 episodes, cutting 13 previously announced half hours.
The highly anticipated animated primetime series "Dilbert" is set topremiere on UPN Monday January 25, 1999 at 8:00 PM PT/ET. "Dilbert" isbased off the popular syndicated comic strip created by Scott Adams whichdeals with the absurdities of the '90s workplace in the cubicle-confinedoffice environment that rules corporate America.
Toronto-based Nelvana has acquired the worldwide development, production,distribution and merchandise licensing rights to "Puff the Magic Dragon."Based on a classic folk song written by Peter Yarrow of the legendary folkgroup Peter, Paul & Mary and Lenny Lipton, Nelvana will produce an animated"Puff the Magic Dragon" feature length film, television series andtelevision special, as well as license all Puff merchandise. Productionwill begin on this property in late 1999 or 2000. The lyrical children's
The longest-running prime-time animated family in television history, The Simpsons, will be getting their own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in September 1999. Among the celebrities that will be inducted next year include Alex Trebek, Freddy Fender, Wesley Snipes, Jamie Lee Curtis, Dennis Franz, Samuel Jackson, James Woods, Bob Newhart, Jane Seymour and Reba McEntire. Animation World Magazine will be there to cover the ceremony.
Red Giant Television has reached a deal with Discovery International and Teletoon to produce a third season of "Splat!", the weekly half-hour TV series devoted to animation. This will bring the total number of episodes to 39 half hours. Red Giant is also in the process of creating a two hour, prime-time TV special celebrating animation. Splat! currently airs in 120 countries around the globe.
Fox Family Channels is creating two new digital cable/satellite networks, The Boyz Channel and The Girlz Channel, offering gender-specific entertainment and educational programming for 2-14 year-old boys and girls. The full-time, ad-supported services scheduled to launch sometime in 1999 will also be available as basic analog channels. Much of the programming will come from the library that Fox Kids already owns mixed in with some original productions. In the evenings, the channels' focus will target parents with programs dealing with raising and parenting children of that specific gender.
Gribouille, a CGI production company based in Europe and North America, has begun production on two new computer-animated television series. Xcalibur, designed by French artist Philippe Druillet and directed by Didier Pourcel, is being produced in association with Canal +, Ellipsanime, France 2 and Cactus Animation for a targeted late 1999 delivery. Micronauts, based on an existing line of action-figures and Marvel comics, is being produced with Abrams/Gentile Entertainment, Kaleidoscope Media Group and Annex Entertainment, and may be ready as early as fall 1999.
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.
Nickelodeon has signed a deal with Italian broadcaster Radio Televisione Italiana (RAI) to produce the first localized foreign-language version of Blues 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.
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 Tim Warburton is about an awkward 11-year-old and his best friend, a primate named Chimpy.
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.
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.
The German broadcaster RTL has purchased four Nickelodeon animated series for broadcast in its weekend morning kids programming block. Hey Arnold!, Rockos Modern Life, CatDog and Angry Beavers will be introduced to the networks program line-up over the course of the next year. The sale comes on the heels of Nickelodeons 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.
In celebration of Disneys 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 will air 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.
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.
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.
Paris, France-based Salsa Distribution has sold several animated series to the international market.
One-year-old Gloucester, U.K.-based The Little Entertainment Company (LEC Ltd.) has two new series, Magical Mystery Merlin and Charlie Marmalade. The companys first two animated shows have recently secured broadcast spots on BBC (Little Monsters) and ITV (Billy).
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|Wavefronts 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.
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.