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Special Report: NATPE – What’s old is new again: A trend, or simply respite?

They say there is no going back, but a large number of producers seem to be trying - Hanna-Barbera with Jonny Quest, Cinar with Little Lulu and Film Roman with Felix the Cat, for example. Whether it can be chalked up...
January 1, 1996

They say there is no going back, but a large number of producers seem to be trying – Hanna-Barbera with Jonny Quest, Cinar with Little Lulu and Film Roman with Felix the Cat, for example. Whether it can be chalked up to tweaking the nostalgic nerves of the baby boom parents or a serious lack of new ideas, new incarnations of old shows seem to be happening with greater frequency. Is it the start of a trend or simply a respite until the creative juices start flowing again?

Dan DiDio, Executive Director of Children’s Entertainment, ABC

‘We ran George of the Jungle for eight weeks. It’s hysterical but the kids didn’t grab onto it. It was one of our lowest rated shows, even though we promoted it as much as any of our other shows. . . . Kids’ level of sophistication is so much greater than it was in the sixties and seventies when those shows were originally made.’

Peter Schmid, Saban Entertainment

‘It’s very difficult to come up with a new idea season after season, and when you’re in my age group and you kind of remember Felix the Cat and you kind of remember X Men it’s easier to get a marketing handle on it because you were exposed to it as a kid. But the shows definitely have to be updated. Today’s kids are smart. I realize they probably don’t remember Felix the Cat but all they have to hear from their parents is, ‘I saw this when I was a kid,’ and it’s not cool anymore. It’s got to be made specifically for them.’

Russ Barry, Turner Program Services

‘I think if there is equity in a show, then yes, it makes sense to try to capitalize on that. Jonny Quest is a Hanna-Barbera show that will be released in ’96 on cable. Ultimately, we will probably get involved. But the decision was made that it was a character and a series that had strong enough recognition that rather than design something new we could exploit what was already there . . . and just update it and make it more contemporary.’

Norma Denys, Desclez Productions

‘There’s an awful lot of nostalgia. At the moment shows change every six months, so nobody can get attached to any particular one. The tendency is to go back to old shows because you know them and they mean something and you are attached to them.’

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