News Briefs

- DIC brings kids to the cosmos...
January 1, 1997

- DIC brings kids to the cosmos

DIC Entertainment has signed a deal with Carl Sagan, professor of astronomy at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, to create a kids version of the astronomy series Cosmos, to be called Cosmos for Kids. Sagan will again team up with Ann Druyan, the secretary of the Federation of American Scientists, who co-wrote the original Cosmos show that launched on PBS in 1980. Other projects co-developed by Sagan and Druyan include the books Comet and Shadows of the Forgotten Ancestors and most recently, the upcoming Warner Bros. feature film Contact.

-CBS cuts kids time on Saturday mornings

Another chunk of the decreasing Saturday morning real estate for kids TV g’es by the wayside next fall when CBS cuts its kids programming block from five to three hours.

CBS will use the newly created two-hour block to launch CBS News Saturday Morning and plans to shift the focus of its remaining kids fare to educational and informational programming.

The network hopes to build on similar-themed programs airing this year, such as Beakman’s World, Bailey Kipper’s P.O.V. and Storybreak.

Earlier this year, CBS entered into a development arrangement with Children’s Television Workshop to create fun, educational shows that qualify under the guidelines set by the FCC mandate for three hours of educational programming.

The new children’s program lineup will be announced in early February.

Like other networks, CBS has experienced a sharp ratings drop-off in the Saturday morning time period. CBS ratings are down 45 percent from last year. The network currently ranks fourth in the day part, behind Fox, ABC and Kids WB.

CBS would not comment on how its most popular entertainment-driven kids shows, The Mask and Ace Ventura: Pet Detective, will be affected by the change.

-Celestin proves to be a good spirit for Julianne Productions

PARIS: When Jean-Charles Ostorero, president of the French animation company Julianne Productions, created Celestin, a 52 x two-minute educational series aimed at three- to eight-year-olds featuring a little ghost who prevents accidents in the home, he didn’t expect it to be so successful. The series-co-produced with France 3, the EEC and Canada’s Le Groupe Multimedia (which handles international distribution) and with public funds from France’s education and health ministries-has already attracted buyers from Korea, Hong Kong, Israel, Germany and Italy. At last year’s MIPCOM Junior, it ranked ninth among the most screened programs.

Based on the success of the first season, 100 new three-minute episodes are preparing for production. The new season follows the little ghost and his foolish friend Lucas through the adventures of everyday life. The series will be available for broadcast in schools and will be accompanied by an educational kit.

-Polkaroo bounces into Latin America

Polkaroo, a spotted kangaroo character from TVOntario’s Polka Dot Door, will be hopping into household television sets throughout Latin America this spring, thanks to a distribution deal between Discovery Networks International and TVOntario. In April, Discovery Kids Channel in Latin America will launch Polka Dot Shorts, a preschool series starring Polkaroo, Marigold, Bear, Humpty and Dumpty. The program consists of 89 eight-minute episodes. Another TVOntario series, Bookmice, begins airing on the channel this month.

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