what’s developing in kids production
This regular feature keeps tabs on what’s coming up in kids production. If your company has a new show in development which has just been greenlit, pass the news on to KidScreen West Coast editor Virginia Robertson. Coordinates: Tel (323) 966-4500/ Fax (323) 852-0223 (firstname.lastname@example.org)
U.K. terrestrial broadcaster Channel 5 has commissioned U.K. kids producer Cloud 9 to produce a futuristic, 52-part teen drama which will be shot on location in New Zealand.
The series, which is called The Tribe, is Cloud 9′s first-ever domestic commission. To date, the company has been best known for classic children’s series such as The Enid Blyton Adventures, which it co-produced with Germany’s CLT-Ufa.
Budgeted at US$7.8 million, The Tribe starts shooting in the fall, with broadcast on C5 scheduled for Saturday evenings starting in Spring 1999. The new show tells the story of gangs of children who fight for survival in the wake of civilization’s collapse. C5 sees it as a radical alternative to standard teen soaps such as Neighbours and Home & Away.
Although C5 is the lead broadcaster on the project, there is a budget deficit which will be raised by Cloud 9′s distribution outfit Cumulus. There are no partners on board as of yet, but promotion of the series will begin at MIPCOM next month.
Cinar goes Sci-Fi
Cinar Films, the Montreal, Canada-based entertainment company, is partnering with KCTS TV, a PBS affiliate in Seattle, and Quest Productions of California, to produce Sci Squad.
The 13-episode, half-hour, live-action series follows the adventures of four kids as they try to solve scientific problems by using experiments, as well as Internet and field research.
With a budget of US$2.3 million, the series is being shot in Montreal and across the U.S., and production continues until mid-October. Beginning in 1999, it will run on TVOntario in Canada and during the Discovery Kids block on the U.S. Discovery Channel. Cinar also has the international distribution rights.
KCTS Seattle has produced numerous children’s programs, including Bill Nye the Science Guy. Quest Productions has produced for Sesame Street and 3-2-1 Contact.
DrugWorld looking for international user
DrugWorld, a ground-breaking animated series from 3DD Entertainment, is set to be introduced at MIPCOM next month. The U.K. company will be bringing a five-minute short that touches on the show’s theme: exploring the dangers associated with drug use.
The series’ main characters, two cats named Creamy and Meatball, and their guide Geronimo, take viewers through a surreal theme park where they try rides that are really different kinds of drugs. The show’s message is that using drugs is risky.
3DD is looking for an international partner for the 13-part series. DrugWorld is backed by a U.K. government grant, Turning Point (a charity for people with drug addictions, HIV and mental problems), as well as Levi Strauss & Co.
Blaze Entertainment dives into new ocean series
Out of the Ocean, the new children’s book by best-selling author and illustrator Debra Frasier, is set to become a television series. Florida-based Blaze Entertainment recently acquired the rights to the story, which explores the mystery of the sea.
With a budget of US$2.5 million, the live-action series, targeted to six- to 12-year-olds, will take young people on adventures spawned by objects that have washed ashore. For example, a broken piece of pottery leads to a sunken 18th century Spanish ship.
Frasier is the author and illustrator of On The Day You Were Born, which sold 700,000 copies internationally.
The Wild Ones
The Wild Ones, a new US$1.2 million co-production by HIT Entertainment and ZDF Germany, is set to be delivered by year’s end. The 26 x 30-minute series combines live-action wildlife footage with animatronic dinosaur characters. Young viewers explore wonders of the natural world with two funny characters who use a specially adapted periscope, called an ‘UmbrellaScope,’ to study animals in the wild. Barndoor Productions, based in Glocestershire, England, created the animatronic characters.
The Worst Witch
ITV has commissioned United Productions, Global Arts and Gala Films to make a big budget live-action drama series called The Worst Witch.
The 13-part series is based on Jill Murphy’s Worst Witch books, which were first published in 1974 and have sold 2 million copies in the U.K.
The series has attracted a top draw production team, including producer Angela Beeching (The Borrowers) and director Andrew Morgan (Emmy Award-winning Little Lord Fauntleroy). The series is being shot on location in the U.K. and Canada.
SPI ages up with new series
New York-based SPI has joined with France 2 and Raspail & Associés in France to produce 26 episodes of the cel-animated Children of Toromiro series. To date, one episode is complete and will be presented at MIPCOM, where the series is available for pre-sale. Budgeted at US$260,000 per episode, the story concerns four children, brothers and sisters ranging in age from seven to 15, who travel throughout the world and time searching for a magic egg. Coming from the 1900′s, they’re bewildered by the new sights and inventions they encounter. By utilizing older teen characters, producers hope to target a broad-based audience from age five up to preteens and teens.
Sandokan spearheads slate for Mondo
Rome-based MondoTV and Italian public network RAI will join with Gig toys to produce 26 animated episodes of Sandokan, an action-adventure series based on stories by the famous Italian novelist Emilio Salgari. Animation will be produced primarily in Korea, with post-production being completed mostly in Montreal. The series comes in at US$200,000 per episode, with a delivery date at the end of October. RAI will begin airing the series in November, and an as yet undisclosed French broadcaster will likely begin broadcast after Christmas. The target audience for the series is five to 14, and two strong girl characters figure prominently in an attempt to attract female viewers.
YTV game show
YTV Canada is producing a new and very messy game show. The sole game entry on the youth net, the program (aptly called Uh Oh!) launches September 14, and will run after school on Fridays, with a repeat program on Saturdays. Targeted to 11- to 14-year-olds, 39 episodes of the half-hour show combine in-studio competition with segments filmed on location across Canada. Contestants spin a wheel to take on brain-twisting questions and zany antics like obstacle courses and games. Players who land on the ‘Uh Oh!’ space get showered with slime and goo.