ER for kiddies
Hilltop Hospital, an animated medical soap opera for preschoolers, is currently in production in Europe. London, England-based EVA Entertainment is working on the US$4.1 million venture with ITV (U.K.), ZDF (Germany) and France 3 and Canal J (France). The 26 x 13-minute series is based on a children’s book by writer Nicholas Allan, and will launch in August 1999. Siriol Productions and Folimage are doing the animation work. EVA is planning to introduce the show at MIP-TV 99.
Starring animal hospital workers like Surgeon Sally and Nurse Kitty, storylines center around emergency medical cases that crop up regularly.
Boy turns blue in Monster by Mistake
Cambium Film and Video Productions and Catapult Productions began work on 26 episodes of Monster by Mistake this September, after the 3-D animated pilot won an Academy Award for technical achievement.
The kid-targeted series will be the first production out of the joint-venture animation studio in downtown Toronto that the two entities just opened. Coming in at roughly US$250,000 per episode, Monster by Mistake explores the strange circumstance that sees boy protagonist Warren turned into a seven-foot blue monster by a magic spell. The show has been licensed to Buena Vista International, and will air on all international Disney Channels.
Cambium has also teamed up with YTV, Canada’s principal youth channel, to develop a 13 x 30-minute series that’s described by creative producer Martin Minkle as Ernie and Bert on Prozac. Budgeted at US$130,000 per episode, Motiki Time follows the on-screen highs and behind-the-scenes lows of the cast and crew of a children’s show that’s number 11 in the ratings race. They’ll stop at nothing to crack the top ten, but first they have to stop fighting with each other backstage.
Also in production for a September debut on Fox Sports are two one-minute slapstick cartoon shorts designed to teach kids about baseball. Bangs & The Tank, costing US$49,000 per minute to produce, features the crazy antics of pitcher Bangs McBride and catcher Sherman Tank Wilson as they lead their hometown team to victory.
flies to Mexico
Buenos Aires, Argentina-based Telefe and TV Azteca of Mexico City have signed an agreement to produce a localized Mexican version of Telefe’s live-action family series Tiny Angels. Slated for completion by year’s end, the show will be called Chiquitas and will air on Channel 13 in Mexico.
Budgeted at roughly US$75,000 per episode, the series centers around young Milagros, whose grandfather ships her off to boarding school while telling others she is dead. Other versions of the series have aired in Argentina on Telefe Network, and in Brazil on SBT Network, where it achieved a 22% share in its 8 p.m. timeslot.
Cinar banks on ghosts and vampires
Production is underway on a new series by Cinar Films and Feature Films for Families. The Ghost of Dickens’ Past, a live-action, feature-length drama that is set on the day after Christmas in 1843, recounts a period in Dickens’ life before he wrote A Christmas Carol. The heart-warming tale has a budget of US$1.93 million. Montreal-based Cinar will handle international TV and video distribution, while Salt Lake City, Utah-based Feature Films will distribute the program in the U.S.
Cinar and Alphanim, a Paris-based children’s production company, have partnered to develop Mona the Vampire, a 26-episode, half-hour series based on books by Sonia Holleyman. The story features the adventures of a 10-year-old girl who is both an investigator and a vampire. With a budget of US$8.34 million, the show will run on YTV in Canada and Canal J in France.
Lara Croft raids the big screen
Paramount Pictures is in pre-production on Tomb Raiders after acquiring the worldwide film rights to San Francisco, California-based Eidos Interactive’s hot-selling video game property. Casting has begun for the live-action film’s beautiful computer-generated star, Lara Croft, and a script geared towards older kids and families is being drafted.
According to Eidos president Keith Boesky, the deal names Eidos CEO Charles Cornwall as executive producer, while Paramount’s Lawrence Gordon (48 Hours) and Lloyd Levin (Boogie Nights) will produce the film, which is slated for release in 1999.
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 (email@example.com)