Flying in to MIPCOM this month is PorchLight Entertainment’s Jay Jay the Jet Plane, a 52 x 11-minute preschool series that will make its North American debut on The Learning Channel November 2. Based on a series of videos distributed by Dallas-based WonderWings Entertainment, Jay Jay’s primary international selling point is the ease with which it can be localized for different territories. Using real-time performance animation, background plates, textless elements and blue-screened actors, broadcasters will be able to weave indigenous props like flowers and foods, as well as local mannerisms and speech patterns, into the fabric of the show.
Budgeted at US$200,000 per episode, the series centers around the adventures of Jay Jay and friends as they interact with live characters such as Brenda Blue, the airplane mechanic, and storylines cover fun kid activities like hide-and-seek games.
Hamilton Projects is the series’ exclusive North American licensing agent. PorchLight will be licensing the international merchandising rights at MIPCOM.
In the spirit of forging new global partnerships, the world’s first Canadian/Danish co-production is set for its first screening at MIPCOM. Budgeted at US$3.3 million, St. Bear’s Dolls Hospital is a 52 x 15-minute series by Montreal’s Norma Denys and Scandinavia’s Egmont Imagination. The idea for the show was spawned by kids’ fascination with dolls and playing doctor. St. Bear’s Dolls Hospital features more than 40 puppets representing characters from around the world.
Kids toy fave Mr. Potato Head is hitting MIPCOM touting his new show, appropriately entitled The Mr. Potato Head Show. The 13 x 30-minute series (with a budget of US$300,000 per episode) by Film Roman in association with Hasbro follows the spud, who is the producer, star and director of his own TV show. The problem is, he can’t decide what he wants, and, as a result, the show is never the same from week to week. Joined by his best friend and sidekick Baloney, Mr. Potato Head stars in an adventure series, then a spy thriller and, the next week, a Wagnerian opera.
This fall, The Addams Family moved in with Fox Family. The ghoulish Gomez clan is back, and Fox has committed US$35 million for 65 half-hour episodes. The original series aired in the 1960s.
Saban International will also premiere Addams Family Reunion at MIPCOM. The full-length feature film, distributed in the U.S. by Warner Home Video, introduces audiences to the Addams’ supposed relatives, who are cheery, blonde and conservative. The series and the film are distributed worldwide by Saban International.
Think Nintendo by satellite. Tush Tush, the newest series by Interactive Television Entertainment of Copenhagen, Denmark, brings technology and entertainment together. With a budget of US$1.75 million for four completed, 25-minute episodes, the fast-paced game show is designed to air daily on weekdays, and allows its viewers to compete with each other via the Internet or the telephone. Each show contains several games featuring a funny computer-animated character called Mr. Wannabe who finds trouble on his extraordinary adventures. The target audience of 10- to 16-year-old cyberkids will also be able to make video requests, use a chat room and access interesting Internet links.
Odds are The Number Crew, a new series from Channel Four Schools of London, can count on getting the attention of buyers at MIPCOM. It will at least earn points for originality. Distributed by Channel Four Learning, this mathematical soap opera for four- to six-year-olds features the adventures of ex-rock star Mirabelle, her partner Ted and their four adopted children. They and 20 animal passengers travel by sea in an old cruise ship while trying to make sense of the world by solving mathematical problems.
Budgeted at US$250,000 per hour, the 30 x 10-minute 3-D series uses claymation to teach preschoolers about numbers and combines animation with computer graphics, as well as location shooting of ‘numbers in the real world.’
The Big Bug Show from Tel Aviv, Israel-based Noga Communications is a 13-episode, half-hour series designed for four- to 10-year-olds. It sports a budget of US$1.3 million and stars an ensemble cast of insects created by the Puppet Factory in Bristol, England. The shows are made of two- to three-minute segments that can also be used as interstitials. Noga, which is also the owner and operator of two cable services in Israel, will handle distribution in North and South America. Tel Aviv-based Cinephil is overlooking worldwide distribution.
The program has already launched in Israel, and Noga plans to swarm the market with licensed products in the coming year.
Animal Comedy TV is best described as a cross between a bloopers show and a wildlife documentary. With a budget of US$125,000 per episode, this first comedy production by Studio City, California-based GRB Entertainment uses unstaged footage of animals to spoof TV shows, movies and commercials. Original segments, such as ‘Know your Human,’ and voice-over dialogue created by an improv comedy team add to the show’s humor. The target audience is families or anyone who enjoys seeing a fish wearing a gas mask.
Since there is no human host, the animal dialogue can be easily dubbed into any language. The 13 x 30-minute program begins airing on Discovery’s Animal Planet channel this month.
The success of the series Gogs has propelled its hapless prehistoric stars from their lost valley in Wales to movie stardom. A new 26-minute version starring the claymation family is being produced by Aaagh!Animation just in time for MIPCOM.
The original 13 x five-minute series, directed by Welsh animators Michael Mort and Deiniol Morris, developed a cult following on BBC2 in the U.K. and won a 1998 Prix Jeunesse International Award and Best Children’s Series prize in the British Animation Awards 1998.
Budgeted at US$1.3 million, the longer version was shot over 35 weeks and follows the Gogs as they search for a place to live after their cave is destroyed by an earthquake. Along the way, the cavepeople narrowly escape a Gog-eating Tyrannosaurus rex and engage in a spectacular aerial battle with pygmy-piloted pterodactyls that takes plasticine to new heights. The movie was produced for S4C and the BBC in association with Warner Vision International, and will be distributed by S4C.