Hi-5 for edu-music show
Billed as a combination of Spice Girls-esque musical performances and Sesame Street educational content, the series Hi-5, from Aussie producers Kids Like Us, has been ordered by Australia’s Nine Network, to air some time next year. The series was produced for US$20,000 to US$30,000 per episode, with 45 episodes intially ordered.
Hi-5, which highlights the talents of five young Australian performers who dance and perform The Wiggles-type music, targets the under-eight set. Acquisition of the property was spurred by findings of kid experts commissioned by the network that proved kids learn most from shows which incorporate movement and song.
AB’s secret agent
AB Productions, the Paris-based company known on the international scene for series such as Kangoo and SOS Croco, has a new animated action-adventure project entitled Chris Colorado. The US$7.6-million, 26 x 26-minute series, aimed at the 10 to 14 set, mixes 2-D and 3-D animation to explore the adventures of secret agent Chris Colorado, who has been charged by the Grand Commander to save the Earth and keep peace.
Initiated by director Thibault Chatel, the show will be produced in AB’s animation studio, Animage. Chris Colorado has received interest fom Canal+, TF1 and France 3 in France, as well as ZDF and Premiere in Germany.
Montreal-based Prisma Productions (The Big Garage, Anna Banana, Kitty Cats) has concluded presales to Fox Family Channel in the U.S., ITV in the U.K. and CBC and French-track netcaster Radio-Canada in Canada to finance production on 26 half-hours of the family adventure series Back to Sherwood. The first 13 half-hours are currently shooting, with another 13 slated for next summer, says Prisma president and series executive producer Claude Godbout. The per episode budget is US$326,000.
A retelling of the classic Robin Hood saga, but with a twist, the Robin in Back to Sherwood is actually ‘Robyn,’ a 16-year-old girl. Godbout says the Back to the Future concept, from merchandising company Winklemania of London, is ‘about a young girl who is an ancestor of Robin Hood, and through magic, finds herself [in late 12th century] Sherwood Forest.’ Set in both the present day and Medieval times, the storyline has Robyn and her band of Young Outlaws fighting injustice as they try to rescue her famous forebearers from the clutches of an evil sorceress.
stalks screen success
From the depths of the Palombian jungle, a character-driven, animated co-production by Paris-based Marathon Productions, Marsu Productions, France 3 and Canal J is slated to hit the tube by the end of 1999. With a total budget of US$7.5 million, Marsupilami is a 26 x 30-minute series for ages six to 14 that’s based on cartoon strip characters created by Franquin. The Marsupilami is a hybrid creature that leaves the safety of his jungle habitat to discover human beings as he roams the modern world.
Alliance Atlantis Communications and L.A.-based Tribune Entertainment are set to launch Beastmaster: The Legend Continues in the fall of 1999. Based on the Beastmaster movie franchise, the 52 x one-hour action-adventure show targets boys ages six to 11 and follows the journey of telepathic hero Dar the Beastmaster in a world of ‘barbarism, magic and lusty adventure.’ The series is budgeted at US$500,000 to US$700,000 per episode.
Alliance Atlantis will represent the series worldwide and Tribune will hold all U.S. distribution rights. Tribune has already sold the series to the Tribune Broadcasting station group, which represents 18 major markets and an initial 36% U.S. clearance level.
Adventurous animations join Southern Star stable
Two animated series for kids ages eight to 12 from Australia’s Southern Star run the adventure gamut-from the high seas to the corner store.
A popular syndicated Australian comic strip character jumps off the printed page with the US$5-million, 26 x 30-minute series Ginger Meggs. The series features the adventures of mischievous, 10-year-old red-head Meggs and his gang, as they battle sworn enemy Tiger Kelly. Ravensburger Film + TV is co-producing and distributing the series, which was animated by South Freemantle-based ICA Productions. Southern Star is also handling
distribution, with Australia’s Seven Network committed to broadcast the series following its mid-1999 delivery date.
Budgeted at US$2.8 million, The Adventures of Sam follows 14-year-old orphan boy Sam as he searches for his older brother. In 13 x 24 minutes (also available as three telemovies), the series introduces kids to Captain Billy Branscombe, his fearless young daughter Bridie, a gifted Magpie named Swoop, pirates, headhunters and the Celestial Kingdom of China. Animated and distributed by Southern Star and co-produced with the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC), the series will air on ABC-TV in early 1999. Disney UK has also picked up the series for broadcast.