Monster Rancher corrals gaming success into TV
Following in the footsteps of Pokémon, Tokyo’s TMS-Kyokuichi Corporation, one of the world’s largest animation companies, will develop a series based on a successful interactive game for Sony’s PlayStation. Entitled Monster Rancher, the 26 x half-hour digitally animated series is budgeted at around US$400,000 per episode.
Monster Rancher stars Genki, a little boy who is transported to a virtual universe full of monsters while playing an interactive CD-ROM game. He and new friend Holly, a girl with supernatural powers, explore the new world and meet some of its monster inhabitants.
PBS production picks
Growing pains and mental health take to the tube in two new series for public broadcaster PBS. Funded primarily by San Francisco, California-based Independent Television Service (ITVS), the US$700,000 budgeted American Girls explores the difficulties of growing up female in today’s America. After the two x 60-minute miniseries airs in the fall, ITVS plans to develop an outreach campaign for teenage girls via its Community Connections project.
Slated to launch in the fall of 2000 is Willoughby’s Wonders, a 13 x 30-minute live-action series for kids ages six to 11 and their families, which deals with childhood mental health problems. Co-produced by WGBH and the Judge Baker Institute in Boston, the US$7-million series features actors Joe Morgan and Margo Martindale in its pilot episode.
Forefront and Kudos cast spell
Forefront Entertainment Group in Vancouver and London-based Kudos Productions are co-producing The Magician’s House, a live-action series (six half hours) for the six to 11 set and their keepers. Based on the children’s book series of the same name by author William Corlett and published by Random House, the program features three children who discover strange secrets hidden in a mysterious old mansion, and must help a good magician from losing the mansion to his rebellious apprentice. Corlett is also writing the TV series, which is budgeted at US$3.2 million. The Magician’s House will be ready for delivery in October, and is set to air on CTV in Canada and the BBC in the U.K. in November and December. Forefront Releasing will distribute the series internationally, while Kudos is handling the U.K.