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Carlton cooks up Grizzly Tales...
May 1, 1999

Carlton cooks up Grizzly Tales

Kid couch potatoes are baked into cheese and onion crisps, incessant blatherers are stitched up as ventriloquists’ dummies, and moaning minnies are minced into spaghetti when they don’t eat their food. This is the world of Grizzly Tales, a new animated series aimed at the six to eight set from London-based Carl-ton Television. Based on three successful collections of modern morality tales for kids by British author Jamie Rix, the series is budgeted at US$3.3 million and features narrator Nigel Planer as a sinister

3-D puppet who introduces each tale. Honeycomb Animation of Devon, England and Elephant Productions of the Isle of Mann are co-producing, with ITV set to air the series starting in January 2000. Carlton is handling distribution, and will offer the series in both 26 x 10-minute and 13 x 25-minute formats.

Desperately seeking polar bears

U.K.-based Telemagination has been commissioned to make a half-hour special for the ITV Network called The Last Polar Bears. The special, which is lined up for Christmas 2000, is budgeted at around US$800,000. Based on an illustrated book by Harry Horse, the show follows Grandfather and his dog Roo as they travel to the North Pole to look for a happy polar bear. The project has been presold to German pubcaster ZDF, and Carlton International picked up the remainder of the international rights and presented the project in storyboard form at MIP-TV last month.

Telemagination has acquired the rights to two other Harry Horse projects, The Last Gold Diggers and The Last Cowboys, with a view to animating these as well, pending response to The Last Polar Bears.

Ethelbert the Tiger hunts for info

The BBC has commissioned Link Entertainment to produce 26 five-minute episodes of the cel-animated preschool series Ethelbert the Tiger for a September 2000 delivery. Ethelbert, which is a US$1.3-million co-production with France’s Millimages, is based on a series of books by Rosemary Hoyland. In each episode, the tiger cub asks a wise, old friend questions, and fantasy adventures ensue in their pursuit of answers.

Link is handling international distribution outside of France (to be handled by Millimages), and is responsible for all licensing of the series.

Zenith taps books and T-shirts

Zenith Entertainment in London is at work on The Ghost Hunter for the BBC. The six x half-hour, live-action series for kids ages eight to 11 is based on a book by Ivan Jones. The modern-day tale stars a 12-year-old boy and a same-age Victorian ghost who is trying to avoid being captured by a ghost hunter. Budgeted between US$260,000 and US$325,000, the series will be delivered by the end of this year.

Also on Zenith’s development slate is The Mennyons, a 13 x half-hour co-production with London-based Optomen Television starring a family of life-sized rag dolls. Based on Sylvia Waugh’s five-novel series of the same name, the live-action series is also budgeted in the US$260,000 to US$325,000 range, and will be delivered in September 2000.

Zenith is also working on a cel-animated ITEL co-pro called Bang on the Door for the six to nine set. Based on a character-driven licensing and merchandising property that has graced greeting cards and T-shirts, the series will be helped by animation house AKA Azazz and character creator Bang on the Door, both HQ’d in London. With a budget of US$11,000 per minute, the show is slated for delivery by late 2000 or early 2001.

BBC Scotland’s high-tech toy tale

Multi Media Arts (MMA), an indie producer based in Liverpool, England, has teamed up with BBC Scotland to develop a 13 x 30-minute series called Toy Patrol, which combines live action with CGI. The show is currently being presented to the international market by the BBC Rights Agency and is penciled into future BBC 1 schedules. Toy Patrol begins when brilliant nanotechnologist Professor Bob Stone is kidnapped by an in-sane cybergangster and his henchmen. The plot follows the efforts of Stone’s teenage son, who uses his father’s technology to build a miniature task force of high-tech soldiers in order to save his dad-and the world-from the evil Kane. Currently, MMA has a promo tape which received an initial burst of global interest at MIP last month. Toy Patrol’s budget is in the region of US$280,000 per episode.

Fox picks up cyberfeature

Imagination in Motion, a four-year-old, Brussels, Belgium-based computer animation company that specializes in commercials and video games, signed its first feature film deal. Twentieth Century Fox optioned Raptoms, an original CG concept for kids ages six and up that features computer game characters that break into the real word when they are threatened by digital villains. Rudy Verbeeck, president of Imagination in Motion, estimates the budget at US$30 million. Fox has commissioned Steve Oedekerk to write the film’s script.

Imagination in Motion is also in development on a TV series for kids ages eight to 12, primarily boys. Night Knight tells the story of a clumsy knight who attempts to see his love, Lady Lazy, but is thwarted by her mother. Slated for completion in 2000, the 26 x half-hour series is budgeted at US$350,000 per episode.

CITV serves up critters

Children’s ITV commissioned a preschool series called Sunnyside Up! from two U.K.-based indie production companies: The Foundation and Look Lively TV. The 13 x 10-minute, live-action series, which is budgeted at around US$25,000 to US$30,000 per episode, tells the story of three children who build a magical treehouse, where they play out a series of adventures involving animals like parrots, Shetland ponies, snakes and hornbills. Each week, they are visited by two adults: madcap inventor Bob-the-Job and storytelling zookeeper Molly.

Series producer Vanessa Hill delivered Sunnyside Up! to CITV this month. She is now going back into the studio to commence a second series of CITV animal magazine show Brilliant Creatures.

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