Carrere brings multiple partners to the table
Replacing The Simpsons in Canal+’s 8 p.m. time slot this September is The Renés, an edgy prime-time toon that targets adults as well as kids ages eight and up. With a per-episode budget of US$350,000, the series stars the happy residents of Bliss Bay, a peaceful ocean-side village surrounded by the gloomy, South Park-esque outside world. The Renés is based on the graphic book Dirosa by artist Herve Di Rosa.
Also in production at Carrere is Les Jules, a stylized animated co-pro with France 2, Canal+ and Tchin Tchin. The US$9.1-million series centers around two mongrels-one spiritual, one mischievous-who share a tiny room. The 26 x 26-minute sitcom targets kids ages six to 12, and will be available in fall 2000.
According to Axel Carerre, head of production, the proliferation of new broadcast outlets, including six new cable channels in Italy, makes these kinds of multibroadcaster co-productions a strong growth category in Europe.
It’s a jungle out there for Hugo
Thirteen eight-minute episodes of Denmark-based Interactive Television Entertainment’s (ITE) motion capture series Hugo Goes Safari are shooting in Africa. The series, which targets kids ages four to eight and their parents, places Hugo and his family in mixed-media settings that combine real jungle footage with animation. Budgeted at US$35,000 to US$45,000 per ep, Hugo Goes Safari is the first Hugo TV series with no interactive elements.
Marathon goes live
Paris-based Marathon’s live-action kids slate features two multicultural, 30 x seven-minute doc series. Targeting kids ages six to 12 and budgeted at US$460,000, My Beautiful House follows children from all over the world as they guide viewers on a tour of their homes. With a budget of US$420,000, I Love Music takes a look at the world of music via kid musician hosts. Both series, slated for delivery this month, are co-productions with Canal J in Paris, Via Le Monde in Montreal and Cinephil in Israel.
Marathon retains the licensing and merchandising rights to both series, and distributes both series through Marathon International.
Tele Images forges co-pro trio
Unattractive aliens take top spot on the Tele Images slate as Butt-Ugly Martians ramps up production for a fall 2000 delivery. With a per-episode budget of US$300,000, the 26 x half-hour show is a co-creation between Paris-based Tele Images and L.A.’s Mike Young Productions, the studio behind syndie hit Voltron: The Third Dimension. Philippe Alessandri, Tele Images’ head of children’s programs, is actively seeking an English-language partner for the project. The animated series targets kids ages six to 12, and centers around a group of confused, two-foot tall martians sent to take over the earth by their emperor.
Also on the go at Tele Images is Cliff Hanger, a 26 x 26-minute animated co-pro for the six to 12 crowd with France 3 and Neurones. Liberty will be the U.S. distributor for the comedy series, which is also budgeted at US$300,000 per episode. Set to air in August, Cliff Hanger stars a ‘clumsy, hard-boiled, good-looking bloke,’ whose friends rescue him from misadventures.
Norman Normal centers around an average 13-year-old boy raised by a family of super heroes. Co-produced by Tele Images with France 2, France 3, EM TV & Merchandising AG, Magma Films Ireland and Germany’s TFC Trickompany, the 26 x half-hour toon series is also aimed at six- to 12-year-olds. A complex co-venture with two directors and three producers, Norman Normal is a bit more costly at US$350,000 per ep. The series is slated for completion this December. JL
packs a wallop for PBS
A sea-based PBS toon project called Wonder Whales is underway between Connecticut Public Television (CPTV)-the co-producers of Barney and Friends-and Montreal’s Cinar. Slated for completion in fall 2000, the 26 x 26-minute animated kids series is the brainchild of whale expert Judith Ellis, who started the franchise with a self-published adventure book series of the same name. Ellis is the founder of the Whale Museum at Sea Life Park in Hawaii.
Budgeted at US$400,000 per episode, Wonder Whales targets kids ages four to eight with an educational story line centering around four young whales who travel around the globe on a quest to protect their ocean home.
Selling a smile
Timm Thaler is the name of a 26-episode animated co-pro by Germany’s PrimeTime GmbH and CTM Concept Media & Merchandising, a subsidiary of TeleM-nchen group. With a budget of roughly US$7.2 million, the series, which is currently in prepro, is based on a tale spun by German author James Kr-ss about a boy who sold his smile to Satan. ‘We took full risk,’ says CTM GM Hans Ulrich Stoef, adding that the series was not presold, and that no broadcaster has yet signed on. Timm Thaler’s budget has been fully financed by German partners, including smaller film funds. ‘We are already working together with three sub-licensing partners that will utilize video and audio rights,’ Stoef adds, but would not mention specific company names. Stoef says the company’s intention is to expand the Timm Thaler series to a total of 52 episodes, followed by a feature film and live-action TV series.
Go ask Alice about
Kids’ curiosity about UFOs will be sparked by a three x one-hour miniseries from L.A.-based Alice International Holdings. UFOs and Aliens: The Search for the Truth will air on The Learning Channel in the U.S. in February during ‘Alien Invasion Week,’ and will then go into worldwide syndication.
Budgeted at US$1.2 million, the live-action miniseries targets kids ages six to 12 and their parents. UFOs and Aliens draws upon research from institutions such as the Jet Propulsion Lab and California Institute of Technology, as well as witnesses who claim to have had personal encounters with other-worldly beings.
Alice Entertainment Holdings’ animation slate includes Robin and the Dreamweavers, a co-production with American Dream Entertainment and Lou Scheimer Productions, both of Woodland Hills, California. The 26 x 26-minute series stars the world’s first cyberspace baby, and is budgeted at US$350,000 per episode. Also in production are 26 half hours of a history-based, live-action series called Voyage of the USS Sagacity, budgeted at US$175,000 per episode. The series is being produced by Sagacity International in Boston, and stars Mark Goddard, who reprises his commander role from the original Lost in Space series.
Old monsters battle new
A one-hour animated TV special entitled Monster Mash will give kids a giggle and a scare on Halloween night 2000, thanks to the culmination of a four-year, on-again, off-again co-production between DIC Entertainment and RAI TV in Italy. Buena Vista has North American TV rights to the spooky special, and PolyGram Video obtained home video rights when Twentieth Century Fox backed out of an earlier commitment to the movie, which is budgeted at US$2 million. The pic tells the story of a group of classic monsters who are unable to scare kids anymore and must devise a way to prevail over a new generation of monsters.
Conceived by writer/animator Guido Manuli, the original Italian project called Who’s Afraid was picked up by DIC, which then acquired the rights to the pop song ‘Monster Mash’ and changed the title of the film accordingly. Manuli’s drawings for the story were then converted into a more cartoon-ish style by DIC animators, and writer Judy Rothman Rofe was brought on to adapt the script to suit North American audiences.
In Italy, Monster Mash will air at the end of this year on RAI, and Buena Vista Television will market the film in syndication as a Halloween special targeting kids and parents.
A Spoonful of Sugar helps the medicine go down
UK indie Cloud 9 is currently in preproduction on Spoonful of Sugar, a 26 x 30-minute, family comedy-adventure that centers on a modern-day Mary Poppins character. The live-action series will enter production in July, and is set for delivery in January 2000.
Cloud 9 managing director Ray Thompson has yet to sign any broadcast deals for the project. Instead, funding is coming from Cloud 9′s distribution arm Cumulus.
The series is being filmed on location in New Zealand-where Cloud 9 has its production headquarters. Currently, the company is filming the second run of Channel 5 teen soap commission The Tribe, which debuted last month.