Cartoon Europe welcomes local co-pros and pick-ups
Cartoon Network Europe, the bastion of mainstay in-house product, has opened its doors to regional co-productions and acquisitions.
Following on the heels of André de Semlyen’s appointment as Cartoon VP in charge of schedules, programming and marketing in French-speaking territories, the net has announced details of its first co-production project. Cartoon Europe has signed a deal to make a 26 x 26-minute toon series called Spaced Out with Paris-based Alphanim, Canal+, France 3 and Spain’s Cromosoma. Slated to make its debut on Canal+ in spring 2000, Spaced Out follows the adventures of an ordinary earth family that’s hurled into outer space. The series will be broadcast on Cartoon Network UK in fourth quarter 2000, and on France 3 (first window) and Cartoon Network France in 2001.
Under the new agenda, Cartoon Network Europe will more aggressively seek out European and French animation acquisitions and ads. Cartoon Network France currently airs a commerical-free slate. PP
KRO targets Sunday mornings
KRO, one of the Netherlands’ three pub-casters, is expanding its children’s block beginning September 5 to include Sunday mornings. Jan-Willem Bult, program manager of KRO’s Youth TV, says children will be able to tune in to public television an hour and a half earlier on Sundays. The new block will target the 50% of the country’s children who now tune in to private networks like KinderNet, Cartoon Network and Fox Kids from 7:30 a.m. to 9 a.m.
Scheduling has not been set, but half the block will be made up of acquisitions and the other half of in-house productions. Plans include a new animation series and a magazine show.
The new Sunday morning programming will kick off with KRO’s prechool block, Kindertijd, followed by the Alles Kits block for kids ages six to 12. Alles Kits is co-produced by KRO with AVRO and NCRV (the Netherlands’ other two public broadcasters). Jean-Loeck van Kollenburg is the buyer for the Kindertijd block, while Alles Kits has three buyers from each of its broadcasters-Monique Ruinen for AVRO, Jean-Loeck van Kollenburg for KRO and Suzanne van der Wateren for NCRV. AD
PBS goes public with high-def plans
Kids series Zoboomafoo headlines the kids programming slate for PBS’s enhanced digital television platform, launching next spring. The show is the first children’s series to emerge from the pubcaster’s collaboration with Itel Corp. to produce HDTV content, which will be delivered along with standard definition streams for the 24-hour digital platform. PBS’s digital offerings (including PBS Kids, a standard definition kids channel) are designed to ‘ride along’ with 240 Web sites currently in production
In other PBS news, a multimedia branding campaign for all kids programming has been completed by Lee Hunt Associates (LHA) in New York. Tagged PBS Kids, the moniker provides ‘one consistent brand personality’ for all PBS entertainment destinations for kids. VA
Eloise is itsy bitsy’s
After a fierce 15-week battle, The itsy bitsy Entertainment Company acquired motion picture rights to the classic Eloise book series by Kay Thompson and Hillary Knight, beating out Tom Hanks, Fox, and Columbia.
Producer Denise Di Novi will partner with TibECo to develop the property into a motion picture, and a prime-time TV series is also in the works. The company’s new theatrical and home video production division will produce the film in association with Di Novi Pictures. The deal, which includes theatrical rights, merchandising rights and any of the other ancillary rights, reportedly went for over US$3 million.
The first Eloise book was published in 1955 by Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing, and in May, it launched a new Eloise publishing program initiated by the rerelease of Eloise in Paris. AD
Canal J’s millennial makeover
France’s Canal J has announced plans for a major channel overhaul, which will kick into gear this fall. Under the new agenda, Canal J will narrow its scope by focusing on the seven to 12 demo. The French channel currently leads the field in reaching this demo, garnering a 7.2% market share.
Canal J will also add more live entertainment magazines for kids and special events to its sked, while its production and co-production strategy will remain unchanged. With a budget of US$23.5 million, the channel has launched 10 animated co-pros this year, including four exclusive series-T’Choupi, 64 Zoo Lane, Archibald the Koala and Animal Crackers.
Canal J’s decision to revamp was spurred by a poor finish in the annual AudicabSat survey this spring and increasing competition from other kids nets like Fox Kids, Disney Channel, Teletoon and Cartoon Network.
Although the French caster has pledged to maintain its existing preschool time slots, the strategy has already alienated one top exec who feels the new company mission portends a TV dearth for important demos like preschoolers and tweens. Eve Baron, a 10-year Canal J veteran who most recently served as head of programming, left the channel in May in protest of the coming changes. So far, Baron’s position has not been filled, and there is no word as to where she will go next. PP
Pearson Television announces new division
Pearson Television recently formed a new division called Pearson Television Enterprises to expand Internet and off-screen opportunities for the company’s brands and formats.
Former exec VP of Pearson Television, Catherine Mackay, will head up the new division, which she says will enable Pearson to garner licensing potential using several principal activities. These include selling programs to the Internet as a broadcast medium, interactive television development, and expansion of traditional merchandising to include such activities as e-commerce and even music publishing.
The new division will allow the company to move outside of Pearson Television’s traditional broadcaster-client business to direct-to-consumer business, Mackay says. ‘As long as you keep these kinds of activities as fringe. . . you risk under-exploiting them. You need brand champions. . . to exploit those rights and to treat them as potential,’ she says of the decision to form the new division.
Currently, Pearson is focusing on two brands in particular-Baywatch for merchandise, and Price is Right and Family Feud as on-line games through an agreement signed with Uproar.com in January. The on-line version of Family Feud will be launched in September. AD
For the record…
* Toonz Animation India opens its doors in August, but an official launch won’t take place until November. The new, full-service animation production studio will offer a range of production services for TV commercials and episodic shows. The company will also develop pilots based on Indian folklore. Cartoon Network Hong Kong is on board as its first client. The new studio is courting prodco partners in Europe and the U.S.
* Corus Entertainment is a new company spawned by Toronto-based Shaw Communications as an umbrella for its media assets, which include kidcasters YTV, Treehouse TV and 20% of Teletoon. Early plans for the off-shoot include broadcast license applications for two English-language specialty channels geared to teens-The Edge, a rock music network, and Chaos, which is billed as a young adult-oriented station. Corus will be a publicly traded company separate from Shaw.
* Nickelodeon made its first foray onto sub-Saharan airwaves, launching a six-hour, branded block on South Africa’s private kids channel K-TV in mid-June.
In other Nick news, Nickelodeon’s Worldwide Development Group announced a storyboard contest at Annecy `99 with a lavish US$15,000 production-budget prize per one- to three-minute short. Six entrants will win the Global Animation Storyboard Competition, and two of the six will be awarded cash prizes. Winners will begin production of the shorts to air in 2000.
Hearst Entertainment scores
a home run with the MLBPA
Hearst Entertainment has inked an agreement with the Major League Baseball Players Association for worldwide distribution and merchandise licensing rights to its upcoming animated/live-action series.
Set to premiere in spring 2000, the series will feature both the voices and animated likenesses of MLB players, who will interact with a recurring cast of live-action kid characters.
Although the show, to be co-produced by Hearst Entertainment and Marc Platt Productions, is still in the conceptualization stage, licensed merchandise is expected to run the gamut of categories, including apparel, accessories, candy, electronics, footwear, and gift and novelty items, says Leslie Levine, VP of Hearst Entertainment Licensing. AD