Jay Mulvaney is looking for adventure as VP of programming and production at Discovery Kids. Responsible for development, production, acquisitions and scheduling of the new weekend programming, Mulvaney has double the time to fill. In April, the network expanded its programming block from three hours on Sunday to add three hours on Saturday as well. ‘Discovery Kids is small and tenacious,’ Mulvaney says. ‘It reminds me a lot of Nick in the early days.’
Mulvaney was head of development at Nick from 1988 to 1994, and he plans to put this expertise to work at Discovery Kids, where development has traditionally not been the name of the game at the documentary-based network.
Adventure is the catchword for Discovery Kids right now. ‘We think the weekend belongs to kids,’ Mulvaney says of the new Saturday and Sunday 9 a.m. to noon programming strategy. ‘Fifty-two weekends a year means 52 adventures a year.’ Outward Bound (Lancit Media, New York) and Real Kids, Real Adventures (Fireworks, Toronto) speak to this theme. The animated Doodlezoo (Coffey Ballentine/KingWorld Kids, L.A.) is the main co-production deal. It was originally a merchandising concept, and Discovery Kids now holds all licensing and merchandising rights, with books from Chronicle Books.
Otherwise, Mulvaney is on the lookout for projects with ‘kids working with animals in the wild, in a fictional setting.’ Hugo Takes a D-Tour, a project undertaken in partnership with production company Headbone in Seattle, marks the network’s foray into short-form, and Headbone’s first venture into TV-land. The series centers around a boy named Hugo who ‘has an unquenchable curiosity about life,’ Mulvaney says. For instance, ‘he wonders where the toothpaste spittle ends up when it goes down the drain.’ So wee Hugo is magically detoured down the drain, into the guts of the sub-city infrastructure and discovers precisely what happens to toothpaste goo.
Mulvaney also heads up the animation-driven preschool programming that runs commercial-free Monday to Friday from 6 a.m. to noon. Mulvaney is tight-lipped about developments there, but will say he’s ‘in the process of exploring some strategic alliances.’ firstname.lastname@example.org
Saban Entertainment gears up for NASCAR blitz
As VP of licensing, Saban Entertainment’s Sharon Markowitz will oversee the licensing and merchandising of all product categories for properties managed by the company, such as The New Addams Family series, the Power Rangers franchise and NASCAR Super Chargers. Markowitz, who was senior director of licensing at Saban, has a firm grip on the wheel of NASCAR Super Chargers, Fox Family Worldwide’s soon-to-be-released TV series. The animated show is slated for a millennial debut in February on Fox Kids. Markowitz says an enticing product line will accompany the launch. Master toy partner Hasbro has vehicles, playsets and figures still under wraps. In addition, master publisher Harper Collins will come out with a variety of readables for the road. The 13 x half-hour series, slated for a Saturday morning slot, is geared to the four to 12 crowd.
‘It takes place in the not-so-distant future,’ Markowitz explains. Four kids (three guys and one girl) form a racing team, and each episode features a different race. ‘It is not good versus evil,’ Markowitz says, ‘but rather, good versus bad.’ There is an opposing dark-side team that cheats and causes the good guys no end of trouble. ‘We see them as heroes, not superheroes,’ Markowitz says.
Pre-series, pre-product launch hoopla begins in November, with a 90-minute special on Fox Kids. ‘It will tell the beginning of the story of NASCAR Super Chargers,’ Markowitz says. At the same time, promotional activity will get underway-including plans to work with real drivers and tie in to a specific race. ‘NASCAR is the fastest growing sport in America,’ Markowitz says, ‘and we are bringing in the next generation of NASCAR racing fans.’
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