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ITV digs in to new Henson tot offering Construction Site...
September 1, 1999

ITV digs in to new Henson tot offering Construction Site

The U.K. division of the Jim Henson Company has been commissioned by ITV for the second time in a year-this time to produce a new Jim Henson preschool series Construction Site.

Following on the heels of Mopatop Shop, another ITV commission, the 26 x 10-minute series is currently wrapping production at Henson’s London studios, with a U.K. debut on ITV slated for later this month. With a budget of roughly US$2.5 million, the live-action/animatronic puppet series takes children into the world of a construction site and its workers, including Diggs the digger, Scooch the dump truck, Carrie the forklift and Bozer the bulldozer. Construction Site marks the first time the Henson animatronic techniques have been used for a preschool production.

The show, targeting kids ages three to 10, aims to teach children about the diversity of the world’s various races and cultures through the different machines and their ethnic characteristics.

Telescene and MTV tap hippie roots for teen and family eyeballs

Banking on the draw of retro, Montreal-based Telescene Film Group and MTV have hooked up to create Live Through This, a live-action drama centering around a 1970s rock band that regroups and goes back on tour with teenage kids in tow. Budgeted at US$650,000 per episode (with the pilot costing about US$800,000), the one-hour series will air on MTV late this year or early in 2000, although in true go-with-the-flow `70s style, the partners are still unsure how many episodes will ultimately be produced. Geared to a teen and family audience, the series will be distributed internationally and in Canada by Telescene, while MTV will hold U.S. rights.

Cedric leap into toons

Neptuno Films and Dupuis Audiovisuel, the television production arm of French comic book publisher Editions Dupuis, are joining forces to produce a new animated series called Cedric.

Based on a Dupuis comic book character, the series will be co-produced by the two companies, along with France 3, Canal J, and Belgium’s RTBF.

The 52 x 13-minute, US$6.5-million series follows the adventures of quirky kid character Cedric, who lives with his mother, father and grandfather. Aimed at kids ages eight to 12, Laurent Dumont of Dupuis says, ‘It’s a warm, nice, family program.’

The first episodes are expected to air by summer 2001 on all three partnering broadcasters, and Neptuno will sell the program directly to Spanish channels. Dupuis is now working on international distribution of the series, and expects to be the program’s European distributor.

Fox’s gifted new series

Linwood Boomer, one of the writers of 3rd Rock From the Sun, goes cerebral in his new 12 x 30-minute, prime-time series Malcolm in the Middle, currently in production and slated to wrap in November. The live-actioner stars a normal kid who, it’s dicovered, has a genius I.Q. The Einstein-in-the-making is then forced into the misfit-ridden ‘gifted’ class. Budgeted at over US$1 million per episode, the comedy series targets a family audience. Although it’s a sitcom, the single-camera show is being shot with no live audience and no laugh track, Boomer says, for the purpose of making the show more personal. The series will air Sunday nights at 7 p.m. on Fox, starting in late December or early January.

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