Hoping to ride the burgeoning teen programming bandwagon and fill an early fringe programming void, Film Roman is currently producing a live-action, young adult-targeted package called Max Degree TV for fall 2000 broadcast in syndication. Aimed at 12- to 34-year-olds, Max Degree will consist of two live-action series (to air daily in slots varying from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.) and one toon that will be sold into a weekend slot. Co-creators of the two live-action series, Doug Sloan and Ann Knapp determined that early fringe needed ‘a fresh alternative’ for teens, as the time period is currently dominated by game shows, talk shows and off-network sitcoms.
With a budget of US$20 million, the effects-laden, 40 x 30-minute actioner Mission Extreme stars a crew of extreme sports athletes that doubles as an undercover detective unit charged with routing out international spys. ‘Our research shows that extreme sports is the fastest growing sport genre among the teen demo,’ says Sloan, adding that the detective element of the show was added to drive the story. ‘We didn’t want to have a reality-based story as there are a lot of them out there already,’ he notes. In the series, the athletes’ sports gear will transform into James Bond-esque, dual-purpose weaponry. Very original, Moneypenny.
Sirens of the Deep also eschews a reality-based plot line in favor of fantasy, as a trio of young girl singers by day have a secret underwater life by night, when they transform into crime-fighting mermaids. Teens’ love of fable and mythology is exploited in the story line, as the mythological Sirens were creatures that lured sailors in from sea with their beautiful singing voices. The femme-powered drama is budgeted at US$500,000 for each of 40 half-hour episodes.
On the animated side, 22 x half-hour series Victor comes in at US$450,000 per episode and employs a new animation style called view-mation, which combines 3-D and 2-D with real backgrounds. Starring a boy who thinks he can communicate with aliens, Victor is being positioned as syndication’s answer to animated teen cable hits like Comedy Central’s South Park, says Film Roman’s president of TV development and domestic distribution Mark Lieber.
Film Roman is also pitching four half-hour series, with per-episode budgets ranging from US$850,000 to US$1.2 million, to various networks this month. The series quartet is aimed at 18- to 49-year-olds, although Lieber admits that ‘teens may watch them too.’ The Cabbisons, first created on the Kevin & Bean radio show in L.A., is the story of a `70s family that travels the world in a cab. Dumont’s Doublewide is billed by Lieber as an animated Married with Children, and Til the Fat Lady Sings is a Normal Lear comedy co-pro that bridges generational gaps. Rounding out the foursome is Doomsday, a Howard Stern co-pro in which a family crosses a post-apocalyptic America in a Winnebago.