MTV Latin America is making some changes in order to give indigenous viewers what they want. Production facilities are being contracted to be built in Argentina and Mexico, and MTV will be joining live music venues like the Hard Rock Cafe in Mexico City to tape local musicians at various live shows. The channel is also planning to produce two shows in Mexico called Top 20 and Los 10 mas Pedidos (The Ten Most Asked For), which have previously been produced in Miami, Florida. A series of eight new advertisements will also be unveiled featuring new logos and graphics. MTV Latin America is also working with UNICEF and the Iberoamerican Youth Association called ‘Voces’(voices) on a series of social messages aimed at the discussion of social issues in Latin America.
Turner Broadcasting System has acquired 20% of South Korean animation channel, Tooniverse, in a deal that reportedly cost US$50 million.
Production has begun on the The Jim Henson Company’s strip-based animated series Marsupilami by Montreal’s Motion International. The Canadian prodco will contribute US$2.7 million to the US$7.5-million co-production with Paris-based Marathon. The 26 x half-hour series will be completed in early 2000. The cartoon, chronicling the life of a funny little jungle creature named Marsupilami, is based on a comic strip by Belgian artist André Franquin. So far, Marsupilami is licensed to TéléQuebec. International distribution will be handled by Motion International’s distribution division for sales of the series in Canada, Great Britain, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa. The series is aimed at kids ages six to 14.
Classic Brit preschool TV property Bill & Ben is being resuscitated for the next millennium. Bill & Ben stars two flowerpot men and their pals Weed and Slowcoach the Tortoise, all of whom sing and dance in a garden setting. The original black-and-white puppet show, which aired in the `50s and `60s, will be reinvented as a 26 x 10-minute, 2-D animated color series. Co-producers BBC Worldwide and Ben Productions (a group of private investors) have committed about US$3.2 million to the series. BBC Worldwide has worldwide distribution rights across all media.
Space Hunter, a 22 x one-hour co-pro between Toronto-based Danforth Studios and France’s Le Sabre, will begin filming in November and is set to air on Space: The Imagination Station in Canada. Budgeted at US$800,000 per episode, the series is billed as MTV in outer space, with a strong teen appeal. It centers around Dante, an ostracized bounty hunter who tours the galaxy with his crew in search of alien outlaws.
TV shows that kids can watch with their parents were honored at the Family Program Awards in Los Angeles last month. The first-annual event was spearheaded by a planning committee comprised of major advertisers including Proctor & Gamble, Johnson & Johnson, IBM and Sears, and ad agencies such as Grey, MacManus Group and McCann-Erickson. The awards show honored The Cosby Show for lifetime achievement, as well as Touched by an Angel, ABC’s TGIF block and the WB’s 7th Heaven as exemplary family-friendly programming.