Cool new shows

Animal mutations from Alphanim
Starring a futuristic device that enables humans to mutate into animals at will, Paris-based Alphanim's G-Shifters hits MIPCOM this month to court potential partners. Still in early development, the sci-fi action-adventure takes place in 2099 and revolves...
October 1, 1999

Animal mutations from Alphanim

Starring a futuristic device that enables humans to mutate into animals at will, Paris-based Alphanim’s G-Shifters hits MIPCOM this month to court potential partners. Still in early development, the sci-fi action-adventure takes place in 2099 and revolves around two heroes who manage to steal the G-Shifter transmogrification device from evil Dr. Crimmins. The 26 x 26-minute series for kids ages eight to 14 will be animated in 2-D with some 3-D details. With a budget of roughly US$8 million, the show was designed by Italian comic book designer Liberatore (of Rank Xeros fame) and created by Sean Catherine Derek and Douglas Gayeton.

No partners or distributors had been signed at press time for this animated Animorph-esque premise. Alphanim is especially interested in co-producing with a toy manufacturer.

RAI brings The Goodfeathers to Rome

Rome’s RAI Trade injects a little bird culture into TV with Gone With the Wings, a 26 x 26-minute, cel-animated series based on books by Romano Scarpa. Budgeted at US$9.2 million, this English-language series is set in ‘Feathered Venice,’ the skyline version of the famous Italian water city. Ruled by plumed city leaders Doge Cirillo and Wiggy the banker, Feathered Venetians mimic their human counterparts in many key ways. Geared to the six to 12 set, Gone With the Wings will be delivered sometime in 2001.

From a Wizard of Oz prequel to Santa’s Palmpilot

misadventures, Sony Wonder’s got toons

In cahoots with Montreal-based partner Ciné-Groupe, New York’s Sony Wonder is spotlighting the 75-minute animated telefilm Lion of Oz and the Badge of Courage. Scribed by author Roger S. Baum (great-grandson of Frank L. Baum, author of the original), this musical centers around a young circus lion who finds himself in Oz. Forced to help the Wicked Witch of the East gain control of the magical Flower of Oz, the Lion manages to foil the evil hag and save the flower from her spell, but in doing so, he loses his `noive’ and becomes The Cowardly Lion. Geared to a family audience, the film features the voices of Lynn Redgrave as the Wicked Witch and Jason Priestly as The Lion. Sony subsidiary Sunbow Entertainment holds rights to international territories except Italy, Canada, France and French-speaking territories, and Germany and German-speaking territories, which are handled by Ciné-Groupe. The film, with a budget of roughly US$5 million, is skedded to air on The Disney Channel in fall 2000.

Heading into production with Paris-based Millimages, Sony Wonder gears up for the festive season with Santa’s Special Delivery, a half-hour 2-D animated holiday special launching at MIPCOM. Sunbow has rights to international territories except the U.K., France and French-speaking territories, which are handled by Millimages. Budgeted at about US$500,000, the special tells the story of a depressed Santa, down and out because kids just don’t believe in him anymore. Not technically inclined, St. Nick nearly bungles Christmas when his computerized personal organizer goes awry. He must turn to a kid computer whiz for help-a kid who happens to be the biggest Doubting Thomas of them all.

Sony Wonder is looking for co-pro partners for Little Witch, a 26 x half-hour, 2-D toon for kids ages six to 11. Budgeted at about US$300,000 per episode, Little Witch is based on a book series written by Deborah Hautzig. At the prepro stage, the tube version centers around Liddy, a good little sorceress who bucks witch tradition by always doing the right thing-like inviting kids over to her place instead of scaring them out of their wits. A completed Halloween special based on the property will air in the U.S. on Fox Family this October.

The hunt for partners is also on for How To Care For Your Monster, a 26 x half-hour, 2-D series featuring the adventures of 12-year-old Brady Plunkett’s pet vampires, werewolves and mummies. Targeting kids ages six to 11, the US$8-million series, currently in development, is based on a book written by children’s author Norman Bridwell.

Co-pro partners are also needed for Tacky the Penguin, a 26 x half-hour, 2-D animated series based on the book by Helen Lester and illustrated by Lynn Munsinger. Budgeted at US$300,000 per episode, the story, geared to ages four to eight, focuses on the odd bird out in a penguin pack. Tacky the Penguin is in development.

Meanwhile, Sunbow Entertainment brings the middle ages, aliens and a party animal to MIPCOM-all in development.

The New-York based Sony Wonder subsidiary Sunbow teams up with Toronto-based Calibre Digital Design to whoop it up with Party at Damien’s. The 26 x half-hour, 2-D animated series, with a rough budget of US$8 million, explores the intricacies of keeping a never-ending party on the go. Damien is a recent college grad who hasn’t quite figured out how to leave home, but does manage to mastermind the bash that just won’t bottom out. Presales for the series are being sought.

Sony Wonder goes back to the Dark Ages with a 26 x half-hour, 2-D animated series called Tiny Knights. Budgeted at about US$300,000 per episode, the show is aimed at kids ages six to 11 and is based on a concept by Steve Moore. Five kids cavort through medieval times, where they must contend with a high gross-out factor, including grapefruit-sized boils and open street sewers. Sony is shopping for European co-pro partners at MIPCOM.

Also at the need-another-partner stage is The Greenmans, a co-pro with Sweden’s Happy Life. Created by Magnus Carlsson, this 2-D animated, 26 x half-hour series, also budgeted at about US$300,000 per ep, is geared to ages six to 11. It follows the trail of two alien strangers who move into the suburb of Spoon Valley, but never quite fit in. Only the kid next door knows their true identity and protects the Greenmans from the trials and tribulations of unwanted earthly encounters.

Things that go b-flat in the night

Paris-based Dargaud Group and Marina Productions have just completed production on What’s Up Monsters!, a 10 x two-minute, 2-D short that centers around a troupe of singing child monsters. Created by Jorge Gabarro, the short series is intended for the six to 10 demo and is budgeted at US$31,500 per episode. Co-pro partners on What’s Up Monsters! include Spain-based Gestevision-Telecino and Selectavision, with Dargaud-Marina handling worldwide distribution.

ITEL’s just ducky

The London-based distribco and U.K. prodco Childsplay Productions have teamed up to bring Life Force, a 13 x 30-minute live-action series for the eight to 12 set, to MIPCOM `99. Budgeted at about US$3.8 million, the sci-fi-esque series is set in England in 2030, when global warming has taken an extreme toll on the environment, and four kids try to stay one step ahead of evil government agents. Special effects for the series were created by London-based Oasis Film and Television. The show made its U.K. launch on ITV in September.

ITEL courts the preschool market with Dog and Duck, a 65 x 10-minute, live-action/animatronics series by London’s United Productions that has been commissioned in the U.K. by ITV. Due for delivery in January 2000 with a budget of approximately US$2 million, it will be distributed worldwide by ITEL. The story revolves around two toys-a dog on wheels and a plush duck. The domesticated duo get up to all sorts of tricks when humans aren’t watching.

Decode gets weird with Zack

Toronto-based Decode Entertainment brings The Zack Files, a 13 x half-hour, live-action series for kids ages eight to 12, to MIPCOM for the first time this year. Based on the book series by Dan Greenburg, the show chronicles the misadventures of 12-year-old Zack Greenburg, who has a knack for finding himself in the middle of weird situations. A co-production with New York’s Lancit Media, the series is slated for a spring 2000 air date on YTV in Canada and Fox Family Channel State-side. With a budget of US$350,000 per episode, the series will be distributed internationally by Decode, with Lancit maintaining U.S. rights.

Balmur gets lost

Toronto-based Balmur Entertainment’s Hippo Tub Company is a two x 11-minute, cel-animated series set in Drainworld, where Harley the Hippo and friends operate the world’s largest lost-and-found organization. With a total budget of US$540,000, the series will target kids ages four to eight when it makes its fall 2000 debut on CBC Television in Canada. Balmur Entertainment is handling international distribution rights.

Animal footage gets art deco/3-D packaging

London’s British Movietonews is melding toons with natural history in Kids ShmooptoNews, a 13 x six-minute short series that’s currently in production. Narrated by 3-D character The Shmoop, the series is set in an art deco movie theater with archival footage of animals in every episode. Budgeted at US$250,000 per episode and produced entirely by British Movietonews, the series targets the three to 12 set.

Super granny and gizmo-laden mechanic from new Canadian prodco

Montreal-based YCT Images and Paris-based P.M.M.P. hooked up to form Montreal’s Tremblay Mounier Studio late last year. The fledgling prodco making its debut at MIPCOM brings a 2-D animated duo to market: The Invincible Mighty Granny and Joe Mechanix, both budgeted at US$8.6 million. The two series are targeted at ages four and up, with an edgier appeal for the teen crowd worked in. Mighty Granny is 26 x 11 minutes, while Joe Mechanix is a 26 x half-hour series. Both shows are in preproduction, and the company is in negotiations with public broadcasters in France and Germany, as well as a private broadcaster in the U.K. Aiming for a fall 2000 delivery, Tremblay Mounier Studio is looking for co-pro partners at MIPCOM, with distribution rights based on future partnerships still to be hammered out.

New Bombay prodco hunts for partners

for a veggie vampire show

RM-USL (Ram Mohan-United Studios Ltd.) is looking for co-pro partners for Me & Meetoo at MIPCOM, while promoting itself as a hot new Bombay-based animation studio. USL is a subsidiary of media conglom United Television. Currently in preproduction, the 26 x 11-minute 2-D animated series marks the company’s first shot at producing its own TV show. Budgeted at between US$200,000 and US$350,000 per episode and geared to the eight to 10 set, the series centers around 10-year-old boy VK and his 500-year-old vegetarian vampire buddy. The two traipse through time, making each episode a history lesson.

Millimages sets gallant porcupine loose in the `burbs

Paris-based Millimages has tapped into medieval folklore to come up with a 14-year-old porcupine on a quest. Budgeted at about US$7 million, Talis and the Thousand Tasks features a prickly young knave in the time of King Arthur’s Camelot, who is assigned 1,000 tasks by Merlin before he can become a Knight of the Round Table. Unfortunately, he accidentally rides a stunned anteater named Gumbo through the Forbidden Gates of Time and ends up in a modern-day French suburb.

Co-producers of the 52 x 13-minute series include Germany’s ZDF, Austria’s ORF and Cine Cartoon, and France’s La Cinquième and France 3. Slated for a summer 2000 delivery, the 2-D series is animated by Paris-based Novanim, devised by Jonathan Peel and designed by Sacha Bubnov. Millimages is handling international distribution.

PPM Multimedia

goes with classic lit

It’s not Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, but you get the picture: Doc Franky tries repeatedly to make a monster that will rule the world after his first attempt yields a sensitive and poetic creature named Norbert who lacks the evil mien necessary for global domination. With a budget of US$1 million, Doc Franky is a clay-animated series (13 x 6.5 minutes) in production with Spain-based Cadofice and Canal 9. Geared to kids ages five to eight, the show is slated to air on Canal 9 in September 2000. PPM Multimedia handles worldwide rights.

The Spanish prodco is also showcasing 70-minute feature Crab Island at this year’s market. Slated for broadcast in October on local Spanish broadcaster ETB, the film is a co-pro with Irusoin, a Spanish prodco based in the Basque region. PPM retains worldwide distribution rights and will begin sales at MIPCOM. Budgeted at about US$810,000, the 2-D animated film is set on a pirate ship, and the peg-legged cast lives on Crab Island, where they battle slave-traders, sing, dance and look for treasure.

Another classic tale in series development at PPM is Tales of Alhambra, based on the book by Washington Irving. It follows on the heels of the 1998 feature film Ahmed, Prince of the Alhambra. The story centers around Ahmed, who lives in the Alhambra under his father’s rule. The prince is imprisoned in a tower and then escapes to discover a whole new world. The 26 x 26-minute, 2-D animated series is in preproduction with Spain’s Lotura Films. Budgeted at US$5.1 million, the series targets ages five to 12. Broadcasters include Canal Sur and ETB, and the delivery date is set for early 2002.

Lastly, PPM is targeting the preschool crowd with BabyBoy, BabyGirl & Woof, a 26 x five-minute, 2-D animated series based on characters from the book series published by Ediciones Gaviota and created by Paco Capdevila. Budgeted at US$1.3 million, the series centers around two little kids and their mutt as they discover the world from an infant’s point of view. PPM is looking for co-production partners to share distribution for the property, and no broadcasters are lined up yet.

Sunwoo goes buggy

Seoul, Korea-based Sunwoo Entertainment’s Milo’s Bug Quest is a 26 x 22-minute 2-D animated series budgeted at US$300,000 per episode. Milo the medieval ant fights to save his insect buddies from the nasty King Mordoch. Ready to air, Milo’s Bug Quest will debut on regional broadcaster KBS in Seoul, Korea, and Fremantle is handling worldwide distribution in territories excluding the U.S. and Korea.

A scruffy fracasse from D’Ocon Films

The Barcelona-based prodco rolls out Fracasse and Scruff at this year’s MIPCOM. Both are 26 x 26-minute, 2-D animated series with respective total budgets of US$6.5 million and US$4 million.

Fracasse is a family-oriented show set in 18th century Paris. The period piece follows Captain Fracasse, theater director by day, superhero by night. The unlikely crime-fighter unravels mysteries and foils criminals in the backstreets of the City of Lights. A co-pro with Ellipse (Canal Plus), the series is set for delivery this month. D’Ocon will handle the distribution rights for Spanish- and Portuguese-speaking territories.

Scruff is geared to a younger crowd, from ages five to nine. The series’ namesake is a poor puppy who is lost by a family of tourists and spends a lonesome night all alone in the forest. He is rescued by a farm family and becomes a country dog. A co-pro with Enciclopèdia Catalana and TV3, it is scheduled to air in June 2000. D’Ocon handles worldwide distribution rights.

Harmony soups up old robot property with CGI treatment

Robotech 3000 is the 26 x half-hour millennial revamp of a 85-ep series that aired in 1985. In true Terminator style, the CGI animated co-pro between L.A.-based Harmony Gold and Netter Digital is all about man versus machine, with the good guys battling alien transformers that mutate into beastly techno-killers threatening galactic peace. Featuring new characters, worlds and vehicles, Robotech 3000 targets the six and up crowd, with a budget of US$10 million for 26 episodes. Harmony Gold has worldwide distribution rights and at press time, delivery date and broadcasters had not been finalized for the series that is in the prepro stage.

Holiday season special from Portfolio

Toronto-based Portfolio Entertainment’s Something From Nothing is premiering on Canada’s Teletoon in December, with animation by Ottawa-HQ’d Funbag Animation Studio. The 30-minute holiday special is based on a book by Phoebe Gilman and follows the lives of two families-one human and one mouse-that live in a poor 19th century Russian household. Budgeted at US$470,000, the 2-D animated special targets a family audience. On the verge of closing deals with U.S. outlets, Portfolio is also hunting for European broadcasters. A Something From Nothing Web site will launch on December 3 in conjunction with the Canadian broadcast.

Sandy Frank goes retro with New Zoo Review

The New York-based prodco is distributing 195 episodes of the 1970s kids series geared to the three to eight set. Ballet dancing Henrietta Hippo, Freddie the Frog and Charlie the Owl teach children ethics through song, along with human kid cohorts Doug and Emmy Jo. Sandy Frank will be looking for broadcasters at MIPCOM for the US$50,000 per-ep series.

The way things work with The Way Things Work

Toronto’s Canamedia Film Productions and U.K.-based Dorling Kindersley Vision are gearing up to produce the world’s first 16:9 wide-screen, live-action and 2-D animation combo. Employing blue screen chromavision technology and Jaleo compositing to mesh live action with cel animation, artwork and specially designed props, a two-and-a-half-minute test pilot of The Way Things Work will be shown at MIPCOM for the first time. The test also features an automated Web site downloading technique triggered by the pilot’s audio track. The US$4.6-million series targets nine- to 12-year-old technophobes with a premise that attempts to shed light on the workings of high-tech doo-dads. Hosted by an eccentric animated inventor and his Woolly Mammoth assistant, the series is comprised of 26 15-minute episodes that are intended to be broadcast in pairs. Presale negotiations are underway with ZDF and Kinderkanal in Germany, La Cinquieme and Canal J in France, TLC Latin America, Italy’s Mediasat, Spain’s Sogecable and Discovery Kids in the U.S. Delivery is slated for late 2000.

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