Harvey Entertainment will license its characters for the creation of short toons for the Internet, thanks to a deal with Spumco. Starting in late Q1 2000, Webisodes based on Harvey characters Spooky, Little Dot, Little Audrey and Herman & Catnip will be broadcast exclusively on Spumco’s site (www.realcartoons.com), before becoming available on the Harvey Web site (www.harvey.com) six months later. The Webtoons on Spumco’s new kids programming site, including the Harvey toons, target kids ages six to 12 and their parents.
‘We see the Internet as an opportunity for independent companies to really be broadcasters,’ says Harvey president and CEO Rick Mischel. ‘This allows us to program to our audience without having to own TV stations,’ he notes.
The idea is for the realcartoons site to work like an on-line network, with the main location serving the prime-time audience, and the kids location serving as a kids block, says Spumco VP Kevin Kolde.
Realcartoons’ Harvey toons will have a unique format. First, a two-and-a-half-minute toon segment plays, followed by a 30-second animated commercial using the same characters from the toon, plugging the advertiser that is sponsoring the shorts. Spumco founder John Kricfalusi designed the setup to hearken back to the deal model of Joe Barbera, who set up cereal company sponsorships for cartoons starting in the `50s. Toon ads will capitalize on the fact that advertisers are drawn to the family-friendly nature of the Harvey characters, Mischel notes. E-commerce on both Spumco and Harvey sites is a distinct possibility for the future, as is new merchandise tied in to the cartoons, which Harvey and Spumco will co-create and co-market.
Asked why this specific list of characters was chosen for the site, Mischel says Kricfalusi is a long-time Harvey fan and selected his personal favorites. ‘Those four characters hadn’t been exploited in the past 10 years,’ adds Mischel. Spumco’s original site (www.spumco.com) launched in September 1997 with one of the first episodic animated series on the Internet, The Goddam George Liquor Program. The realcartoons site just launched this year and is still partially under construction.
Kolde also recently announced the Fox pick-up of two Spumco cel-animated half hours, Fox Family acquisition The Heart Aches,
targeting girls with adventures surrounding a girl band, and Fox Kids’ The Ripping Friends, which targets boys. The show is about a group of genius ‘manly men’ who go around foiling criminals in a futuristic city called RIPCOT (Really Impressive Prototype City of next Tuesday). The Heart Aches is budgeted at US$300,000 per episode, while The Ripping Friends is set for US$400,000 per episode, and both 26-ep series are expected to air in September 2000.