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what’s developing in kids production

The London-based production house is courting the eight to 12 set with three offerings. The Young Chieftain, a co-pro with the Disney Channel, is a 90-minute feature currently in preproduction and slated for broadcast on ITV over the holiday 2000 season....
January 1, 2000

The London-based production house is courting the eight to 12 set with three offerings. The Young Chieftain, a co-pro with the Disney Channel, is a 90-minute feature currently in preproduction and slated for broadcast on ITV over the holiday 2000 season. The US$3.5-million movie stars Jamie, an African-American boy from California who is into the usual-girls and hanging with his buddies-until he discovers that he is the head of a Scottish clan. Anne Brogan, head of children’s international live action at Granada, says, ‘life often has a habit of kicking you where it hurts when you least expect it. And Jamie has one big kick coming his way.’ Granada holds worldwide distribution rights, with the exception of the U.S.

The Brit prodco is also in preproduction on another show for ages eight to 12. Rabbit in a Hole is a 26 x half-hour puppet-based comedy budgeted at US$150,000 per episode. Rabbit and his best friend Terrapin, a widower with three bunnies, try to evade their new neighbors-the wolves. Brogan says that Granada is in the process of negotiating a Canadian co-pro deal for the show, which has been commissioned for a 2001 delivery by both ITV in the U.K. and YTV in Canada. But what’s different about yet another rabbit series? ‘Don’t expect stories of cute bunnies in a peaceful countryside,’ says Brogan. ‘It’s not so much `love thy neighbor’ as `flame-grill thy neighbor and swallow him whole.” Ouch.

Budgeted at US$345,000 per episode, Strange Tales is a 26 x half-hour co-pro with Nickelodeon UK that’s currently in development for a 2001 delivery. The series comprises a set of stories featuring Spencer, who is always trying to right the chaos around him in Weirdsville, where magic, aliens, ghosts, curses and custard pies abound. As to what’s so exponentially weird about Weirdsville-’The custard fights back.’

Worldwide distribution rights for both series are dependent on co-production deals currently in negotiation.

Cinar is seeing double

Twins is ‘an odd couple’ series concept for small kids with a little something for grown-ups thrown in, says Cassandra Schafhausen, VP of animation, production and development at Cinar. A co-pro with Flextech, the 26 x 10-minute show is in production at the Cinar Animation studios in Montreal. Commissioning broadcasters gearing up to air the series this fall are ITV in the U.K. and Canada’s YTV. Cinar shares distribution with Flextech, which handles the British and German territories.

The stars of the show are five-year-old twins Nelly and Lil. Lil is blond, neat and likes fluffy bunnies and being good. Nelly has dark hair, plays in the mud, and likes snakes and causing trouble. The series is based on the HarperCollins book by writer and illustrator John Wallace, who is also part of the series’ creative team. The budget for Twins is approximately US$3.7 million.

Upstairs Downstairs Bears is another Cinar creation commissioned by ITV for delivery in November 2000. A co-production with Scottish Television and Denmark’s Egmont Imagination, the 26 x 10-minute series also carries a price tag of US$3.7 million. Based on books by Carol Lawson, Upstairs Downstairs Bears uses stop-motion rendering to tell the story of two Edwardian ursine families, the upstairs bears and the downstairs bears. The preschool show, which is currently in production, will emphasize the importance of sharing, and Cinar, Scottish Television and Egmont share distribution.

Cinar is also co-producing The Baskervilles with France’s Alphanim. The 26 x half-hour, 2-D animated series is scheduled for delivery to Canada’s Teletoon in February 2000, and ITV in the U.K. and France 2 are also on-board as broadcasters. Budgeted at about US$8.1 million, the series centers around the Baskerville family, which go head-to-head against baddie Big Nick Lucifer III, leader of The Underworld. Targeting the five to 12 set, the series is currently in post-production and will be distributed by Cinar and Alphanim.

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