Monkey Man and O’Brien, Nexus and a Jackie Chan series are the three latest kiddie offerings that Sony Pictures Family Entertainment-based executive producer Jeff Kline has in development, with all three shows currently awaiting network greenlight.
At press time, Monkey Man and O’Brien and Nexus, both cel-animated concepts geared to six- to 12-year-olds, were pending pick-up at Fox Kids Network. Hailing from the Dark Horse comic book family, both properties are part of a growing trend at Sony of looking to comic books to spawn TV series ideas.
MM&O’B is a comedy/action-adventure series that centers on the antics of a young woman (O’Brien) who, when following up on experiments by her father, is blasted by energy from another dimension, causing both her growth to hulk-like proportions and the creation of a super-intelligent gorilla. The two become a team and the show tracks their adventures.
The Nexus story line centers on a mythic character who patrols the universe, receiving telepathic messages guiding him to the ‘bad guys’. It’s a constant conundrum because, while his new instincts are consistently accurate, he has no idea where these messages come from or why he has been chosen to undertake these missions. While MM&O’B’s color scheme is brighter and is expected to attract a slightly younger set, Nexus more closely resembles its comic book roots, being darker and skewing a little older. In both cases, the creators of the comics have been involved in the development of the scripts every step of the way. ‘We got involved with these properties because we liked the comics–it would be silly to veer too far away from that,’ explains Kline.
The Jackie Chan series, in development at the Kids’ WB!, involves a group of figures who team up with a 12-year-old girl and Jackie Chan–who is an archeologist/adventurer who regularly ends up on the trail of a series of dangerous artifacts. The story lines allow the animated Jackie Chan to showcase his impressive martial arts moves, and will also incorporate live-action wrap-arounds featuring Chan.
The wraps will likely take the form of one- to two-minute bumpers involving the real Jackie Chan, who will be doing anything from demonstrating a martial arts move, to relating a particular story line from the show to his own life experiences.
According to Kline, Chan has been an integral part of the series’ development and jokes that ‘if Warner doesn’t pick up the series [we'll] send him over there to kick their asses!’
Other children’s shows produced by Kline include Men in Black (awaiting word on a fourth season pick-up at Kids’ WB!), Dragon Tales and Big Guy and Rusty the Boy Robot, yet another Dark Horse property produced by SPFE that’s facing an uncertain future at present. ‘We are sort of waiting to see what happens over at Fox with Rusty. We weren’t thrilled with our time slot, and it got pulled for November sweeps–currently the powers that be at Fox are talking to our powers that be,’ says Kline.
Marvel comic properties in development at Columbia Pictures are Dr. Strange: Master of the Mystic Arts and Spider-Man.