Future of the tube

Decode's new pulp-based teen project...
March 1, 2000

Decode’s new pulp-based teen project

Toronto’s Decode Entertainment and Heroic Film Company have hooked up co-produce a `zine-centric live-action series called Our Hero for a fall debut on Canada’s CBC. The13 x half-hour teen comedy centers around Kale Stiglic, a 16-year-old extrovert who photocopies her diary and sends it out to friends and a few magazines-just for fun. One of the magazines reviews her journal and bills it as recommended reading, so Kale goes into full-time production on her `zine, Our Hero, courtesy of the photocopier at her part-time job. Each episode plays like an issue of the `zine and includes regular features like The Ethan Show, all about her brother’s annoying habits. Decode is on the lookout for other casters, and is handling worldwide distribution rights for the series.

No grown-ups allowed: CBC greenlights a teens-only soap for fall

Also launching on CBC’s fall sked is Edgemont Road, a 13 x half-hour teen soap co-pro by Vancouver-based Water Street Pictures and Omni Film. Set in a Vancouver `burb, Edgemont adheres to a strict ‘no adults’ policy, centering instead around the foibles of an angst-ridden bunch of teens under the age of 18. The show’s budget is less than a typical half-hour drama series, running at under US$2.1 million in total. Vancouver’s Forefront holds distribution rights to the soap and is looking to expand its broadcast reach beyond Canadian borders. To that end, the distribco recently sold the series to RTL in the Netherlands.

MTV puts statutory rape and music execs under the microscope

MTV’s Original Movie Division has gone into production on a risqué new made-for-TV flick about statutory rape. Jailbait, which will air on the music net in Q2 2000, revolves around a high school football star and his 16-year-old girlfriend. He is accused of statutory rape after turning 19 and refusing to end the sexual relationship with his sweetheart. The film, reportedly budgeted at between US$3 million and US$3.5 million, explores the media frenzy that ensues and examines issues of privacy and consent. A co-production with L.A.-based Once Upon a Time Films, Jailbait is the second of 11 tube pics that the MTV division has planned. The first, called 2Gether, aired on February 21 and spoofed the music industry by following the behind-the-scenes exploits of a useless music mogul as he tries to launch the latest greatest boy band.

Film Roman’s latest looks at toxic waste and trying to fit in

The L.A.-based studio of The Simpsons fame is hard at work on a new dysfunctional family toon called The Oblongs. Based on characters in Angus Oblong’s book Creepy Susie and Thirteen other Tragic Tales for Troubled Children, this 13 x half-hour prime-time series paints a twisted tale about a weird family living in a toxic wasteland nestled deep inside an industrial valley. ‘It’s about a family, the Oblongs, who are physically and emotionally warped,’ explains creator Angus Oblong. The unfortunate valley-dwellers look enviously to their sophisticated and better-off neighbors who live on top of the hill. Destined for a fall debut on The WB, the 2-D animated show is distributed globally by Warner Bros.

The WB takes a preemptive strike against new-season barrage with Young Americans

In an effort to give its newest teen drama series a headstart before the glut of new shows in the fall, The WB will start airing a Columbia TriStar/Mandalay TV co-pro called Young Americans in July.

Fox used the same strategy to gain a ratings foothold with Beverly Hills, 90210, and The WB is banking on a similar payoff for this eight x one-hour series that’s set in a private boys school in New England-that just happens to have a girls school conveniently located nearby. In a bid to tweak teen interest in the pre-seasoner, the net will plant a Young Americans character on the last two or three episodes of this season’s Dawson’s Creek run. Steven Antin, co-executive producer and creator of Young Americans, says the tie-in with Dawson’s is intended as a cross-promotion for both shows. This show-launching strategy was also cribbed from Fox’s playbook; the pilot episode of Melrose Place featured a 90210 character prominently.

Coca-Cola has also signed up to sponsor Young Americans-a move that makes sense given that the soft drink giant experiences peak sales during the summer months.

New young teen series from 4Kids skates on extreme sports trend

New York’s 4Kids Entertainment is hunting for broadcasters to air its latest young teen-targeted series The Adventures of Flamehead. The 13 x half-hour toon stars Flamehead, a hip newcomer to the planned community of Sutter’s Pier. Flamehead uses his extreme sport skills to make friends with the locals, and the neighborhood crew is soon entrenched in a perpetual contest to see who can pull off the coolest tricks with their roller blades, BMX bikes and skateboards. Now in preproduction, the cel-animated series is slated for a September delivery.

Cosgrove Hall serves up the end of the world: toon style

Manchester-based Cosgrove Hall is teaming up with Canada’s YTV to co-produce Mungie, a combo CGI and drawn model animated series for teens and adults that tracks the adventures of the flop-eared Mungie and his green-hued, acid-tongued cat Stein, both of whom live in Pumfry Village. With a rough budget of US$300,000 per episode, the 13 x 10-minute series is in development for a 2001 delivery, and Cosgrove Hall is also translating the concept into a special with the BBC. ‘Each episode starts with a small incident that eventually threatens world peace,’ explains distributor ITEL’s head of programming Oliver Ellis. In one episode, for example, Stein throws a dinky car down a trap door that leads to the center of the universe. The car hits the ‘off’ button, and mayhem ensues.

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