New Jersey-based dingles&company, a mixed-media edutainment company that specializes in developing kids properties, has several entertainment deals in the pipeline. The properties are based on the books of president Judy Zocchi, whose flare is for dealing with serious issues and encouraging kids to be good citizens, a niche that also won dingles a gig collaborating with Unicef on a new book/spokestoon series.
New York-based itsy bitsy Entertainment Company is in the process of optioning Little Lee Lee, a preschool book by Zocchi (pen name: Molly Dingles) about a bird that sings in verse with her other animal friends, for TV series development. ‘We really loved the artwork, the characters and the lyrical way it’s written,’ says Joan Lambur, president of on-screen entertainment for television at itsy bitsy. Although the deal is in its early stages, itsy bitsy does have plans to spin out merchandise from the TV show and add a new male character. ‘We felt that it was necessary to give it some balance so that it wasn’t just a preschool girl property,’ Lambur says. ‘That really narrows down your market.’
A TV pilot based on one of Zocchi’s other books, The Conflict, has been completed, self-financed and produced by dingles, which is now seeking partners for the project. The pilot is a combination of animation and live-action segments that take place in Bosnia, and centers around two circus bears who must resolve a dilemma. The show, designed to mirror the recent Kosovo conflict, ends with live ‘a day in the life’ segment about kids who live in Bosnia, which Zocchi says ‘shows what’s unique and different about their culture, but also the commonality between kids all over the world.’
Zocchi also recently signed a five-book deal with Unicef based on the organization’s Convention of the Rights of the Child. The Convention has been ratified all over the world except in the U.S. and Somalia. Vicki Haeri, publication officer for Unicef in New York, says the plan is to pick 12 children from around the world to sit on a committee to determine what a Unicef spokestoon should represent. Zocchi will create two prototype characters, and a Web site will be created to let kids around the world vote on their favorite. The winning spokestoon will be the main character in the books, the first of which Haeri says they’re hoping to have ready by Frankfurt Book Fair.
In another book deal, CAC Industries of Freehold, New Jersey hired dingles to add a new dimension to its Funny Color Foam with Zocchi’s preschool character Lord Zip. The deal calls for Zip’s image to grace the cans of the squirtable bath soap (CAC moves about two million soap-spurting cans annually), which will come with a bath book starring ‘the hero whose muscle is in his heart and not his brawn.’ The combo Lord Zip: The Bubble Mystery book/foam ships in July, and a separate Lord Zip title will be released this fall.
Zocchi is also in early negotiations to adapt a children’s series from Sir John Templeton’s book Worldwide Laws of Life.