Seemingly cribbing a page from the EM.TV playbook, new kid on the block Peppermint has been quietly acquiring distribution rights to a couple of key programming libraries since its snazzy, green-hued launch at MIP-TV in April. The German media company has inked a deal with Vienna distributor Tele M TV-Programm for worldwide rights to The Russian State Fund of Television archive, a library that has never been aired outside of the former Soviet Union. Featuring fairytale-based kids fare like 17-minute puppet special Swine-Herd and a 4 x 20-minute Hans Christian Andersen story called Brownie Kuzia, the archive consists of 250,000 titles produced for TV in Russia from 1950 to 1992. Peppermint will initially concentrate on finding international berths for 4,000 of these offerings, 900 of which are animated.
Peppermint has also closed a deal with Germany’s ZDF Enterprises to handle distribution in Asia for 4,500 hours of programming, around 10% of which is comprised of kids series like Dandelion (13 x 27 minutes) and If Animals Could Talk (10 x 25 minutes).
Distribution isn’t the only pot into which Peppermint is dipping its fingers. The ubiquitous company is also getting into production, signing a deal with Dutch multimedia conglom Rubenstein Group to make a kids series called Molly and Friends, based on a series of cat stories and drawings by Dutch author/artist Francien van Westering. Currently in the early stages of development, the project’s format is still up in the air, but the story line will center on a cat trying to settle down in small village inhabited by some very quirky felines. Peppermint and Rubenstein have agreed to develop and produce TV spin-offs of several other children’s properties, details of which are still under wraps.
Banking on the widespread popularity of football (soccer to North American folk), Peppermint has signed to handle international distribution for a new 26 x 30-minute animated series for five- to eight-year-olds based on the official mascots of the 2002 FIFA World Cup. Produced by FIFA’s marketing and television partner ISL Worldwide (with help from mascot designer Interbrand, ad agency HHCL & Partners, and animation studio Passion Pictures), the as-yet-unnamed series went into production in May and is slated for completion by late summer 2001.