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Merlin gets in touch with his canine side...
August 1, 2000

Merlin gets in touch with his canine side

U.K.-based Entertainment Rights and Buena Vista Home Entertainment are partnering on the new Magical Mystical Merlin, an upcoming preschool property by U.K.-based The Little Entertainment Company, commissioned by CITV. The 26 x 10-minute model-animated series is a creation of Little Entertainment’s Keith Littler (Casper the Friendly Ghost and Watership Down), who will also produce the US$3-million project.

Inspired by Littler’s own black lab puppy, Magical Mystical Merlin is the tale of a pup wearing a collar said to be made by Merlin of Arthurian legend. Along with Ernie the harbor master and Oscar the cat, Merlin the dog manages to get into some (mis?)adventures, due in part to a less than complete knowledge of his mysterious magical collar.

‘Some people think that in model animation, the models dominate and we sometimes forget about the sets and the background,’ says Jane Smith, managing director of Entertainment Rights. ‘But what we’ve done with Merlin is put a huge amount of detail in the set, so the cobbles are real and the vehicles will have real suspension, actually making them bounce over the cobbles.’

Magical Mystical Merlin, directed by Peter Pullon (PG Tips campaign), went into production in June and should be out for fall of next year. BVHE claims worldwide video distribution (excluding the U.S. and Japan) and Entertainment Rights, along with CITV, is Merlin’s worldwide TV and multimedia licensing and merchandising partner.

Jacques Cousteau meets Survivor

Targeting ages six to 14, Sail Away is Discovery Kids’ answer to the Swiss Family Robinson. Thirteen half-hour episodes will detail the adventures of a group of real kids who, for 10 weeks, will helm a ship, catch and cook their own food and explore a world few of them have seen before-the Caribbean.

Sail Away is produced by Sherman Oaks, California-based Two Oceans Entertainment and is slotted for delivery in June 2001.

Blackie the Cow makes complaining comeback

Blackie the Cow is convinced she would be better off if she had been born as a deer. The hypochondriac heroine of this curious, same-name series of shorts for the preschool set calls the doctor frequently with mysterious ailments (such as complaints that her milk tastes funny). The cel-animated tales, which originally aired in the `70s as part of the live-action show L’ile Aux Enfants (sort of a French-speaking Sesame Street), have been remastered and redesigned by Paris-based distribco AB International, which also added new music. AB has worldwide distribution rights to the 30 x two-minute Blackie series (with a US$15,000 per-ep budget), and France 2 and VPRO Netherlands will air the refurbished series this September.

Cone control freaks

Hong Kong-based Animation Enterprises’ new animated series Cone Control tells the story of the secret conflict between cars and traffic cones (a.k.a. pylons). The cones’ sworn purpose is to control the cars that flit about without regard for the safety of others. The cars, however, are irritated by the interference, and sparks subsequently fly. Connie and Colin Cone, the brother and sister protagonists of this off-beat cel series, speak in rhyming couplets and share the ambition to be the youngest members of the Cone Control.

The 52 x 15-minute cartoon for the six to nine demo is currently in production at AE’s in-house facilities for a budget of US$5.2 million; the first 26 episodes are slated for availability by April 2001, and the remaining 26 for June 2001. They are currently in discussions with distributors.

In Development

Greenlight taps Canadians to animate mighty morphin’ mythical creatures

Netherlands-based Greenlight International will be handling the distribution for its new 2-D cel animated TV property The Dragon and the Phoenix which will consist of four made-for-TV features, each followed by a cycle of half-hour episodes. Targeting eight- to 12-year-olds, the US$7-million budgeted series is being labeled ‘an utterly unique animation concept,’ according to Lynn Chadwick, VP of Greenlight International.

A complex combo of science-fiction and fantasy, The Dragon and the Phoenix details the adventures of Lung Jai (the Dragon, or rather a teen of half human/half dragon parentage) and Shao Wang (the Phoenix: an ancient and beautiful mythical creature who appears as both a teenage Chinese girl or any species of bird, depending on which dimension she is in). The protagonists occupy up to nine dimensions near Earth, morphing into different personas for each, all the while trying to thwart Wu Kong, the Monkey King ruler of a band of demons. Episode one should be ready this September with the rest of the series wrapped by fall 2001.

Lung Jai Enterprises of North York, Ontario and Ottawa-based Cheeky Monkey are the creative and production team

for the show.

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