California-based Curious Pictures has been busy this year with both old and new properties. Sheep in the Big City (Curious’ first prime-time series) just hit the U.S. airwaves in November on The Cartoon Network, which has picked up a second round of 13 half hours for next season. Next on the livestock front is The Unpettables, a project being produced with Hungary-based Varga Group. The new 2-D series targets six- to 14-year-olds and is budgeted at approximately US$3.9 million. Twenty-six x 11 minutes are being produced, although according to Richard Winkler, principal and executive producer of Curious Pictures, there weren’t any broadcasters committed to the series at press time. The main characters are outcasts of the pet world-less-than-cute, nutty-looking creatures. Lucky for them, they love living in the pet shop. On the other hand, it’s not so much fun when the owner’s son spends most of his day scheming about how to get rid of them.
Another new project in the pipe is Hot Rod Bugs, which is being developed in association with TVA International in Montreal. Louis Fournier, president of the youth and animation unit at TVA, plans to pitch the CGI property (budgeted between US$325,000 and US$425,000 per half hour) worldwide in the hopes of starting production mid-2001 for a fall delivery in 2002. Winkler calls HRB a high-energy, action-adventure comedy with ‘massive merchandising spin-off’ potential. The bugs are ‘a tight-knit group of fuel-injected pests’ who race around the dust basin of the Southwest, ‘refusing to let anything get in their high-speed pursuit of fun.’
Buzz at MIPCOM, according to Winkler, grew around Henry Sharp and the Meteor Mites. It targets seven- to 14-year-olds, and 26 half hours are being developed to be pitched this month. Winkler feels that this one also has good toy potential. Henry is an unlikely hero, but he has been chosen from ‘billions of varied life forms’ to help the comical Meteor Mites save the universe.
Avenue Amy, budgeted at US$15,000 per minute, is a series for teens and adults that has been expanded from its original five-minute length to 11 minutes in an effort to format it for half hours. It’s 3-D animation layered over live action, and it will start airing on Oxygen-a cable and web channel in the U.S.-during its show X-Chromosome in spring 2001 (a 10:30 p.m. to 11 p.m. slot). The show details the social life of a young, single woman living in New York. She’s not the girl-next-door type, and her ‘unapologetically lewd commentary’ sees us through her dates and other unfortunate experiences.
Curious, known for commercials and now TV, is also dabbling in toys. Its Virtual Movie Studio is similar to the Lego Studios Steven Spielberg MovieMaker Set (see KidScreen’s October Campaign Spotlight, page 70). It comes with a fold-out set, action figures and a small digital camera (around three inches tall) that sits on a moveable dolly. The camera plugs into a TV or VCR and can be hooked up to a PC for editing. The VMS has been on the market since September and retails for around US$200 on Amazon.com and in Zany Brainy and Store of Knowledge stores in the U.S.