Timmy is a moron
Mark Simon, co-founder of Aargh! Animation, set off last November to start another animated venture called A&S Animation in Orlando, Florida. Right out of the gates, the toonco started production on a 13 x one-minute short series called Timmy’s Lessons in Nature. Budgeted at US$38,500 per episode, the comedic offering is tagged the following way: ‘See Timmy saddle a moose. Watch Timmy pet a porcupine. Timmy is a moron.’ The property is co-owned with California-based House of Blaze Productions, and while there weren’t any TV rights secured at press time, Simon says that there is some European interest in Timmy, in addition to a theatrical and video deal finalized at the end of February with California’s Spike & Mike. Five eps of Timmy (slated for completion early this summer) will air in select U.S. theaters in Spike & Mike’s Sick & Twisted festival of animation in June, with subsequent details regarding the video element pending at press time.
An interesting aspect of Simon’s strategy with Timmy is that the shorts are also being used as an integral promotional tool for a half-hour series in development called The Troop. Like the stand-ups before each episode of Seinfeld, says Simon, Timmy will serve as a teaser and lead into each Troop ep.
Living like a king
Ireland’s Monster Animation has come to MIP-TV armed with a book-based series called The King’s Story. Development is complete on the 26 x 11-minute Flash-animated show that targets six- to 12-year-olds, and RTE has committed to air the series on the home front. Some additional funding for production comes in the form of a loan from the Irish Film Board, and the series’ per-episode budget is around US$60,000.
Producer Gerard O’Rourke admits the demo is broad, but says that he doesn’t want to settle on something too narrow. ‘Younger kids will really enjoy the visual humor,’ he explains, ‘whereas the gags and story line will entertain kids eight to 12.’
King Nicholas is the king of Sandonia, a small contemporary country (they have cars, computers, etc.) that has been ruled by the Royal Family as far back as recorded history. But a corrupt mayor forces the King to declare bankruptcy and abdicate the throne. The extremely sheltered and none-too-bright former monarch makes unsuccessful stabs at living a normal life, and his 10-year-old granddaughter Clara is left to protect him as best she can.
Production started in early March, with initial international interest coming from the BBC and casters in France. ‘I’m not expecting anyone to have their cheque-book waiting at MIP,’ says O’Rourke, ‘but we will have the first ep ready to give them at the end of April.’ O’Rourke is also taking the property to Annecy in June.
Ireland’s Island of Inis Cool
Another Irish offering at MIP-TV is The Island of Inis Cool, a co-pro between McCamley Entertainment and TerraGlyph. The 26 x 13-minute series is a 2-D/3-D animated comedy in development, targeting kids ages five to 12 and their families.
The original series is set off the coast of Ireland and features Biff, Boff and Ben O’Malley, three schoolboys who are a little different from their classmates. The trio is huge, due in part to the fact that they are over 20 years old. They are a little slow, to put it nicely (I think), and when they hear that their school is scheduled to close down, they want to save their alma mater. Even though they’re trying to help, disaster ensues, and the rest of the islanders are left to clean up the mess.
The premise concentrates on small island life; in fact, notes David McCamley, Inis Cool could be an island off the coast of Canada or Finland. The hooks are the community elements and the slapstick antics of the O’Malley brothers.
The series mixes 2-D model sets and 3-D computer animation, lending a clay animation/stop-motion effect, but at a traditional 2-D animation budget (approximately US$250,000 to US$300,000 per episode).
McCamley hails from Disney’s feature animation studio in the U.S., where he was supervisor of digital backgrounds, working on projects like The Lion King, Pocahontas and The Hunchback of Notre Dame.
Saban International says Grace
Saban has 26 half hours of State of Grace in production for a June 2001 State-side debut on Fox Family Channel. The live-action dramedy for 11- to 14-year-olds follows a retrospective Wonder Years model, as a journalist remembers her younger years, her conservative family and her best friend Grace McKee. Like The Wonder Years, there is off-screen adult narration (voiced by Academy Award-winner Frances McDormand from Fargo) bridging the gap between girlhood and womanhood.
The series was created for TV by Brenda Lilly (Honey I Shrunk the Kids, the series) and Hollis Rich (Grace Under Fire). Budgeted between US$550,000 to US$600,000 per ep, State of Grace was produced by Stan Rogow Productions (What’s Lizzie Thinking) and is at MIP-TV looking for international sales.
A night at the space opera
RTV is taking a stab at sci-fi with Malo Corrigan, a co-pro with France-based Futurikon and Canada’s Tooncan. The original series is a 2-D/3-D mix animated by Futurikon, and its look should capture the hearts of an anime and video game aficionados. Twenty-six half hours are in the script-writing phase, with plans to go into production soon for first episode delivery at NATPE 2002.
The series is set in the very distant future, when after centuries of intergalactic strife, more than 200 planets agree to form a confederation. But due to the new realm’s expanse, space transit has become an invaluable industry, one controlled by the Consortium. Profit now rules, breeding a rebel band of space truckers called Tracers. The bravest and the best of them is Malo Corrigan, captain of the Starduke. He always wants to make a buck, but he’s got a soft spot for people in trouble.
The US$7-million series is being touted as the revival of space opera (like Battlestar Galactica or, more recently, Lexx). Futurikon handles distribution for France and French-speaking territories worldwide, Africa, the Middle East, Japan and North America. RTV has rights to the rest of the world. So far, Super RTL in Germany and France 3 have committed to the series.