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Medabot: Techno Robot Battle Adventures...
April 1, 2001

Medabot: Techno Robot Battle Adventures

Producer/Distributor: Nelvana has acquired the worldwide distribution and merchandising rights for this Japanese anime series, produced by NAS/Kodansha in association with TV Tokyo.

Premise: Technology is paramount in the year 2122 A.D., and the world is run by high-performance, artificially-intelligent robots called Medabots. Each one is sustained by super-powered pieces of hardware called medallions, which give the Medabots a character-specific superpower. The series features over 375 robots that come in a wide array of shapes and colors. How fast can you say collectible craze?

The series is based on Medarot, a Japanese concept that was spun into a comic book in ’97 (by Imagineer and Natsume), followed by video games and collectible trading cards. An animated series aired in Japan in 1999 on the TV Tokyo Broadcasting Network, and between 1997 and December 2000, the property’s toy line sold over four million units in Japan. Nelvana holds worldwide distribution and merchandising rights (excluding Italy and Asia). This is the second property Nelvana has acquired from Kodansha, the first being Cardcaptors, which began airing on Kids’ WB! last June and on Teletoon last fall.

Status: In production

Demo: Six to 12

Style: High-end 2-D animation

Format: 50 half hours

Budget: Around US$350,000 per ep

Delivery: All eps available for sale at MIP-TV


Producer: Mainframe Entertainment

Broadcasters: No broadcasters at press time, although there were interested U.S. and Canadian parties.

Premise: A Mainframe original, Battlesnakes is an action-adventure project similar in concept to Beastwars. ‘It has all the charm of its name,’ jokes Mainframe’s senior VP of creative affairs Dan Didio.

In the year 2191, the Earth has become a biotechnological paradise where humanity lives in harmony with the environment. Humans have colonized Mars where, due to the harsh conditions, settlers use giant snakes-enhanced bio-vehicles-to travel. Each snake possesses its own unique personality and near-human mind.

Life is good. Humanity is at peace. Consequently, everyone is unprepared when Mars and Earth are invaded by a hostile alien squadron. The remaining colonists and their Battlesnake companions are humanity’s only hope. Young hero Zachary Hunter has seen his friends and family die on Mars, so he decides to join the Freedom Movement on Earth to help get rid of the alien scourge.

Status: In development

Demo: Boys six to 11

Style: This is the first time Mainframe has developed one of its own properties as a live-action/CGI mix. ‘We’re having some fun with this one,’ says Didio. ‘It’s ambitious for us-that’s why we’re starting early.’

Format: 13 half hours

Budget: US$375,000 to US$425,000 per ep

Delivery: Didio would like to have it ready for September 2002

Bounty Hamster

Producers/Distributor: Produced in the U.K. by Graham Ralph’s Silverfox Films and Peafur Productions. Worldwide distribution handled by London-based Winchester TV.

Broadcaster: ITV

Premise: Around three years ago, Graham Ralph came up with an idea for a series about a chicken that is tired of laying eggs. The fed-up fowl goes to a placement agency to look for something new, but the only opening is for a bounty hunter position.

Because Ralph had a couple of other projects on his plate, he decided to share the creative effort with Alan Gilbey and David Freedman of Peafur Productions. Just prior, Ralph ruminated on the upcoming Chicken Run, immediately thinking ‘too many chickens out there.’ So with the help of Gilbey and Freedman, he came up with Marion, a Joe Pesci-esque (at least Goodfellas Pesci-esque) bounty hamster with ‘bad things come in small packages’ as his calling card.

Ralph describes Marion as a combination between Daffy Duck and the Tazmanian Devil-a character kids can relate to because they also lose their tempers and get flustered sometimes. There are now a full seven writers on the project, says Ralph, which will feed the very gag-led and snappy story line.

Status: Preproduction began in January 2001. A year and a half ago, when Nigel Pickard was still at ITV, he saw the trailer and snapped the property up.

Demo: Seven to 12

Style: 2-D/3-D CGI mix

Format: 26 x 11 minutes

Budget: US$3.6 million

Delivery: Airing on ITV in fall 2002


Producer/Distributor: The series will be produced by Toronto-based Portfolio Entertainment, which maintains North American distribution; Germany’s RTV Family Entertainment will handle the remaining worldwide rights.

Broadcaster: Canada’s Teletoon (tentatively for fall 2001)

Premise: One of two roach brothers is captured by a science lab. For reasons unknown, scientists have been collecting roaches like our hapless hero and implanting them with devices to control their every move. One brother must save the other, but unfortunately not before the scientific devices have been implanted. During the daring escape, a meltdown occurs, causing an electrical chain reaction that creates RoboRoach. . . a highly-enhanced, super-powerful roach.

RoboRoach is written in part by J.D. Smith (creative producer and story editor for the series), whose credits include the Emmy Award-winning animated series Beetlejuice for ABC. Andy Knight (co-creator of Ned’s Newt), creative director of Toronto-based Red Rover Studios, is responsible for character design. Knight’s clients include Disney, DreamWorks, Film Roman, Nick and Cartoon Net.

Status: In production

Demo: Kids and tweens

Style: 2-D animation

Format: 26 half hours

Budget: Approximately

US$450,000 per ep

Delivery: Hopeful fall 2001


Producers/Distributors: DIC Entertainment and Montecito, California-based The Montecito Picture Company (founded by Ivan Reitman and former Universal chairman Tom Pollock), with DreamWorks and Columbia Pictures.

Broadcasters: M6 in France and Fox Kids for North America

Premise: Following on the heels of a DreamWorks/Columbia Pictures film being released this summer, animated series Evolution takes off from where the live-action pic ends. For both movie and TV series, a meteor has hit the Earth, carrying with it microorganisms that rapidly evolve into dangerous. . . beings. Ë la Ghostbusters or Men in Black, the protagonists (David Duchovny, Orlando Jones and Julianne Moore in the movie) must wipe out the extraterrestrial menace. In the flick, the heroes save the day (sorry to ruin the ending for you), but the series explores the possibility that some of the organisms survive.

Status: In production

Demo: Seven to 12

Style: High-end 2-D animation

Format: 26 half hours

Budget: US$275,000 to US$320,000 per ep

Delivery: Airing on Fox Kids in fall 2001

Wilf the Witch’s Dog

Producers/Distributors: Co-produced by Edinburgh, Scotland’s Skryptonite, Germany’s RTV, Hong Kong-based Jade Animation, Australia’s Cine Cartoon and Red Kite Productions in the U.K. Jade will take care of distribution in Asia (excluding Australia and New Zealand), and RTV is selling worldwide except in the U.K. and Austria.

Broadcaster: Germany-based ORF (part of the ARD group) has committed to air the series, with an anticipated spring 2002 ready-date.

Premise: The series is based on a best-selling book series called The Witch’s Dog by Frank Rodgers. Four titles-The Witch’s Dog, The Witch’s Dog and the School of Spells, The Witch’s Dog and the Magic Cake and The Witch’s Dog and the Crystal Ball-are currently available, with publisher Puffin pushing two more out the door shortly.

Breaking with the black-cat-as-familiar sorcery stereotype, Wilf is the world’s first witch’s dog. His owner, Weenie, is a novice just starting the magic-learning process. Wilf picks up the hocus-pocus by proxy, at the same time protecting his owner from Sly Cat and Tricky Toad, the nasty pets of two lazy and gossipy witches who are jealous of Wilf and Weenie’s success.

Status: Production began last month, and Skryptonite is looking for presales

Demo: Preschool

Style: 2-D animation

Format: 26 x 10 minutes, or 13 half hours

Budget: Roughly US$250,000 per ep

Delivery: Hopeful March/April 2002

Being Eve

Producer/Distributor: New Zealand-based South Pacific Pictures, with London-based Fireworks International handling worldwide distribution

Broadcasters: At press time, Nickelodeon Australia and TV3 New Zealand had committed to the series.

Premise: Being Eve takes a fresh look at everyday teen life through the eyes of 15-year-old Eve. With Eve’s thoughts providing the voiceovers, the series jumps from dramatic to documentary style, with characters often talking directly to the camera (à la Ferris Bueller). Scenes frequently switch to fantasy sequences done in 2-D animation, CGI or whatever style best communicates Eve’s thoughts. . . it’s like the camera is in Eve’s head. ‘Life’s a documentary,’ says Eve, and she’s shooting it.

Status: In production

Demo: 14 and up

Style: Live action, possibly mixed with 2-D and CGI animation

Format: 13 half hours

Budget: US$200,000 per ep

Delivery: Production is skedded for completion at the end of this year

Totally Spies

Co-producers: Paris-based Marathon, French broadcaster TF1, Fox Family Worldwide and Fox Kids Europe

Broadcasters: TF1, Fox Family and Fox Kids

Premise: An original TV concept, Totally Spies is an action-adventure comedy created by Vincent Chalvon Demersay and Marathon’s David Michel. Clover, Alex and Sam are three teen girls from Beverly Hills who unwittingly become international secret agents for WOOHP, the World Organization of Human Protection. Not only do these girls have to get their homework done regularly, but they have to pencil in spy and beauty time as well. Girls saving the world-with attitude. Great.

Status: In production

Demo: Seven to 12

Style: 2-D animation

Format: 52 half hours

Budget: US$12.6 million

Delivery: Airing on Fox Family in fall 2001, fall 2002 for all other broadcasters

The Delta State

Producers/Distributors: Paris-based series and rendering technology creator Alphanim is handling worldwide distribution for the co-pro with New York-based Sunshine Productions and Hong Kong’s Animation Enterprises.

Broadcasters: Channel 4 and Sky One in the U.K., with confirmation from another Brit caster pending at press time.

Premise: Based on a U.S. graphic novel by Douglas Gayeton (director and designer of the Sony Imagesoft CD-ROM interactive follow-up title for Columbia TriStar’s Johnny Mnemonic), The Delta State is being billed as a paranormal series, set in Berlin and starring four teens who have extrasensory powers.

Status: In development/preproduction

Demo: 12 and up

Style: The style is the most compelling element of this new Alphanim series. It is filmed in live action initially and converted into 2-D animation afterwards.

Format: 26 half hours

Budget: US$300,000 per ep

Delivery: Production starts in December for a June 2003 delivery

Daft Planet

Producers: Toronto-based concept creator Carve Productions and Montreal’s Ciné-Groupe

Broadcasters: At press time, the only confirmed broadcaster was Canada’s Teletoon for spring or fall 2002.

Premise: An original TV concept, the project is the first for Carve Productions’ Derry Smith and Brent Donnelly, former members of the financial community (Toronto’s Bay Street and New York’s Wall Street respectively). Says Smith and Donnelly: ‘Pinned under the calloused thumb of the corporate ogre, our two young heroes look for an escape. As their creative life forces reach dangerously low levels, they decide to make a break for it through the Forbidden Valley of Risk. Hungry and exhausted, they emerge from the valley with scripts in hand, and the Lost City of Creative Success visible on the horizon.’

The pair feels Daft Planet relates to teens, rather than talking down to them. Billed as insane, strange and outrageously cool, Daft Planet depicts a world seen through the eyes of teens Ched and Hudson. The world-one primarily shaped by technology, pop culture and raging hormones-and their perception of it, slowly spirals into insanity. The two characters closely reflect contemporary youth attitudes and styles across the globe.

‘Daft Planet will capture the imagination of teens using not only comedy, but music, fashion and tempo as a way to keep the viewer’s attention,’ says Ciné-Groupe’s VP of communication and public affairs Marie-Christine Dufour.

Status: The original project should go into production this month or next

Demo: Tweens and teens

Style: 2-D animation

Format: 26 half hours

Budget: US$7 million

Delivery: Spring or fall 2002


Producers: France’s Toon Factory and California-based Riverstar Productions.

Broadcasters: Toon Factory was in discussions with a French broadcaster at press time

Premise: Jake and Tiny are handymen and housecleaners. . . essentially self-proclaimed jacks-of-all-trades. They’re also the clumsiest and craziest characters you’ll ever meet. Nothing seems to go right for this goofy and goofier duo, no matter how hard they try to help. Gag-filled, knee-slapping hijinks fill the format, and each ep is done in pantomime (à la Wile E. Coyote and The Road Runner) with sound effects and music to emphasize the pranks and jokes.

Status: In preproduction

Demo: six to 10

Style: 2-D animation

Format: 78 x seven minutes

Budget: US$ 7 million

Delivery: Early 2003

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