The itsy bitsy Entertainment Company brought a far from itsy bitsy offering to MIP last month. Now in its sixth year, the company has three brand new properties in development: Leonard the Monkey, 100% People and Wannabe.
Leonard the Monkey is a 2-D/3-D series targeting kids five to nine. ‘Some people look at a glass and see it as half full,’ explains Joan Lambur, president of on-screen entertainment for itsy bitsy, ‘others see it as half empty. Leonard wants to know why you’re looking at the glass.’ The series (13 half hours) will be produced by Ottawa, Canada-based Ocnus Productions (which retains Canadian rights, itsy dealing internationally), and is the creation of owner Greg Lawrence. The result is Leonard, who’s ‘like you would picture Seinfeld as a kid,’ Lambur says-except he’s a monkey. It should go into production this fall, for a spring 2002 delivery.
100% People comes straight from the mind of itsy’s chairman Kenn Viselmann. He created the characters years ago for use on greeting cards and T-shirts, but the concept was revisited last year and developed into a pilot by U.K.-based Cosgrove Hall. Greg Lawrence and Joel Cohen (who has written for The Simpsons) helped expand the concept, which now exists in bible format as six episode outlines. The idea is being pitched as a prime-time animated family soap (13 half hours) that will most likely be rendered in rotoscopic-like style with a per-ep budget between US$300,000 and US$350,000.
‘The writing has to be good,’ says Lambur, so production is projected to start later than Leonard-probably in fall 2002 for spring 2003, with itsy managing worldwide rights. The eccentric cast includes the Pinsky Sisters (identical twins connected at the hair) and Carl Rutherford, a belligerent, 16-year-old, multimillion-dollar lottery winner. It’s designed to provide an amusing outlook on everyday life.
Wannabe (working title) is a tween-targeted 2-D/3-D series with Ottawa’s Atomic Productions. The property is primarily music-driven with the help of Serge Cote, who produced Alanis Morisette’s first two albums (when she was just plain Alanis). The concept originated at Atomic, which will retain Canadian rights while itsy handles international sales. A five-minute demo debuted at MIP last month, describing Sal, a 16-year-old girl stuck between that wannabe-an-adult and wannabe-a-kid state of mind. Lambur expects this series will go into production in the fall for spring 2002.