Fox Kids enters 11th season withlive-action adventure and anime
Two new series have been set for Fox Kids’ Saturday slate. The first is Outer Dimension, a 26 x half-hour co-production between the Tom Lynch Company based in Los Angeles and Montreal, Canada’s CinéGroupe. It’s a live-action/CGI mix budgeted at around US$400,000 per ep that will go into production this fall for tentative delivery sometime in early 2002. The boys action-adventure series came to life because Joel Andryc, Fox Kids’ executive VP of programming and development, had always wanted to work with Tom Lynch (tNBC’s Just Deal, Nick’s 100 Deeds for Eddie Dowd, Caitlin’s Way, The Secret World of Alex Mack and The Journey of Allen Strange), and the concept seemed a perfect fit with the channel’s core six to 11 demo.
Outer Dimension is a universe parallel to ours, full of fantasy, mythology and danger. An entity called the Gorm has taken over the world and is brainwashing its inhabitants. Only Nicholas Bluetooth, born of an Earthly father and Outer Dimension mother, can thwart the evil plans, uniting the Outer Dimension and Earth at last.
Sony/Columbia TriStar holds the international rights to the series due to early investment and involvement on the project
On the anime front, Shinzo is an acquisition by Saban Entertainment that will be ready to air in early 2002 once it’s revoiced for State-side consumption. The series is done in classic anime style, something Fox has had success with in the past via Digimon. Humankind is being replaced by genetically-engineered, evil creatures called Enterrans. Young Yukumo is Earth’s final hope (a lot of fatalistic material on Fox’s Saturday sked these days) because she is the last existing human. Luckily there are some friendly Enterrans who befriend Yukumo, and they use their transforming abilities to protect their group. Saban holds worldwide rights.
Improv-lovers, come on down!
Sesame Workshop has just started production on Sponk!, a comedy game show for eight- to 12-year-olds that will debut this September on Noggin, the 24-hour educational net co-owned by Nickelodeon and Sesame.
Described as a cross between between Whose Line is it Anyway? and Double Dare (a Nick game show from the `80s), the idea fit Noggin’s mandate, but also added an MTV-like twist. Each of 26 half-hour eps features two teams of three players (ages 12 to 17) that compete via improvisational games. Players earn points based on their ability to amuse and engage the audience, which, in turn, votes for the best performance. Viewers can participate at home, joining on-line teams with scores being posted on-air during the show. Taping starts July 11 before a live studio audience in Toronto, Canada.
The initial idea was brought to Sesame two years ago by Jeffrey Solomon, an independent New York-based writer/producer. The improv and group dynamic elements appealed to Sesame creative director Kurt Mueller, who further developed the game show format and pilot concept for Noggin with Karen Fowler, another Sesame creative director, and Essie Chambers, a creative director at Noggin.
While Sesame couldn’t comment specifically on budgets at press time, the company was willing to estimate that the game show format does not cost as much as it traditionally spends on animated projects, which average at US$300,000 per half hour.
Who’s your Daddy?
Following success as an interstitial on ARD-owned channel SWR in Germany, Papa Loewe und seine gluecklichen kinder, or Daddy Lion and His Happy Children, has been commissioned as a 26 x 13-minute series. The 2-D project is a co-production between SWR and Munich-based Papa Loewe Film Produktion’s parent company Janosch Film & Medien.
Targeting kids ages five to 11 and budgeted at approximately US$4.8 million, Papa Loewe is about a lion with seven cubs. While his wife goes to work everyday, he looks after the clan and tries his hardest to keep his kids entertained and out of trouble.
The interstitials and series are based on the Papa Loewe books by Janosch, a German author and illustrator whose messages wax philosophical and tend towards the dreamy. Papa Loewe, the most recent of over 300 Janosch children’s books, is styled to entertain kids and encourage parents to view the child-rearing process from a slightly different angle. The last Papa Loewe interstitial aired last month, with repeats to follow in a couple of months on KI.KA, and the new series is scheduled to run Saturdays on SWR’s Tigerentenclub kids block and Sunday mornings on ARD starting in 2003.
Irina Probost, managing director of Papa Loewe Film Produktion, owns the worldwide TV rights to the property.
Calling Dr. Dog
Dr. Dog, a new 2-D series based on the same-name book by best-selling British author Babette Cole, combines a healthy dose of every kid’s favorite subject-bodily functions-with a fun approach to healthy living. For the six to nine set, Dr. Dog is a co-production in development with New York’s Silver Lining Productions and France Animation.
Currently published by New Jersey-based Dragonfly Books, Dr. Dog has been in print for 15 years, but it’s only recently that the Silver Lining/France Animation team decided to put together a TV series pitch. A pilot will be ready for September’s Cartoon Forum in Garmisch, Germany, and the partners plan to produce 26 half hours (budgeted at around US$9 million in total) for an expected 2003 delivery.
Silver Lining represents Cole and will retain English-language rights to the property, with France Animation managing French-speaking and other European territories. The principal regions where Cole’s books have garnered popularity-the U.K., Australia, France, Germany, Scandinavia and the U.S.-will comprise the initial distribution targets, but Diana Mason, president of Silver Lining, admits that Dr. Dog’s print incarnation hasn’t enjoyed huge State-side success to date.
Silver Lining’s roster of U.S. and U.K. authors also includes Rosemary Wells (Timothy Goes to School, Max and Ruby), Holly Hobbie (Toot & Puddle), Debi Gliori (No Matter What, Mr. Bear) and Susan Jeffers (McDuff).