In the wake of Pearson division Eva Entertainment’s closure in March, TV-Loonland’s director of programs John Bullivant has jumped in to save the first two projects that he developed as Pearson head of animation three years ago.
Georgie Goat was one of Bullivant’s favorite Pearson projects. Budgeted at approximately US$290,000 per half hour (39 x seven minutes), the preschool series should be back in production at Loonland’s Hungary-based studio by January 2002 for a fall 2003 delivery. Bullivant is bringing a pilot to MIP Jr., saying ‘it will probably fly or die by MIPCOM.’ Georgie is based on a book by U.S. author Denis Roche, published by Random House. Five-year-old kid (literally) Georgie has just started school, and she isn’t sure how to deal with her newfound independence.
Something Else is described as The Odd Couple for five- to nine-year-olds. Based on a Penguin book by Kathryn Cave and Chris Riddell, the comedic series stars compelling characters that are ‘very Dr. Suess or Wizard of Oz,’ Bullivant says. ‘It’s good entertainment, but for some reason, it never got past business affairs the first time around.’ There was significant curiosity from CiTV when Bullivant was at Pearson, but now he hopes that the 26 x 11-minute 2-D series will pique interest at other global kidcasters. Budgeted at US$300,000 per half hour, Something Else should go into production in October for a late 2002 delivery.
Next on deck is Club Kids, a co-production with Honest Art out of New York (of Fido Dido fame). Bullivant saw the property for the first time at MIP last year, but with Loonland’s expansion endeavors, he didn’t move on it until recently. Club Kids is a 2-D animated sitcom for teens 15 and up.
‘It’s a tough genre to do,’ Bullivant admits, but he’s looking to expand Loonland’s library demographically. The series features a humorous story line that focuses on five ill-equipped teens dealing with grown-up experiences. Bullivant would like to keep the budget at US$300,000 per episode for 13 half hours, but says that Loonland may bring on recognizable U.S. writers and celebrity voice talent that could drive up the price tag. In terms of timeline, Bullivant says pilot production is going full steam ahead for a MIPCOM debut.
Bullivant says that, for now, he’s content to develop all the elements of the shows already in TV-L’s portfolio. ‘In a relatively flat market, we want to sit tight and focus on building the reputation of TV-Loonland. I don’t like chasing trends because by the time the deals are done and production is completed, you’re hitting the tail end.’