Daydream believer...
August 1, 2001

Daydream believer

Vancouver, Canada’s Atomic Cartoons and Phil Roman Entertainment out of Studio City, California have banded together to co-produce 13 half hours of Atomic Betty, a 2-D animated series budgeted at US$250,000 per episode.

Betty’s a tomboyish eight-year-old with a hyperactive imagination who escapes the monotony of the classroom by conjuring up an outer space-dwelling alter ego named Atomic Betty. She sometimes gets a little caught up in her make-believe adventures, leading to comical gaffes in the real world.

The original TV concept comes from the mind of Mauro Casalese, the director on the production and one of Atomic’s founders. Before launching the toonco in 1999, Casalese worked on The Ren & Stimpy Show, The Baby Huey Show and The Woody Woodpecker Show.

Atomic producer Samantha Daley says that the show’s slick animation and comedic writing style should age Atomic Betty up, endearing her to boys and girls eight and older, as well as their parents. A two-minute pilot has been completed and will be showcased at the World Animation Celebration in L.A. this month, at MIPCOM in October and at NATPE in January 2002. The series is projected to be completed by fall 2002, and Phil Roman Enter-tainment will handle worldwide distribution.

Writers wanted

In case you haven’t had your fill of new robot properties yet, Texas-based is bringing RoboRescue to the TV table. The series-13 half hours, budgeted at US$250,000 to US$300,000 per ep-is still in development. However, JustKidsMedia president Mark Dacus projects that it will be ready for delivery in late 2002, provided he can find the right partners. To recruit animation talent and fine-tune the series’ style, Dacus has launched an on-line storyboard contest open to any and all animation professionals, students and amateurs. The best boards based on existing scripts penned by Dacus will win a US$600 cash prize.

Targeted at tweens, the 2-D project stars Lydia, an 18-year-old prodigy who develops three prototype robots for a multi-national firm called Global Tech. Chip, ROM and Glitch are benchmarks in the development of artificial intelligence. But the trio doesn’t live up to Global Tech’s specs because they are too human, and the project is scrapped. Lydia, also a champion kickboxer, saves the trio and forms RoboRescue, a high-tech crime-fighting team.

RoboRescue’s hook, says Dacus, lies in its strong female characters and the fact that it’s an action-adventure series that is less about violence and more about solving problems.

Betty Boop gets a CGI makeover from Mainframe

Vancouver, Canada-based Mainframe Entertainment is contemporizing the Queen of Cartoons for TV. New York-based Fleischer Studios’ Betty Boop property hasn’t seen serial life on the airwaves since 1939, but thanks to a deal between the two companies, she’ll be back on-screen before you can say boop-boop-a-doop.

Betty Boop. . . the comeback? It wasn’t that much of a stretch, says Ian Pearson, Mainframe’s chief creative officer and executive producer on the series. The idea is to build the property’s massive collector fan base by expanding its target demographic. According to Fleischer Studios president Mark Fleischer, consumers spent over US$1 billion on Boop product last year.

With intelligent story lines, lots of comedy and a strong musical element, Mainframe is aiming for a wide general audience. The younger end of the target should range between five- and 12-year-olds.

Twenty-six half hours are being developed, with budgets running roughly between US$400,000 and US$450,000 per episode. The first 13 eps should be ready by September 2002, and Mainframe is planning to have a pilot ready for a MIPCOM launch.

The studio will also handle worldwide distribution, with New York’s King Features Syndicate maintaining licensing rights. The three partners will split profits from licensed product based on the series.

The international potential for Betty is bright, Pearson says. ‘At Licensing Show, I was inundated by Japanese people. They already love Betty. Think about it: Large head, big eyes. If that’s not manga, I don’t know what is.’

The main obstacle he sees, other than the dangers in tampering with a classic property, is making sure they get the right voice talent and musical support. ‘It’s easy to come up with story ideas for something like this,’ Pearson says, ‘but the songs have to be hits.’ The company is using William Morris’s roster of musical talent, says Mainframe’s Novak, but no contracts have been signed yet.

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