Toons meet tunes at Cartoon Network Online
Cartoon Network Online has set its sights on Eden’s Crush–the quintet born out of the Popstars format that aired on The WB last season–as the next band in an animated music lineup that started in June with the release of a Sugar Ray web video.
Produced by New York-based Funny Garbage, the ‘When it’s Over’ Sugar Ray video is rendered in classic Hanna-Barbera style. Lead singer Mark McGrath is reminiscent of the classic Harlem Globetrotters toon aesthetic, and the rest of the group borrows from as wide a palette as The Jetsons to Speed Racer.
San Francisco-based Spazzco produced the Eden’s Crush animated video ‘Love This Way,’ which is a space-age romp that shows the girls’ animated likenesses getting up to intergalactic high jinks.
‘A lot of bands are trying to reach a younger demo, so that’s a key part of our pitch,’ says Cartoon Network Online VP and executive producer Pola Changnon. ‘This is a great promotional vehicle for accessing a new audience–and frankly, it can be done at a fraction of the cost of an L.A. music video.’
In addition to on-line life, the concept provides added value to existing or pending music products, whether it be an entire album or a single release. Cartoon nabs short-term on-line broadcast rights to the videos, which will revert back to the bands’ labels after the window expires. ‘There’s not a huge value for us to own this forever,’ says Changnon, ‘and the life of a single is transitory anyway.’
The idea behind the rights reversion is to give the labels an opportunity to bundle the animated video on CDs or on special VHS and DVD releases.
Looking forward, Cartoon Network Online has been talking to different labels to scope new bands for the project, but nothing concrete had been signed at press time.
Nick.com builds new web brands
To date, Nick.com’s web content has consisted primarily of Internet incarnations of on-air concepts–a strategy that’s hardly surprising given Nick’s vast stable of TV properties. However, the company has recently started to approach web development from a different angle. Over the last two months, Nick.com has debuted two original series exclusively on-line, with a third slotted for this month. It’s all about developing new kinds of kids web content with an eye for converging concepts, according to Nick.com GM Mike Skagerlind.
Nick characters and franchises have good play patterns on the web, says Skagerlind, but that success shouldn’t preclude the development of characters that may work best on-line initially.
The most recent of the web originals is Pixel. Debuting this month as a 13 x three-minute weekly web series, the toon is about the adventures of a computer screen pixel who is sent on missions to fix broken software throughout the computer system.
The original webtoon initiative kicked off two months ago when Go Bananas With Tony Simiano developed series legs. ‘Tony originally joined the site in December 1998 as a clickamajig game called Disco Chimp,’ says Skagerlind. A clickamajig is a digital toy or short playable cartoon, a quick-fix form of entertainment designed to be manipulated by the player. With Disco Chimp, kids would program a series of disco moves for Tony to perform in sequence at the press of a button. The activity proved popular, so Nick decided to turn it into a weekly series that lets the Travolta-esque chimp loose with his own game show. Tony interviews a member of the ‘studio’ audience, eventually challenging him or her to some kind of game. Kids at home are asked to help the contestant, and end up playing the games themselves.
The second on-line original debut–and the first web comic book Nick.com has developed–is The Crimson Chin. A spin-off of a character born out of Nick’s new show The Fairly Odd Parents, The Crimson Chin is little Timmy’s (he’s the main character from The Fairly Odd Parents) favorite comic book hero. One day, Timmy’s wish to be able to step in and save The Crimson Chin is granted, and he turns into the superhero’s sidekick–Cleft, The Boy Chin Wonder.
Butch Hartman, creator of Odd Parents and The Crimson Chin, has other ideas for web off-shoots. ‘Timmy’s crazy teacher Mr. Crocker believes Timmy and his family are fairies and is constantly trying to expose them,’ he explains. Hartman thought it might be fun to work up Crocker’s conspiracy web page, but Nick.com was still mulling over giving the additional material a go-ahead at press time.