You don't want to myth this
October 1, 2001

You don’t want to myth this

Irvine, California-based Cybergraphix Animation is putting a different spin on the mythic kids programming theme with a 2-D series for the six to 12 set called Myth House. An original 26 x half-hour concept for TV, Myth House is an entertainment/education combo that retells well-known and obscure myths with a modern spin.

The back story for the series occurs centuries ago, when mythic creatures decided to hide their true forms and live among humans. The idea is that rebel ‘Myths’ who chose to shuck their human disguises gave birth to the myths and legends we know today.

Flash to the present-day setting of Emerson Academy, a school that teaches young Myths about their powers and how to cope in the human world. But because the school can’t sustain itself on the tuition fees of Myth students alone, human students are also enrolled, making for some interesting teen interaction.

The series, budgeted at between US$275,000 and US$300,000 per half hour, is in development and will likely go into production in January for a fall 2002 delivery.

Toysters put everything right again in McGreedyville

Hong Kong’s Jade Animation and Montreal-based CinéGroupe have brought a new 2-D series to MIPCOM this month, with 13 half hours of Toysters on the sell sheet.

Toysters centers around eight toys that have been brought to life by a magic-wielding doctor in order to defend the kids of McGreedyville from the Scrooge-like owner of the town. Joe ‘Moneybags’ McGreedy quickly banishes the fun-loving Toysters to Toyberia and forces Doc Ottomeyer to make evil toys that will obliterate the good ones. When the Toysters are finally freed by Doc’s teenage daughter Angela, the new friends join forces to rescue Doc from the dastardly McGreedy and then set about making the world a place where kids can be happy once more.

CinéGroupe is the worldwide distributor for Toysters, which is in development for four- to eight-year-olds with a price tag of US$350,000 per episode.

Go, go Gadabout!

Chatsworth Television Distributors and Alibi Productions, both headquartered in the U.K., are working on a new live-action series based on the Sir Gadabout books by U.K. writer Martyn Beardsley. Although relatively unknown in North America, Beardsley’s books for preschoolers (published by U.K.-based Orion imprint Dolphin Paperbacks) have sold through in most other English-speaking countries. Budgeted at US$2.4 million, the new series targets eight- to 12-year-olds by giving the book’s principle characters and settings a decidedly Clousseau-like flavor.

Set during King Arthur’s reign, Sir Gadabout, the Worst Knight in the Land is a comedic drama featuring a supremely clumsy knight who is overly confident that he can faithfully and truly protect his liege lord and uphold Camelot’s knightly traditions. Ten half hours are in post-production for delivery this month, and Sir Gadabout is scheduled to start airing on CiTV in February.

Impact gets into kids TV with a sci-fi blast

Shifting its focus away from feature film distribution for the first time, 10-year-old Impact Films out of the U.K. is bracing to launch a TV division at MIPCOM this month. The unit’s fledgling slate features a stop-motion/3-D series called Ultra Guardians from Brit studio Ultra Guardian Entertainment.

It’s the year 2048, and a planet called Centre World has entered into our solar system. Earth’s largest corporation monopolizes the orbiting world, but it can’t be populated by human laborers–yet. The conglomerate turns to a geneticist to create a new race of hardier, but tractable creatures to mine the planet’s riches. Nacros Sacrolars, the geneticist, has traded his humanity for power, testing the genetic formula on himself with plans to take over the world. The Ultra Guardians–an ultimate fighting force that’s genetically enabled to traverse Centre World–are created to stop the madness.

Some 20-odd years in the making, Ultra Guardians was created by Neville Buchanan, creative director on the series and founder of Ultra Guardians Entertainment. In his early teens, Buchanan met Ray Harryhausen, a leading expert in 3-D/stop-frame animation who rendered Mighty Joe Young, Sinbad, Jason and the Argonauts and Clash of the Titans. Harryhausen mentored Buchanan, who went on to work at the BBC and on various animated features.

To fund his pet project Ultra Guardians, Buchanan has partnered with an independent financier who will provide approximately US$3 million of the US$11.5-million series budget. The balance will be made up by Impact and its Korean co-production partner Anirom Entertainment.

Twenty-six half hours of Ultra Guardians are in production, with the first 13 likely to be available in December 2002.

TV-L picks up a merch-friendly book property for wee kids

TV-Loonland has acquired the worldwide rights to Tucker, a preschool property based on a series of books written and illustrated by U.K. author Leslie McGuirk. Featuring a cheeky, adventurous canine called Tucker, the 39 x seven-minute 2-D series for four- to six-year-olds has just gone into development and should be ready for summer 2003. McGuirk’s books have been published in Japan (1997) by Kodansha, in the U.S. (1999) by Dutton, and in the U.K. (2001) by Viking. To date, they have sold roughly 500,000 units worldwide.

McGuirk and her concepts have enjoyed considerable success in Japan. Merchandise came before and after the series of books, with more than 800 products all based on Tucker and like-minded characters from McGuirk’s vivid imagination. The product lines are developed and distributed through Japan’s Takashimaya, one of the country’s top department stores–comparable to Harrods in London. More merch should appear in Takashimaya stores by mid-2002, and an additional five books have been commissioned by publishers in the U.K. and the U.S.

Loonland’s rights to the property cross all media outlets, but don’t include the original publishing rights. Salsa Distribution will handle Latin American territories for the series.

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