Older-skewing tween material seems to be on a lot of wish lists right now, and New York-based Curious Pictures has been working overtime to respond to the trend. The company has had a number of tween projects on the go over the past year, including Sheep in the Big City (which has been signed for a second season on Cartoon Network), The Unpettables, Hot Rod Bugs and Henry Sharp and the Meteor Mites. Curious CEO Richard Winkler says broadcast demand for tween fare doesn’t seem to be abating at all, so the prodco is still packing its development slate with tween projects.
The furthest along is Frank, a 13 x half-hour series about a school in New York called WAARP (Walpurgis Academy for Alternate Reality Perceptions), a dumping ground for kids who think they’re telekinetic or who talk to aliens. The problem is that the students really are telekinetic, changelings, sorcerers, etc.–but they look totally normal. Frank is the exact opposite of the student body at large in that he looks like a young Frankenstein, but has no special powers. In fact, he feels like the most normal kid in school. ‘It’s all about fitting in,’ explains Winkler, ‘using monsterhood as a metaphor for adolescence.’ The 2-D animated series is budgeted at approximately US$300,000 per ep and is on schedule to be completed for the 2003 TV season.
If Frank is about fitting in, The Breakfast Monkey is about being as wacky as possible. Living on the fringe of the superhero realm, The Breakfast Monkey uses his powers to ensure the whole world gets a good breakfast. He is helped by his sidekick Crazy Boy, a sugar-demented orphan who rides Tinkle, a fish with a bladder problem; and Lucha Lunche, a Spanish wrestler who will only eat grilled cheese sandwiches. Conceptualized as a 26 x 11-minute 2-D series, The Breakfast Monkey is being developed for a 2003 debut by the same writers that worked on Sheep in the Big City. Budgeted at between US$300,000 and US$350,000 per half hour, the show’s target demo is a little trickier to pin down. ‘God knows,’ laughs Winkler, but he admits that eight and up would work because ‘it’s got a PeeWee’s Playhouse feel to it.’ (Read: goofy, yet fun.)
Looking forward, Winkler says the prodco will shift away from tween as soon as the market looks like it’s becoming over-saturated. ‘We have nothing in development for preschool,’ he says, so Curious will probably start to work on that kids segment next. With a commercial division and all kinds of series experience under the company’s belt, Winkler would also like to try spinning a corporate brand into a TV show, video or film.