Got it, need it, don’t really want it

January 3, 2002


Theresa Plummer-Andrews

Head of acquisitions and co-productions

Shopping list: Plummer-Andrews is on the hunt for comedy aimed at six- to 10-year-olds, with both live-action and animated series on her wish list. Drama for the tween crowd is also in demand, she says, but the Beeb can’t use material like Buffy. ‘We only schedule for kids up to age 12 or 14,’ Plummer-Andrews explains, so any live-action or animated series (drama or comedy) has to skew younger than that. Format-wise, she is interested in 26 episodes of 11 minutes or half hours for animated properties, and half hours for live action.

The glut: ‘I don’t want any preschool at the moment,’ says Plummer-Andrews. Not only is there too much in the marketplace, she explains, but Plummer-Andrews’ own preschool requirements are already filled by preschool mainstays Bob the Builder, Bill and Ben, Teletubbies, Tweenies and Noddy.

Canal J

Emmanuelle Baril

Head of acquisitions

Shopping list: Baril is hoping NATPE will net Canal J more animation for six- to 12-year-olds, with action-adventure for boys a more specific buying focus. But she’s scoping for action on the lighter side, citing comedic toon Jackie Chan Adventures as an example of the tone she’s after, as opposed to darker fare like Batman Beyond. For girls, Baril would like to see material in the same vein as The Wild Thornberries and Rugrats (26 half hours or more). She’s also looking for live-action sitcoms like Sabrina the Teenage Witch and Taina.

Preschool offshoot TiJi is stocked full of Brit and French properties, so Baril wants to see what’s up for grabs in North America, and she’s looking for animation from five to 26 minutes in episode length.

The glut: While there isn’t anything Baril is specifically not looking for, shows like Power Rangers probably won’t make it into her shopping bag. She says the series had its day, and that kind of live action doesn’t seem to appeal to her audience.

Cartoon Network Europe

Jo Sweby

Acquisitions manager

Shopping list: Sweby says that it’s getting harder to find comedy off the shelf, so she ends up acquiring a lot of action by default. She sees more co-productions in CNE’s future, the latest being The Cramp Twins–a show that reflects a Cartoon Network sensibility of cute, but naughty. While her core audience is between four and nine years old, the material she’s looking for should target between eight and 12. As far as series go, Sweby is on the prowl for nothing less than 26 eps of either seven, 11 or 30 minutes, but she’s also looking for movies and specials for CNE’s family movie block Cartoon Theatre.

The glut: Over the last year, Cartoon Network has been shown proposals-a-plenty dominated by female superheroes–perhaps one too many. ‘Why would we want more Powerpuff Girls when we’ve got the real thing?’ asks Sweby.

Nickelodeon UK

Debbie McDonald

Head of acquisitions and co-productions

Shopping list: McDonald is looking for shows that will play well with the live-action comedies that have already proven themselves on Nick’s main dial. Sabrina the Teenage Witch has been the top-rated show for the past four years, so she’d love to see a new run of that come up for grabs at NATPE. Her core demo is girls seven to 12–a difficult niche to fill with fare that has originated in the U.K.

McDonald was looking to buy The Misadventures of Fiona Plum, a Universal property that has since been waylaid; she was also hoping for a Sabrina spin-off from Paramount, but that too has yet to materialize. So McDonald will be approaching Warner Bros. and Columbia TriStar to see what they’re shopping. The problem is that much of what comes out of the U.S. studios skews too old. Dawson’s Creek or Buffy don’t really fly on a U.K. dial before 6 p.m., which is primarily when U.K. nets schedule their kids programming.

For Nick Jr., McDonald is looking for 26 x half-hour interactive series targeting preschoolers and their caregivers–along the lines of Blue’s Clues.

The glut: McDonald has recently been pitched a lot of action-adventure for boys, which she can’t use. ‘We’re not looking for it because this genre of programming hasn’t been traditionally successful for us–our audience wants sitcoms,’ says McDonald.


Andrea Lang

Senior VP of programming and acquisitions for animation and kids programs

Shopping list: Most of the German net’s animated kids lineup is currently aimed at preschoolers and tweens, so Lang is looking hard for trendy and comedy-driven toons for teens at NATPE. She’s also after an anime property to sustain the Pokémon and Digimon craze. Lang prefers a classic half-hour format, and since RTL2 strips its kids sked from Monday to Friday, she needs series that have 26 or more episodes.

The glut: Lang still gets too many preschool pitches, especially in light of the fact that the bulk of her schedule targets 10 and up, and that RTL2 is one of the leading German casters for teens.


Susanne Müller

Head of children’s programs

Shopping list: Müller is looking to pick up more boy viewers this year, so she’s on the hunt for live-action or animated action-adventure series (13 x half hour) that aren’t too violent. High-quality toon shorts for preschoolers are also near the top of her list, as are convergent projects. On-line penetration is growing quickly in Germany, says Müller, so anything with interactive web support should do well in the ZDF lineup.

ZDF’s license fees range from between US$10,000 and US$40,000 for half-hour live-action and animated series. The exact amount depends on the number of runs, the license period, the show’s performance in other territories and exclusivity issues, but in general, for a five- to seven-year period of unlimited runs, distributors can expect to receive around US$20,000.

The glut: Müller’s not particularly interested in new anime incarnations that follow the same style and structure as Pokémon and Digimon, nor is she impressed by down-aged versions of adult TV–she wants original ideas. ‘There are too many people trying to jump on the success of Pokémon, and there are so many formats proposed that are taken from adult TV and developed for kids. That doesn’t usually work,’ she says. ‘Who Wants to be a Millionaire? We don’t need to see a show like that adapted for kids.’

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