For producers trying to gauge what long-lasting aftershocks September 11 may have on the kids TV biz, the conventional wisdom has been to tread more cautiously–at least for the time being.
‘We have seven series in production right now, and we can’t suddenly stop and start changing everything,’ says Lynn Chadwick, Greenlight International VP. ‘At the same time, there are certain elements within the shows about which we do have to be very sensitive. One example was an episode in our series The Adventurers that had a hijack sequence–it had to go.’
But beyond these types of small fixes, many prodcos aren’t finding it difficult to meet post-September 11 programming demands. ‘Demand for violent entertainment has probably been at its lowest point for the last couple of months, and optimistic can-do programming is what people are looking for,’ says Gullane Entertainment president Charles Falzon, whose company adjusted marketing campaigns post-9/11 to tout its lineup of ‘empowering’ series like Thomas the Tank Engine in industry press releases.
And yet some kid content producers committed to more significant adjustments. Mainframe Entertainment ceased development on Battlesnakes, a live-action/CGI project that deals with alien invasion in a post-apocalyptic Earth. ‘There was interest on the broadcasting and merchandising fronts,’ says senior VP of creative affairs Dan Didio. ‘But at the end of the day, we said, ‘Let’s put it on the shelf for a little bit because it just seems inappropriate at this time.” That said, Mainframe intends to revisit the project when political and social environments seem more amenable.
There’s already some evidence that sensitivities may be lifting. Two ReBoot movies featuring a city’s destruction as a central theme aired on both Cartoon Network and Canadian kids channel YTV without tweaks. YTV aired the movies in two parts last November, with Cartoon stretching it out for a nine-part serial beginning last October. ‘We were concerned, but ultimately the broadcasters felt that because it was integral to the plot, it wasn’t inappropriate, and they showed the episode as it existed,’ says Didio.