4Kids Saturday block on Fox
Al Kahn, CEO of 4Kids Entertainment
Looking for: Established hits with a high awareness level and promising merchandise potential. Series should target a mostly-boy audience, and a minimum of 26 episodes are preferred. Kahn is hoping to reinstate Saturday morning as a special kids broadcast day by filling the four-hour Fox block with shows that tap into play patterns kids already enjoy off-screen. Kahn also plans on eschewing repeats as he feels kids get turned off by the daily stripping of shows that some of his cable competitors engage in.
Preferred approach: Call Kahn’s assistant Marina Aris (212-754-5482 ext.208) for an appointment, and send a follow-up package outlining the concept.
Pitch turnoffs: Pitchers who use other series to describe their own concept (i.e. ‘It’s like Pokémon meets The Powerpuff Girls’)–it does not bode well for the project’s originality. Kahn also finds it insulting when library fare that he knows is dead-old is falsely positioned as ‘brand-new.’
Market circuit: NATPE, MIP-TV, MIPCOM
Joel Andryc, executive VP of programming and development
Looking for: ABC Family is moving slightly away from its tween-centric Fox Family roots, focusing on adults 18 to 49, with the 12 and up set as a secondary target. Thus, Andryc is on the hunt for live-action half hours–reality series, specials and scripted comedies (à la America’s Funniest Home Videos) that target the channel’s primary demo without alienating the entire family. Pitchers caveat: Andryc is not actively looking for animated concepts–unless producers have animated series that can play out in prime time (like The Simpsons or Daria).
Preferred approach: To set up a pitch meeting, fax (818-460-7465) or e-mail (email@example.com) Andryc directly. At this first meeting, Andryc prefers project titles with three- to five-sentence descriptors over scripts, detailed treatments and pitch packages.
Pitch turnoffs: Long and overly detailed pitches.
Market circuit: NATPE, MIP-TV, MIPCOM, Licensing Show, Toy Fair
Dea Connick Perez, VP of programming
Looking for: Half-hour toons, anime series and animated features targeting two demos–six to 11 and nine to 14. Connick Perez prefers shows with a high number of episodes so they can be stripped daily.
Preferred approach: Since Connick Perez works between offices in Atlanta, Georgia and New York, the best way to get in touch with her is via e-mail (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Pitch turnoffs: Pitchers who haven’t done their research and don’t have a solid grasp of Cartoon Network’s mandate. (You’d be shocked by how many live-action pitches Connick Perez gets.)
Market circuit: NATPE, MIP-TV, MIPCOM
Jim Rapsas, director of development
Looking for: With the addition of the 2.5-hour NBC Saturday morning block to the Discovery Kids brand, Rapsas is seeking live-action series–fiction and non-fiction–for the eight to 12 set. Fiction pitches should be reality-based concepts that are designed as vehicles for delivering educational content. Rapsas is also hunting for preschool series and is wide open to any formats, genres and styles.
Preferred approach: To set up a meeting, phone (212-548-5031) or e-mail (email@example.com) Rapsas directly.
Pitch turnoffs: Unfamiliarity with the broadcast brand.
Market circuit: NATPE, MIP-TV
Disney Channel/ABC Family’s boys action block
Tracy Bateman, acquisitions manager
Looking for: With Bear in the Big Blue House and The Book of Pooh sufficiently filling the live-action/puppetry holes in Disney Channel’s Playhouse Disney block, Bateman is hunting for preschool animation. She’d like to see an interactive concept with heavy emphasis on ‘learning through imagination.’ As for formats, Bateman’s looking for half-hour series–self-contained stories or two 11-minute segments–and prefers a minimum of 26 eps. Also responsible for the two-hour boys action block on ABC Family, Bateman is on the look-out for action-adventure series à la Power Rangers or Digimon–something six- to 10-year-old boys who love their action figures can’t wait to watch. And a toy tie-in is a plus. Bateman will consider live-action and animation for the action block, and 26 x half-hour series are ideal.
Preferred approach: E-mail (firstname.lastname@example.org) Bateman for an appointment. Meeting prep note: She likes to see a sample or a full episode (preferably in English) of the show, as well as a bible highlighting the concept, characters and episode synopses. Information regarding ancillary rights availability–including publishing, home video and licensing/merchandising–is a bonus.
Pitch turnoffs: Pitchers who haven’t done their research.
Market circuit: MIP-TV, MIPCOM
John Hardman, VP of programming and development
Looking for: Half-hour toons for the net’s primary audience of six- to 11-year-olds. Hardman would also like to up Kids’ WB!’s draw of girl viewers, so pitches targeting that demo are very welcome.
Preferred approach: Call (818-977-5000) to make an appointment, and bring along your entertainment attorney or an agent with whom Kids’ WB! has worked in the past.
Pitch turnoffs: Pitchers who have absolutely no idea what the audience of Kids’ WB! is like.
Market circuit: NATPE, Toy Fair
Eric Coleman, executive director of production
Looking for: Nick has enough coming-of-age cartoons about real kids in junior high–Coleman says he’ll cringe if he sees another pitch involving four girls in a band (or trapped in a computer) who fight crime. Coleman is currently exploring new genres such as action-adventure and fantasy, in addition to series featuring classic squash-and-stretch characters, and is open to any combination of 2-D, 3-D and live action.
Preferred approach: Phone (818-736-3043) for a meeting. Prep note: an ideal pitch should include character designs that show personality, and story premises that reveal something about the characters–not just traditional set-ups with the characters dropped in.
Pitch turnoffs: Unfamiliarity with Nick’s sensibility and audience.
Amy Friedman, VP and creative director
Looking for: With a strong preschool library streamed from parent companies Nickelodeon and Sesame Workshop, Noggin isn’t really looking for new half-hour series, although Friedman and her team are open to pitches for preschool shorts. The recent launch of a new tween branding concept (the name of which was not finalized at press time) has left the door wide open to pitches for half-hour concepts in two categories: narrative (dramas or comedies in which the characters are figuring out their lives) and utility (daily/weekly format reinventions with a strong emphasis on interactivity and on-line applications, such as a convergent talk show). Pitches for both live action and animation are welcome.
Preferred approach: On the development side, call (212-654-6694) or e-mail (email@example.com) development coordinator Tanya Young to request a release form. For acquisition inquiries, contact programming manager Merrie Park by phone (212-654-6688) or e-mail (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Pitch turnoffs: Too strong a focus on merchandising. Noggin appreciates a big idea more than it does a finely honed merchandising/marketing plan. Any concept so underdeveloped that there isn’t a big idea or so overdeveloped that there isn’t any room for Noggin-izing is a big letdown.
Market circuit: NATPE, MIP-TV, MIPCOM
John Wilson, senior VP and co-chief programming executive
Looking for: A series concept targeting kids from U.S. Hispanic households in which English is a second language. Using a recent US$16-million grant from the U.S. Department of Education, PBS would like to help develop the concept to ensure that the appropriate curriculum components are integrated seamlessly into the fabric of the series. Beyond that specific programming need, Wilson is on the hunt for high-quality edu-animation and shows with export value. Special consideration will be given to concepts that include web components.
Preferred approach: Call Wilson’s assistant Reid Walsh (703-739-5392) for a meeting, and follow up with a package detailing the main tenets of the concept.
Pitch turnoffs: Pitches that break down merchandise potential before the story line elements have been fully explained.
Market circuit: MIP-TV
Lou Fazio, director of program planning and acquisitions
Looking for: With access to the classic Walt Disney TV Animation library, a going-forward pipeline of newer WDTVA product from ABC’s One Saturday Morning block and several new shows in development, Toon Disney is stocked to the gills with series. To fill programming holes, Fazio is seeking animated feature films (70-plus minutes in length) and holiday-themed animated specials.
Preferred approach: For companies with which Toon Disney has not previously worked, snail mail addressed to Fazio’s attention (Toon Disney, 3800 West Alameda Avenue, 20th Floor, Burbank, CA–91505) is the best presentation option. Pitch packages should include hard-copy cover letter, catalog and one-sheets/sell sheets. Fazio prefers that tapes not be sent initially–if a concept ‘looks good on paper,’ he’ll request a screening tape.
Pitch turnoffs: Pitchers who continue to insist that their product is perfect for his channels after he has told them that it isn’t.
Market circuit: MIPCOM