Collideascope spy toon aims for hip teen girls
Hoping to fill a dearth of teen girl animation, Halifax, Canada-based Collideascope Digital Productions has started developing a Flash-animated project called Delilah and Julius with Toronto’s Decode Entertainment. Collideascope president and co-founder Steven Comeau says that much of what’s out there for the teen girl demo tends to focus on clichéd interests like boys and makeup. ‘We wanted to provide more,’ he says, so the Delilah and Julius concept uses comedy to address intelligent lifestyle issues.
The show stars a brawn-and-brains husband-and-wife team of self-made millionaires in their mid-20s. Their considerable wealth frees the pair up from nine-to-five drudgery to engage in more exciting pursuits…like international espionage. Calls to action include rescuing a British pop star being held hostage by copyright thieves, and busting up a capitalist plot to overthrow a government in West Africa. Suzanne Chapman, executive producer and co-creator of the series with Comeau, feels D & J will work because the protagonists are older than the target audience, which is likely watching TV aspirationally.
Budgeted between US$200,000 and US$300,000 for each of 13 half hours, the show’s Flash style ties in a lot of cool architectural and runway fashion images–almost like an animated version of Wallpaper magazine.
Sesame gives its tween drama co-pro global legs
Also banking on the tween trend, Sesame Workshop is developing Two Down Under (working title), a live-action collaboration with the BBC, ABC Australia and Noggin in the U.S. TDU started out as a purely North American concept set in New York. During the pitch process, however, ABC head of children’s TV Claire Henderson and BBC head of children’s drama Elaine Sperber expressed avid interest in regionalizing the story line so that the series would hold greater appeal to tweens in their respective territories.
Sesame went back to the drawing board, and the revised concept now features an over-privileged 14-year-old from Connecticut whose investment banker father is indicted for mismanaging funds. While the charges are investigated, Reilly is sent Down Under to live with his aunt, a no-nonsense veterinarian with a clinic on the outskirts of Sydney. Rounding out the ‘Two’ part of the Two Down Under equation is Aggie, a 15-year-old girl from a broken home in England who has always dreamed of working with animals. As part of a high school co-op program, she goes to work for Reilly’s aunt at the vet clinic for a year. The 13 x half-hour show revolves around the dynamic between these two very different Aussie transplants.
Budgeted at around US$250,000 per ep, Two Down Under is set to start shooting in Australia next September. Filmed using a hand-held documentary style, the show will be ready for delivery in spring 2003.
Scholastic and HBO Family spy a new TV opp
The two companies have banded together to create an animated series based on the I Spy brand, an eight-year-old property whose product line includes picture books, CD-ROMs, puzzles and games. The book series comprises 22 titles that combine the photography of Walter Wick and the poetry of Jean Marzollo in search-and-find games that are designed to strengthen visual and problem-solving skills. It has sold 20 million copies to date.
The I Spy TV series (26 half hours) will be a CGI/stop-motion hybrid featuring two characters–Spyler and his pooch CeCe–who are made up of everyday objects like buttons and boxes. Story lines are still being hammered out, but one ep has Spyler and CeCe preparing to travel to the moon; since three numbers are missing from the countdown, they must spend the rest of the show asking the viewers at home to help them find the missing digits so they can take off.
Production has started, and delivery to HBO Family is slated for November. Deborah Forte, executive producer on the series and executive VP for Scholastic Entertainment, says the budget is on par with what is typical for a high-end animated series (read: somewhere in the US$350,000-per-half-hour range).
Papa Loewe revitalizes a flagging German mascot
The Munich-based company responsible for Papa Loewe and his Happy Children–which will debut on ARD’s Tigerduck Club in spring 2003–has started work on a new series. Papa Loewe Filmproduktion’s newest project, Antje & Friends, will team it with German public broadcaster NDR.
The channel is looking to rejuvenate its outdated mascot, which is based on a walrus pup named Antje from the Hamburg Zoo. NDR has commissioned best-selling German kids author and illustrator Janosch to modernize the character for on-air branding and a 26 x 13-minute animated series in development at Papa Loewe.
With a story line that centers around exploration and travel, the show is expected to appeal to international audiences after its run on NDR, KI.KA and the Tigerduck Club on ARD in September 2003. The characters end up in a different global locale each episode as they search for a land called Panama.
To beef up the show’s appeal in its local market, Janosch lent two characters from his best-selling book The Trip to Panama–the little Tiger and the little Bear–to the cast of friends that travels with Antje.
Budgeted at just under US$5 million, the series targets four- to eight-year-olds. A licensing program that will include print books and books on tape will bolster the toon.