Honest makes music for tween ears
July 1, 2002

Honest makes music for tween ears

Hoping the displacement theme will hit the right note with tweens, New York-based Honest Entertainment is developing Ahn Trio, a project about three real-life sisters from Korea who moved to New York at an early age to develop their talent for classical music. The funky siblings attended Juilliard and have since become somewhat renowned in the MTV corner of the music industry.

After meeting with the girls to compile some preliminary family history and anecdotal background info, Honest founder and president Joanna Ferrone had more than enough fodder for a 26 x 11-minute series focusing on their introduction to American culture. Ferrone believes this theme will resonate with the many kids who have also been thrust abruptly into the Western world. Feeling alienated, the girls enter a musical reverie when they play their music, traveling to an imaginary world in which they meet creatures from Korean folklore.

The series will likely be rendered in 2-D, with a per-episode budget running between US$300,000 and US$400,000.

Weirdness rules in CinéGroupe-Granada co-pro

CinéGroupe and Granada Kids have signed a co-pro deal for Seriously Weird, a live-action comedy series featuring 15-year-old Harris Pembleton, who has just moved from England to North America. A new school is the least of the transplanted protagonist’s problems, though, because he seems to be a magnet for weirdness. In one ep, for example, Harris’s attention is diverted from his schoolbooks when he’s suddenly sucked up into the ventilation system by giant yogurt tentacles. It turns out all of the yogurt in school has been possessed and he has to find a way to exorcise it–and pass his exam at the same time.

The 26 x half-hour series (budgeted at roughly US$9.7 million) is set to target kids ages eight to 12 when it debuts on YTV in Canada this fall, in spring 2003 on Canal J in France, and in winter 2003 on CiTV in the U.K.

The project’s stages of production will be split up, with CinéGroupe handling the actual shooting and CGI effects and Granada managing the post work across the pond. Seriously Weird will also be distributed by both companies: CinéGroupe will sell into Canada, French- and German-speaking territories, Greece and Benelux, while Granada International will manage the rights for the rest of the world.

Film Roman snaps up a fish-centric web series

Seeking to build on the existing audience of a Flash-animated short series called Shawks that’s been generating high traffic on since it debuted in October 2000, Los Angeles-based Film Roman will produce a 13 x half-hour 2-D animated series based on the bimonthly webisode.

The brainchild of Portland, Oregon-based studio Mongadillo, Shawks centers around Randy, the founder of The Shawk Haters Club–an organization dedicated to the eradication of sharks. The club operates on the fantastic assumption that sharks have left the confines of their natural habitat to take over dry land–’chewing a hole in the delicate tapestry of the human experience.’

The sharks put on human skins, posing as community members like the principal of the local school or its students. Although there’s some shark-killing in the Atom Shockwave version of Shawks, the TV series, targeting kids six to 11 (but multi-layered à la The Simpsons to appeal to a broad audience), will resort to less gruesome methods of getting the fishy foes out of the way.

Budgeted at around US$300,000 per episode, Shawks is currently in development and will make its international market debut at MIPCOM in the fall–ideally with a domestic sale in the bag, says Film Roman president of development and programming Peter Schankowitz.

Dupuis blurs the lines between reality and video game fantasy

Mirroring modern-day reality, France-based Dupuis is developing an animated series for kids ages eight to 12 featuring a boy named Kid Paddle who is absolutely obsessed with video gaming. Kid Paddle’s passion leads him to create a virtual world where The Barbarian, his video-game alter ego, fights creepy creatures called Blorks.

The series (52 x 13 minutes) is actually based on a same-name comic book series that launched in ’96, since selling 1.3 million copies in Greece, Cyprus, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Poland and Scandinavia. Kid Paddle Magazine (published by Disney Hachette in France–the first time the company has developed a mag for a non-Disney character) is a monthly title containing additional comic strips and youth culture content that came out in April 2002. The May issue alone sold more than 75,000 copies in France.

With a budget of US$6.5 million, the 2-D animated series is in development with M6 in France and Spectra in Canada. Belgium’s RTBF, Greece’s ALTER and RTL KLUB in Hungary have signed on to air the series when it’s delivered in spring 2004, and video game and additional publishing spin-offs are under negotiation.

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