Kids Next Door grows up into long-format
October 1, 2002

Kids Next Door grows up into long-format

Cartoon Network has certainly earned its reputation as a champion of short series with its Cartoon Cartoon Showcase pumping out concepts that have gone on to become hit half-hour formats, including The Powerpuff Girls and Dexter’s Laboratory. Next up in the pipeline is Kids Next Door, which won Cartoon’s Big Pick contest in August and will debut on-air in the U.S. on December 6.

Created by Tom Warburton (of Sheep in the Big City fame), the toon stars five kids who join forces to protect kid thrills like staying up late and going to bed without brushing one’s teeth from the evil nay-saying agents of adulthood.

Targeting kids six to 12, the 13 x half-hour show is in production at New York-based Curious Pictures, and its budget exceeds US$400,000 per half hour.

Disney and Cuppa Coffee send in the clowns

Toronto, Canada’s Cuppa Coffee Animation has started production on a new stop-motion preschool series with the working title Kiki’s Circus. The concept, which is about a little girl who heads off to clown school in pursuit of her life-long dream of joining the circus, originated at New York-based Cartoon Pizza and will begin airing on Playhouse Disney next fall.

The show has physically-driven curriculum roots as it’s designed to help tots develop basic and complex motor skills. Disney and all the partners are being rather tight-lipped about the 52 x 11-minute series, but its budget is reportedly running in the realm of US$10 million.

Nick UK picks up a porcine preschool pitch

Nick UK has committed to 26 eps of a new 2-D preschool series called Peppa Pig that’s in development/pre-production at London’s Creative Film Productions. Creative is reportedly in discussions with a number of European broadcasters and financiers, but Nick UK is already on board for 26 eps of the series, which will be budgeted at roughly US$2 million.

The 52 x five-minute concept is about a cheeky and slightly bossy piglet who likes playing in the garden, helping her mum and dad, dressing up, bath time, looking after her little brother George – oh, and jumping in mud puddles too.

Creative is gunning for a production start date this January so that Nick UK can debut the first 26 episodes in December 2003. The remainder should be ready by June 2004.

Winklemania and Breakthrough meld doc stock and Flash in Splorers

Toronto, Canada’s Breakthrough Entertainment and U.K.-based Winklemania (creator of I Love Mummy, a comedic live-actioner that debuted on YTV in Canada and the BBC last month) are co-developing a CGI/live-action mix for kids four to eight called Splorers. It’s about a team of intrepid teen explorers who jump at any opportunity to debunk or discover strange new things about the world. They do all their research on-line – getting tips from web friends and newswires – and then jump into their bubble-like vehicle (aptly called a search engine) to seek out the phenomena firsthand.

In one ep, they receive a tip that an invisible singing frog has been spotted in Egypt. After much searching, they find out that it’s actually a lizard that hibernates in the sand until it rains. When the skies do open up – which happens rarely in Egypt – the lizard is so happy he sings at the top of his lungs. To extend the experience, there will be a website that offers more information about each ep and the mysteries the team uncovers.

The series combines archive doc shots with CG animation, bringing the budget down to between US$150,000 and US$250,000 per half hour. Splorers is likely to be ready for delivery in fall 2003 or January 2004.

Zodiac banks on Bedlam Brothers’ boys action appeal

Tapping into the heightened broadcast demand for boys action, Toronto, Canada’s Zodiac Media is developing a Flash-animated series for boys ages 11 to 15 called Bedlam Brothers. The 13 x half-hour toon stars two feuding half-brothers who bury the hatchet to search for their missing father.

Sasha Bedlam believes that his half-brother Hector is the reason his father left his mother. He grew up in London’s underbelly, generally more at home on the streets than anywhere else. In contrast, Hector is a well-educated budding archaeologist. With their book smarts and street knowledge combined, the boys work to solve the mystery of their father’s disappearance in a series of Indiana-Jones-meets-the-Hardy-Boys adventures. Each show will be educational, with archaeology and history firmly rooted in the plots.

With a per-ep budget between US$180,000 and US$200,000, Bedlam Brothers has attracted co-pro interest from Atomic Cartoons, Portfolio and CinéGroupe, although no deals had been signed at press time.

Broadway Video reversions long-running Asian hit

Last May, New York’s Broadway Video Enterprises acquired the domestic and international TV, home video and merchandising rights to long-running Asian series Thunder Force. Now, BVE is producing/reversioning the 52 x half-hour series with original rights-holder Distant Horizon in the U.K. and L.A.’s Reveille (a division of USA Entertainment) for a spring 2003 delivery.

Targeting the six to 11 set, the martial-arts action series is set in Wulin, a far-off land that has been plagued by unrest and violence for more than half a century. It takes a legendary cadre called the Thunder Force to oust the evil Tian Mo and bring peace back to the land.

Thunder Force combines CGI with a style called Budashai, an ancient Taiwanese live-action puppetry technique comparable to Supermarionation à la Thunderbirds. Broadway has tapped Nick’s former head of development and production for SpongeBob SquarePants Andy Rheingold to lead the adaptation process, which will cost around US$75,000 per half hour.

Easter gets edgy in Who’s Your Bunny?!

Putting a cynical spin on Easter, Vancouver, Canada-based prodco MillMac is developing a one-hour 2-D special for kids 11 and up that explores the industrial side of the holiday. Easter Bunny is an employee of Imagination Icons Inc., which was founded by St. Patrick and his leprechauns. But following a significant merger with several large toy companies and a somewhat hostile takeover, Cupid is appointed as the new CEO.

Holidays are all about marketing these days, and Cupid thinks Easter Bunny doesn’t jibe with the modern youth culture. Bunny gets the boot and is replaced by a much hipper

G-Bunny icon. But after gaining a lot of weight and experiencing bouts of depression, Easter Bunny hatches an elaborate scheme to oust G-Bunny from the scene.

MillMac co-founder Brent Miller estimates he can produce Who’s Your Bunny?! for approximately US$500,000, and he expects the project’s 10-month production cycle to start once broadcast interest heats up.

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