Mike Young's Pet Alien boasts universal appeal
November 22, 2002

Mike Young’s Pet Alien boasts universal appeal

L.A. hotshop Mike Young Productions has lined up all its co-production partners and is ready to get to work on Pet Alien, a 52 x 11-minute CGI project that will involve Paris-based Antefilms International, jadooWorks out of India and Ireland’s Abú Media.

Based on an original concept from creator Jeff Muncie, Pet Alien kicks off when an extraterrestrial adventurer by the name of Dinko – who hails from Conforma Dimension, the most boring planet in the galaxy – hitches a ride to Earth and lands in the garden of a nerdy little boy called Tommy. Dinko loves the vibrancy of life on Earth so much that he goes back home and fetches 20 of his alien friends to check it out. Tommy soon finds himself overwhelmed by the antics of his enthusiastic yet blundering visitors, and many slap-stick hijinks ensue.

France’s Teletoon and TF1 have pre-bought the US$7.8-million series, which will go into production this January, with delivery set for January 2004. Antefilms will distribute the show in Spain and French-speaking territories, splitting the production work with MYP. In some Asian territories, jadooWorks will sell the show and provide animation services, while Abú will do the post work and find a buyer in Ireland. MYP will handle pre-production and distribution into all other territories.

Super-slothdom rules in co-pro Lazy Lucy

Hamburg, Germany-based prodco Toons & Tales has hooked up with Millimages to co-produce a 26 x five-minute 2-D toon that gives new meaning to the word lethargy. Lazy Lucy stars a little girl who’s determined to be the ‘pioneer of ultimate laziness,’ but her indolent reinventions of everyday chores usually end up creating 10 times the work.

For example, Lucy decides that buttoning her coat is a little too tedious since it will only have to be unbuttoned and rebuttoned again later on. So she devises a trampoline-hinged method of launching her airborne self into the buttoned coat through its neckhole. When brushing her teeth becomes onerous, Lucy attaches her toothbrush to her little brother’s for a tandem dental hygiene effort.

Budgeted at US$1.7 million and targeting the three to seven crowd, the series has already attracted Germany’s SWR and WDR as broadcast partners, and it will air on several German nets as part of the famous kids magazine show Sendung mit der Maus.

Kid freedom-fighters protect their turf in Pesky’s latest toon

Clearly not one for basking too long in the glow of its success with The Amazing Adrenalini Brothers (which started off on-line at CBBC in April 2002 before moving to the CBBC digital channel in July and debuting on Nick in the U.S. in August), six-year-old Pesky is already gearing up on a new project called Invisible I.N.K. for the six to 10 set.

The 2-D toon is set in a utopian school that’s been custom-designed by its students with cool features like fizzy pop fountains and pet corners. But all is not right in this Shangri-la of educational institutes, and a secret gang of young spies – the Intelligence Network of Kids – must continually work to thwart the evil plots of Ms. MacBeth, a child-hating vice-principal who’s described as the Wicked Witch of the North meets Dick Dastardly in drag.

In one episode, MacBeth falls obsessively in love with a cleaning products guru and imposes a severe personal hygiene regimen and then an in-classroom lockdown in order to convince him to enrol his daughter. I.N.K. retaliates with stinkbombs powered by toe jam and underarm essence and gas-inducing muffins.

Denmark’s Egmont Imagination has co-developed the 26 x 11-minute series with U.K.-based Pesky, and the project is designed to play as a 360? interactive series for broadcasters that can support that format. Invisible I.N.K. will likely be rendered in 2-D Flash animation, in which case its budget should come in at around US$2.6 million.

Cartwn Cymru’s Kirk gets a little help from his friends

Starting to carve out one’s independence is a big and scary process for most preschoolers, even if you take it one small step at a time. But having a personal cheering section of pretend animal friends makes the whole ordeal much less intimidating for the namesake star of Kirk, a new 26 x 10-minute 2-D animated series from Welsh toonco Cartwn Cymru.

The pilot ep is set in a bustling shopping mall, where Kirk must board an escalator by himself for the first time when his distracted mom steps on without him. Staring up at the gargantuan metal monster into which his very overactive imagination has turned the innocuous escalator, Kirk is overcome with trepidation. The day is saved by his imaginary positivity posse, who turn the nerve-wracking experience into a fun rocket launch complete with booming countdown and futuristic space helmets.

At press time, 13 Kirk scripts were ready and the other 13 mapped out, and Welsh broadcaster S4C had agreed to cover at least 25% of the US$2.9-million series budget. Cartwn Cymru would like to find two similar-sized Euro toon studios to contribute to the project, which boasts a fair bit of merch potential in the publishing and toy realms.

Farm life goes bonkers in Honeycomb’s Funky Valley

The newest preschool offering from U.K.-based Honeycomb Animation (which produced Grizzly Tales for Grizzly Kids and Binka) stems from founders Simon and Sara Bor’s more bizarre experiences with farm life in Devon, England – including trying to herd four sheep into the back of a Suzuki jeep.

Funky Valley features a cast of barnyard animals that are all a little too eccentric and obsessed with fun for traditional farming. The misfits start a farm of their own, where something silly happens nearly every day – whether it’s Porko the pig going on an eating binge that makes him so fat the other animals use him as a trampoline and a demolition ball; or whether it’s Fleecy the neurotic sheep falling in love with a cloud that she has mistaken for a flying ram.

Honeycomb is aiming to go into production in January for a September 2003 delivery, and Channel 5 will air the series in the U.K. Budgeted at US$2.4 million and rendered using a mix of computer manipulation, hand-drawn animation, collage and texturing techniques, Funky Valley was originally designed to play in a 52 x 10-minute format. However, Honeycomb has since decided to go with 104 x five minutes based on buyer interest in a shorter episode length.

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