Up Next: What’s developing in kids production

Fairy Mary poised to take flight in the U.K.
January 1, 2004

Fairy Mary poised to take flight in the U.K.

Indie Brit producer Two Sides TV, animation hotshop The Hive and writer Mark Holloway have teamed up to explore the world of elves and pixies using a CGI/stop-motion style that’s reminiscent of real-world arts & crafts projects. Running in a 26 x 10-minute format, Fairy Mary targets the three to five set and stars a group of young fairy friends who must often use common-sense solutions to remedy disasters caused by their unskilled attempts at casting magic spells.

In one ep, for example, a miscast spell causes a model farm to come to life in the family home, and the fairies must to find a way to corral all the animals that have strayed from their pens. In another show, one of the fairies accidentally turns a baby tooth into an elephant tusk instead of money.

Two Sides is expected to announce a presale to a U.K. terrestrial broadcaster soon, which should lock in about 20% of the US$3-million budget. An additional 20% will likely come from deals secured by Canadian distributor Radical Sheep, which Two Sides recently signed to help scout for North American broadcasters and co-pro partners. Once the U.K. TV deal comes through, Two Sides will start hunting for other European broadcasters and merchandise deals; BAFTA-winning author Helen Cresswell has already expressed interest in writing books based on the series.

New Zoo Revue to get tooned

Classic children’s educational series New Zoo Revue is getting an animated makeover this year, courtesy of California-based production companies Valcom and O Atlas Enterprises. The 30-year-old syndicated puppet and costume show will debut its 3-D animated retooling this month at NATPE.

Like the original live-action show, the new 13 x half-hour series will showcase the adventures of lovable animal characters including Charlie the Owl and Freddie the Frog, along with their human friends Mr. Dingle, Emmy-Jo and Doug. Scripts and a series synopsis were still being hammered out at press time, but the narrative direction will rest heavily on life and morality lessons taught as the individual characters get into predicaments and must rely on their mates to help them sort things out.

Aiming to gain new traction with kids ages four to eight, New Zoo Revue’s US$3-million revamp budget will cover both the 13 x half hour series (which should wrap in October 2004) and a two-hour feature film that’s in development and projected to be completed by January 2005.

Horrifically funny tales from Motion Pictures and Comarez

Feeding off every child’s fascination with scary stories, Spain’s Motion Pictures has joined forces with Mexican studio Comarex to produce The Terrifying World of Bobby. In this 2-D animated series for kids seven to 10, a 10-year-old horror story enthusiast hunts for real-world proof of monster lore – often landing himself and those close to him in deep paranormal danger.

One time, Bobby sets out to track down a band of shape-shifting monsters to show his skeptical friends that they exist. His hunt turns perilous, however, when he accidentally brings the crew to the lair of the beast, who’s on the fence about letting them leave alive.

Motion Pictures has secured co-producing broadcasters RAI in Italy and TV3 Catalunya in Spain, but is on the lookout for a third partner. Pre-production has already begun on this US$6.6-million series, with an estimated delivery date planned for Q4 2005.

Take Aim gets moving with Dynamotion

Joining the growing crowd of producers trying to use their craft to get kids up off the couch, Silver Spring, Maryland-based Take Aim Productions is hopping on the healthy living bandwagon with Dynamotion. Featuring a mix of live action and 2-D animation, the 26 x half-hour show follows five kids and their three animated pals (Dynamo, Cha Cha and Lazybones) through musical numbers like the Eating Mash, a ditty about the digestive system performed by Bobby ‘Boris’ Pickett as a spin-off of his 1962 hit song Monster Mash.

The musical segments are interspersed with five kid-hosted breaks that take viewers on adventures in sports, science and making their own healthy power snacks, and challenges them to get off the couch and join in the singing and dancing.

Budgeted at US$300,000 for each episode, the series is in production now for completion in fall 2005. With partial underwriting coming from the National Institutes of Health and a group of private investors, Take Aim is looking for additional funding and broadcast partners.

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