Up Next: What’s developing in kids production

Book-based BusyBugz is buzzing around broadcasters in the U.K. and France
March 1, 2004

Book-based BusyBugz is buzzing around broadcasters in the U.K. and France

Based on Bill Bolton’s series of 11 pop-up and sticker books that have sold more than two million units since February 2002, the TV spin-off of BusyBugz should get some spirited support from its existing fanbase. Publisher The Templar Company will work with London’s 2 Sides TV and The Hive to produce this boisterous 3-D animated series for the under-five set.

Eight central insect characters explore their garden world without human interaction, and each episode puts a different character in the limelight. In one story, for example, Zed the bee wants someone to play with, but his sister Izzi is too busy collecting pollen, Sarge the ant is preoccupied with marching around his sandpit, and Pip the caterpillar is taking a nap. With everyone shooing him away, Zed starts to feel a little unloved, but then his friends finish up what they’re doing and come out to play.

Taking a page directly from the pop-up books, this 52 x five-minute series will have a strong storybook feel, with layered backgrounds and vibrant colors. Budgeted at roughly US$3.5 million and with a production schedule of 18 months from commission date, 2 Sides is actively pitching to U.K. broadcasters. And given the level of success the book series has experienced in France, the show is expected to attract strong interest from Gallic broadcasters.

Non Stop Fun promises the same in Jinxed

Toronto, Canada’s Non Stop Fun Productions is appealing to the tween set with Jinxed (13 x half hours), a live-action co-production with YTV that merges fairy mythology with the trials of teendom.

Set at The Ballybog Finishing School for Fairies, protagonist Jinx is a clever and mischievous 13-year-old Fairy in Training. But to get her license, Jinx must help sloppy, wisecracking Alex through adolescence – a very tedious assignment that tries Jinx’s patience each episode. She loses her cool when Alex botches his science project, for example, and uses magic to conjure up a gold-making machine for him to pass off as his own work. But the spell backfires, and the fairy gold makes humans act loud and crazy, so Jinx is left with more than just an assignment to patch up.

The delivery date for Jinxed is set for 2005, with a budget ranging from US$350,000 to US$450,000 per episode. Non Stop Fun is busy writing the scripts, while pitching the series to European and U.S. broadcasters and potential co-production partners.

Digital Salade tosses up nonsensical detective fun in Bob Screen

In a new 26 x half-hour CGI series for eight- to 12-year-olds, Paris-based animation studio Digital Salade introduces kids to the world’s most endearing would-be private dick. Graced with a cardboard cut-out physique and uncanny naiveté, Bob Screen Defective Detective comically attempts to bust up outlandish plots put forth by the world’s most diabolical perps. In one episode, Bob uncovers a scheme by electrical appliances to stage a massive revolt – simply in order to obtain a warranty extension. In another show, he arrives just in time to stop a traveling salesman’s evil plan to liquidate his cumbersome stock of over-sized mittens. Bob and his streetwise teen popstar sidekick Pamela are animated in 3-D as slice-of-toast characters with distorted backgrounds. Digital Salade’s US$6.8-million budget will cover 18 months of production, and the team is looking for both presales and co-pro partners to get the project off the ground.

Croqueplume teaches tolerance on an intergalactic scale in Canopus

A rainbow of characters live together on a star-shaped planet in Canopus, a community-based CGI preschool series from French prodco Croqueplume and distributor Rosnay. In this 52 x three-minute show, presold to France 5, the faraway planet’s indigenous creatures hang out with a group of Earth animals, playing games, going on picnics and camping together while learning life lessons about tolerance, humility and courage. In one episode centering around a game of basketball, basket-holder Trumpet the elephant gets freaked out when tiny insect-like alien Coccipus starts tramping up and down his trunk, and his frightened fidgeting causes popular human boy Celestin to miss the basket. Celestin storms off the playground in a fit of pique, but when he finds out that Coccipus was at the root of the botched play, he cools off and apologizes for his behavior. Rosnay is actively seeking presales, and the US$3-million toon will be ready for delivery in fall 2004.

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