Nelvana picks up a pedigreed creative driver for Beep Beep
Canadian toonco Nelvana has tapped Rolie Polie Olie creator William Joyce to rev up its latest preschool entry Beep Beep, a 26 x half-hour edu-comedy based in a hamlet populated entirely by cars.
The CGI series aims to impart one nugget of wisdom per episode, focusing on things like responsibilities and rules of the road. Although Nelvana and Joyce are still hammering out story line details, they plan to break down each episode into several segments, including an intro in which lead character Beep Beep speaks directly to the audience and poses a question, such as ‘Have you ever been jealous of someone?’ Beep Beep teams up with his friends Scooter and Wheels, their parents and other characters from the auto-only community to play out this single thematic strand across the rest of the narrative segments.
Joyce will have to juggle his development role on Beep Beep against his other pressing project, Robots, the new CGI feature film from Twentieth Century Fox and Blue Sky Studio that’s set to bow in March 2005. The Beep Beep team is working towards a delivery date of fall 2005, and Nelvana’s distribution team has begun its hunt for presales and co-production partners for the show, which is budgeted at roughly US$300,000 per episode.
Xilam and Zinkia’s Shuriken School goofs around with martial arts mastery
Spanish creative factory Zinkia Entertainment and French animation house Xilam are banking on the double-whammy appeal of manga and slapstick comedy with Shuriken School, a Flash-animated toon for the six to 11 demo that’s set against a Ninja training backdrop.
The 26 x half-hour series stars a group of misfit Ninja students attending a somewhat rundown martial arts academy. Shuriken student Eizan Kaburagi is a clumsy, absent-minded boy who has no idea he’s the descendent of a long line of Ninja warriors. After arriving at Shuriken, his dreams of becoming a master are dashed when he meets his eclectic mix of classmates, including a Buddhist Monk, a French deep-sea diver and a brilliant pig. And instead of mastering throwing stars and sabers, Shuriken trains its pupils to wield yo-yos and boomerangs, which put much less of a strain on the school’s small budget. Yet despite the unorthodox training methods, Shuriken students learn to fight resourcefully and intelligently against their rivals at the Katana school.
Zinkia and Xilam are currently working to secure presales and script the series, which is budgeted at US$8.5 million and will be delivered for fall 2005.
Contender goes vehicular again with Mojo Swoptops
Building on the success of Tractor Tom and a growing buzz around Peppa Pig, Contender Entertainment Group has teamed up with fellow British animation studio Skaramoosh to lay the groundwork for its third animated series. Mojo Swoptops is a stop-frame show based on a six-book series of the same name created by Cindy Black and Rich Ward and published in the U.K. by Ladybird. It’s been 20 years since the books first hit English bookstores, and CEG intends to modernize the property’s stories while staying true to its strong ’70s aesthetic.
The 52 x 11-minute preschool show’s interactive edge comes to the fore when lead character Mojo, a talking truck, asks his audience to help him decide which ‘top’ he should don to complete the task at hand. For example, when Mojo is asked to fly over to another city to help a friend, viewers at home help him decide whether to put on an ambulance top or a helicopter top.
CEG is looking to secure a North American production partner for the series, which is budgeted at around US$3.5 million, and a few U.K. broadcasters have expressed early interest. The production team is courting North American writers with an aim to have the series in the can by late 2005 or early 2006.
Teen trials a universal phenomenon in Cosmic Cuties
The baffling complexity of teenage girls is about to take center stage in Cosmic Cuties, a new 2-D toon being developed by L.A.’s Porchlight Entertainment, Paris-based Pictor Media and Ireland’s Telegael Teoranta.
Created by actor Davis Henry, the 26 x half-hour show centers on four robot girls created by the Cosmic Corporation for its inter-space exchange program. Each bot is uploaded with a primary human trait and programmed to learn all they can about being a teenager on Earth. After enrolling in Pioneer Middle School, the quad’s cute look and coy attempts to fit in set the cafeteria gossip machine into galactic overdrive. But despite their resilient personalities, the complex issues and emotions that flood a teenager’s daily life threaten to fry the robots’ circuits.
The partners are currently finalizing story lines for this US$6.5-million series, and presale talks are underway.