And they’re off! Literally moments after officially launching Create Media Ventures at MIPTV, managing director Vanessa Chapman announced an ambitious lead-off co-production partnership that should keep the company very busy for the next six months. Create has hooked up with Simon Fuller’s 19 Entertainment, which masterminded the Pop Idol hit format, to produce a new 2-D animated, music-based TV show called Hipster & Jack for the six to 11 set.
Currently in pre-production, the 26 x 13-minute series will star a unique odd couple – a hippo and a Jack Russell terrier – who travel around the world in a Winnebago trying to make it big in the music business. ‘Although they’re very talented musicians, they just can’t seem to catch a break,’ explains Chapman, who was global controller of programming and strategy for Create TV & Film before she bought the company from Lego in March.
19 Entertainment originally created the characters for a preschool audience and brought in the Create team to flesh the idea out into a full-on TV concept with legs to grow into an international music brand.
Bringing together writers from the U.S. and the U.K., the program will channel the classic Looney Tunes technique of using music as an integral part of the action – in this case, current pop music created by 19′s composers. ‘Simon and his team of music writers will be working closely with our animators and script-writers throughout each episode’s construction to ensure it’s not just an excuse to release music,’ Chapman says.
The show is in early development, with Create currently working up three animatics to test the interplay of characters, comedy, design style and music. Once these core elements are jibing, Chapman plans to start meeting with potential distribution, licensing and broadcast partners. And if all goes according to plan, Hipster & Jack will head into production shortly after MIPCOM. As a testament to the strength of Create’s kids programming, Cartoon Network US not only recently picked up 52 existing episodes of Little Robots for its Tickle U preschool block, but also 13 new ones that are in production for CBBC.
In other Create news, the company has entered into a co-development deal with Good Story Productions, a brand-new U.K. kids studio started up by former Create executive producer Bob Thompson. Good Story will continue to manage the Bionicle brand, while giving Chapman a first look at any original IPs that it develops in-house.