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Hot Talent: marblemedia cooks up a genuine preschool hit

This is Mark Bishop and Matt Hornburg making television. Just like the precocious hero of their preschool hit This is Daniel Cook, the two partners at Toronto's marblemedia aren't afraid to try new things. And it's paid off for them big time.
August 1, 2005

This is Mark Bishop and Matt Hornburg making television. Just like the precocious hero of their preschool hit This is Daniel Cook, the two partners at Toronto’s marblemedia aren’t afraid to try new things. And it’s paid off for them big time.

Although it’s not their first project (the pair created deafplanet.com, a 20 x six-minute website/animated comedy series incorporating sign language, in Bishop’s dining room in 2001), Daniel Cook represents marble’s biggest success to date. For the uninitiated (and you’re missing out if you haven’t seen the show), this 13 x half-hour co-pro with Toronto’s Sinking Ship Productions tags along as its cute redheaded star learns first-hand about things like Tae Kwon Do and making chocolates.

The idea for Daniel Cook was born when J.J. Johnson, a partner at Sinking Ship, ran into the five-year-old at a talent agency. It only took about half an hour for Johnson to be won over by Daniel’s unique blend of simple charm and natural curiosity. ‘Broadcasters had been telling us they wanted a real character that their audience could identify with,’ says Bishop. ‘And J.J. was absolutely blown away by Daniel.’

The project attracted Canadian kidcaster Treehouse TV, which commissioned a second season soon after Daniel pulled in its highest new-show rating in 2004. Playhouse Disney was also drawn to series, and began airing it in July as part of a new Breakfast with Bear block. If you’re looking for more proof that the show is making waves, it took the grand prize for ‘Best Program, All Categories’ at the Alliance for Children and Television’s Awards of Excellence in June.

Now out of the dining room and firmly ensconced in an actual office, Bishop and Hornburg are planning to dabble in some new genres, starting with a 26 x half-hour reality concept called Project Adrenaline, which follows three tweens as they go through training drills in order to compete against each other in a surprise extreme sport.

And breaking away from its live-action roots, marblemedia is embarking on its first international co-production with Singapore’s Fat Unicorn for animated comedy D.N.A. (Definitely Not Animals). The 26 x 11-minute 2-D animated series follows the comic adventures of two genetically enhanced animals that escape from a lab and have to lay low on a farm for awhile.

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