When Brit pubcaster BBC sent a representative from only its Worldwide division to last year’s Cartoon Forum in Kolding, Denmark, many Euro producers believed they’d have to look elsewhere for a U.K. commission. But Dublin, Ireland’s Jam Media, which closed the event with a presentation of its 13 x 11-minute Twisted Tales series, managed to scoop a potential deal with the Beeb. At press time, the ink was just about to dry on a U.K.-exclusive contract for the tween-targeted, 2-D series. Once it’s signed, the laugher is tentatively slated for a September 2007 launch.
Jam’s John Rice and Alan Shannon headed back to the U.K. and used their Kolding-perfected pitch on BBC’s Michael Carrington. The series takes traditional fairy tales and mixes them up with modern humor and lots of punny action. But what makes the show unique is Jam’s real-kid approach. Viewers will be invited to submit four headshots to the show’s website showing themselves with happy, sad, surprised and angry faces. The Irish toonhouse then takes the images and incorporates the viewers directly into the show, making the kids the star.
Calling it 360-degree programming, the BBC will search for potential series’ stars via a link on its website. Carrington points to the program’s interactive features as its key selling point. The Beeb’s audience will see itself on screen and the pubcaster will be able to connect with its members on-line. ‘What better way to engage with our audience?’ he says.
Rice says Jam will be working with the BBC to ensure the on-line component runs smoothly. Links to a Twisted Tales site should start popping up on the pubcaster’s website next summer as the production team will need approximately three months to collect viewer headshots and incorporate them into the animated series.
Jam is looking to court further presales on the format from networks in Germany, the U.S., Scandinavia, Eastern Europe, Spain, and Australia. But Rice says he’s holding off on arranging these meetings until the pilot is completed, which he reckons will be in time for MIPCOM Jr. In the meantime, Rice is in advanced L&M discussions with a yet-to-be-named company in the U.K. for both Twisted Tales and similar-concept preschool series, Picme, which was snapped up by Ireland’s RTE and Nick Jr. in the U.K. last year.