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Hot Talent: JLBird spreads its wings

Content is truly king for L.A.'s JLBird Productions, which has found itself immersed in a number of kids projects since emerging from the fanfest that was San Diego Comic-Con this past July.
September 4, 2009

Content is truly king for L.A.’s JLBird Productions, which has found itself immersed in a number of kids projects since emerging from the fanfest that was San Diego Comic-Con this past July.

With writing credits on more than 100 episodes of kids series, including 4Kids Entertainment’s Yu-Gi-Oh! 5D’s and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, the prodco has become well-versed over the last five years in translating children’s entertainment brands into TV fare. The five-person team has been firing on all cylinders this summer with some major projects in the hopper, including the reintroduction of 40-year-old toy car collectible brand Johnny Lightning to a new generation of kids.

Since 2006, JLBird founder and president John Drdek and his team have been working with Oak Brook, Illinois-based toyco RC2 – current rights owner of the model car brand created by Topper Toys in the late 1960s – to create a story bible and bring the characters to animated life. Drdek says the action-comedy series will target boys six to 11, but is keeping tight-lipped on further details as the studio works out the final points of production and distribution. He expects RC2 to make announcements in the fourth quarter.

In the meantime, JLBird has plenty of other initiatives to keep itself occupied. This past spring, the prodco teamed up with author Dawn Barnes, whose Scholastic-published kidlit series The Black Belt Club garnered enough interest from New York-based Curious Pictures to land a TV development deal. Comic-Con was also productive for the studio in furthering discussions with Disney Interactive Studios to develop a backstory for its original property Spectrobes, which the gameco has been looking to develop into webisodes and possibly a series.

Drdek notes that while JLBird’s experience primarily resides in TV, it’s certainly not limited to small-screen adaptations. He recently sealed a deal with entertainment company Blindlight to write a story for an upcoming video game.

‘We’re approaching it like TV, so it’s almost like they’re watching a show,’ Drdek says. ‘The industry has moved to that mode in the last few years where we’re getting quality stories written for video games.’

In the meantime, Drdek’s door is most definitely open for interested partners looking to discuss new opportunities.

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