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Artzooka gets kids coloring outside the lines
November 25, 2009

Artzooka gets kids coloring outside the lines
If, like most people, you’ve never considered making a stylish lamp shade out of dried fruit, Toronto, Canada-based CCI Entertainment’s new series Artzooka may serve to inspire. Giving kids the confidence to channel their inner artists by using everyday objects is the premise of the 26 x half-hour DIY-style live action series. A host shows viewers, step-by-step, how to make fun art projects that incorporate both art supplies and household items. Each episode’s four-minute ‘how-to’ bits are separated by energetic animated shorts and live-action segments depicting kids making art.

CCI co-chair Charles Falzon explains that the fast-paced shorts, which range from 30 seconds to a minute in length, balance the hosted segments in which the pace slows down and kids get to experience an art project unfold.

Falzon says that between 10% and 15% of the approximately US$8-million budget went into R&D on the gender-neutral series targeting kids six to 10. CCI conducted extensive focus groups and brought in consultants, including teachers and art educators, to assist in devising and testing concepts to get the most innovative and intriguing ideas for the how-to components. The readymade art projects in the first series include fashioning a discarded sweater into a pillow case, creating a personalized comic book with home photos and making a see-through plant-watering system from plastic water bottles.

So far, CCI has Canuck pubcaster CBC and Nick Germany on-board, with a delivery date of fall 2010. The studio is also hoping to sell it as a format. The show can be localized by adding a new host, while making use of existing scripts, the original soundtrack and the more than 200 produced segments featuring animated shorts and live-action bumpers.

CCI has also been hard at work developing a kid-friendly website that will broaden creativity into the tech realm, giving kids a place to upload and post artwork. The site will also offer games, exclusive art techniques, instructions, and further chances to interact with the show’s host.

Fremantle comes out of the gate with a classic
Toronto-based Fremantle Corporation is bringing back Black Beauty in a new 26 x half-hour live-action series that will see the beloved Arabian stallion and his devoted human companion embark on a whole new adventure. It’s been just over a decade since the company last produced a Black Beauty series, which Fremantle president Randy Zalken says is still shown all over the world. To date, there are 104 half-hour episodes currently available in EMEA, South America, Australia, New Zealand, Asia, Canada and the US.

This iteration – the fifth Black Beauty series from Fremantle, and the first to be shot in HD – is set in early-1940s India, where beloved Beauty is being cared for by 13-year-old Victoria, who saved him from the wreckage of a train ambush and in the process was separated from her parents. The Further Adventures of Black Beauty focuses on the bond that develops between Beauty and Victoria as they journey to a small town where the girl’s Aunt Lilly lives. (Over the course of the season Victoria reunites with her family.) Along the way, she befriends Suday, a young artful dodger, and deals with antagonists such as the bossy and elitist Elizabeth and over-privileged young prince Shalin, who wants to make Beauty his polo horse. In the spirit of Anna Sewell’s classic 19th-century novel, Victoria encourages those around her to treat animals with kindness and respect.

Fremantle is co-producing the naturally tween-girl series with Australian studio Avoca Media Holdings/Blue Dog Productions, which involves working with Tom Parkinson, who produced Beauty series three and four. Zalkan says Fremantle has approved the first script and is securing a Canadian writing staff. He expects to begin shooting exterior scenes with a Canadian and Australian cast in India in October 2010. The rest of the filming will be carried out in-studio in Australia, and he estimates the budget will ring in at roughly US$465,000 per half hour.

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