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Grompf makes for a gentle giant
July 23, 2010

Grompf makes for a gentle giant

My Friend Grompf is a new 52 x 13-minute animated series for kids six to 11 about a precocious boy, Arthur, and his best friend, who happens to belong to the mythical yeti species. Adopted by Arthur’s family as a furry little baby, Grompf grows quickly into a giant creature. He takes up every square inch of the sofa, has the monster strength to pulverize a wall with the slam of a door and will crash through the floor if (and when) he jumps on the bed. Basically, Grompf’s a walking disaster, but he goes to school, goofs around just like other kids and he’s Arthur’s best friend.

In one episode, Grompf ends up being the third wheel on Arthur’s Valentine’s Day date with his crush, Nathalie. The boy explains the concept of love to Grompf, who misunderstands and rushes off to tell Arthur’s teacher that he loves her. The monster’s wacky approach actually helps the teacher get rid of an unwanted intruder and, in turn, she rewards him with a kiss on the cheek. Jumping for joy, Grompf ends up wrecking the romantic plans of Arthur’s parents and then dive-bombs Arthur’s rowboat just as he’s about to get a kiss from Nathalie and, naturally, ruins the moment.

Produced by Paris-based Toon Factory, the series has been pre-sold to France 3 and Disney Channel France, and the studio is working with an estimated budget of US$6.4 million towards a planned September 2011 delivery.

New family comedy on the block

New 26 x 22-minute all-ages comedy Life on the Block from Montreal, Canada’s Spectra Animation ramps up the laughs as it tells the story of average good guy and dad, Stan. He lives with his angst-riddled, adolescent daughter Audrey, his hyperactive six-year-old son, Squirt, all while dealing with his ex-wife-turned-truck driver and serving as superintendent of a small apartment building. The dwelling also happens to be populated by a motley crew of wacky characters that operates as a dysfunctional family of sorts, and Stan is forever playing the role of peace keeper. To top it off, he has to contend with an ambitious real estate mogul who is a constant threat to the neighborhood.

The series was created and is being co-produced by L.A.-based Tremblay Bros. Studios. It’s based on a cast of characters developed and performed by a Quebecois comedy duo as part of their stage act, which is famous in the French-speaking Canadian province. Brother Christian Tremblay says Quebec audiences will immediately recognize the characters and they also possess universal comic appeal.

Spectra VP of development and sales Sophie Roy says the budget for the series is approximately US$8 million, and delivery is set for January 2011. Life on the Block will roll out in primetime on French-language Canadian net SRC, which also co-developed the series.

The animated comedy is aimed at families, and Roy contends it’s ideal for early primetime slots currently occupied by the likes of The Simpsons. The original voice recordings are performed in English and are then being dubbed in French. Heading into MIPCOM, Spectra is looking for further presales.

Eco-awareness in a cute package

The socially conscious concept behind L.A.-based Toon Zone Studio’s new animated core-kid series YooHoo & Friends revolves around five fuzzy creatures that travel the world in search of the magical gemstones that will restore their real human identities. The twist is the creatures were once greedy executives, whose corporate decisions ravaged the environment and were only put to a stop when Father Time stormed their HQ and turned them into harmless little animals.

Flavor Flav is lined up to voice Father Time – who sports the rap legend’s signature time piece around his neck – and he infuses the character with outrageous zeal. The five fuzzy characters, meanwhile, embody their human attributes from natural leader Yoohoo to Roodee, who headed up product development and now invents MacGyver-like solutions.

YooHoo and co. debuted in January 2007 as plush toys in Korea, produced by international toyco Aurora. They have since generated more than US$140 million in sales worldwide. A website that launched in April 2008 features tidbits about the real animals upon which the cuddly characters are modeled and is stocked with mini-games and virtual pets. As well, a series of dialogue-free eps commissioned by Aurora have aired in Korea and some Eastern European territories.

Toon Zone, which has bought the IP and kept Aurora on as a licensing and merchandising partner, further developed the concept and story arc with the help of animation writer and veteran producer David Feiss. The series’ new original animation has also been aged up from preschool to kids six to 10 and was given an eco-focus to appeal to international audiences. Toon Zone has also teamed up with L.A.-based Animation Development Company to fully finance the series. Budgeted at roughly US$8 million for 52 x 11-minute eps, the series should start delivery in Q1 2011.

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