Reveille, the L.A.-based prodco known for its raft of adult live-action TV hits such as The Office, Ugly Betty and The Biggest Loser, is entering the animation fray.
VP of scripted programming Todd Cohen says Reveille’s step into toons has been percolating over the last year. ‘The business model appeals to us,’ he says. ‘If you can find a successful animated show, there are many ways to exploit it and it travels well internationally.’
Kicking off the push into animated content, the studio recently announced an exclusive first-look deal with Mechem Media, an L.A.-based company founded by former Hanna-Barbera execs and family. The shop is planning to extend Hanna-Barbera’s signature 2-D animation style and tone to new stories and characters, which Reveille will help bring to life on TV and online.
The partnership will see Reveille working with Mechem to develop concepts from start to finish, including fleshing out series treatments and bringing in the right show runners. ‘We’ll be working alongside Mechem every step of the way, developing content that is ready for today’s TV marketplace,’ says Cohen.
The first series out of the gate for the pair is The Gloomers, a family-friendly 2-D comedy series reminiscent of The Flintstones and The Jetsons. Cohen says the premise – in which the unluckiest family in the world just happens to live next door to the luckiest one – lends itself to the layered humor that resonates so well with kids and adults.
Though Reveille is aiming to develop an initial batch of family-friendly, primetime animated projects, it’s very open to tailoring content to meet the needs of kidcasters.
‘Our intent is that The Gloomers will suit a broadcaster targeting the whole family, whether it’s Fox or TBS,’ says Cohen. ‘But there’s definitely a version of The Gloomers that could live on a children’s channel,’ he says.
In addition to the partnership with Mecham, Reveille has a few other animated series in the works. Last year the company paired up with game-based studio Machinima.com in L.A. to conduct a comedy lab. It drew a battery of top TV writers who came up with 15 ideas over the course of the lab, yielding a concept that’s being prepped as a presentation for US net Fox. As well, the prodco has two other series that have moved to script stage at Fox and US cablenet Comedy Central, respectively. Cohen says Reveille will also be looking to produce short-form animated content for its online programming partnerships with portals such as MSN and Yahoo.
Besides animation, Reveille intends to make a bigger mark on the kids scene in general. Last year Reveille began incorporating youth programming into its repertoire with tween-targeted live-actioner, Gigantic. The series has just started airing on TeenNick in the US, and EVP of scripted programs Carolyn Bernstein says she’s open to taking on more series that target young audiences.