KingWorld Productions has made its first foray into kids TV, signing a co-production deal with Discovery Kids for 26 half hours of Doodlezoo. Combining live-action wildlife footage and animation to depict animal doodles entering the real world, the show will debut on Discovery’s weekend kid block in early 2000. The US$7.8-million series’ concept appealed to DK as a metaphor for a child’s own sometimes frightening journey into the real world, explains Marjorie Kaplan, senior VP of children’s programming for Discovery Networks. An added benefit of the KingWorld-produced series, brought to Kaplan by former Nick executive Vanessa Coffey and producer Jim Ballantine, was its double demo appeal. Doodlezoo’s colorful design draws in the two to five set, while six- to 11-year-olds will appreciate its sophisticated wit.
Further ventures into prime-time and Saturday morning kids TV, including developing projects like Spindley Arms (a comedy centering on a retirement home for unemployed puppets and kids characters) and My Pet Boy (a cartoon about a canine and his pet boy, set in a world where dogs are the superior species), will be spearheaded by Coffey and Ballantine.
Coffey says the Doodlezoo project started out as a merchandising concept from former advertising creative executive Keith Potter, who created a line of clothing, sheets and other items featuring doodled characters. As KingWorld is no longer targeting the syndicated market, a broadcast or cable outlet was needed to get the project off the ground.
Discovery Kids will hold all licensing and merchandising rights to the completed series, and Chronicle Books will launch a series of five Doodlezoo books) two in the fall, and three next spring) to pump up awareness for the show.