Artisan’s newly formed licensing division is hoping to make new property The Tangerine Bear, based on a book published by HarperCollins in 1997 and written by mother and son Betty and Michael Paraskevas, a seasonal licensing sensation.
Artisan Entertainment is currently producing a 2-D animated video and DVD to be released at Christmas, featuring music by Trisha Yearwood and voiced by a cast that includes Jenna Elfman and Jonathan Taylor Thomas. Artisan’s licensing division is on the lookout for licensees in every category, including plush, apparel and seasonal items. A secondary program featuring gift, novelty and interactive products is also being considered.
The story is based on a book about an orange-colored bear whose smile is sewn on upside down in a toy factory, and he consequently makes friends with other flawed toys. Michael Paraskevas says a second, untitled Tangerine book in which the humble hero travels to a museum and meets old teddy bears, has recently been completed. Paraskevas says the second will likely be published by Simon & Schuster, but no publication date has been announced. The Paraskevas duo is also working on a script for a sequel to the first Tangerine Bear video.
Artisan is seeking long-term partners in hopes of moving the Tangerine Bear program from seasonal (Artisan plans to rerelease the video every year at Christmas) to year-round. Artisan Entertainment is also developing a TV movie based on the property, although the delivery date is not yet set.
Ferrell McDonald, VP of Artisan Consumer Products, says the property (aimed at ages preschool to 12), is unique because of its unusual color palate, along with a variety of ancillary characters that could work especially well in a licensing program. Assorted toys include Louie Blue, a monkey accidentally stained blue, a bird and a jack-in-the-box.
Products will be aimed at the North American high-end specialty market. Because the series contains music and singing, a CD is also planned. A percentage of all video and consumer products sold is being donated to the Starlight Children’s Foundation, which grants wishes to children who are critically, chronically or terminally ill. Print and radio ads will promote the property.
As for international plans for the property, a worldwide video release is being planned, although no date has been set.