09/20/18: Netflix launching live action Avatar: Airbender

CynopsisKIDS
Good morning. It’s Thursday, September 20, 2018 and this is your Special Kids Fall Report. 
 
 
IN THE NEWS
 
A tentative agreement on a new three-year film and TV contract has been struck by the Animation Guild and management’s AMPTP. But don’t pour the champagne yet – an actor’s strike against the TV animation business is still a possibility, after SAG-AFTRA membership in July voted strongly to authorize a strike if their negotiators failed to reach a satisfactory agreement. SAG-AFTRA is demanding scale wages and residuals for shows airing on streaming services including Amazon, Hulu and Netflix – a key sticking point as those services amp up their children’s programming.

Bromance: The relationship status of Sesame Street’s Bert and Ernie is back in the Twittersphere this week after former Sesame Street writer Mark Saltzman told website Queerty, “I always felt that without a huge agenda, when I was writing Bert and Ernie, they were,” when he was asked if the two Muppets were gay. This prompted response from both puppeteer and director Frank Oz – who said, “I created Bert. “I know what and who he is.” And no, he isn’t gay.” – and Sesame Workshop, which tweeted the following: “As we have always said, Bert and Ernie are best friends. They were created to teach preschoolers that people can be good friends with those who are very different from themselves. Even though they are identified as male characters and possess many human traits and characteristics (as most Sesame Street Muppets do), they remain puppets, and do not have a sexual orientation.”

Clued in: The host of Nickelodeon’s revamped Blue’s Clues & You may be new to television, but not to performing for an audience. Broadway actor Joshua Dela Cruz, who recently appeared in Disney’s Aladdin on Broadway as the understudy for Aladdin and a member of the ensemble, steps in as animated puppy Blue’s bff in the new series, which begins production this month in Toronto. Original Blue’s Clues host Steve Burns helped guide the audition process during the search for the new host.
 
Cake snagged worldwide distribution rights to indie animation studio the Animation Collective’s library. The library contains several hundred digitally remastered episodes of series including Emmy-nominated Kappa Mikey, Three Delivery, Thumb Wrestling Federation: TWF and Ellen’s Acres.
 
Cartoon Network is launching six new PSAs for its pro-social initiative, Stop Bullying: Speak Up, on Monday, September 24. The net partnered with Committee for Children, a leader of social-emotional learning curricula, to create short form content that translated research findings into actionable steps for kids and parents to create more inclusive communities. The stories in the PSAs are told by children who participated in the research studies.
 
A CYNOPSIS MESSAGE
The 7th Annual Cynopsis Kids Imagination AwardsTuesday, September 25 | 8:30am–10:30am | YCNY, NYC | sponsored by: pocket.watch
 
In addition to the talented Luminary honorees below, we’re thrilled to celebrate the finalists representing over 40 companies in kids & family media. [ REGISTER YOUR TEAM ]
 
Terri Minsky , TV producer/writer/creator – Lizzie McGuire & Andi Mack
Presented by: Peyton Elizabeth Lee
 
Fred Seibert , Founder – Frederator Studios
Presented by: Geraldine Laybourne
 

PRODUCTION & DEVELOPMENT
 
Corus Entertainment’s Nelvana greenlit three preschool productions: digital-first, live-action series Miss Persona, and animated series P.U.R.S.T. Agent Binky and The Remarkable Mr. King, based on the Corus-owned Kids Can Press book titles. From the creative team behind Teletoon series Princess Sparkly Butt & The Hot Dog Kid, Miss Persona centers on the titular little lady who takes care of the creatures that inhabit her forest world, and solves problems with the help of her bowtie-wearing best friend Brandon Bear. Series will launch on the Corus-owned Treehouse Direct YouTube channel Friday, September 21, before debuting on Treehouse’s linear channel in January 2019. P.U.R.S.T. Agent Binky follows the adventures of Binky and his fellow agents at Pets of the Universe Ready for Space Travel on a mission to protect their human families from aliens; series will drop in fall 2019 on Treehouse. The Remarkable Mr. King will bow in fall 2019 on Treehouse; series follows a well-meaning, short sighted, little lion whose “big thinks” sometimes cause big snags and tangles.
 
Netflix will produce a live-action series based on Avatar: The Last Airbender, which had an initial run as an animated show on Nickelodeon in the mid-2000s. Original creators Michael DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko are onboard for the reboot as exec producers and showrunners. The new series, another extension of a recent deal between Nick/Viacom and Netflix, will be produced in partnership with Nickelodeon. Production is slated to begin next year. The original Avatar: The Last Airbender aired for three seasons and followed the adventures of Aang and his band of friends who must save the world from Fire Lord Ozai. It garnered an Emmy and a Peabody, and spawned a comic book and graphic novel series.
 
Entertainment One has a new preschool property in the works. Ricky Zoom is a CGI action comedy adventure series that follows the antics of a little red motorbike with a zest for speed. Series, from the producers of PJ Masks, debuted at Annecy International Animation Film Festival earlier this year. eOne is now assembling the consumer products program and recently appointed toy manufacturer Tomy International as global master toy partner.
 
Hasbro is continuing to cast up for its new Power Rangers Beast Morphers series, slated to bow on Nickelodeon in 2019. Joining previouisly announced stars Rorrie Travis (Red Ranger), Jacqueline Scislowski (Yellow Ranger) and Jasmeet Baduwalia (Blue Ranger) are: Abraham Rodriguez, Colby Strong, Cosme Flores, Kristina Ho and Liana Ramirez.
 
 
COMING SOON
 
Disney Channel will debut Star Wars Resistance on Sunday, October 7 at 10p, and is building buzz by introducing some of the series’ main characters. The network earlier introduced fans to Team Fireball, and recently trotted out video featuring the elite crew of ace pilots hired to serve and protect the Colossus platform in Star Wars Resistance. One-hour series premiere of Star Wars Resistance will be complemented by two additional new eps via the DisneyNOW app and Disney Channel VOD.
 
 
BEHIND THE SCENES
 
What’s it like to compose music for kids programming? Jake Monaco, who scored Warner Bros. Animation’s long-form Scooby Doo and the Gourmet Ghost, and also scores for Amazon’s The Stinky and Dirty Show and Netflix’s Dinotrux, hits the high notes for CynKids:
 
What’s different about scoring for kids media than other genres?
JM: I definitely think of music as another character, but it is also there to help support the characters that are on screen. I am supporting emotionally what is happening within a character’s head, or who they are. Leading into the different types of animation, Stinky & Dirty is very much a preschool show, and the music has to be more on the nose than it would be if it were for a more mature audience. A lot of people refer to it as “Mickey Mousing,” where you’re looking at the physical actions of the characters and you’re syncing it with the music. With Scooby, that’s a slightly older audience. So while still acknowledging the comedy, it doesn’t have to be so on the nose; there are different tonalities that are able to be brought out. With Dinotrux, which is even for a slightly older audience, the overall story arc is much more cinematic – they are mini movies, so instead of short little pieces of music commenting on the single event that’s happening on the screen, we’re able to draw these things out into pieces of music that are two, three, up to seven or eight minutes.
 
What is the process like?
JM: Typically I’ll have weekly contact with the team, whether we’re sitting down with a brand new episode with no music and deciding certain points that need to be acknowledged with a [cue] – we call that a spotting session – all the way through the first music review when I present the music for the episode and I receive feedback. We’ll often do two or three reviews.
 
Are there differences in working with creators at Amazon, Netflix and Warner Bros.?
JM: Very much so. For instance, Stinky & Dirty, they wanted a very self-sufficient composer, in terms of their episodes, by themselves where I can do my thing and they’re able to give feedback. A lot of them are in Dublin, doing animation over there and some are in Seattle so we’re working all over the place for that one. For Scooby Doo, I was going into Warner Bros. on a weekly basis for meetings. And at Dinotrux it’s kind of in the middle. We started out with meetings on a weekly basis until we got into the 4th, 5th episode and we got into such a good groove and everybody was on the same page, so we didn’t need as many spotting sessions. You tend to learn each other’s quirks, the different musical devices that get [each team] excited, and then I can implement them as the series continues.
 
A CYNOPSIS MESSAGE
BE OUR GUEST!
Here’s a sample of who will be in the room at next week’s Kids Imagination Awards Breakfast:
 
Aether Entertainment, batteryPOP, Bluprint, Civic, Condista, Discovery Family, Disney, Driver Digital, Encantos Media Studios, GURU Studio, Kids Central, KIDZ BOP, Litton Entertainment, Mattel, Nickelodeon, Nickelodeon International, Novel Effect Inc, pocket.watch, Random House Children’s Books, Sesame Workshop, Star Stable Entertainment, The Jim Henson Company, THIRTEEN/WNET, Wonderama, Zebra Partners & more!
 

DIGITAL DATA
 
Limited series centered on characters from the Marvel Cinematic Universe are  in early development for Disney’s upcoming streaming service, reports Variety. Likely contenders include Loki and the Scarlet Witch. Projects for the service include a new Star Wars series, a show based on High School Musical and a live action Lady and the Tramp, among others.
 
Digital preschool hub Hopster has hit the Internet, via a new deal with Comcast’s Xfinity X1 that marks the first time the UK-based online SVOD service is available from a pay-TV provider in the US. Hopster can be added to X1 customers’ service for $4.99 per month.
 
YouTube announced it will phase out its standalone YouTube Gaming app in March 2019, and is launching a new destination that personalizes video game content based on users’ favorite games. The new site then automatically integrates the content from any of the video game channels they already subscribe to.
 
 
AROUND THE INDUSTRY
 
Pharrell Williams is in as the narrator of upcoming animated film The Grinch. The move rejoins the music artist with Illumination and Universal Pictures; Williams received an Oscar nom for his song Happy, featured in Despicable Me 2 in 2013. Williams is also working again with Tyler, the Creator on an original song for the new flick called I Am The Grinch, which he’ll perform for the movie.
 
Giancarlo Esposito (Breaking Bad, Better Call Saul), Disney Channel star Karan Brar (Bunk’d), Darby Stanhfield (Scandal) and Maximiliano Hernandez (Captain America: The Winter Soldier) landed supporting roles in upcoming Disney film Stargirl, based on Jerry Spinelli’s young adult novel of the same title, which will be released on its forthcoming streaming platform. Stargirl stars Grace VanderWaal and Graham Verchere.

 

Hasbro announced additional cast members for upcoming Power Rangers Beast Morphers: Colby Strong (Blaze); Abraham Rodriguez (Nate); Cosme Flores (Ben); Kristina Ho (Betty); and Liana Ramirez (Roxy). Series premieres on Nickelodeon in 2019.
 
A CYNOPSIS MESSAGE
The Cynopsis Kids Imagination Awards is a who’s who of everyone you’ve known – or would like to know in the kids industry. The event itself is a first rate, lively production with a friendly vibe that feels part revival meeting and part college reunion. Alan W | Sayles Winnikoff Communications
 
It’s not too late to grab your team’s tickets!
* Only applies to new registrations
 

INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS
 
ZDF Enterprises sold Cottonwood Media’s tween drama series Find Me in Paris to Nickelodeon UK, and the show debuts this week on the network.
 
Global kids content distributor Jetpack Distribution acquired the international rights to two preschool shows produced by CHF Media Group: Pip Ahoy and Daisy & Ollie. Both series debuted in the UK, in 2014 and 2017, respectively.
 
Mondo TV inked broadcast agreements for its series Sissi the Young Empress. The series is now available on Club Illico, the Canadian French-language SVOD subscription service. Additionally, Mondo TV sealed a three-country deal with Nickelodeon that brings a German-language version of the series to Germany, Austria and Switzerland for five years.
 
 
 
EXECUTIVE MOVES
 
Cloudco Entertainment, formerly American Greetings Entertainment, is growing its executive team, adding a hub in London and increasing its content sales force. Robert Prinzo, formerly VP, consumer products for Saban Entertainment, joins as head of global licensing, based in LA. Susan Chung, formerly counsel for Multicom Entertainment Group and Sutikki’s preschool series Moon and Me, joins the LA office as head of business affairs, and Davis Doi joins the LA team as executive producer. His producing credits include Jonny Quest, Powerpuff Girls, and several Scooby-Doo titles.
 
Also at Cloudco, former film and TV investment manager Alexandros van Blanken is in as director, content distribution, based in London. The London office will now also house Cloudco’s director of international licensing, Roubina Tchoboian, who previously was based in LA.

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JOB OPENING: ACCOUNT EXECUTIVE/MachinimaWarner Bros./NYC: Drive advertising sales efforts and be responsible for hitting ad sales targets for Machinima, the premiere digital video programmer of gamer and fan content. 3-4  yrs digital media sales exp. pref. with publisher/Ent. company. Full info/apply HERE (9/27)

 
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JOB OPENING: ADMIN ASSISTANT, CONTENT/ION MEDIA/NYC: Answer phones; coordinate internal/external meetings & conference calls; draft correspondence; proof documents & complete expense reports. 3+ yrs exp supporting executive(s) req’d. MS proficient (Word, Outlook, Excel & PP). Full info/apply HERE (9/26)


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JOB OPENING: SALES PLANNER/The Weather Group/NYC: Dvlp sales plans/packages for clients that meet the needs of the network, clients & sales staff. 2-3 yrs of ad sales ind exp (agency and/or sales) Media math req’d. Potential growth into Sales position.  Full info/apply HERE (9/25)

 
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