Good morning. It's Monday, April 9, 2012, and this your first early morning briefing.
Answering a few questions this week is Michael Hirsh, CEO of Cookie Jar Group. In 2004, Hirsh and his partner, Toper Taylor, acquired the troubled Canadian company Cinar, which produced a range of kid programming, and rebranded the company as Cookie Jar Entertainment. Cookie Jar purchased US-based DIC Entertainment in 2008. Hirsh is also co-creator and executive producer of Cookie Jar Entertainment's preschool series The Doodlebops. Hirsh's long career began at Laff Arts in Canada, the predecessor to Canada's Nelvana, which produced commercials for the letters E, U, and others during the first season of Sesame Street. In 1971, he went on to co-found Nelvana, an animation company that was acquired by Corus Entertainment in 2000 and continues to develop and produce content. In 1997, Hirsh co-founded Teletoon, a Canadian animation TV network. Born in Belgium, Hirsh went to high school in NYC and was an avid reader of comic books.
I believe that Cookie Jar's deal for its Saturday morning programming block on NBC, CookieJarTV, was scheduled to run through the end of 2012. Has that deal been renewed?
The CBS block has been renewed for another year.
What are you most excited about in the plans for the fall 2012 Saturday morning CookieJarTV programming block on CBS?
I am excited that in this upcoming US federal election we will be running Liberty Kids. It's a show that celebrates the American Declaration of Independence, the Revolutionary War and the Formation of the United States and its Constitution. Kids all over America will have an opportunity to put the 2012 election in its historical perspective.
Many of the series you have produced are based on classic and beloved books for kids. How do you determine what to leave alone about the character and story and what to take in a new direction?
I love kids literature and one of the great things about this business is that I have been able to bring many of my childhood favorites to life like Babar and Tintin. One of my earliest memories is going to the children's library where the librarian would read the book aloud and engage us with The Adventures of Babar.
When it came time to adapt Babar, I was most concerned with preserving the charmth (charm and warmth) of the Elephant King and his Family and Friends. In creating new stories I ensured that his motto "Long Live Happiness" was imbued in each episode.
What Cookie Jar is doing in the digital arena in terms of digital distribution for your programming content?
Cookie Jar is enjoying the growth of the digital world with a great new game for our new music and game based TV series Mudpit, which is enjoying success on Teletoon. Our six thousand episode cartoon library is second to none now available on streaming SVOD services in the US, Canada and the rest of the world. Through streaming kids and grown ups can enjoy our cartoon library on demand everywhere. SVOD is the most exciting new platform for both the consumer and the library owner and distributor.
A CYNOPSIS MESSAGE
Ape Entertainment (www.apecomics.com) and Sesame Workshop ink a license deal to produce a series of both print and digital comic books featuring the Sesame Street cast and characters, including Elmo, Big Bird, Cookie Monster, and Grover, among others. Targeted to young readers, the new original comic book series will underline educational and entertaining content. The comic series will be produced in full color and is set to be available in stores this fall in standard comic sized printed editions (3.99) and digest sized hardcover comic book editions ($7.99). They will also be available as a digital comic book that will be available for iPad, iPhone and iPod touch. Ape Entertainment's mission is to grow the comics industry by increasing awareness about comics with a new generation of readers.
Sanrio and Vans partner again for the launch of their second collection of Vans x Hello Kitty shoes, and for the first time, a new apparel and accessory collection. The limited edition Vans x Hello Kitty line (for all ages) will debut at Vans Retail and Vans online in June 2012. The new apparel and accessories line includes tees, tanks and fleece available in women's sizes, along with backpacks, socks and belts. The Vans x Hello Kitty Footwear line this time around features new artwork on Vans Classic for women and girls, as well as the new Vans SK8-Hi Slim (a high-top sneaker), the laces of which can also be removed and worn as an accessory, for women.
Scholastic Media is launching a selection of its game apps on Nokia Lumia smartphones. This is the first time Scholastic's apps will be made available on the Windows Phone OS. Scholastic Media first introduced mobile apps, all developed in-house, on the iOS platform in 2009 and launched on the Android platform in 2011. Scholastic Media will launch the following apps for the Windows Phone Marketplace: I Spy Riddle Race; WorldGirl Word Hunt; The 39 Clues Madrigal Maze; Clifford's Be Big With Words; I Spy Spooky Mansion; and Go, Clifford, Go!
CBS Consumer Products signs a host of new international licensing deals for its popular franchises (not all family targeted) for products that will release in 2012. Some of those deals include:
TCG (f/k/a The Canadian Group) enters into an exclusive distribution deal with Funtastic Limited to launch the Roxx collectible, tradeable, head-to-head skill game in Australia. Targeted specifically to school-age kids and tween boys, will debut in Australia in September 2012. Roxx also features an online component at www.roxxnation.com (a membership platform) for enhanced game play via the web, iPhone or iPad.
MORE KIDS STUFF
Common Sense Media (www.commonsense.org), a non-profit organization that aims to provide info and educate kids/families in the world of media and technology, teams with Disney's Friends for Change for a campaign that encourages K6-14 and families to take a stance against cyberbullying. The campaign includes Public Service Announcements (PSAs) featuring stars from Disney Channel and Disney XD series, which have already begun airing multiple times daily on both networks as well as on Disney.com and directs viewers to www.disney.com/commonsense. The PSA messages were developed with the guidance of Common Sense Media.
BabyFirst Americas acquires the kid-targeted series Atencion Atencion, which features live-action music performance, for broadcast as a bilingual show in the US. The popular Puerto Rican multicultural series is designed encourage new vocabulary acquisition, motor skill development and appreciation of Latino art and music.
When Sprout premieres Guru Studios' animated preschool aimed series Justin Time in the US on Earth Day, Sunday, April 22 at 3:45p, during the Super Sproutlet Show block, it also kicks off a weeklong Justin Time for Earth Week event. Justin Time for Earth Week will educate preschoolers about conservation and the importance of taking care of our environment and will feature segments of dirtgirlworld and Noodle and Doodle Choose to Reuse. Sprout (www.sproutonline.com) is also currently running an online contest, Sprout's Choose to Reuse. Sprout, which is owned in part by NBCUniversal, supports Green is Universal, NBCUniversal's ongoing environmental initiative, and will be turning its on-air and online logos green for the week of April 22
Weekend Box Office Estimates for kids/tweens/teens rated G, PG or PG-13; April 6-8, 2012:
The Hunger Games (Lionsgate) PG-13 $33.5m-3 wk total $302.8m
Titanic 3D (Paramount) PG-13 $17.4m-1 wk total $25.7m
Wrath of The Titans (Warner Bros.) PG-13 $15.0m-2 wk total $58.9m
Mirror Mirror (Relativity Media) PG $11.0m-2 wk total $36.5m
Dr. Seuss' The Lorax (Universal) PG $5.0m-6 wk total $198.2m
Salmon Fishing In the Yemen (CBS Films) PG-13 $975,000-5 wk total $4.6m
John Carter (Disney) PG-13 $820,000-5 wk total $67.9m
Journey 2: The Mysterious Island (Warner Bros.) PG $505,000-9 wk total $99.4m
A Thousand Words (Paramount) PG-13 $475,000-5 wk total $17.4m
October Baby (IDP/Samuel Goldwyn Films) PG-13 $367,094-3 wk total 3.7m
Source: Rentrak (www.rentrak.com)
The Wildflower Group grows the executive team with the appointment of Christina Nix Lynch as its Executive Sales Director and Rory Flynn as Licensing Coordinator. In their new positions, Nix Lynch and Flynn are working in tandem with Jeanne Perry, who has been promoted to EVP/Business Affairs, and Cheryl Chua, upped to VP/Creative Services. Additionally, The Wildflower Group now offers specialized consulting services through its newly created TWG Consulting division, which offers services such as brand acquisitions, new business development, contract negotiations, and product approvals, among others. In her new role, Nix Lynch, who reports to agency principal, Michael Carlisle, is heading the licensing initiatives for the firm's clients. Nix Lynch previously toiled for 13-years at Peanuts Worldwide (f/k/a United Media), most recently as Executive Director, and prior to that she served as Manager/Marketing & Consumer Products at Scholastic Entertainment and as Product Manager at Warner Home Video/Time Warner Inc. Flynn joins the agency following internships at CBS Sports Network and Wicked Cow Entertainment. Perry's responsibilities include leading the company's operations, including overseeing finances, contract negotiations and human resources responsibilities. Chua spearheads all aspects of creative and product development for the company's clients, including product approvals, style guides and other assets.
Answer to Our Last Trivia Question: Who was known for saying, "Drizzle, Drazzle, Druzzle, Drome. Time for this one to come home." Mr. Wizard on Tooter Turtle. Kudos to: Dennis Nance-Turner Broadcasting, Inc./Atlanta; Howard Leib-BrainCamp/Ithaca, NY; Brett Ashy-The Ashy Agency/LA; Jeph Loeb-Marvel Television, Inc/Glendale.
Today's Trivia Question: Who are the founding members of The Avengers? (Email John@cynopsis.com with your answer and be sure to include your name, company, city and time zone. Unofficial rules: Only the second four correct answers from each time zone will be mentioned; and once you've been mentioned in any of the Cynopsis editions, you can't be mentioned again that calendar week.)
Later -- Gwen
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