Monday, October 10th, 2011

Cynopsis: Kids!
10/10/11

Good morning. It’s Monday, October 10, 2011, and this is your first early morning Kids briefing.

Cynopsis: Kids! presents a new A Few Questions For…

Answering a few questions this week is Vince Commisso, President, CEO and founding partner of Canada-based production and distribution company 9 Story Entertainment.  Commisso began his TV career at Nelvana, where he worked for seven years on a range of series for all ages, eventually serving as a Supervising Producer.  He left Nelvana in 1999 to become President and CEO of Blab Media, a flash-based media company.  In 2001 Commisso founded 9 Story Entertainment with an eye towards developing and producing kid-targeted animation utilizing new technologies.  Among 9 Story’s popular series are Peep and the Big Wide World, Wild Kratts, Max and Ruby, Survive This and the new Almost Naked Animals, among others.  In addition to being an accountant holding an MBA, Commisso is an avid runner and comic book collector.

You spent all of last week in Cannes at MIPJunior/Mipcom  What was “the buzz” on the floor for kid programming? What did you see that excited you the most?  Did you notice any trends?

The market was exceptionally buoyant, especially for kids programming. The trend towards quality content in comedy, in both live action and animation, continues to be strong.  There was also strong interest in preschool programming, which is something we haven’t seen in a while.  Two 9 Story entries, Numb Chucks (6-11 comedy animation) and Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood (preschool animation) both were among the top 30 viewed programs at MIPJunior, evidencing these trends.

9 Story Entertainment is nearly 10-years-old now and you, not unlike some other Canadian production companies, have been involved regularly in high profile co-productions during that time  and this was before it became an everyday thing in the kid industry worldwide.  How has the way 9 Story does co-productions changed during that time?

Not really.  We’ve always followed two basic principals in regards to co-productions: good projects and good partners.  If we have those two, we can work out any issues that come up along the way…and they always do.  No good project is easy to produce and that’s as it should be.

You are currently working with PBS Kids, The Fred Rogers’ Company, and Out Of The Blue on a project that is part of North American kid/family TV royalty  Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood – the new animated series that is based on a character from Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood.  What has that experience been like? Is it challenging working on a project that involves the memories of so many parents  the people who are the gateway to the TV for preschoolers?

It’s been a fantastic experience. Very few projects carry the legacy and values that Daniel’s does. And believe me, we take this responsibility very seriously.  Everyone’s mindful of the fact that we have to live up to the standard Fred Rogers set, and that this is not an easy thing to do.  Speaking for 9 Story, we are honored that the people at The Fred Rogers’ Company trusted us enough to bring us in to their first project that carries on Fred’s legacy.

As you expand the company, you have at least five shows in active production right now that I’m aware of, where are you looking to grow?  More live-action series, more adult-aimed animated series, licensing and merchandising?

While we’re pretty close to capacity from an animation production standpoint, we still have plenty of growth opportunities.  We have three live action series and four movies in development. We had tremendous experiences and success with Harriet the Spy and Survive This! and expect to have more youth and family oriented live action in production in the very near future.  Our licensing program with Almost Naked Animals is going extremely well.  The response from licensees has been tremendous and we expect that Almost Naked Animals licensed products will have a significant retail presence in 2012.

I understand that as a kid you were devoted to Saturday morning cartoons.  What local Canadian and/or other kid-targeted show(s) got you up on Saturday mornings and still mean the most to you?

I was a Marvel Comics fan growing up. Spider Man was on at 7am and I would be in front of the TV, bright eyed at 6:45.  This frustrated my mother to no end as it was certainly NOT the case during the week.  Then I watched Rocket Robin Hood, Quick Draw McGraw, Yogi Bear and finished up with Bugs Bunny.  Looking back, Spider Man and Bugs Bunny were the most special.  Spiderman because its Marvel origin was what got me out of bed at the crack of dawn, plus I knew early on that a lot of it was produced in Canada.  Bugs Bunny was, and is for me, simply the best cartoon ever made.  It was perfect in every way: storytelling, voice acting, timing, design, animation, music…everything.

Almost Naked Animals is one of your newest animated series.  Which Almost Naked Animals character are you most like and why?

Believe it or not, that’s a tough one! It’s very close between Howie and Narwhal for me, but I’m going to have to go with Narwhal. When we were developing the show, we modeled Narwhal after Ted Baxter (really dating myself now!) and he was the character in The Mary Tyler Moore Show that made me laugh the most. Plus…he sings!

Look for our next A Few Questions For… next Monday.

LICENSING

Entertainment One Family renews its licensing deal with Character Options Limited, a unit of The Character Group, which will continue as the master toy licensee for the preschool aimed Peppa Pig through the end of 2014.  Under the new deal, Character Options, which has been a Peppa Pig licensee since 2004, will use new themes featured in the upcoming Peppa Pig episodes as the basis for new plush toys and plastic play sets, figures and vehicles.  Key new lines include, for release this year include the World of Peppa play set, and for 2012 Peppa’s Treehouse Playset.

Vans re-teams with The Magic Store and Wildbrain Entertainment for a new collection of Yo Gabba Gabba! themed footwear for kids and adults, which is available now.  The Vans x Yo Gabba Gabba! line features four new styles, three showcase one character each in full on full color Slip-On, and the fourth featuring all the Yo Gabba Gabba! characters. The shoebox packaging also features Vans and the Yo Gabba Gabba! gang, which can be colored

MARKETING

Driving to the release of the newest Twilight movie, The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn  Part I on November 18, 2011, NCM Fathom and Summit Entertainment are offering fans a chance to see the first three movies again in theaters the first three Tuesdays this November as part of Twilight Saga Tuesdays.  During each of the Tuesday screenings, fans will also get a look at a presentation including exclusive footage (not previously seen in theaters), new cast interviews, as well as some Twilight fan event footage.  Distributed by NCM Fathom, the Twilight Saga Tuesdays will take place each of the three Tuesdays at 7:30p at 730+ the select theaters nationwide as follows: Twilight on Tuesday, November 1; The Twilight Saga: New Moon on Tuesday, November 8, and The Twilight Saga: Eclipse on Tuesday, November 15.  For theater and ticket information go to FathomEvents.com ( www.fathomevents.com ).

NEW PRODUCTION & DEVELOPMENT

Dan Angel, a writer/producer and partner in The Hatchery, teams up with Jane Startz of Jane Startz Production to acquire the option to author L.A. Weatherly‘s young adult trilogy, Angel, initially published by Usborne Publishing in the UK.  Angel Burn, the first book in the Angel series, was released in hardcover by Candlewick Press in the US in May 2011.  Angel Fire, the second book in the planned trilogy, is set for release in the UK in this month and in the US on January 24, 2012.  The third book in the Angel trilogy is tentatively scheduled for publication in late fall 2012.  Angel revolves around Willow, the world’s only half angel/half human, who has being hunted by Alex, a young CIA assassin.  When they two come face-to-face Alex runts into a obstacle in completing his assignment  he falls in love with Willow.

Ubisoft enters into a TV licensing deal with Nickelodeon for a new TV series, Raving Rabbids (78×7), based on its Rabbids video game and viral video brand.  Under the pact, Nickelodeon acquires the worldwide broadcast rights (excluding France) for the new CG animated Raving Rabbids series, which will be produced by Ubisoft and then packaged by Nickelodeon as 26×30 episodes.  Nickelodeon plans to launch the series on its channels worldwide (again, excluding France) from 2013.  Rabbids was created by Ubisoft’s French studios in 2006.  Ubisoft Motion Pictures will work with Ubisoft’s French studios to create a TV series that reflects the same humor and unexpected twists as the Rabbids games.

Sony Pictures Animation furthers its development slate as it hires animation writer/director Kelly Asbury (director/co-writer Gnomeo and Juliet, co-director Shrek 2, Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron) to pen its new CG animated feature Pooch Cafe.  Executive produced by Gil Netter, Bridget McMeel, and John Glynn, the movie is based on Paul Gilligan’s syndicated comic strip, Pouch Cafe, which revolves around Poncho, a cheese-loving, squirrel-fearing, toilet-drinking mutt who hangs out with his dog pals at the Pooch Cafe where they discuss all sorts of pressing dog issues, like avoiding baths and creating a catapult to heave cats into the Sun.  In addition to his work as a screenwriter, director an various other roles on animated feature films, Asbury is also an author/illustrator of several kid’s books.

MORE KIDS STUFF

KidsCo and Creative Media Partners are producing Sinbad in Space (26×11) a new series expected to be available for fall 2012.  Sinbad in Space is KidsCo’s first original HD long from production.  Based on the legend of Sinbad, the series is set in the future, in the year 2940, and follows a 13-year-old Sinbad and his friends on their adventures as they save the world and the universe from environmental catastrophe.  India-based Image Venture is producing animation for the series.

STONE SOUP

Weekend Box Office Estimates for kids/tweens/teens rated G, PG or PG-13; October 7-9, 2011:
Real Steel (Disney) PG-13                                              Opening Weekend $27.3m
Dolphin tale (Warner Bros.) PG                                       $9.2m-3 wk total $49.1m
Moneyball (Sony/Columbia) PG-13                                  $7.5m-2 wk total $49.3m
Courageous (Sony/TriStar) PG-13                                   $4.6m-2 wk total $15.9m
The Lion King in 3D (Disney) G                                       $4.6m-4 wk total $85.9m
Dream House (Universal) PG-13                                      $4.5m-2 wk total $14.5m
Abduction (Lionsgate) PG-13                                           $2.9m-3wk total 23.4m
Contagion (Warner Bros.) PG-13                                      $2.8m-5 wk total $68.9m
The Help (Disney) PG-13                                                 $2.0m-9 wk total $162.7m
Captain America: The First Avenger (Paramount) PG-13     $315,000-12 wk total $175.8m
Source: Rentrak ( www.rentrak.com )

Sprout partners with early education provider Learning Care Group to encourage kids to read and to be kind to one another, two life skills important for kids to live, play and learn alongside others.  Over the course of the next few months Sprout will air aids featuring the Learning Care Group brands.  Meanwhile, the Learning Care Group’s brands, including Childtime, La Petite Academy, Montessori Unlimited, Tutor Time and The Children’s Courtyard, will feature literacy and kindness via lessons and activities incorporating material developed in tandem with Sprout.

EXECUTIVE MOVES

20th Century Fox Television appoints Jeffrey Godsick as President, Fox Consumer Products.  Godsick, who joins the company immediately, reports to Fox’s Chairman Gary Newman and Dana Walden.  EVP/Consumer Products Robert Marick remains in place and reports to Godsick.  Godsick will oversee the worldwide licensing of Fox’s portfolio of film and TV properties across platforms such as interactive gaming, themed entertainment, TV promotions, literary publishing and a wide range of consumer product categories.  Based in the US, Godsick will manage both the LA and London-based operations.  Godsick has served in several senior positions at Fox’s feature film division, most recently as Sr. EVP/Marketing.  Godsick was President of Fox-Walden 2006-2008.  Prior to joining Fox, Godsick was a senior executive at Rogers and Cowan.  He began his career at Columbia Pictures as an Assistant Field Manager, working on movies including The Karate Kid and Ghostbusters, among many others.

Rosa Tevar is named Director/Licensing, Warner Bros. Consumer Products Spain and Portugal.  She will report to Pilar Zulueta, EVP and GM, Warner Bros. Consumer Products EMEA.  Tevar, who joined WBCP in 1999, was most recently Group Manager Retail & Business Development.

RATINGS

Live + Same Day Ratings Kids Cable Network Averages (000) for Thursday, October 6, 2011, 6am-11pm, ranked by K2-11:
DISNEY CHANNEL:     K2-11 828; K6-11 454; TWEENS 9-14 334
NICKELODEON:          K2-11 668; K6-11 276; TWEENS 9-14 209
CARTOON NETWORK: K2-11 349; K6-11 208; TWEENS 9-14 167
DISNEY XD:               K2-11 186; K6-11 149; TWEENS 9-14 125
NICKTOONS:              K2-11   79; K6-11   57; TWEENS 9-14   62
Source: MTVN Research from Nielsen Media Research Data


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Answer to Yesterday’s Trivia Question:  Who was bigger than big, taller than tall, quicker than quick, stronger than strong, ready to fit for right against wrong?  Gigantor, the space aged robot.  Kudos to:  Brad Stern-Floral Park/NY; Hank Bordowitz-The Bordowitz Media Werx/Ridgewood NJ; Pat Brady-CESD/LA; Craig Miller-Wolfmill Entertainment/LA.

Today’s Trivia Question:  How did Captain Kangaroo get his name?   (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
Gwen Billings for Cynopsis Kids!
10.10.11

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