Good morning. It’s Thursday, April 12, 2012, and this your first early morning briefing.
Disney XD orders a new hybrid live-action/puppet comedy Crash & Bernstein, which will go into production in Hollywood this May for a fall 2012 launch. A multi-camera series, Crash & Bernstein revolves around Wyatt Bernstein a 14-year-old boy with three sisters, who gets a brother when his puppet, Crash, comes to life. Puppeteer Tim Lagasse (Sesame Street, Between the Lions) will star as Crash. Created by Eric Friedman (Austin & Ally, I’m In The Band), Crash & Bernstein is an It’s A Laugh production.
You might have heard massive sigh of sadness from The Hunger Games fans as they learned that writer/director Gary Ross (writer Big, Dave, Seabiscuit) would not be returning to helm Catching Fire, the second movie in the Hunger Games series, per THR. In addition to directing Lionsgate’s feature film The Hunger Games, Ross co-wrote the screenplay with Hunger Games creator/author Suzanne Collins and Billy Ray (State of Play, Flightplan). In announcing his decision Ross explained that time was a key issue for him, “as a writer and a director, I simply don’t have the time I need to write and prep the movie I would have wanted to make because of the fixed and tight production schedule.” In his statement Ross praised everyone involved in the movie, including the cast, producers, fans and the folks at Lionsgate, adding, “I loved making The Hunger Games – it was the happiest experience of my professional life.” The team at Lionsgate said they were sorry things didn’t work out, and that Ross “did an incredible job on the first film,” and they had wanted to make the second movie with him. Furthermore, the Lionsgate hopes to make other movies with Ross, stating “… we consider Ross to be part of the Lionsgate family and look forward to working with him in the future.”
Twentieth Century Fox Consumer Products and Bigpoint, an online game developer/publisher/content provider, unveiled plans to develop a new online game based on the feature film franchise Ice Age. The free-to-play browser game, Ice Age Online (www.iceageonline.com), players assume the role of a sloth that recently discovered the perfect place for animals from the herd to live. Along the way, the herd gets separated and lost. Players must rescue the lost animals and build up a camp for them to live. In the adventure mode, players collect valuable acorns and construction materials from locations from the movies, which can be used to build camps for the rescued animals to live. Ice Age Online will launch alongside Fox’s worldwide release of the fourth animated movie in the series, Ice Age: Continental Drift, in 3D July 2012.
Mattel and Crayola enter into a multi-year worldwide licensing partnership. Under their new relationship, Mattel and Crayola launch two new Crayola-branded Barbie and Hot Wheels themed product lines. Barbie and Hot Wheels will be featured in Crayola art products including Mess Free Color Wonder (markers and paints that appear only on Color Wonder paper) and a line of Giant Coloring Pages, which are available now. Additionally, the Crayola ColorStudio HD and iMarker, a Crayola app plus “appsessorie” that turn the iPad into an interactive coloring book, will launch later this year. Global distribution on the Crayola’s Mattel licensed items include the US, Canada, UK, Italy, Mexico, Latin America, Asia and Australia.
AT New Media, licensing agent for Team 17’s Worms merchandise, announces a new Worms 2: Armageddon (rated E for Everyone) update has been released in the UK via Apple’s iOS platform and offering new features. This comes just after the release of the new Worms Revolution game. The new Worms 2: Armageddon update features access to leaderboards and friend support via the Game Centre, as well as a special in-app purchase – the Golden Donkey – that when purchased can be used as a level skip. The popular Worms video game franchise initially launched in 1995, and has since been available on 20+ different gaming platforms with a number of different game titles with sales of about 30 million retail copies.
Poptropica, a kid-targeted virtual world, debuts its 26th island, Twisted Thicket (www.poptropica.com/island-tour/twisted-thicket-island.html), for its members today. The new Island, featuring adventures and fabled creatures (trolls, elves, goblins), will launch for the public on May 2, 2012. Twisted Thicket is set in a seaside village that has been attacked by mysterious beings that live nearby. Players enter the dark woods and meet up with the creatures, however beyond the forest is a world filled with magic and danger where even the truth is twisted. Poptropica members also receive an additional Twisted Thicket Gear pack, which includes a troll costume and power, a Dryad follower and, for a limited time during the early access period, a “lumberjerk” costume. Additionally, members who complete the new island will gain access to a bonus quest. Poptropica is published by Family Education Network, a unit of Pearson, the education, services and technology company.
Spain-based BRB Internacional launches its new, free animation content app, BRBPlay, for iPhone, iPad and iPod touch. The BRBPlay app provides kids/families with access to 1,000+ hours of animated content from BRB including classic titles such as — Around the World with Willy Fog, Dogtanian, Three Muskehounds, and David The Gnome, among others, and new productions such as Berni and Angus&Cheryl. The BRBPlay app was created with ADNstream tech support and will also be available later this year for Android devices. Additionally, BRB also recently launched BRBPlay.Com (www.brbplay.com), an online multi-platform web page that lets fans watch series and access a range of activities and games at home and will soon have an online store for licensed products.
Nick Jr. Australia channel will premiere its new original mixed live-action/puppet short-form series, Didi and B., on May 1, 2012. The music-filled series features Didi, a very positive butterfly, and B., a fuzzy spelling bee, in eight ongoing segments and includes six contemporary songs that will help kids at home wake up, have lunch, and go to bed. Didi and B. will also address things like days of the week, the alphabet, and the fun of being little, and includes a number of regular segments, some of which features real preschoolers. The on-air interstitials will be supported with offline activities for parents to share with their kids, such as with online activities, games and apps, and songs. Didi and B. was created and executive produced by Kristie Phelan, Nickelodeon’s (Australia) Creative Director and Had of Production. The characters were designed by illustrators/animators Phoebe Middleton Newell and Paul Newell from Drawing Room One, with Marea Fowler creating the puppets. Phelan consulted on character development with Nick Jr. US colleague Abby Pecoriello. Both Didi and B. characters are voiced by real 8-year-olds.
Studio 100 Media completes a multi-year license deal with the new kid-targeted TV network Minika (Turkey) for the mixed 2D/3D animated series The Woodlies (26×24). The news comes on the heels of Seven Network (Australia) picking up the series. Under the deal Minika takes the free TV and VOD rights for the animated series for five years. Targeted at K6-11, The Woodlies is based on author Cornelia Funke’s (Inkheart, The Thief Lord, Dragon Rider) novel No Cookies for Trolls, and is produced by Woodlies Pty, with the assistance of Flying Bark Productions and in association with Telegael Teoranta, Channel 7 (Australia) and ZDF (Germany). Turkey’s Turkuvaz Media launched Minika in April 2011.
As part of its recent sustainability initiative, Hasbro unveils plans to reduce materials used in product packaging for many of its popular global brands, including My Little Pony, Nerf and Play-Doh. The toy maker says its new packaging effort will result in an approximate 15 percent improvement in the average product-to-package ratio of products included in the initiative. The new more environmentally efficient toy packaging will debut at retail beginning this year. Hasbro plans to introduce a more broad range of efficient packaging over the next to years, including disposable boxes and blister packs that use less material. For example, a more efficient package design for the 2013 My Little Pony assortment pack is expected to reduce the size of shipping containers by 20 percent. Packaging that serves the dual purpose of long-term storage, such as game boxes, is not included in the initiative.
SMC Entertainment Group (SMC), an entertainment and brand management company, appoints Heather Smith Noback as VP/Interactive & Digital Media. Additionally, SMC also announces the formation of a new division to manage online and social media strategies for the company and its brands. Noback will report to SVP/Licensing, Lisa Streff. In her new position, Noback is responsible for the development and execution of brand strategies, as well as for overseeing licensing and merchandising of categories such as toys, interactive gaming and all digital media for SMC brands. She will also manage traditional licensing partnerships, and partnerships with developers of gaming and digital distribution. Furthermore, Noback will look to build retail partnerships and promotions with online retailers and digital partners. Noback joins SMC from Encore Software where she managed outbound licensing and business development for its brands, while also implementing partnerships with various companies. She previously toiled for DIC Entertainment (eventually Cookie Jar Entertainment), Buena Vista Home Entertainment, and Fox Family Worldwide. The newly announced division will also be headed by Streff.
Live + Same Day Ratings Kids Cable Network Averages (000) for Tuesday, April 10, 2012, 6am-11pm, ranked by K2-11:
DISNEY CHANNEL: K2-11 918; K6-11 543; TWEENS 9-14 417
NICKELODEON: K2-11 752; K6-11 325; TWEENS 9-14 233
CARTOON NETWORK: K2-11 515; K6-11 344; TWEENS 9-14 263
DISNEY XD: K2-11 175; K6-11 122; TWEENS 9-14 126
NICKTOONS: K2-11 117; K6-11 81; TWEENS 9-14 70
Source: MTVN Research from Nielsen Media Research Data
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Answer to Our Last Trivia Question: All Grown Up is a spin-off of what another cartoon? Rugrats. Kudos to: Meredith Wayne-CoxReps/NYC; Mara Anastas-Simon & Schuster/NY; Ellery J. Locklear-Scollon Productions Inc/SC; Michael Ritz-BucStar Consulting/NY; Liz Murray-Turner Broadcasting/Chicago; Odette Felix-Dark Horse Media/Tucson; Carol Roeder-Lucasfilm/San Francisco; Jimmy Cuomo-Artboy inc/Hollywood; Amber Kaye-Avail-TVN/Sherman Oaks,CA; Pat Brady-CESD/LA.
Today’s Trivia Question: Who used to live on Eternia? (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.)
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