Good morning. It’s Wednesday, September 04, 2013, and this is your first early morning briefing.
Bob the Tomato, Larry the Cucumber and friends are entering digital age. Cupcake Digital will announce today that it’s developing a series of children’s apps featuring characters from the popular VeggieTales franchise. The story activity apps are designed for kids ages 4-7 and the first entry, slated for October release, ties in to Big Idea Entertainment’s upcoming VeggieTales holiday DVD, Merry Larry and the True Light of Christmas. The holiday app’s activities take place at the Spring Valley Mall, where Larry is hard at work as the head elf. Kids get to help him in the mall and visit shops that offer creative, educational and imaginative activities. The app will be available day-and-date on iTunes, Amazon, Google Play and the Barnes & Noble for Nook store.
The TV version of author Jim Benton’s best-selling book series Dear Dumb Diary premieres on Hallmark Channel on Friday (Sept. 6) at 8p. The movie, a musical adaptation that follows the musings of Jamie Kelly as she navigates middle school life is directed by Kristin Hanggi (Rock of Ages) co-written by Benton and Hanggi, and exec-produced by Janet Zucker (Friends with Benefits) and Jerry Zucker (Airplane!, Naked Gun, Ghost). We caught up with Benton a few days before the premiere:
Why a musical?
Jamie has a rich fantasy life, and when the story goes into one of her musings, a musical number is a great way to portray it.
Does Hollywood have a “girl problem”?
The protagonist is a middle school girl, and there was a lot of concern from some studios and networks that it would be a liability. I don’t think girls and boys are nearly as focused on gender behavior as so many [executives] think they are. It was a huge hurdle, but we never gave up.
Best advice for children’s show creators?
Any show that writes down to a kid is making a huge strategic mistake. Adults hate being talked down to; kids hate it more. And be subtle in the performances and the comedy. Not everything has to be super-jokey.
It was no accident that outspoken puppet Crash was front and center with Disney chief Gary Marsh at the company’s Upfront in March. Budding series Crash & Bernstein’s been a hit with its unpredictable humor and buddy antics. Season one culminates Sept. 9 at 8:30p with a one-hour ep and the launch of an online fan contest, “Pick Crash’s Nose,” which runs through Sept. 15. Fans won’t have to wait long for season two, which premieres Monday, Oct. 7, at 7:30p on Disney XD, or the new game Crash & Bernstein: Cluck n’ Chuck, where fans play as Crash and Wyatt. The game is playable on both a computer and mobile devices.
Hub Network is rolling out some tune-in incentive for its “classic TV” primetime lineup of shows including Happy Days, Laverne & Shirley, Mork & Mindy and ALF. Next week (Sept. 9-12) viewers are invited to play “Hubingo,” which is like classic Bingo but instead of numbers, the customized cards available on the network web site contain images that correspond with the Hub’s evening shows.
Fresh from celebrating 20 years of Power Rangers (raise your hand if you’re feeling geriatric), Saban Brands and Nickelodeon will return Saban’s Power Rangers Megaforce to the air with all-new episodes Saturday, Sept. 7, at 1p. The Power Rangers Megaforce will be followed by the season premiere of the all-new Digimon Fusion at 1:30p on Nick. In related news, the Power Rangers Action Card Game: Series 4 Legends Unite drops in November.
MORE KIDS NEWS
“All of us–entertainment companies, toy companies, video game companies, mobile app developers–are competing for mind share and business in the evolving structured and digitized lives of children.” This from Charles Albert, CEO of digital content developer Creativity Inc. Albert co-founded the inaugural World Congress of Play, Sept. 9-11 in San Francisco, to address this convergence. What else is on his mind? “Kids are missing out on learning how to improvise and think for themselves… The toy industry is obsessed with what’s called ‘Kids growing old younger’ and it affects all entertainment and pop culture.”
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Tricon Films & Television is launching a Kids & Family division, which will represent both acquired content and new projects in development. Coinciding with the new unit is Tricon’s acquisition of Kavaleer Productions’ new animated preschool ecology series Wildernuts, which introduces preschoolers to biodiversity and ecology.
Little Airplane latest series, Super Wings! (52×11 minutes) will be taking off at Mipcom Jr. The show is a co-production with FunnyFlux Entertainment in South Korea and QianQi Animation in China. Created for 3-6 year olds, the animated preschool series follows the adventures of a little jet plane called Jett; in each episode, he encounters a new problem to solve. The Alpha Group has already signed up as the global master toy licensee.
Kids do the darnedest things. Among them, racking up significant ancillary charges surrounding apps and games they get immersed in. Apple’s new IOS 7, due out Sept. 10, will contain a category of content specifically for kids under 11 years old who use the device. Apple is asking developers to begin categorizing their apps by age ranges for 5 years old and under, 6 to 8 or 9 to 11. The move dovetails with another change; Apple management will now allow minors under 13 years old to open and manage Apple IDs. With its new operating system, Apple is also responding to heavier restrictions under the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) that prohibit the collection of photographs, video or audio from underage users. IOS developers now must include privacy policies on all children’s apps, and Apple is prohibiting the use of behavioral targeting in apps aimed at kids.
Speaking of Apple, Apple TV is expanding with new Watch Disney and Watch Disney XD apps, providing live feeds and on-demand content from the nets.
YouTube series Jack Hanna’s Wild Countdown Summer Sneak Peek launched Saturday, Aug. 31. The seven-part miniseries features exclusive preview footage from the third season of Jack Hanna’s Wild Countdown, the new season of which premieres on ABC on Saturday, Oct. 5. Online episodes will be available at www.youtube.com/SummerSneakPeek.
YouTube kids channel Cartoonium, from Maker Studios, announced a new deal to add Care Bares and Strawberry Shortcake to its library.
GAMES & APPS
Oceanhouse released the eighth book app in its Cat in the Hat’s Learning Library series. As its name implies, there’s a Map on My Lap!: All About Maps is a tool for kids, teachers and parents to explore different types of maps including city, state, world, topographies, temperature and terrain.
Babar’s 80th birthday celebration continues. ITV Studios Global Entertainment nabbed a U.K. distribution deal with Stepping Stones Marketing for Babar games and puzzles. The Babar Wooden Magnetic Shapes Set and the Babar Deluxe Puzzle Wheel from specialist toy and gift design group Mudpuppy will hit indie shops in early fall.
A CYNOPSIS MESSAGE
Content Innovation and Next Gen Advertising Models
October 17| Grand Hyatt | NYC
Mark Garner: Senior Vice President at A+E Networks
Mac McKean: Senior Vice President at AMC
Miguel Monteverde: Vice President at Discovery Communications
Nerd Corps Entertainment will introduce its first original preschool series, Kate and Mim-Mim, to Canadian audiences via a new deal with BBC Kids and Knowledge Network, beginning in 2014. Additionally, CBeebies picked up the show in the U.K., also launching in 2014. The 3D-animated series, aimed at girls 2-5, was created by husband and wife duo Scott and Julie Stewart, with funding from the Shaw Rocket Fund. FremantleMedia Kids & Family Entertainment holds the exclusive worldwide distribution and licensing rights for the property outside of Canada.
U.S. audiences aren’t the only ones who’ll be able to enjoy the antics of Saban Brands’ new animated preschool series Julius Jr. The show has been licensed to French broadcaster TF1 in a deal negotiated by the series’ exclusive international distributor, MarVista Entertainment. In addition to the broadcast deal, TF1 Licences will also serve as the official licensing agent for Julius Jr. for the region.
Chello Central Europe added action-adventure series Matt Hatter Chronicles to its pan-regional kids’ channel Megamax this fall. Seasons one and two of the CG-animated series will premiere in November in a primetime slot on the boy-skewed channel, which targets 7-to-14-year-olds. The multi-territory deal will see Matt Hatter Chronicles broadcast across Hungary, Romania, Czech Republic and Slovakia and further bolsters the profile of the property in Central Europe.
PARTNERSHIPS & PROMOTIONS
Aussie kids are about to get a fun lesson in healthy eating. The New South Wales
Government and Healthy Kids Assn. is teaming with the creators and stars of series LazyTown to promote its month-long Fruit&Veg promotion, designed to educate them about obesity and diet-related diseases.
Daniel Porter, former OMGPOP CEO and Zynga GM, has been tapped to head WME’s Digital Group. While at OMGPOP, Porter oversaw the design and release of the Draw Something app, currently the third most downloaded game ever.
Ask my 13- and 15-year-old daughters, and they’ll tell you the weekend’s top-grossing movie, One Direction: This is Us, was the Best. Movie. Ever. Me, I give it a B. As a fluffy piece of promotion with just a hint of naughty every time one of the boys takes off their shirt during filming (which they do often), it succeeds gloriously. But I expected a little more from director Morgan Spurlock (Supersize Me) than a treatment where the band members’ comments are virtually indistinguishable. Most salient sound bites come from the boys’ parents, who share feelings not only about missing their kids but also ceding the parental right of passage of opening the world to our children.
Answer to Last Week’s Trivia Question: Which network aired Fraggle Rock in the mid-80s? HBO. Kudos to: Jodi Bogdanoff, Brand Central, NY; Rori Caffrey, The World of Pia, Toronto; Chris Devine Dailey, Simply Devine Marketing Group, NY; Keith Manzella; Eastwest Marketing Group, NY; Joel Maxwell, NY; Michael Ritz, BucStar Consulting, NY; Sharaine Roberts, A+E Networks, NY; Joe Swaney, Cartoon Network, Atlanta; Tom Boyd, WGN, Chicago; Betsy Bozdech, Common Sense Media, San Francisco; Jimmy Huynh, Toon Goggles, LA.
Today’s Trivia Question: Jack Hanna is director emeritus at a zoo in which U.S. city? (Email firstname.lastname@example.org with your answer and be sure to include your name, company, city and time zone.)
BY THE NUMBERS
Due to the Labor Day holiday, ratings were not available for this week’s edition. They will return next week.
Weekend box office estimates for the 10 top-grossing kids/tween/teen movies rated G, PG or PG-13, provided by Rentrak for Aug. 30-Sept. 1, 2013:
One Direction: This Is Us (Sony) PG $17 million (weekend) $17 million (1-week cume)
Lee Daniels The Butler (The Weinstein Co.) PG-13 $14.7 million (weekend) $74 million (3-week cume)
Planes (Disney) G $7.8 million (weekend) $70.8 million (4-week cume)
Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters (20th Century Fox) PG $6.1 million (weekend) $56.6 million (4-week cume)
The Mortal Instruments-City of Bones (Sony) PG-13 $5.2 million (weekend) $22.7 million (2-week cume)
The Getaway (Warner Bros.) PG-13 $4.5 million (weekend) $4.5 million (1-week cume)
Blue Jasmine (Sony Pictures) PG-13 $4 million (weekend) $20.5 million (6-week cume)
Despicable Me 2 (Universal) G $2.7 million (weekend) $354.7 million (9-week cume)
The Wolverine (20th Century Fox) PG-13 $2.3 million (weekend) $128.4 million (6-week cume)
Smurfs 2 (Sony) PG $2 million (weekend) $66.1 million (5-week cume)
A CYNOPSIS MESSAGE
Cynopsis Webinar09/18/13 @ 1:30-3:00pm EST
Reaching Millennials: New Ways to Activate Viewership & Revenue
Moderator: Roberta Caploe, Editorial Director – Cynopsis Media
MTV: Joe Ortiz (SVP Marketing)
Fitzgerald + Co: Noel Cottrell (Chief Creative Officer)
Pivot/Participant Media: Kent Rees (EVP Marketing, Scheduling & Operations)
Turner Broadcasting’s Young Adults Group: Patty Gillette (SVP, Integrated Marketing)
Cheers — Cathy
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