03/29/17: Gaga launches youth-powered, empowering digital site; Disney Jr. has Puppy love; Bento Box hangs shingle in London


Good morning. It’s Wednesday March 29, 2017 and this is your first early morning Kids briefing.


Born This Way Foundation, co-founded by Lady Gaga, has launched Channel Kindness, a new digital platform featuring stories of kindness as documented by young people from around the US. The site comprises videos, first person essays and interviews with youth leaders, among other content and is intended to give young people a voice in a landscape that often ignores them and to serve as a counterbalance to negative media narratives. Content is posted by youth reporters, ages 16 to 24, who identify and document the acts of generosity, compassion, and acceptance that define their generation and shape their communities. “Channel Kindness is a call to action for young people to make their voices heard. This is a diverse, passionate, and collaborative generation who are leveraging their creativity to solve problems in their communities,” said Lady Gaga. “They understand our world will be stronger when we value one another and live with compassion.”

Mattel Creations appointed ProjectFirst and Little Dot Studios in Russia and France, respectively, to manage ad-based VOD platforms and grow channel subscribers for Mattel’s Barbie, Hot Wheels, Monster High and Thomas & Friends brands. ProjectFirst, a multichannel YouTube network that creates, distributes and promotes family-friendly content in multiple languages,will manage Mattel’s presence across AVOD content distribution platforms, and also will create a new Russian channel for Thomas & Friends. Little Dot Studios, the biggest distributor of television content on YouTube, will create and manage a Thomas& Friends YT channel in France.

The film industry needs to use the ravenous millennial social media realm to its advantage if it wants to sustain record box office levels, Disney distribution chief Dave Hollis told CinemaCon attendees and exhibitors yesterday. Noting the plethora of in-home entertainment choices including social media and streaming as detractors from theater-going, he said, “We can see this as an opportunity and use these to get to the next level… we have to think differently about how we get people into movie theaters.”

Nominations for the 44th Daytime Emmy Awards are in and among those in contention for statuettes are, for outstanding preschool children’s series: Bookaboo (Amazon), Dino Dan: Trek’s Adventures (Nickelodeon), Mutt & Stuff (Nickelodeon), Sesame Street (HBO) and Sunny Side Up (Sprout). For outstanding children’s or family viewing series: Annedroids (Amazon), Give (NBC), Odd Squad (PBS), This Just In (Pop TV) and Xploration DIY Sci (syndicated). For outstanding preschool children’s animated program: Ask the Storybots (Netflix), Peg + Cat (PBS), The Snowy Day (Amazon), Tumble Leaf (Amazon) and Wallykazam! (Nickelodeon). For outstanding children’s animated program: Disney Milo Murphy’s Law (Disney Channel), Dragons: Race to the Edge (Netflix/Dreamworks Animation), Lego Star Wars (Disney XD), The Mr. Peabody and Sherman Show (Netflix/Dreamworks Animation) and Lost in Oz: Extended Adventure (Amazon). Statuettes will be handed out on Sunday, April 30.


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Animal Planet is cooking up a series primed for family co-viewing that may take the prize for probing the ultimate sibling rivalry. Cat behaviorist Jackson Galaxy and dog trainer Zoe Stathis-Sandor will attempt to establish harmony in households where felines and canines don’t get along in Cat Meets Dog (working title). They’ll also educate each other on their preferred species and try to convince the other of his or her favorite animal’s superiority. The series is from Magical Elves, whose Dan Cutforth, Jane Lipsitz, Casey Kriley and Rebecca Hertz serve as executive producers. Dawn Sinsel is exec producer for Animal Planet.


On Tuesday, April 4, Amazon original special Tumble Leaf Spring-A-Ling Surprise will premiere on Prime Video in the US and UK. Directed by Drew Hodges (Community) and executive-produced by Hodges and Kelli Bixler (The Roadents) of Bix Pix Entertainment, the special, features everyone helping Bloom the bunny hunt for his lost eggs, which he plans to plant for a spectacular spring surprise, and Fig uncovers many other signs of the bright and sunny season of spring along the way.

The Toy Box, a toy competition series that provides designers with an opportunity to bring their toy concept to life with Mattel, premieres on ABC on April 7 at 8p. The toys  and their inventors  are put through a series of trials and tests before facing the ultimate judges: a panel of no-nonsense, toy-loving kids. In addition to its US debut, entertainment studio Electus, an operating business of IAC, closed a finished tape sale of The Toy Box with Bell Media, which will simulcast the series on CTV on April 7.

Disney Junior’s new animated series Puppy Dog Pals debuts Friday, April 14, at 10:30a with back-to-back episodes. Created by comedian Harland Williams, series follows two fun-loving pug brothers, Bingo and Rolly, whose thrill-seeking appetites take them on adventures through their neighborhood and around the globe. Williams also serves as consulting producer and writer and voices the role of Bob, the pups’ devoted owner. Sean Coyle (The Awesomes, Mickey Mouse Clubhouse) serves as exec producer. Voice cast includes Issac Ryan Brown (black-ish) as quick-witted, problem solver Bingo; Sam Lavagnino (Miles from Tomorrowland) as silly, energetic Rolly; Tom Kenny (SpongeBob SquarePants); and Jessica DiCicco (The Lion Guard). Huey Lewis, Patrick Warburton, Jack McBrayer, Yvette Nicole Brown and Bob Uecker are among recurring guest stars. Games and activities featuring Bingo and Rolly will be available on the Disney Junior app and DisneyJunior.com beginning Friday, April 7.

Kids BBQ Championship return to Food Network for season 2 on Monday, May 1 at 8p with an updated format, more kid grill masters and new co-host Damaris Phillips joining returning co-host and former NFL player Eddie Jackson. This season, each episode finds the young contenders facing off in an outdoor kitchen setting, with cooking challenges from baby back ribs and hearty chuck wagon meals to bison and classic pork and beans. The most successful competitor wins $10,000 and BBQ glory. Guest judges include Shannon Ambrosio, Diva Q and Jess Pryles.


9 Story Distribution International acquired three children’s series for international distribution: Vivi, about a 7-year-old girl and her friends Backpack and Flashy who embark on magical journeys, was created by Oscar-winning director Ale Abreu and produced by Mixer Films. Ruby’s Studio, the Emmy- and Cynopsis Kids !magination Award-winning series from The Mother Company, was designed to provide social and emotional tools to preschoolers. And multiplatform short series My Friend Bubbles, from Canada’s TeleQuebec, promotes the socio-emotional and cognitive development of toddlers via the adventures of animated series star Bubbles, a 6-year-old boy, and his playful kangaroo friend.

Robert Rodriguez is on board to direct STX Entertainment’s animated project Ugly Dolls, based on the kids toys. STX is planning the film as its step into the family and animation business. The movie is scheduled to premiere May 10, 2019.

Pick me, pick me: Eddie Murphy’s back in animation. STX Entertainment showed a clip yesterday at Cinemacon of an untitled animated project the company is developing around Bo the Bull, with none other than Shrek’s donkey himself returning to the screen.

Universal Pictures Robert-Downey Jr.-starring, as yet untitled Doctor Dolittle project, has a release date. The film will debut on Friday, May 24, 2019. Also slated to premiere that weekend is Warner Bros’ Minecraft: The Movie, based on the video game.


Bento Box Entertainment is expanding its international footprint with the opening of its first office in Europe – Sutikki UK. The London office will be focused on growing Bento Box’s new kids and family business, Sutikki, which launched in October 2016, co-founded by Andrew Kerr and Irene Weibel. industry veteran Stephen Gould is joining Sutikki to lead the UK office and take on the new role of territory head, UK and EMEA. Gould most recently was managing director for the UK and Eire at CPLG. His initial focus will be growing licensing opportunities for Moon and Me, the newest children’s television series created by Andrew Davenport (Teletubbies, In the Night Garden) and his new production company Foundling Bird, in partnership with Sutikki. Moon and Me will premiere on BBC’s CBeebies channel in early 2018, with Hasbro as the global master toy licensee. Sutikki holds non-UK broadcast distribution rights for the property.

UK children’s media company Platinum Films appointed Singapore-based Bomanbridge Media as the Asian TV distribution partner for its animated adventure-comedy series Matt Hatter Chronicles. Bomanbridge Media will market and license all four seasons of Matt Hatter as well as the new Matt Hatter TV Movie via a three-year exclusive representation deal.

Smurfette, the only female member of The Smurfs, got yanked from a movie poster promoting Smurfs: The Lost Village in the ultra-Orthodox city of Bnei Brak, near Tel Aviv, Israel. In this community, it isn’t acceptable for women to appear in advertisements, so film distributor Forum Film told Israeli paper Haaretz they decided not to display the original poster so as “not to harm residents’ sensibilities.” No comment on how the community feels about blue people.


Warner Bros. Home Entertainment and Imax are partnering to develop and release three premium, interactive virtual reality experiences based on upcoming WB films including Justice League, Aquaman (slated for December 2018) and a third as-yet unnamed franchise. One experience will be released per year, beginning with Justice League, set to debut this November. The experiences will debut in an exclusive window in Imax VR centers before being made available to other VR platforms, including in-home and mobile devices. Imax opened its first VR Centre in LA this year.




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