04/03/18: Sesame Workshop expands autism awareness initiative with new resources, new Julia-centric episode

Good morning. It’s Tuesday April 3, 2018, and this is your your first early morning Kids briefing!

Pablo, the new series that features a core cast where everyone has autism, debuted this week on Universal Kids also to coincide with World Autism Day. CynKids caught up with creator Grainne McGuinness, who says she hopes “to begin a new, more optimistic conversation about autism… We wanted to create an authentic and compelling children’s TV series to encourage greater understanding and empathy around autism. We’re delighted that the magic of Pablo and his exciting adventures will now be enjoyed by millions of new children and grown-ups across the world.” McGuinness adds, “He sees the world differently, and thinks and processes things differently. The series celebrates that difference, inviting viewers to see the world through the eyes of a child with autism, and to be enthralled and entertained by the view.”
In other news of kids shows embracing autism, Sesame Workshop is launching the next phase of its Sesame Street and Autism: See Amazing in All Children initiative including new resources for Sesame Workshop and a special episode focused on Julia, the first Sesame Street Muppet with autism, airing on HBO and PBS Kids on April 9. In the ep, Julia plays a shape-spotting game with her friends and uses her unique perspective to find shapes no one else notices. The episode celebrates Julia’s individual talents and models inclusion. New resources include a storybook that introduces Julia’s family; four original live-action videos; digital routine cards that show Julia, Elmo, and Rosita tackling experiences that can present challenges for children with autism, available in English and Spanish; and a read-along video.
Disney Channel series Stuck In the Middle will end after three seasons, but series star Jenna Ortega is staying in the family. She just joined the cast ABC comedy pilot Man of the House. Stuck In the Middle wrapped production on season 3 in late March; the 22-ep third season will begin airing this summer. The series, which will run 59 eps in total, stars Ortega as a middle child in a family of nine.
Sinking Ship Entertainment added Canadian Apartment 11 series Rank the Prank to its repertoire. The series was produced for CBBC and Nickelodeon. Also new is The Unlisted, a live-action adventure series from Australian company Aquarius Films, slated for delivery to international broadcasters in spring 2019. Sinking Ship also is shopping new seasons of Dino Dana and stop motion pre-school series Scout and the Gumbot Kids, produced by Imagine Create Productions.
Nickelodeon International, in partnership with KidsRights Foundation, launched #KidsCan, an international campaign that spotlights the stories of nine International Children’s Peace Prize winners and nominees from around the globe who are creating positive change in their communities. As the next iteration of Nick’s Together for Good initiative, the network will air profiles on each #KidsCan change maker to educate young people about children’s rights and empower them to become change makers themselves. New profiles will air monthly from April through December.
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CBC Kids greenlit Marblemedia series Holy Baloney, a play-along,10-episode, three-minute challenge series scheduled to launch this spring on the network and on the CBC TV App. Each ep features three kids who take time out of their lunch hour to answer a poignant question about everyday things. Questions could include where something in the world comes from, why something is the way it is, or why people do the things they do. Series is from Matt Hornburg and Mark Bishop of marblemedia, along with Jesse Shamata, (Gaming Show). International rights are held by marblemedia’s Distribution 360.
Mainframe Studios, Wow! Unlimited Media’s Vancouver-based studio, premiered hybrid live-action/CG animated series ReBoot: The Guardian Code, on Netflix on March 30. Canadian distribution on YTV will follow in June. Created by Michael Hefferon, the action comedy follows the adventures of four teenagers who discover on the first day of high school that they have been selected to become the next generation Guardians of Cyberspace with the help of Vera, an artificially intelligent bio-constructed teenage girl.
Also upcoming from Mainframe is The Anybodies, a K6-11 animated comedy-adventure series about a 12-year-old girl who discovers her powers as a shapeshifter when reunited with her real family after being switched at birth. Series is based on the book trilogy by Julianna Baggott (aka N.E. Bode), adapted by David H. Steinberg & Keetgi Kogan Steinberg (Yo Kai Watch), who will be exec producers.
Mainframe is also continuing with Mattel and Barbie. The studio is in production on 26-ep series Barbie Dreamhouse Adventures. The studio’s produced 30-plus animated Barbie movies with Mattel over the past 17 years.
Disney Junior will air two Puppy Pals Hide & Seek marathons this month: April 7-8 starting at 1p and April 21- 22 starting at 1p. The stunt will drive kids to find a Puppy Dog Pals hidden graphic that will appear in every episode of the marathon… Also on Disney Junior, a burst of Goldie & Bear premieres will roll out Mondays at 8p beginning on Monday, April 9.
Attention parents, Craftsy, NBCUniversal Cable Entertainment’s online destination, is making its subscription product Craftsy Unlimited available on Roku devices. Subscribers get unlimited access to thousands of hours of exclusive video tutorials and classes in more than 16 creative pursuits including art, cooking and baking.
Digital company Fandomodo is launching Wild Wiener, the first in a series of casual games to be released for both iOS and Android devices.  The endless runner game is based on creator Christian Savalas‘ dog Lucy, a determined dachshund, driven by a thirst for adventure and unyielding obsession with wildlife. Savalas, the son of actor Telly Savalas, has developed apps including SwiftScales Vocal Trainer and Perfect Pitch Pipe.
The Walt Disney Company UK pays men 22 percent more than women. The results were revealed in compliance with an annual government mandate, and they reveal the company’s UK operations has a mean gap of 22 percent and a median gap of 15.8 percent. This compares to the national mean gap of 17.4 percent and median gap of 18.4 percent. In comparison, NBCUniversal has a mean pay gap of 3.2 percent and a median of 6.2 percent; Viacom’s Channel 5 pays women 2.9 percent more than men on a mean basis; and Endemol Shine UK revealed no gender pay gap.
Layoffs have hit Twitch. The social video service laid off about 20 people from its Twitch Studios, community and marketing divisions. Prior to the layoffs, Twitch had been growing steadily. The company recently partnered with Disney Digital Network to bring exclusive content from four popular Disney creators – Jacksepticeye, LuzuGames, Markiplier, and Strawburry17 – to Twitch.
Best-selling children’s author R.L. Stine (Goosebumps, Fear Street) is offering his first-ever online class exclusively through the MasterClass online education company.
Former Disney Channel star Caroline Sunshine is joining the White House team as a press assistant. The 22-year-old, known for her role alongside Zendaya in Shake It Up, has been a White House intern and previously interned for the Office of House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, the College Republican National Committee and the California Republican Party.
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Authenticity is at the center of licensing deals – including a new master apparel agreement with the Bentex Group and toy licensing agreement with Bonkers Toys – for CynKids honoree Pocket.watch and brands including Ryan ToysReview, EvanTubeHD, JillianTubeHD, HobbyKidsTV, and Captain Sparklez.
“The creators are intimately involved in the creation of their lines,” Stone Newman, Pocket.watch chief revenue officer, tells CynKids. “I’m a big believer that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. In the ‘90s there was no bigger program in apparel than Mary Kate and Ashley. It was a massive program at Wal Mart and was positioned as a lifestyle brand. Kids would see Mary Kate and Ashley wearing the clothes, but it was very controlled. I don’t want to say it was not authentic, but it was handled and managed,” he says. “What’s different about creators today is the unmatched level of authenticity. That authenticity rolls through the products and we are being very cautious in our approach. We want our creators to love the product and believe in it.”
To help bake in authenticity, Pocket.watch keeps a running list of its creators’ likes and dislikes. Newman hints some of the upcoming Ryan’s World product will be a tasty example of how that can play out in merch. “Ryan likes pizza, and his fans know that. So not every product and garment needs to necessarily have a big old Ryan face on it. That’s what’s unique. These are affinity brands.”
Genius Brands International appointed Robert Denton as CFO, effective April 18, 2018.  Denton worked alongside Genius Brands’ chairman/CEO Andy Heyward for five years while serving as CFO of DIC Entertainment, and has held exec stints at Artisan Home Entertainment, LIVE Entertainment and Ernst & Young. 
Today’s Trivia Question: What is the real name of “The Brain” on PBS Kids series Arthur (1996-)? (Email [email protected] with your answer and be sure to include your name, company, city and time zone. Unofficial rules: A limit of four correct answers from each time zone will be selected.).

Kids Series Anagram: Ha Spark Mates (Email [email protected] ; first three respondents with the correct answer who aren’t in trivia will be posted in tomorrow’s newsletter.)
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