04/05/17: Disney’s Raven sequel starts production; NPH-hosted kids game show heads to NBC; Food Network’s family viewing recipe


Good morning. It’s Wednesday April 5, 2017 and this is your first early morning Kids briefing.


That’s so deja vu: Disney Channel officially ordered Raven’s Home, a new series that continues the story of the net’s stalwart series That’s So Raven and also targets K6-14 and their families. Production begins this month in LA for a scheduled premiere in late 2017. Starring are the previously announced Raven-Symone and Anneliese van der Pol, who will reprise their roles as best friends Raven Baxter and Chelsea Daniels, who are now divorced single mothers. Issac Brown (black-ish, Miles from Tomorrowland) and Navia Robinson (Being Mary Jane) have been cast as Raven’s 11-year-old twins, respectively, and Jason Maybaum (Superstore) will play Chelsea’s son. Sky Katz (America’s Got Talent) also joins the cast. Raven-Symone will serve as an exec producer on the series; Scott Thomas and Jed Elinoff (Best Friends Whenever, R.L. Stine’s The Haunting Hour) will also executive produce.
Yet another game show with kids as the centerpiece is on the horizon. Neil Patrick Harris will host NBC’s Genius Junior, which gives children 12 years old and younger the chance to compete. No premiere date has been set for the 10-ep show, which will feature 12 teams competing. Genius Junior is produced by Shed Media in association with Prediction Productions. The series is exec-produced by Harris, Pam Healey, John Hesling, Phil Parsons and Ed Egan. Harris also will be releasing a new middle grade fiction series, “The Magic Misfits,” later in 2017. Fred Savage recently signed on to host the Ricky Gervais-created Child Support game show for ABC.

Cartoon Network announced a roster of content for the 2017-18 Upfront season including six new and seven returning series, as well as more than 20 original mobile and console games. Here’s the new series slate:
Apple & Onion  Being new and naive to the ways of the “big city of sophisticated food” doesn’t stop the wide-eyed enthusiasm of the lovable buddies Apple and Onion in this friendship comedy is created by George Gendi (The Amazing World of Gumball).
Craig of the Creek  The rules of the outside world don’t apply in this kid utopia of untamed wilderness where Craig and his two best friends have ventured and tribes of children reign over tree forts and dirt bike ramps. Created by Matt Burnett and Ben Levin (Steven Universe).
Summer Camp Island  Fresh from a festival run, imaginative animated series based on the original Cartoon Network short will continue unfolding the mysteries that Oscar and his best friend Hedgehog encounter at a magical summer camp. From creator Julia Pott (Adventure Time).
OK K.O.! Let’s Be Heroes Crossing both the TV and gaming landscape this action comedy jointly developed with indie video game studio Capybara games is inspired by creator Ian Jones-Quartey’s childhood and follows the heroic feats of an y optimistic boy attempting to level up to be the best he can be in a dynamic universe of heroes.
Ben 10  The newest show from the franchise debuts Monday, April 10 and will introduce fun loving, 10-year-old, Ben Tennyson, his cousin Gwen, and Grandpa Max, as they traverse the country during summer vacation. Once Ben finds a mysterious watch that transforms him into 10 different heroic aliens, a world of extraterrestrial superpowers opens to him. Created by and exec-produced by Man of Action Entertainment.
Cloudy with A Chance of Meatballs  Just-debuted series is based on Sony Pictures Animation’s 2009 feature film and its sequel. Produced in association with DHX Media, Sony Pictures Animation and Corus Entertainment.
Returning Cartoon series include We Bare Bears, back for a third season, where Grizzly (Eric Edelstein), Panda (Bobby Moynihan) and Ice Bear (Demetri Martin) meet up with favorite friends and frenemies voiced by Patton Oswalt, Charlyne Yi, Jason Lee, Ellie Kemper and Cameron Esposito. Also, The Powerpuff Girls, which kicks off a second season featuring new characters and specials and will continue the network’s focus on STEAM education with two l themed eps this season; Mighty Magiswords, recently picked up for a second season; an eight-part miniseries of Adventure Time; Steven Universe; season 4 of Teen Titans Go!; and The Amazing World of Gumball.


Early primetime on Food Network is looking more family-friendly than ever, with a slate of programming that not only caters to across the ages, but increasingly puts kids in the spotlight. “We intentionally design shows to entertain all audiences,” Allison Page, Scripps GM of U.S. programming and development, tells CynKids. “A few years back, we implemented a strategy to cast kids inside programming with some of our most recognizable talent. Starting with Rachael vs. Guy: Kids Cook-Off, which was a tremendous success, we were the first to tap into the generation of kids who have actually grown up watching Food Network.” Next came a Chopped Teens tournament, which led to Kids Baking Championship and Chopped Junior. “Our second season of Kids BBQ Championship will launch in May, and we will continue to look for the best balance that offers our audience what they want to see in terms of family entertainment,” Page says.
The family vibe extends into the digital realm. “We firmly believe in the co-viewing experience our network offers and go beyond to reach younger fans through investments in our digital experiences, websites, apps and social media platforms,” Deb Puchalla, SVP of digital food programming, tells CynKids. Food was a charter publisher on Snapchat’s Discover platform, and the network creates daily “nuggets” for the platform. “The key is for our brands to be where superfans are, super-serving them, but also making a room around the table for new fans to pull up a chair,” she says. “Additionally, we have the benefit on Food Network with several shows that allow for stunts and franchises celebrating tweens, teens and collegiate cooks that beget content for our digital brands and social platforms. We actively commission and create original shortform celebrating family gatherings and everyday meals, snacks and sweets, helping grow a new generation of home cooks.”

The recipe is working. Food Network has been trending toward more of a co-viewing destination, with the percentage of adults watching with children up from where the network was three years ago. This according to David Schliecker, VP of research, who notes, “We’re happy that many of our other channels are showing more co-viewing behavior as well.”

As we’re squarely in Upfront season, Karen Grinthal, Scripps SVP of ad sales, tells CynKids: “Family co-viewing is beneficial for all core categories of advertisers. In the auto category, children are influencers in choosing a family vehicle. In the restaurant category, particularly in fast-casual dining, catering to the tastes of all members of the family is important. Entertainment is also important, and we have been very successful with sneak peeks of upcoming theatricals that are geared towards families.” Grinthal also cites retail and CPG food as strong family-oriented brand categories. “Although the core target demographic is consistently adults, we understand there is tremendous value for advertisers in reaching what is typically a fragmented audience within a cohesive environment,” she says.


Celebrating the Kids Industry’s Top Talent

CYNOPSIS’ 6th ANNUAL !MAGINATION AWARDS is gearing up for its best year yet and we are now accepting entries. ENTER NOW to showcase your contributions to content, branding, distribution and more in the golden age of children’s television.

Programming is shining brightly on the kids’ sector, and we are excited to bring your talents to the forefront by celebrating you and your peers this September.


Nickelodeon yesterday gave the greenlight to a 90-minute Invader Zim TV movie from original creator Jhonen Vasquez. The 2D-animated project, produced by Nick in Burbank, will show the latest ridiculous attempt at world domination by the universe’s worst alien invader ever. The movie will also feature original voices from the television series. Invader Zim debuted on Nickelodeon in 2001 and chronicled the efforts of an extraterrestrial named Zim on a mission to conquer Earth and enslave the human race. The movie marks the network’s third animated property from its library of content to be reimagined for today’s audience, joining previously announced TV movie Hey Arnold!: The Jungle Movie and Rocko’s Modern Life TV special, both currently in production.

A second season of animated comedy adventure series Lego Star Wars: The Freemaker Adventures will return this summer on Disney XD. Series will continue the story of the Freemakers as they join the Rebellion in their fight against the Empire. Prior to the season 2 debut, five new shorts that fill in the storytelling between seasons one and two will drop on Wednesday, May 4, on Disney XD in celebration of the Star Wars fan-generated "May the 4th Be With You" holiday. The first season ranked among Disney XD’s top-rated animated series during 2016, and has reached more than 55 million Total Viewers across the U.S. Season 2 voice cast includes Eugene Byrd, Nicolas Cantu and Vanessa Lengies.

Shaftesbury, along with its digital studio Smokebomb Entertainment and branded entertainment agency shift2, welcome Shaw Rocket Fund as a partner on multi-platform digital series Emerald Code, going into production this spring. Emerald Code follows 15-year-old Simone Lang who, after discovering web design and programming at summer camp, is amazed at everything she can create by herself with science and technology. The series, aimed at inspiring and girls 8-12 to pursue their interests in STEM subjects, will star newcomers Anwen O’Driscoll and Star Slade, and will be directed by Michael Seater (Life with Derek, Murdoch Mysteries). A companion shortform docu-series is also in the works that will document real-life kid heroes of coding.

FremantleMedia Kids & Family and the U.K.’s CBBC are back at it creating new adventures for the “world’s greatest secret agent,” Danger Mouse. The next installment of the series, which is part of FMK’s five-year co-production partnership with BBC Children’s and has been sold into 100-plus territories, is due to air on CBBC in 2018. Tim Searle is executive producer for CBBC Productions, and Bob Higgins and Chapman Maddox executive-produce for FMK.


Girl Starter, a new six-episode competition series that brings girls from across the country to NYC to compete in a series of “starter challenges” in order to develop, pitch, brand and fund a new business venture, debuts on Discovery Family on Thursday, May 4 at 8p. Contestants are mentored and assessed by judges, corporate partners, celebrity guest stars and more as they compete for a grand prize up to $100,000 worth of support and funding for the winning business.


Federation Kids & Family sold its teen drama series Find Me in Paris (formerly Paris Opera), produced by sister company Cottonwood Media, ZDF and ZDF Enterprises to a raft of new outlets including: ABC Australia, Disney (France, Italy), France Televisions and VRT Belgium. Series centers around Lena Grisky, a young dancer (and princess) poised to become the next young star of the ballet world in 1905.

Public kids’ broadcaster NRK Super – part of the Norwegian Broadcasting Corp. and the highest-rated children’s channel in the country – acquired the third season of Studio 100’s live action show Ghost Rockers.

During the first three months into its European debut, Toei Animation’s Dragon Ball Super continues to increase in viewership with strong ratings on broadcasters in Italy, Spain, Portugal and France. The show reached an average of 1.3 million on Italia 1, 86,000 viewers via Boing in Spain and is hailed as a flagship program for Toonami since its January 17 debut. Toei Animation has also developed an extensive licensing program, with Bandai launching the official toy line this spring.


Seattle-based SimplyFun, publisher of educational board games, launched an Advanced Product Search on simplyfun.com to help parents and educators find the right games for their child’s specific needs. The search maps more than 100 games based on age, skills learned, learning challenges and more. Learning challenges for children with special needs as well as strengths and challenges for children on the Autism spectrum are included.

Cathy Applefeld Olson

Roberta Caploe: Publisher @robertacaploe
Diane K Schwartz: Senior Vice President, Media Communications Group 

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