04/06/16: Keenan details creation of Mattel Creations; DreamWorks finds a ‘Home’ on Netflix; Rainbow expands Winx world


Good morning. It’s Wednesday, April 6, 2016, and this is your weekly issue of Cynopsis: Kids!


In an unexpected move, Disney’s Thomas Staggs announced his departure from his position as COO on May 6. Staggs, a 26-year Disney veteran who was promoted to his current post a year ago and has been heir apparent to CEO Bob Iger, will remain in the role of “special adviser” to Iger through this fiscal year, Disney said in a statement. Iger is expected to step down in June 2018. With Staggs’ resignation, the Disney board of directors will begin a search for Iger’s replacement by broadening “the scope of its succession planning process to identify and evaluate a robust slate of candidates for consideration,” signaling its intention to seek external candidates, the board said in a statement.

The Parents TV Council continues to admonish the TV content ratings system after the latest study of broadcast networks ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox. “Parents who rely on the TV content ratings system to make informed decisions about what to watch on television have been deceived, as our new research shows that the ratings system has systemically failed to provide accurate and consistent information for its entire 20-year existence,” PTC president Tim Winter said.


Mattel has formed a centralized content division that will leverage the company’s brands to drive programming across multiple platforms including television, digital and theatrical. Mattel Creations will be headed by Mattel’s chief content officer Catherine Balsam-Schwaber, who joined the company last September. Mattel also promoted longtime creative exec Christopher Keenan to SVP, content development & production. Mattel/HIT brands include Thomas & Friends, Bob the Builder and American Girl. New content in production under the Mattel Creations banner include 2D animated series WellieWishers, from American Girl, and CGI movie Barbie Dreamtopia. Keenan took a break from MIPTV madness to outline the group’s vision…

Why is now the time for a centralized Mattel studio?
Ever since Mattel purchased HIT a few years ago there’s been a number of different creative entities under the Mattel roof. It makes more sense to align our creative efforts and create a global team with character and story driving the efforts that we can apply to not only our core brands but some of the lesser-known brands and characters, and also seek and out new properties and stories.

Will new content be toy-driven, as it has been in the past for Mattel?
Previously, Playground Productions focused primarily on creating content to support the toy and product lines in a number of our core brands, and HIT been a content-led organization. We are going to take that model and apply it across the board, and allow some of our product efforts to be inspired by that. It can work both ways. There may be new technology innovations on the toy front, and that may inspire content. But for the first time we are all gathering to say, the HIT model works really well – to go with content first and not necessarily a product. We are creating franchises and brands, not just toy lines.

How will short-form content iterations roll out?
Definitely short form is a big part of what we’re focused on, and it can be digital or it can live on television. Digital is extremely important. We have experimented with a variety of different models, and short-form content can serve a variety of different needs. For example with Bob the Builder, there was a lot of get-to-know-our team short-form digital content prior to the launch of the new series, and then we added sing-along videos and videos that delve into actually building and STEM elements of the show. Each served a slightly different purpose but what’s interesting is a lot of the short-form content ends up having a multitude of lives. It may have launched online but the broadcasters want it for interstitials, or to build a short series around two to three episodes.



Are you part of a team that works on a groundbreaking kids series, an addictive game or app, an infectious children’s entertainment campaign? Enter your mobile app, series, marketing campaign or leading executive in this year’s competition.

Deadline to enter: Wednesday, May 18, 2016 – Enter Now!

View past winners and honorable mentions: 2012 | 2013 | 2014 | 2015.


PBS Kids on April 11 will premiere all-new episodes of Ready Jet Go!, its series that teaches young viewers about astronomy, technology, scientific exploration, innovation and invention, and features live-action interstitials with NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory astrophysicist, Dr. Amy Mainzer.

Kelsea Ballerini and Zara Larsson are onboard to perform at the 2016 Radio Disney Music Awards. They join previously announced performers Ariana Grande, Flo Rida, DNCE, Hailee Steinfeld and Disney Channel star Laura Marano.


DHX Media will produce a second season of the new Teletubbies for BBC preschool channel CBeebies, with UK production house Darrall Macqueen back at the helm. Season two innovates with the introduction of new area of Teletubbyland called the Hidey Hup. Eps of the original Teletubbies series, which launched in 1997, have aired in more than 120 territories to date.

Cartoon Network ordered up fifth seasons of its animated series Steven Universe, created by Rebecca Sugar, and Uncle Grandpa, created by Pete Browngardt. Both hail from Cartoon Network Studios’ homegrown shorts development initiative.

European studio Rainbow is making a foray into live-action with Maggie & Bianca Fashion Friends, the story of an American girl who becomes the youngest contestant to win a scholarship at the Milan Fashion Academy. There she meets self-proclaimed Italian “princess” Bianca and other students who all share a passion for fashion and music.

In addition, Rainbow is rolling out Regal Academy, from Iginio Straffi (Winx Club), which focuses on the adventures of Rose Cinderella, a normal girl who suddenly finds herself in the world of fairy tales where she discovers that Cinderella is… her granny. The series has a worldwide deal with Nickelodeon.


DreamWorks Animation is continuing to spin its theatrical hits into digital series. The newest, set to debut on Netflix, is Home: Adventures With Top & Oh, which picks up where the 2015 animated film Home left off. Voice cast includes Rachel Crow as Tip and Mark Whitten as Oh, along with Ana Ortiz (Devious Maids, Ugly Betty), Ron Funches (Get Hard, Undateable), and Matt Jones (Breaking Bad). First season, recurring and guest-starring voices include Cheri Oteri and Abby Elliot (both of Saturday Night Live), Jon Heder (Napoleon Dynamite), and Wayne Knight (Jurassic Park, Seinfeld). Series is developed by Ryan Crego and Thurop Van Orman and exec-produced by Crego.

Rainbow is expanding its biggest franchise with World of Winx, the first NetFlix Originals show from the studio’s hit Winx Club franchise. In this new show, the Winx fairies visit earth as scouts for talent show WOW!.

Disney XD and Maker Studios released eight new videos across Disney XD digital platforms from their content and talent incubation program Disney XD by Maker. The 10 videos previously released on YouTube, which have garnered more than 5 million views, are also available on the Disney XD app. Disney XD by Maker features prominent names in Maker Studios’ network of creators, including EvanTubeHD (The Fixits), Random Encounters (Resident Enis 2), Patrick Boivin (The Aquacats), CaptainSparklez (CaptainSparklez Skate Challenge) and ZexyZek (The Not Too Bad Show).

Cake scored a volume deal with blim, Televisa’s new SVOD service that comprises 800-plus episodes including animated reality series Total Drama, Poppy Cat and Wanda and the Alien. “Having premium content for children is one of blim ìs goals, as it provides entertainment for the entire family, especially kids who are heavy users of our service,” said Carlos Sandoval, blim GM.


Boat Rocker Media acquired production house Radical Sheep, producer of series including Big Comfy Couch, Stella and Sam, The Bagel and Becky Show and Fangbone! Radical Sheep will become the original kids and family content arm of Boat Rocker. This is the second acquisition in the kids and family arena for Boat Rocker Media and, along with the growth of its Boat Rocker Animation division, marks the continued strategic expansion for the company in the creation and distribution of premium kids and animation content for the global marketplace.

Litton Entertainment and TVF International entered into agreement under which TVF will distribute family series Chicken Soup for the Soul’s Hidden Heroes to all markets globally outside the US. Hosted by Brooke Burke-Charvet, the series is a hidden camera, social experimentation show developed for teens.

Sanrio, the purveyor of Hello Kitty, and Universal Parks & Resorts opened the Hello Kitty Shop Featuring Hello Kitty and Friends at Universal Orlando Resort. The store marks Sanrio’s official retail debut and Hello Kitty’s first appearance at a theme park in North America.


Sesame Workshop is perpetuating the fashion of googly eyes and fuzzy friends with expanded clothing and accessory lines. New partners include Crocs, Quiksilver/Roxy, Puma, Mishka, Uniqlo and A Bathing Ape.

ZAG established a global network of licensing agencies to represent Zag Heroez, Miraculous, Tales of Ladybug and Cat Noir.  Animated comedy Miraculous airs in 120-plus markets including Nickelodeon in the US.

Cartoon Network and iconic footwear brand Dr. Martens took to London’s Carnaby Street to celebrate the launch of a new spring/summer 2016 Adventure Time boot collection. The new collection, available at Dr. Martens stores on online for both kids and adults, follows the success of previous collaborations between the two companies.

Spiffy Pictures, creators of PBS Kids animated romp Nature Cat, is showcasing a host of licensing opportunities for the series. With HiHat Media handling brand licensing for the US and 9 Story Media Group running international distribution and consumer products rights outside of the US, the brand will be supported by comprehensive consumer product platforms that inspire children to develop connections with the natural world. The show airs twice every weekday on PBS stations.


Rainbow’s Winx Club is headed to India via a deal with Indian broadcaster Sun tv.

Sesame Workshop, through Thaole Entertainment, has closed deals to broadcast programming including Sesame Street, Cookies Crumby Pictures, Elmo’s World and Super Healthy Monsters in Taiwan, Philippines and Thailand.

Mattel Creations’ CGI movie Barbie Dreamtopia has been picked up by Cartoon Network (Latin-America), Super RTL (Germany), Pop TV (UK), MiniMini (Poland) and Karusel (Russia). Additionally, the company is developing a new Fireman Sam special, and its upcoming Bob the Builder special has been picked up by FTA TEN/ELEVEN (Australia), Dreamia-Panda (Portugal), NRKSuper (Norway), Karusel (Russia) and ATV-Minika (Turkey). Mattel Creations also just released the official trailer for the new Thomas & Friends movie The Great Race, featuring a distinctly international lineup. The movie will also air on PBS later this year.

Silvergate Media notched new international sales for Octonauts, its undersea preschool adventure property. Deals have been finalized with Karusel (Russia), Disney Junior (Spain, and Portugal), and SVT (Sweden).
Strengthening its commitment to children’s and young adult programming, Mexico’s Canal Once is unveiling a new, original one-hour teen drama series on its international signal. Kin, a highly acclaimed drama/adventure program, will premiere Friday, April 8 at 4p. Series tackles teen harassment and bullying against the backdrop of the Mayan culture.

DHX Media scored new commissions for three series. Chuck’s Choice has been commissioned by YTV (Canada), and has already been licensed to Turner Broadcasting France; Space Ranger Roger is commissioned by Family Jr.; and season two of Inspector Gadget have been commissioned by Teletoon (Canada).

Studio 100 Media extended its agreement with Hungarian public broadcaster MTVA as a result of success of its series Maya the Bee, the channel will now offer CGI animation Tashi.

Breakthrough Entertainment is at MIP touting its recent film adaptation of L.M. Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables, starring Martin Sheen. The movie will be featured this fall on a US television network, and Breakthrough is in development on a second and third installment of the film series.


Top 10 Basic Cable Ratings for the week of March 28-April 3, 2016
K2-11 Total Programming Day

K2-11 Prime (Monday Sunday 8-11p.m.)

K2-11 (Monday-Sunday 6 a.m.-11 p.m.)

K6-11 Total Programming Day

K6-11 Prime (Monday Sunday 8-11p.m.)

K6-11 (Monday-Sunday 6 a.m.-11 p.m.)

K9-14 Total Programming Day

K9-14 Prime (Monday Sunday 8-11p.m.)

K9-14 (Monday-Sunday 6 a.m.-11 p.m.)
Source: Disney from Nielsen Media Research National MIT, ranked on coverage ratings
Viewing Type: Live + Same Day

K2-11 Top 10 Programs for the week of March 14-20, 2106
3/19/16 Henry Danger/NICK/8-8:30p/1520
3/17/16 Teen Titans Go!/TOON/6-6:30p/1384
3/19/16 SpongeBob SquarePants/NICK/10-10:30a/1142
3/19/16 School of Rock/NICK/8:30-9p/1081
3/19/16 SpongeBob Squarepants/NICK/10:30a-12p/1045
3/19/16 SpongeBob SquarePants/NICK/9:30-10a/1007
3/20/16 KC Undercover/DSNY/8-8:30p/984
3/15/16 Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs/DSNY/8-9:40p/970
3/14/16 The Thundermans/NICK/6:30-7p/958
3/18/16 Stuck in the Middle/DSNY/8:30-9p/942

K6-11 Top 10 Programs for the week of March 14-20, 2016
3/19/16 Henry Danger/NICK/8-8:30p/1217
3/17/16 Teen Titans Go!/TOON/6-6:30p/1025
3/19/16 School of Rock/NICK/8:30-9p/855
3/20/16 KC Undercover/DSNY/8-8:30p/825
3/18/16 Stuck In the Middle/DSNY/8:30-9p/802
3/20/16 Liv and Maddie/DSNY/9-9:30p/763
3/19/16 Bella and the Bulldogs/NICK/9-9:30/704
3/20/16 Best Friends Whenever/DSNY/8:30-9p/700
3/19/16 SpongeBob SquarePants/NICK/10-10:30a/698
3/18/16 Bunk’d/DSNY/8-88:30p/663
Source: Turner Research based on Total US Television Universe of 116,400,000 homes, Final Live+7.

Top Weekend Domestic Box Office Estimates for the top-grossing movies rated G, PG or PG-13: April 1-3, 2016

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (Warner Bros.) PG-13 $51.34 million (week 2) cume revenue $260.41 million
Zootopia (Buena Vista) PG $19.33 million (week 5) cume revenue $275.26 million
My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2 (Universal) PG-13 $11.22 million (week 2) cume revenue $26.58 million
God’s Not Dead 2 (PFR) PG $7.62 million (opening weekend
Miracles From Heaven (TriStar) PG $7.26 million (week 3) cume revenue $46.53 million
The Divergent Series: Allegiant (Lionsgate/Sony) PG-13 $5.76 million (week 3), cume revenue $56.42 million
10 Cloverfield Lane (Paramount) PG-13
$4.56 million (week 4), cume revenue $63.38 million
Star Wars: The Force Awakens (Buena Vista) PG-13 $681,629 (week 16) cume revenue $934.89 million
Kung Fu Panda (Fox) PG $571,187 (week 10), cume revenue $140.32 million
Risen (Sony) PG-13 $239,096 (week 7), cume revenue $36.52 million
Source: Rentrak Corporation


Igor Khait, the animation producer whose credits include Gnomeo & Juliet, Brother Bear, Atlantis: The Lost Empire and upcoming feature Sing, died Monday of pancreatic cancer. He was 52. Khait began his career at Amblin Entertainment in 1989, and most recently had been in Paris working as a co-producer on the upcoming Illumination Entertainment move Sing.


Amy Friedman has been named SVP, programming and development for Sprout. She most recently was senior adviser for Scratch, Viacom’s creative S.W.A.T. team, and was president of Redhead Consulting, a brand creation and content development company across all media. Friedman also has held senior management positions across all of the Nickelodeon networks.

Breakthrough Entertainment hired industry veteran Joan Lambur, the former EVP/president of on-screen entertainment of Itsy Bitsy Entertainment banner, as EVP, family entertainment. Lambur has helped attract major networks such as Nickelodeon with whom they co-developed the hit children’s series Max and Shred.


Last Week’s Trivia: What action star voiced the title character in Brad Bird’s 1999 animated film The Iron Giant? Vin Diesel. Kudos to: Joel Maxwell, NY; Jane Pook, NY; David Stern, BARD Entertainment, NY; Lindsay Garber, Splash Entertainment, Woodland Hills, CA; Izzy Neis. ModSquad, LA; David Pearlman, Disney Channels Worldwide, Burbank.

Today’s Trivia Question: What cartoon baby was born at the Rockville Hospital on February 22, 10,000 BC at 8:20p? Email [email protected] with your answer and be sure to include your name, company, city and time zone.)

Cathy Applefeld Olson

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