10/22/14: Not Dish-ing up Cartoon; Nick gets in the ring with WWE; Sesame Workshop explores speech recognition; Discovery Family names programming chief


Good morning. It’s Wednesday, October 22, 2014, and this is your first early morning briefing.


Nickelodeon and WWE are getting in the ring together, bringing WWE’s kids property WWE Slam City to the new NickSports block that airs Wednesdays 9-11p on Nicktoons. The short-form series, comprising two-minute shorts featuring WWE superstars John Cena, Randy Orton, Sheamus, The Miz, Rey Mysterio in an animated world, debuts tonight and will air every Wednesday. WWE Slam City is a key component of WWE’s larger strategy to expand its reach to kids. In 2013, the company’s national TV programming reached nearly 3 million kids each week, representing more than 20 percent of its average weekly TV audience. Since its launch earlier this year, the series nabbed nearly 20 million views across platforms including WWEslamcity.com, Cartoonium, WWE Network, Hulu, Kabillion, Nintendo and AOL.

Cartoon Network and other Turner content went dark for Dish Network subscribers in the wee hours yesterday morning and remained black at press time. A carriage dispute is also keeping Boomerang, CNN, Adult Swim, truTV, TCM, HLN and CNN en Espanol off the satellite service. The blackout arises as Turner is undergoing substantial cost-cutting measures including the layoff of nearly 1,500 employees.


PBS Kids gets into the Halloween spirit with the return of Curious George: A Halloween Boo Fest on Monday, Oct. 27. Boo Fest is followed by a week of spooky episodes from Dinosaur Train, Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood and Wild Kratts, plus the launch of season nine of Curious George. Listen for a new song by Go-Go girl Belinda Carlisle in the Oct. 28 underwater-themed ep “Submonkey.”

Disney XD is spooking it up with the premiere Monday, Oct. 27, of a Halloween-themed Kirby Buckets ep, “Flice of the Living Dead” at 7:30p followed by Toy Story of Terror at 8p, leading into new Gravity Falls and Star Wars Rebels episodes…. Then, for the third-consecutive year a cornucopia of multi-series, prank-themed storylines under the moniker "Pranksgiving," will air during November, including the premiere of an interstitial series created the Brothers McLeod (Pedro and Franksheep).

Disney Channel new short series So Much You Can Do To Take Care of You premieres Sunday, Nov. 2, at 8:55a. New shorts will premiere throughout the month.

It’s been 25 years since Laura Palmer promised us she’d be back on Twin Peaks, and thanks to Showtime, the David Lynch cult classic TV show is actually returning. So how can the premium cable network make one of TV’s most eccentric shows a hit in the new millennium? Saatchi & Saatchi marketing maven Erica Martinez has some excellent ideas–so read it while you drink a darn fine cup of coffee at Cynsiders.


She’s baaack… After almost two decades, Rainbow Brite returns to the small screen via a new series voiced by Emily Osment as Rainbow and Molly Ringwald and the Dark Princess. The reboot includes a new animation style.

Another nostalgic name, Colorforms, was just acquired by Out of the Blue Enterprises, which plans to bring the artsy-craftsy brand to a new generation with an animated series, toy line and digital apps. Out of the Blue is the studio behind Super Why and Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood.

Outfit7, the outfit behind the franchise Talking Tom and Friends, and Mythology Entertainment are adapting the Talking Tom and Friends universe into a motion picture franchise for family audiences. The movies will be produced by Mythology co-founders Brad Fischer and James Vanderbilt, and William Sherak, with Outfit7 founder/CEO, Samo Login exec-producing.


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Sesame Workshop and ToyTalk entered a two-year research collaboration to develop speech recognition for early learning and advance literacy learning among preschool-aged children. The research is designed to address questions of interest to both parties, and to develop best practices that will inform future products and services. The companies will use ToyTalk’s proprietary PullString Technology, the authoring environment for building speech-driven games and stories with interactive characters.

How do programmers partner with brands to deliver messaging that appeals to children, and satisfies both parents and the FTC? We’ll present fresh approaches to trends in the evolving brand integration market for kids in the Oct. 30 webinar “The New Secrets of Kids Branding: Hot Marketing Success Stories.” Speakers include Jennifer Giddens, VP of Marketing for Sprout Cable Entertainment; David Kleeman, SVP of Insights, Programs & PlayVangelist for PlayCollective; Kara Rousseau, SVP of Ad Sales Marketing for Disney Media Sales and Marketing and Mindelle Ziff, CEO for Kaleidoscope YFM.

Walt Disney Animation’s Marvel Comics adaptation Big Hero 6 hits theaters in a few weeks, and the studio is already tossing breadcrumbs about its next animated theatrical undertaking. Moana, a CG-animated comedy/adventure set in the ancient South Pacific about “a spirited teenager on an impossible mission to fulfill her ancestors’ quest,” is directed by Ron Clements and John Musker (Little Mermaid and Aladdin). Also on the 2016 slate: Walt Disney Animation film Zootopia, Pixar’s Finding Dory and a stand-alone Star Wars movie from Walt Disney Pictures.

Genius Brands International is bringing back its annual Warren Buffett’s Secret Millionaires Club brand promo "Grow Your Own Business Challenge," for a fourth year. The series and online competition, sponsored by the Fairholme Foundation, aim to encourage kids to be entrepreneurial and practice good financial habits from an early age. Kids 714 can submit original business ideas at www.SMCkids.com by Jan. 31, 2015. Five individuals and three groups will be selected as finalists to present their ideas to Warren Buffett and a panel of VIP judges in May; the winner will be awarded $5,000.

China-based Guangdong Alpha Animation and animation and toy developer Culture Company are hanging a new shingle in Boston. The entities created Auldey Toys North America, with plans to launch preschool program Super Wings in North America in 2015, plus new toy and product lines. Adrian Roche, former VP of brands at MEGA Brands, will serve as company president. ChizComm will serve as the company’s marketing agency of record.

Fun Fact: On Oct. 20, 1920, Scholastic was founded with the publication of a single classroom magazine, The Western Pennsylvania Scholastic. Ninety-four years later, 80 percent of K-6 classrooms in the U.S. read Scholastic magazines each month.


Digital games are making inroads in the classroom, according to a new national teacher survey conducted by the Joan Ganz Cooney Center, and the Games and Learning Publishing Council. The study, of nearly 700 U.S. K-8 teachers, shows growing receptivity to the use of games and video case studies to teach children. Among findings from respondents:
*  75 percent use digital games for instruction
*  Four of five teachers report their students play games at school at least once a month.
*  42 percent say games have improved students’ science learning (compared to 71 percent in math), despite research suggesting that games are well suited for teaching complex scientific concepts.
*  37% of game-using teachers report digital games as being effective in improving students’ social skills (which is low compared to other skills queried). Teachers whose students primarily play together (in pairs, small groups, as a whole class) were more likely to report improvements in social skills than teachers whose students play alone.

The DreamWorksTV YouTube channel is priming the Halloween pump with two weeks of specials that begain airing Oct. 19. Among the treats: Shrek and Puss in Boots vlog (video blog) about their Halloween fears; retro toons like Casper the Friendly Ghost and Fat Albert rise again to show how Halloween is really done; and original animations Fifi: Cat Therapist, Gorillaville and How To Do Everything with Garrick and Marvin pack Halloween surprises.

As touted, Fuhu’s nabi Big Tab HD 20-inch and 24-inch tablets are available at retail this week, in time for holiday shopping.


Ubisoft announced that Poptropica: Forgotten Islands, the adventure game based on the virtual world for kids, is now available for Nintendo 3DS system.

The Pokemon Company International launched the free Camp Pokemon on the Apple App Store. The app featuring Pokemon-themed activities for iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch devices running iOS 7 or later operating systems.


Universal Partnerships & Licensing partnered with Mega Brands to develop a kids construction line based on the Despicable Me franchise. Look for merch inspired by the Despicable Me 2 film in stores for this holiday season.


Canada’s YTV greenlit a second season of General Purpose Entertainment’s primetime hidden-camera series Undercover High. Lisa Gilroy returns as host the new season, slated to premiere in spring 2015.


Newly minted Discovery Family Channel appointed Sarah T. Davies as VP, Production and Development. Davies, most recently VP of Production and Factual Development for Discovery Networks International, is responsible for executing programming strategies through the production and development process.

Zodiak Media appointed Nathan Gibbs to fill the newly created position of Group Head of Format Acquisitions. The appointment follows Grant Ross joining Zodiak Media this summer in the new role of EVP Global Creative Development and Format Acquisitions. Gibbs joins from Endemol Australia where he has held various Head of Development and Executive Producer roles for the last seven years.


Cynopsis Kids Webinar
The New Secrets of Kids Branding: Hot Marketing Success stories
Thursday, October 30, 2014 | 1:30PM to 3:00PM ET

We’ll present up-to-the-minute, fresh approaches to trends in the ever-evolving brand integration market for kids. We’ll share the skills needed for all the biggest platforms, from streaming services (like Netflix and Amazon) to web content and offer fresh, inventive strategies so you can keep up with Generation Z … and their savvy parents.


Top 10 Basic Cable Ratings for the week of Oct. 13-19, 2014

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 Oct. 13-19, 2104
10/18/14/Toy Story of Terror/DSNY/9-9:30a/1695
10/18/14/Sofia the First/DSNY/8:30-8:55a/1505
10/16/14/Teen Titans Go!/TOON/6-6:30p/1462
10/18/14/Dog With A Blog/DSNY/9:30-10a/1318
10/15/14/Halloweentown II: Kalabar’s Revenge/DSNY/8-9:30p/1274
10/16/14/Steven Universe/TOON/6:45-7p/1200
10/16/14/Amazing World of Gumball/TOON/7-7:30p/1155

K6-11  Top 10 Programs for the week of Oct. 13-19, 2014
10/16/14/Teen Titans Go!/TOON/6-6:30p/1095
10/18/14/Toy Story of Terror/DSNY/9-9:30a/997
10/15/14/Halloweentown II: Kalabar’s Revenge/DSNY/8-9:30p/959
10/16/14/Steven Universe/TOON/6:45-7p/900
10/16/14/Return to Halloweentown/DSNY/8-9:40p/874
10/16/14/Amazing World of Gumball/TOON/7-7:30p/868
10/16/14/Teen Titans Go!/TOON/5:30-6p/848
10/17/14/Girl Meets World/DSNY/8-8:30p/828
10/18/14/Sofia the First/DSNY/8:30-8:55a/826

Source: Turner Research based on Total US Television Universe of 115,800,000 homes.

Weekend box office estimates for the top-grossing kids/tween/teen movies rated G, PG or PG-13, provided by Rentrak for Oct. 17-19, 2014:

The Book of Life (20th Century Fox) PG $17.01 million (weekend) $17.01 million (1-week cume)
Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible No Good Very Bad Day (Disney) PG $11.46 million (weekend) $36.29 million (4-week cume)
The Best of Me (Relativity Media) PG-13 $10 million (weekend) $10 million (1-week cume)
Dracula Untold (Universal) PG-13 $9.99 million (weekend) (-week cume) $40.83 million (3-week cume)
The Maze Runner (20th Century Fox) PG-13 $4.57 million (weekend) $90.9 million (5-week cume)
The Boxtrolls (Focus Features) PG $2.7 million (weekend) $46.09 million (4-week cume)


Answer to last week’s Trivia Question: Which pop star got the Cirque du Soleil treatment in 2012’s “Immortal”? Michael Jackson Kudos to: Jodi Bogdanoff, Brand Central, NY; Sheena Das, Disney Media Sales and Marketing, NY; Allison Hill, Cartoon Network, Atlanta; Jennifer Lynch, aNb Media, NY; John May, Cartoon Network-Adult Swim-Bomnerang, Atlanta; Joe Swaney, Cartoon Network, Atlanta; David Stern, BARD Entertainment, NY; Ted Nitschke, Kaplan Stahler Agency, Beverly Hills; Squirrel Rippley, Dark Horse Media, Tucson, AZ.

Today’s Trivia Question: How many Color Kids were there in the original Rainbow Brite series?
Email cathy@cynopsis.com with your answer and be sure to include your name, company, city and time zone.)

Cheers — Cathy Applefeld Olson
Cathy@cynopsis.com for
Cynopsis Kids!

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

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