Good morning. It’s Monday, November 7, 2011, and this is your first early morning Kids briefing.
Cynopsis: Kids! presents a new A Few Questions For…
Answering a few of our questions this week is Adina Pitt the VP/ Content Acquisitions and Co-productions, Cartoon Network and Boomerang. Based in NYC, Pitt is responsible for identifying, negotiating, and acquiring pre-produced series, specials, movies and short-form content for Cartoon Network and Boomerang and their respective platforms. She continues to oversee those programs once they have been acquired and positioned at each of the networks. Pitt also serves as a liaison with international Cartoon Network and Boomerang channels to coordinate global acquisitions, and she represents the US networks at all major programming markets. Pitt reports to Robert Sorcher, Chief Content Officer for Cartoon Network. Prior to joining Cartoon Network, Pitt was VP/Acquisitions for Nickelodeon and MTVN Kids and Family Group’s channels and programming blocks. She previously worked in film programming acquisitions at HBO. Pitt, who was born and raised in Puerto Rico, lives in NYC with her great family.
You work with all the Cartoon Network and Boomerang channels around the world to identify projects to buy and/or co-produce on a global network level. How has the international import business for the kids market, shows and formats, changed since you began in the industry? Are the deals more complicated than before?
There have been so many changes. Probably the most recent notable change has been the impact the economic downturn has had on the kids business. Financing shows has never been easy, but now it’s exponentially more difficult. It has presented the opportunity and need for unique partnerships and not just for the producers/distributors, but also the broadcasters.
Producers are now showing us content at very early stages and hoping to partner much earlier. This has us looking at our deals differently and thinking of new business models.
There also seems to be a lot of pressure put on producers to create a show that is tiered or multi layered, can work on multiple platforms, etc… You can’t be everything to everyone. This can also be an expensive task and doesn’t always make for a better show.
But I do see the value in producers thinking about their shows as franchises from the inception and I appreciate when they come to the table able to articulate their vision.
Another shift is the amount of emerging platforms in the marketplace. Content providers are in high demand, but figuring out a deal that works for all parties has never been harder. Trying to get a high quality show with a high volume of episodes at a cost that works for all parties, coupled with the ancillary rights discussion/negotiation is not easy. However, one thing has remained a constant in my experience, and that is that most content providers come to the table with a willingness to work together to figure things out. That is a great place to start a negotiation.
You always seem to be a step ahead of market trends. How do you know when a series is right to acquire for Cartoon Network or for Boomerang? What role does research play?
We try our best to know about everything available in the marketplace. It’s important to review our options on a regular basis in order to be aligned with our content needs. A great idea can come from anywhere at any time. We are always assessing the content needs of the networks and look for content that we think will work.
As much as we strategize and plan as far out as possible, sometimes unique opportunities present themselves and we try to act on these. Both channels have specific brand attributes and we always keep these top of mind when looking at content. However, we’ve never shied away from genres, formats, or ideas that may seem like a stretch.
Trying to find shows that resonate with our viewers is obviously the ultimate goal and a great challenge. Research provides us with valuable information about our viewers, the competitive landscape, ratings of course, trends, and so much more. The information our Research team shares makes us smarter about our decision-making process as it enables us to assess each opportunity with a different lens.
What should producers definitely avoid when pitching a project to you?
Trying to force an idea that inherently won’t work on our channels. We can usually tell fairly quickly whether or not we want to pursue or start to track a property. Most shows cannot work on all platforms. What’s good for our competitors may not necessarily be right for us. So if one platform has rejected your idea, making one tweak isn’t going to make it right for us.
Please don’t feel the need to use props during a pitch as these can be a distraction. Why all the props to describe an idea? The best pitches involve a producer or a distributor clearly describing an idea that he/she is excited about and our ability to have a creative exchange over it. Please keep it simple.
I cannot emphasize enough how important it is for the person pitching the network to do their homework about our brands. If you don’t know what we’re airing or who we’re targeting, then it will be a challenging pitch.
Don’t pitch something you don’t believe in and don’t assume you will know how the buyer will react. If nothing else, you should believe in the product you’re representing. I remember someone pitched me a show years ago and the opening line was, “I know you’re going to hate this, but just hear me out for a second.” Or, my personal favorite: “I am not a fan of this show, but maybe your viewers will like this. But if you disagree, can you give me the name of another buyer?” I know it’s a shock, but we passed on both shows.
Lastly, it’s so important to be able to give and receive constructive criticism during a pitch. Be open to the dialogue as opposed to taking a defensive stance.
What are the cartoons you remember most when you were growing up in Puerto Rico?
Wow, you’re making me think pretty far back! I loved watching Tom & Jerry and Scooby-Doo, but one of my favorites was “Los Pica Piedras” (The Flintstones) which was broadcast in Spanish.
Sony Pictures Animation taps writers Jay Scherick and David Ronn to pen the screenplay for the animated Popeye movie, based on the characters from the Popeye comic strip and cartoon. The writing team wrote the screenplay for Sony Pictures Animation’s The Smurfs (July 29, 2011) and Paramount’s upcoming Baywatch movie. Scherick and Ronn are also working on the sequel The Smurfs. Sony Pictures Animation and Arad Productions are producing the Popeye stereoscopic 3D animated feature.
In other Sony Pictures Animation news … Miley Cyrus will lend her voice to Mavis, Dracula’s daughter, in the new animated feature film Hotel Transylvania, per EW. The movie’s cast already includes Adam Sandler as Dracula, who builds a resort for all monsters and their families, and Andy Samberg as a regular boy who visits the hotel and who might be interested in Mavis and vice-versa, as well as; Kevin James as Frankenstein, Fran Drescher as the Bride of Frankenstein, David Spade as the Invisible Man, David Koechner as Quasimodo, Cee Lo Green as Murray the Mummy, and Steve Buscemi and Molly Shannon as a werewolf couple with lots of offspring.
Build-A-Bear Workshop partners with Warner Bros. Consumer Products for a Happy Feet Two promotion, which coincides with the release of the feature film on November 18, 2011. Consumers can now make their own Erik and Mumble characters at Build-A-Bear Workshop stores. Also available are Happy Feet Two characters Lovelace, Sven and Boadicea ($10 each, or $7.50 each when consumers purchase two or more) in pre-stuffed mini form. Erik and pre-stuffed mini friends will be available in stores and online at buildabear.com. Additionally, those who buy Erik will receive a virtual Erik for their online character to redeem on Build-A-Bear’s virtual world Bearville.com ( www.bearville.com). Fans can also meet a virtual version of Erik and take a special mini-quest to earn a special virtual movie poster for their Cub Condo, for a limited time.
The CW4Kids Toonzai, the 4Kids Entertainment Saturday morning kid-aimed programming block on The CW, and Archie Comics Publication partner for an exclusive, month-long promotion to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Sonic the Hedgehog with The Super Sonic Comic Sweepstakes. Sonic X airs Saturday mornings as part of The CW4Kids Toonzai block. The sweepstake, which runs through November 30, will be promoted on-air, online at www.Archiecomics.com and www.CW4Kids.com , social media channels, and in comic book, including a co-branded print ad featured in the November issues of the Sonic The Hedgehog and Sonic Universe comics.
This year marks the 95th anniversary of Lincoln Logs building sets. As part of the milestone celebration, construction toy company K’Nex Brands is hosting a Lincoln Logs commemorative sweepstakes now through November 17, 2011 at www.lincolnlogstoys.com. Lincoln Logs were created in 1916 by John L. Wright, the son of noted architect Frank Lloyd Wright. Lincoln Logs is a trademark of Hasbro.
HIT Entertainment and TOTSY.com, a mom-targeted and member only (free) shopping event site, have partnered for a special Angelina Ballerina retail promotion that runs now through November 9, 2011. Angelina Ballerina products featured in the include those from such companies including Alexander Doll Company (dolls), Wonder Forge (games), Mattel (figures and playsets), Rubies (costumes), Topsville (apparel), Schylling (kaleidoscopes and alarm clocks) and Penguin Young Readers Group (books).
Happy Nappers, the reversible pillow and pal toy, launches its first family aimed Happy Nappers Happy Sing Off! Facebook Video Contest ( www.facebook.com/happynappers ). Fans are invited to submit a video of themselves and their family singing the Happy Nappers theme song now through December 2, 2011 at 12a.
Nickelodeon premieres its new CG animated series Kung Fu Panda: Legends of Awesomeness all this week beginning tonight, Monday-Friday, November 7-11 at 5:30p. Leading into each of the debut episodes of Kung Fu Panda: Legends of Awesomeness this week the network will also premiere new episodes of SpongeBob SquarePants, as part of SpongeBob Runaway Road Trip week, November 7-11 at 5p. King Fu Panda: Legends of Awesomeness is co-produced by Nickelodeon and DreamWorks Animation SKG.
Disney XD will debut the two-part finale of the new adventure reality series Fort Boyard Ultimate Challenge tonight, Monday, November 7, 8-9p. Based on the adult-aimed gamer show Fort Boyard, Fort Boyard Ultimate Challenge is hosted by Geno Segers (Pair of Kings) and popular British host Laura Hamilton (Dancing On Ice). The series is produced by Zodiak Media Group’s production companies The Foundation and Adventure Line Productions.
Good news for the animation industry as eighteen movies have been submitted for consideration in the Animated Feature Film category of the 84th Academy Awards. The way Academy Awards consideration rules are set up, if all 18 of these films qualify then there could be up to five nominations in this category. As it stands now several of the films have not had their required LA qualifying runs, in addition to meeting all the other eligibility rules, in order to move forward in the voting process. The 18 submitted features are:
- The Adventures of Tintin
- Alois Nebel
- Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked
- Arthur Christmas
- Cars 2
- A Cat in Paris
- Chico & Rita
- Gnomeo & Juliet
- Happy Feet Two
- Hoodwinked Too! Hood vs. Evil
- Kung Fu Panda 2
- Mars Needs Moms
- Puss in Boots
- The Smurfs
- Winnie the Pooh
Films submitted in the Animated Feature Film category may also qualify for Academy Awards in other categories, including Best Picture, provided they meet the requirements for those categories. The 84th Academy Awards nominations will be announced live on Tuesday, January 24, 2012, at 8:30a, with the Oscar ceremony airing live on ABC on Sunday, February 26, 2012 at the Kodak Theatre at the Hollywood & Highland Center.
Weekend Box Office Estimates for kids/tweens/teens rated G, PG or PG-13; November 4-6, 2011:
Puss In Boots (DreamWorks Animation/Paramount) PG $33.0m-2 wk total $75.5m
Tower Heist (Universal) PG-13 Opening Weekend $25.1m
In Time (Fox) PG-13 $7.7m-2 wk total $24.2m
Footloose (Paramount) PG-13 $4.6m-4 wk total $44.8m
Real Steel (Disney) PG-13 $3.4m-5 wk total $78.8m
Moneyball (Sony) PG-13 $1.9m-7 wk total $70.3m
The Three Musketeers (Summit) PG-13 $1.7m-3 wk total $18.0m
Courageous (Sony/TriStar) PG-13 $1.6m-6 wk total $29.9m
Anonymous (Sony) PG-13 $1.3m-2 wk total $2.7m
Dolphin tale (Warner Bros.) PG $1.0m-7 wk total $68.6m
Source: Rentrak ( www.rentrak.com )
Live + Same Day Ratings Kids Cable Network Averages (000) for Thursday, November 3, 2011, 6am-11pm, ranked by K2-11:
DISNEY CHANNEL: K2-11 931; K6-11 517; TWEENS 9-14 386
NICKELODEON: K2-11 814; K6-11 332; TWEENS 9-14 287
CARTOON NETWORK: K2-11 359; K6-11 224; TWEENS 9-14 213
DISNEY XD: K2-11 134; K6-11 103; TWEENS 9-14 93
NICKTOONS: K2-11 104; K6-11 53; TWEENS 9-14 54
Source: MTVN Research from Nielsen Media Research Data
A CYNOPSIS MESSAGE
Call for Entries
71st ANNUAL PEABODY AWARDS
The World’s Oldest, Most Prestigious Award for Electronic Media
Entry forms and detailed information available online at: www.peabody.uga.edu
Deadline for 2011 entries: January 13, 2012
Answer to Yesterday’s Trivia Question: Whose secret alter ego was a police janitor call Penrod “Penry” Pooch? Hong Kong Phooey. Kudos to: Joe Swaney-Cartoon Network/Adult Swim/Atlanta; Don Stucke-Fisher-Price/East Aurora NY; Sherrie Brooks-Turner Broadcasting/Atlanta; JB Gray-Cartoon Network/Atlanta; John Kukla-FOX TV/Dallas; Tom Boyd-WGN-TV/Chicago; Katherine Kaufman-Olympusat/LA; Cary Okmin-Disney Online Originals/LA; Sabrina Sparlin-CESD Talent Agency/LA; William “Chip” Beaman-Soundelux Design Music Group/Hollywood.
Today’s Trivia Question: What Saturday morning animated series, based on a hit tv show, added a dog named Mr. Cool and and girl from the future named Cupcake to its cast? Their mission was to return to 1957 Milwaukee. (Email [email protected] with your answer and be sure to include your name, company, city and time zone. Unofficial rules: Only the second four correct answers from each time zone will be mentioned; and once you’ve been mentioned in any of the Cynopsis editions, you can’t be mentioned again that calendar week.)
Later — Gwen
Gwen Billings for Cynopsis Kids!
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