Thursday, December 15th, 2011

Cynopsis: Kids!

Good morning. It’s Thursday, December 15, 2011, and this your first early morning briefing.

KidZui, creator of the kid-targeted KidZui browser and the kid-safe content aggregator and search engine, launches Zui Studios this week.  The new studio division will create original video content that will be distributed on and KidZui, with the first production out of Zui Studios titled Buzz.  Hosted by teens Lia Marie Johnson and Ty Desharnais, both have big YouTube followings, Buzz is a daily update for kids about what is trending on the net including the best videos, sites, games, and more that will air on the homepage of  Additionally, more kids that are popular on YouTube will be featured on Zui Stars, which highlights kids with a viral video following, including Jordan Jansen as the first male Zui Star.  The Buzz hosts will invite viewers to upload and safely share their own videos in the kid-centric YouTube experience offered on Zui Stars.  In setting up Zui Studios, KidZui has named Adam Jacobs as Executive Producer, overseeing content creation for the studio.  Jacobs previously headed On-Air Promotions for Time Warner Cable and wrote for HBO’s series Tales From the Dark Side.  Finally, KidZui Inc. has raised an additional $2.4 Million from existing investors, led by Mission Ventures and from Costella Kirsch towards the development of Zui Studios and Zui Buzz in addition to ongoing development of


More young adult books heading to the big screen, including How I Live Now, based on Meg Rosoff’s book and Daughter of Smoke & Bone, Laini Taylor’s fantasy novel, per THR.

  • Set to be directed by Kevin Macdonald (State of Play, The Last King of Scotland), Saorise Ronan (The Lovely Bones, Hannah) is reportedly in talks to star in the film adaptation Rosoff’s  multi-award winning How I Live Now.  Produced by Film4, Cowboy Films and Passion Pictures, How I Live Now is set in the near future and revolves around Daisy, a NYC 15-year-old who is sent to life with her aunt and cousins on a remote farm in England during a world-type war.  Daisy’s aunt gets stuck away from home and Daisy and her cousins must survive in an dystopian-like experience, with no adults, until solders arrive at the farm and separates the kids.  Daisy deals with the occupation, while keeping it together to survive and working hard to bring the family back together.
  • Universal has acquired the feature film rights to Daughter of Smoke & Bone, which released in September 2011 by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers and is the first title in a Taylor’s fantasy trilogy.  Set in Prague, the multi-award winning Daughter of Smoke & Bone follows the story of Karou (17) an art student whose mysterious father sends her around the world on errands to collect human teeth, but she doesn’t know why.  Over time and through a series of events Karou unravels the mystery and learns the truth about her life and family, and that she is part of an age-old battle between devils and angels and winds up in a star-crossed romance with a warrior angel.


Zinkia Entertainment names Random House Children’s Books as its publishing partner in the US and Canada for the preschool property Pocoyo.  Under the multi-year deal, Random House will develop and publish Pocoyo storybooks, leveled reader books, coloring and activity books, board/novelty books and eBooks in English.  The first three books include a Pocoyo storybook, coloring book and board/novelty book and are set to be available in summer 2012.  Pocoyo airs in the US on Nick Jr., Nickelodeon’s 24-hour commercial-free, educational preschool network, Univision, and select PBS Stations.

Beeline Interactive, a developer/publisher of video games, and DreamWorks Animation ink a deal to develop Shrek’s Fairytale Kingdom, a new Shrek-based “freemium” game for smartphones.  Slated to be available in the first half of 2012, the game recreates Shrek’s adventures throughout the Kingdom and his encounters with Donkey, Dragon, Lord Farquaad and, of course, Fiona.  Players meet Shrek long before he sets out to rescue the Princess.  Players will get involved in Shrek’s world through mini-games and short quests, and they will be able to outfit Shrek’s much-loved swamp with all sorts of ogre comforts, a slug-laden log here and mud baths there, not to mention an outhouse.  As players progress in the game Shrek’s journey will be chronicled in a digital storybook that players can read over and over again.  Beeline’s library of freemium smartphone games include The Smurfs’ Village, Snoopy’s Street Fair, Monster Pet Shop, and Dream Park, among others.

HIT Entertainment and Callaway Digital Arts launch the new Thomas & Friends: Engine Activities app (US $1.99) for iOS devices.  Thomas & Friends: Engine Activities includes two activity packs that are based on popular Thomas & Friends home entertainment releases, Pop Goes Thomas and Creaky Cranky.  Each activity pack includes favorite scenes and engines with three creativity-boosting coloring sheets, three animated puzzles, and three collectible engine cards.  Additional activity packs ($0.99) tied to new home entertainment releases are currently available for in-app purchase, and more activity packs will be released in coming months.  HIT and Callaway previously teamed on three Thomas & Friends apps, as well as two Angelina Ballerina apps.


Big Idea Entertainment unveils plans to debut the new VeggieTales Live! God Made You Special tour beginning February 23, 2012.  The tour will feature all the VeggieTales characters and lots of musical numbers and will make its way to 30+ major markets nationwide, including Atlanta, Nashville, Jacksonville, and Birmingham.  World Vision has partnered with Big Idea Entertainment as a sponsor of the new tour.


Astral’s Family Channel (Canada) will premiere the new TV movie Frenemies on Friday, January 13, at 8p, the same day and date with the US debut on Disney Channel.  The movie debuts following a three-hour marathon of the series, Shake It Up!, which begins at 5p.  Frenemies features Shake It Up stars Bella Thorne and Zendaya, and revolves around sets of friends and their ups and downs.  Frenemies was filmed on location in Toronto, Canada, and is a production of Alloy Entertainment and Coin Flip Productions.  Viewers can log onto to find out more about the movie on a dedicated Frenemies minisite launching December 23.  Additionally, Frenemies will be available on Family OnDemand and Family OnLine from January 20.

Head over to the Cynopsis Kids !magination Awards to enter your preschool, kid and tween targeted TV series, TV movies, and websites, apps and games, and the marketing, public relations and advertising campaigns, which support that content, for our first annual awards program.  To enter the Cynopsis: Kids !magination Awards your kid-targeted content or support campaign must have taken place (in part or in full) between October 1, 2010 and December 31, 2011.  We look forward to seeing your entry and honoring the winners at the June 2012 Awards ceremony in New York City.


Nickelodeon reorganizes its Consumer Products business to align with its core business, and will be driven by its strategic global, cross-platform property plans.  The new structure puts the toy and apparel business at the forefront and retail marketing becomes integral to Nickelodeon’s overall marketing organization.  “As Nickelodeon’s portfolio of properties has grown and diversified on a global level, we have evolved our consumer products business model into a structure that better supports both our goals and the goals of our partners,” said Cyma Zarghami, President of the Nickelodeon Group.  The re-structured management team includes:

  • Toys, interactive and consumer electronics, and soft goods, headed by Manuel Torres and Hal Snik, will be led by Strategic Business Operations, headed by Sarah Kirshbaum Levy, COO/Nickelodeon Group
  • Nickelodeon’s Publishing and Home Entertainment businesses in the US, headed by Paula Allen and Sherice Torres, will be managed by the Nickelodeon Digital team, led by Steve Youngwood, EVP/Digital, Nickelodeon Group
  • Retail marketing, which is overseen by Ron Johnson, will now report to Nickelodeon’s CMO Pam Kaufman
  • Packaged Goods will report to Advertising Sales Partnerships, led by Sharon Cohen, SVP/Integrated Marketing and Ad Sales, Nickelodeon Group
  • All international consumer products operations will continue to be led by Michael Connolly and report to Pierluigi Gazzolo, COO, Viacom International Media Networks.  Manuel Torres and Paula Allen will dually report into Connolly for all international aspects of their businesses
  • Nickelodeon Creative Resources will continue to lead all creative components, managed by Russell Hicks, EVP and Executive Creative Director, Nickelodeon Group

Distribution360 names Kirsten Hurd to the new position of Senior Sales Executive in its Toronto office.  Hurd will be part the company’s international sales team and will manage relationships with international broadcasters and new platforms.  Hurd previously served as Director/Sales for BuzzTaxi Communications, as well as holding sales and management roles at Cookie Jar Entertainment, Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC), and Decode/DHX Media.

PorchLight Entertainment (Jay Jay the Jet Plane, Tutenstein, Secret Saturdays) appoints Jennifer McCaffrey as VP/Development & Acquisitions.  McCaffrey, who will be based in LA, will be responsible for heading all of PorchLight’s new projects across all media.  She will also oversee its acquisition department for live-action and animated TV programming and content for its online endeavor, KidMango.  She will work closely with CEO Peter Bergmann, to whom she reports.  Most recently, McCaffrey was co-creator and executive producer of the kid-targeted Showy Show!  She previously served as SVP/Development for ThinkBox, and she also toiled in development for Disney Channel and prior to that at Sesame Workshop.


In Total Day for 2011, Disney Channel earns its most-watched year in its history among Total Viewers (1.8 million), K6-11 (670,000) and Tweens 9-14 (538,000).  This marks the first year Disney Channel has led in Total Day for K6-11.  Disney’s Disney XD delivered the biggest year in its history (including for its 10 years as Toon Disney), setting records in Total Day and Primetime for Total Viewers and all Kid/Tween and Boy demos, 2-11, 6-11 and 9-14.

Live + Same Day Ratings Kids Cable Network Averages (000) for Tuesday, December 13, 2011, 6am-11pm, ranked by K2-11:
NICKELODEON:         K2-11 946; K6-11 311; TWEENS 9-14 196
DISNEY CHANNEL:     K2-11 805; K6-11 534; TWEENS 9-14 400
CARTOON NETWORK: K2-11 412; K6-11 265; TWEENS 9-14 216
DISNEY XD:               K2-11 155; K6-11 113; TWEENS 9-14 107
NICKTOONS:              K2-11   66; K6-11   43; TWEENS 9-14   44
Source: MTVN Research from Nielsen Media Research Data


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Answer to Yesterday’s Trivia Question: When asked by Michael Nesmith, “Do you think we’re a cheap imitation of the Beatles?” which Beatle replied, “I think you’re the greatest comic talent since the Marx Brothers. I’ve never missed one of your programs.” John Lennon. Kudos to: Rich Boland-DISH Network/NYC; Bob Friedland-Toys”R”Us, Inc/NYC; Jim Salicrup-Papercutz/NYC; Sabrina Sparlin-cesd/LA; Brett Ashy-The Ashy Agency/LA.

Today’s Trivia Question: Why did Howdy Doody have 48 freckles? (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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