Good morning. It’s Thursday, January 8, 2009, and this is your first early morning Kids briefing.
In a regular review of its financial condition, combined end of the year review and looking forward into 2009, American Greetings Corp. revealed that its agreement to sell the Strawberry Shortcake and Care Bears properties and its rights to the Sushi Pack property to Cookie Jar Entertainment Inc., is in jeopardy. Initially announced in July 2008, the pact with Cookie Jar, a $195 million cash deal, was to have closed by September 30, 2008, but says that didn’t happen due to the unstable economy. Therefore, American Greetings is exercising its right to solicit offers from third parties to acquire the properties until March 31, 2009. During this period, Cookie Jar has the right to match any new offer “up to a pre-established threshold.” A spokesperson for the company said, “Cookie Jar has nothing new to report at this time and has no additional comments.” Cookie Jar’s original agreement with American Greetings came on the heels of Cookie Jar’s acquisition of DIC Entertainment.
Toon Disney channel will step aside as Disney officially launches the new Disney XD channel in its place on Friday, February 13, at 12 midnight on TV, online, VOD and on mobile platforms. An ad-sales supported network targeted to K6-14, Disney XD is designed to be “boy focused, girl inclusive” and will offer a range of adventure, game, music and sports related live-action and animated programming. The TV network bows with new episodes of the animated series Phineas and Ferb, and will also feature the premiere of the new live-action series Aaron Stone (7p), a simulcast with Disney Channel, from Shaftesbury Services II, Inc.
- At launch the schedule also includes: the new animated series Kid vs. Kat, from Studio B Productions; Jimmy Two Shoes, from Breakthrough Animation and Teletoon; short-form properties, the 3D/CG animated/live-action RoboDZ, from Disney and Toei Animation, and Bruno the Great, an animated series from Studio Bozzetto & Co.; and new episodes of Yin Yang Yo! as well as more Phineas and Ferb, both from Disney Television Animation.
- Coming later this year on Disney XD, are the live action show Zeke & Luther, from Turtle Rock Productions, Inc., and Disney Television Animation’s Kid Knievel, with The Spectacular Spider-Man, from Culver Entertainment, set to join in spring 2009.
- Disney will feature free preview episodes of new shows on various platforms such as, iTunes Store, which will offer an episode of Aaron Stone from January 29 and preview episodes of Jimmy Two Shoes and Kid vs. Kat from February 5; while Xbox 360 will offer the preview episodes (for free) of Aaron Stone on February 6, and Jimmy Two Shoes and Kid vs. Kat on February 14.
NEW PRODUCTION & DEVELOPMENT
Disney inks a deal with director McG (real name Joseph McGinty Nichol) to helm its family picture 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea: Captain Nemo, per Variety. Sean Bailey (Tron 2.0) is producing the movie along with McG’s Wonderland Sound and Vision. Based on the Jules Verne novel, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, Disney’s initial adaptation of the tome was released in 1954 and was directed by Richard Fleischer and starred Kirk Douglas, James Mason and Peter Lorre, Paul Lukas and that big old mechanical gigantic squid (it helped the movie win a visual effects Oscar) ; it was the studio’s first live-action movie.
Correction: Actors Simon Pegg and Nick Frost will star as detectives Thompson and Thompson in the upcoming Tintin movies.
MORE KIDS STUFF
The Him Henson Company inks a deal with PBS Kids to premiere its new CGI animated preschool series, Dinosaur Train (40×30, 80×11), in fall 2009. Created by Craig Bartlett (Hey Arnold!), Dinosaur Train revolves around the adventures of Buddy, preschool-aged Tyrannosaurus Rex, and is designed to encourage basic scientific thinking and skills, and educate viewers about natural science, natural history and paleontology. The show will also be featured at pbskids.org and PBS Parents. Henson’s other preschool-targeted science series, Sid The Science Kid, also airs as part of PBS Kids.
Beyond Distribution picks up a second series of mixed CGI animated/live-action preschool program Numberjacks (20×15, for a total of 65×15), which is now in production and set to deliver this year. Under the deal Beyond Distribution represents the international TV and DVD rights for the new episodes. Produced by Open Mind Productions for the BBC’s CBeebies, which recently commissioned the second series.
Chorion inks its first major broadcast and licensing pact for its new animated series Gaspard & Lisa (52×11) with TF1 (France). TF1 is working on a licensing and merchandising effort, to include gifts, apparel, toys and games, which will debut in conjunction with the series TV debut in 2010. The series is based on the Gaspard & Lisa books written and illustrated by the wife/husband team of Anne Gutman and George Hallensleben. Chorion acquired the TV and merchandising rights to Gaspard & Lisa from Hachette Livre, the original publisher and worldwide publishing owner of the property.
Fitzroy Media signs a deal with Renegade Animation to design and produce projects based on Heathcliff, beginning with an animated direct-to-DVD title. The Heathcliff DVD, currently in pre-production, will feature 50×2 interstitials directed by Darrell Van Citters. The new updated Heathcliff is aimed at tweens, teens and adults. The DVD title is Fitzroy’s first Heathcliff project since entering into a deal with cartoonist Peter Gallagher, who writes/draws the comic strip, which was created by his uncle George Gately.
BabyTV launches in Cyprus on PrimeTel‘s IPTV platform. BabyTV is available as part of the basic package of PrimeTel’s IPTV platform and is available to all of its subscribers for no additional charge.
Nickelodeon and Viacom Consumer Products names Andreas Niedergesass to VP/Consumer Products, Germany. Based in Berlin and Dusseldorf, he is responsible for consumer product activities and licensee relationships in the market across all brands including, Nick, MTV, Viva and Comedy Central. Niedergesass will report to Jean-Philippe Randisi, SVP and MD/NVCP, Europe, Near East and Africa, Canada and Latin America, and Oliver Schablitzki, VP/Nick, MTVN Germany. Niedergesass most recently served as Sr. Sales Manager/Licensing and Merchandising, SuperRTL.
Answer to Yesterday’s Trivia Question, submitted by Paul Rule/ Marquest Media & Entertainment Research : Now that we all know that Marlin Perkins was the main host of Wild Kingdom, what was the name of Perkins’ earlier show featuring animals? ZOO PARADE Kudos to: Todd Merker-Simmons Bedding Company/Atlanta; Rob Hughes-Disney Channel/Burbank; Al Ovadia/Hidden Hills, CA; Joe J Thomas-JoeActor.com/LA; Benjamin Streeter-Disney Online/San Francisco
Today’s Trivia Question: If you’re a muppet named Gonzo, who is your best friend? (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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