Wednesday, July 10th, 2013

Cynopsis: Kids!

Good morning. It’s Wednesday, July 10, 2013, and this is your first early morning briefing.


It’s no secret that quality children’s content is the holy grail in the digital content world, and PBS is trying hard to show it isn’t playing favorites. With its recent expanded streaming partnership with Amazon to the new pact last week with Netflix for exclusive SVOD rights to kids hit Super Why!, we wondered whether PBS Kids plans to get into the business of offering original, digital-only content in conjunction with a digital partner? The answer: Don’t hold your breath.

“We’re not really doing anything for digital only,” Linda Simensky, PBS’ VP, kids programming, tells CynKids. “Everything we do at the moment is for PBS stations first. When I think about programming, I think how will the stations use it. I imagine there will be a point where if we were making a show and wanted to do behind-the-scenes pieces and didn’t have a place on the air I could see them living online for us, and making it exclusive to one of the other services, but it would be in conjunction with the stations… Production companies can easily work with these services directly, whereas we are already the middleman in certain ways.”

Last week’s deal “made Netflix very happy,” Simensky says. What does PBS Kids get out of it? “We get a really good partnership with Netflix, for starters. We get something special for Super Why! in that it is going to have its own home somewhere else after [it airs on TV stations].” Aside from the promotional advantages, Simesky says the deals carry a monetary benefit. “These partnerships can help us raise additional funds to keep producing shows.”


Comedy duo Penny Marshall and Cindy Williams (aka Laverne & Shirley) will reunite in a scripted series for the first time in 30 years with their upcoming guest appearance this fall on Nickelodeon’s buddy sitcom, Sam & Cat.  Marshall and Williams will appear alongside the series’ Jennette McCurdy and Ariana Grande in the episode “SalmonCat.” In the episode, Sam and Cat are ordered to rename their babysitting business because it’s too similar to “Salmon Cat,” a TV show from the ’70s. Sam and Cat must track down the show’s two original creators (played by Marshall and Williams) and resolve their three decade-long feud. The series airs regularly Saturdays at 8p.

Continuing the summer tradition of irreverent programming promos, Disney Channel will host a “Flash Forward Weekend” July 26-28 featuring all-new futuristic episodes of A.N.T. Farm, Austin & Ally, Dog With A Blog, Fish Hooks, Good Luck Charlie, Jessie and Shake It Up.

Fox’s Glee will be singing a slightly different tune when it returns. The series, recently renewed for a fifth and sixth season, promoted five actors/characters from recurring status to regulars: Jacob Artist (Jake), Melissa Benoist (Marley), Becca Tobin (Kitty), Blake Jenner and Alex Newell. The latter two helm from reality series The Glee Project. Several other characters, some who herald from the earliest days at McKinley High, are being downgraded from regulars to recurring: Heather Morris (Brittany), Mark Salling (Puck), Amber Riley (Mercedes) and Harry Shum Jr. (Mike).

Rainbow is in development on the sixth season of Winx Club, the fairy-power TV haven for girls ages 4-12. The 26-episode series, a co-production with Nickelodeon, mixes 2D and 3D animation, and introduces new worlds and characters. On the wings of the new season and a Winx Club TV movie slated for debut in 2014, Rainbow is expanding the brand’s presence in U.S. and European markets. Licensing initiatives will focus on driving growth country-by-country, with particular focus on the brand’s 10-year anniversary in 2014.


For the second consecutive quarter, Sprout recorded the highest composition of the highly coveted W18-49 demographic among total viewers of kids’ networks. With 23% of the network’s total audience coming from W18-49, Sprout grew 18% in the W18-49 category compared to the same quarter last year (33,000 vs. 28,000). The network’s W18-49 audience also grew 10% compared to June 2012 (33,000 vs. 30,000).

Turner is restructuring its Young Adult & Kids divisions to better align content, digital and games. The reorg sees the elevation of Rob Sorcher to EVP/chief content officer for Cartoon Network and Mike Lazzo to EVP/creative director, Adult Swim. In their new roles, both execs will take on added responsibilities of overseeing the digital and gaming businesses for each of their areas along with continuing to spearhead the development and production of original and acquired content for Cartoon Network and Adult Swim, and the supervision of Cartoon Network Studios and Williams Street Studios (Adult Swim). “It is imperative that we have a structure in place that will allow us to think and execute more strategically and also set us up for growth and new business opportunities,” said Stuart Snyder, president/COO of Turner Broadcasting’s Animation, Young Adults & Kids Media Division.

Disney’s kids troikaDisney XD, Disney Channel and Disney Jr. wrapped Upfront season up 25% in total dollars over last year, Adweek reports. The networks saw overall CPM rise at an average of 6%, above the industry average. Ad categories that were up for the Disney nets include video games and tablet computers. CPG was also up slightly overall, but food was off during the Upfront due to parent company Disney Media Network’s new guidelines that packaged food manufacturers were required to meet by the end of the last year.

Ah, the Teen Choice Awards. Where else can you find categories like Choice Love Song and Choice Break Up Song? The show, exec-produced by Bob Bain (Nickelodeon Kids’ Choice Awards) and Michael Burg, is officially sponsored by Acuvue, Candie’s and AT&T and returns to Fox at 8p on Aug. 11.

Josh Peck will voice the character of Casey Jones in the upcoming season of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, which begins airing on Nickelodeon next year. Rumors now swirling about whether Peck will also lend his pipes to Casey in the upcoming feature film.

Disney is taking its hunt for talented kids ages 10-17 to San Antonio. From July 27-28, the company will hold open auditions for talent for upcoming Disney Channel and Disney XD series and movies. An application and monologue will be provided upon arrival, and minors must be accompanied by a parent or guardian. For more information, go to

Sesame Street may have taken home six daytime Emmys, last month, but things are less sanguine behind the scenes. Sesame Workshop laid off 30 employees, about 10% of its work force, following a smaller staff paring last spring. “Sesame Workshop… is constantly assessing where we must invest for the future in response to today’s rapidly changing digital environment,” the organization said in a statement.

A musical adaptation of Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, directed by Sam Mendes and produced by Warner Bros. Theater Ventures, opened in London’s West End last week. Will the show cross the pond to Broadway? Based on the success in the States of Dahl-inspired Matilda, we’re betting yes.


Amazon Studios has added another kids series to its development slate–the spine-tingling thriller Bus 9, created by Ryan Klyftahn. Inspired by Klyftahn’s favorite TV show, Are You Afraid of the Dark, and CynKids 2013 !magination Awards winner author R.L. Stine, the series revolves around students on a backwoods school bus commute who pass the time by telling each other scary stories. Each ep will feature a new story that ties into a season-long story arc. “I think kids love to be afraid” Klyftahn said in a recent interview posted on an Amazon-run site. “There’s something very coming-of-age about being terrified, even if for a fleeting moment in the comfort of your own home.”

YouTube officially renewed its agreement with music video destination Vevo, the frequent teen digital hangout owned by Universal Music Group, Sony Music Entertainment and Abu Dhabi Media Group. As well as airing Vevo videos on YouTube, the extended deal will see YouTube parent Google investing in Vevo’s business.


August 3, 4, 5

Little Airplane Productions is accepting applications for a unique workshop taught by accomplished preschool TV veterans on each step of creating a high-quality preschool series. Topics include Writing, Pitching, Legal, Design, Music, Directing, Producing, Distribution and more. A panel of noteworthy Children’s TV broadcasters will be on hand to discuss pitching to a network. 

Limited to 30 participants. Contact Tone Thyne: [email protected].


Nickelodeon and Peavey Electronics are partnering to create musical instruments and accessories inspired by Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Available exclusively from Peavey, under license with Nickelodeon, the instruments will capture TMNT in highly detailed artwork on acoustic and electric guitars, percussion instruments and accessories.

AG Properties entered into a partnership with Walls 360 that unlocks the entire AGP portfolio for use in on-demand wall graphics. Through the agreement, multiple brands including Care Bears, Strawberry Shortcake, Holly Hobbie and Madballs will be made available to fans of all ages looking to dress up their rooms in unique styles… In related news, AGP and its licensing agent, Exim Licensing, renewed partnerships with licensees Festcolor, Piffer, Argos and Happy Happy to expand the Strawberry Shortcake and Care Bears brands in Brazil, Argentina and Chile.

U.K. company Pedigree Books has picked up Sega Europe Ltd.’s Sonic the Hedgehog brand for its current new media and gaming annuals category.


Kids media company yummico ( will launch the original preschool series The Adventures of Ash & Ollie, beginning with an ebook release in September for iOS and Android. Featuring two mischievous brothers, The Adventures of Ash & Ollie is a buddy adventure, using visual storytelling and physical comedy to frame stories that focus on the social, emotional and behavioral skills children need for success in school and everyday life. The debut in the Ash & Ollie series, written and illustrated by yummico founders Caroline Baron and Traci Paige Johnson, is the enhanced e-book Screen Time, about the oh-so topical issue of kids’ computer, tablet and smart phone usage. Enhanced features on the e-book include animation and games, with rich, page turn animation and touch and swipe interactions. Yummico launched earlier this year with the app Yummilloo Rainbow Power, the first in the Yummiloo musical food adventure series.


Radio Disney and global organization UL (Underwriters Laboratories), which works to promote safe living and working environments, are kicking off a 20-market event series in support of Disney’s TRYit healthy living campaign and UL’s Safety Smart initiative. From June 20-Aug. 10 the always-peppy Radio Disney Road Crew and UL talent will bring music, games, interactive and safety activities, and nutritional workshops to cities including LA, Atlanta and Seattle.

The celebration for the most stylish octogenarian continues. Babar the Elephant is headed to NYC thanks to a promotion between Nelvana Enterprises and Hotel Plaza Athenee. The hotel is launching a yearlong promo that includes “creature comforts” Babar gift baskets including a special 80th anniversary Babar plush and other exclusive merchandise.  In addition, the hotel will offer Babar DVDs for in-room entertainment, and will host a festive fete to celebrate the 2013 holiday season, Babar-style.

Kids rule, especially during summer time. This according to Comcast Xfinity TV, which launched its biggest-ever kids programming event. Dubbed “Summer of Kids,” the promotion includes 1,000-plus family friendly on-demand choices from Angry Birds Toons, Cartoon Network, Disney, DreamWorks, Hub Network, NBCU, Nickelodeon, PBS Kids, Sprout and more.

Univision Communications and Kidz Bop are joining up to support the release of Kidz Bop 24 on July 16. Tween performer and Univision correspondent Gaby Borges is the new spokesperson for Kidz Bop’s first-ever Spanish-language campaign, which begins airing on Univision this month. The 14-year-old singer, actor and dancer is also participating in Kidz Bop’s annual Kidz Star USA Talent Search as a special ambassador to encourage aspiring young Hispanic performers to audition for their chance to win an RCA Records recording contract. In addition to the Spanish-language campaign, Borges also stars in the English-language Kidz Bop 24 spot and the new Kidz Bop music video. 


Disney U.K. bowed a revamped website complete with new content and a comprehensive digital library of Disney Channel shows. The portal is now fully optimized for mobile devices and will make full-length episodes of Disney shows available, together with music videos, up-to-date news and behind the scenes tidbits from Disney talent. A site redesign for the EMEA countries is planned for later this year.

Fox International Channels’ 24/7 commercial-free BabyTV launched on Thailand cable TV operator Cable Thai Holding as part of CTH’s basic package and also on HD and SD.

Cartoon Network picked up a third season of Zodiak Kids’ series Horrid Henry to air in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal, the Maldives and Sri Lanka.

Discovery Kids nabbed broadcast rights to season three of Mister Maker, which is produced by Zodiak’s The Foundation studio. Mister Maker will air on Discovery in India, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, the Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. Zodiak Kids also signed an agreement with Singapore media company MediaCorp for more than 260 hours of programming for their over-the-top service Toggle Kids channel and SVOD service in Singapore. Zodiak content included in the deal: Totally Spies, Dani’s Castle, Dani’s House, Little Princess, Team Galaxy and Street Football… Spanish production and distribution house Imira Entertainment sold its series Lucky Fred to Spanish broadcaster group Atresmedia Television, for its children’s entertainment segment Neox Kidz. Lucky Fred follows the comic adventures of an ordinary 13-year-old boy who accidentally became the owner of a super-powered, shape-shifting robot.


Sky Blu of Grammy-nominated pop group LMFAO has a new, kid-centric collaboration in the works. He’s teaming with his Big Bad University colleagues Mark Rosas and Shwayze for a remixed, hip-hop version of the song Imagination, written by Little Airplane chief Josh Selig and originally performed by animated kids TV stars the Small Potatoes. The new version of the song, remixed by Rosas and featuring Shwayze, can be found on Sky Blu’s first solo album Rebel Music, released July 4 and available as a free download at An animated video is set to drop in mid-July. “Anytime one gets the opportunity to create music for children, it’s a blessing. We were able to make the song great for all ages. It was an honor indeed,” Sky Blu explains. This is a cool collaboration… IMHO.


Former Disney Channel exec Phil Breman joined NBC as VP, current programming. Breman served as executive director of original series at Disney Channel, a post he exited in March. He’d been with Disney since 2008, spearheading live-action development of series including Good Luck Charlie, Shake It Up, A.N.T. Farm, Austin & Ally and Jessie.

The International Licensing Industry Merchandisers’ Association (LIMA) appointed five new members to its Board of Directors: Mike Brown, VP, licensing and partnership management, American Greetings; Marilu Corpus, President/CEO, CLICK! Licensing Asia; Paul Flett, brand management and licensing agent, United Talent Agency; Christian Fortmann, managing partner, 24 IP Law Group; and Darran Garnham, chief business development officer, Mind Candy. The five executives were elected to three-year terms to begin on July 1.

Former MTV Networks chief Judy McGrath is joining forces with Sony Music to create an entertainment production division, dubbed Astronauts Wanted: No Experience Necessary. The venture will focus on creating content for young viewers across TV and the Web.

Copyright Promotions Licensing Group (CPLG), a subsidiary of DHX Media, promoted Pau Pascual to the newly created position of GM-Iberia. Pascual joined CPLG Spain in 2010 as marketing, sales and retail director. He will be based in Barcelona.

FremantleMedia North America hired Lee Rierson as its new COO; he previously was COO at Shine America. Rierson will oversee production, business and legal affairs, communications and marketing, business development and strategic planning.


Editor’s Note: Due to the July Fourth holiday, Nielsen ratings were not available by press time. We’ll have our full weekly ratings report in next week’s issue.

Weekend box office estimates for the 10 top-grossing kids/tween/teen movies rated G, PG or PG-13, provided by Rentrak for July 5-7, 2013:

Despicable Me 2 (Universal) G $82.million (weekend) $142 million (1-week cume)
The Lone Ranger (Disney) PG-13 $29.4 million (weekend)  $48.9 million (1-week cume)
Monsters University (Disney) G $19.6 million (weekend) $216.1 million (3-week cume)
World War Z (Paramount) PG-13 $18.2 million (weekend) $158.8 million (3-week cume)
White House Down (Sony) PG-13 $13.5 million (weekend) $50.5 million (2-week cume)
Man of Steel (Warner Bros.) PG-13 $11.4 million (weekend) $271.2 million (4-week cume)
Now You See Me (Lionsgate) PG-13  $2.7 million (weekend) $110.4 million (6-week cume)
Star Trek Into Darkness (Paramount)  PG-13 $1.3 million (weekend)  $223.1 million (8-week cume)
Iron Man 3 (Disney) PG-13  $746,000 (weekend) $406.4 million (10-week cume)
Way, Way Back (Fox Searchlight) PG-13 $575,000 (weekend) $575,000 (1-week cume)


Cynopsis: Sports Business Summit

A sampling of the powerful line-up of speakers:
Frank Golding, Director, Head of Sports North America [Google]
Michael Jaquet, VP & Chief Marketing Officer [USSA]
Steve Phelps, SVP & CMO [NASCAR]
Tyler Slocum, Director, Mobile Product [NFL]

Answer to Yesterday’s Trivia Question:
Name one of two films Scott Baio appeared in with Jodie Foster. Bugsy Malone or Foxes. Kudos to: Chris Devine Dailey, Simply Devine Marketing Group, Deposit, NY; Joe Swaney, Cartoon Network, Atlanta; Linda Morris, Hallmark Cards, Kansas City; Lisa Paemurd, Radical Sheep Productions, Ontario; Ted Biaselli, The Hub, Los Angeles; Jimmy Cuomo, Entertainment Studios, Hollywood, CA; David Garber, Linzack Publications, Chatsworth, CA; Squirrel Rippley, Dark Horse Media, Tuscon, AZ; Mario Turchiarolo, Living Night Productions, Glendale CA.

Today’s Trivia Question: Who introduced the first Teen Choice Awards in 1999? (Email [email protected] with your answer and be sure to include your name, company, city and time zone.)

Cheers — Cathy
[email protected] for Cynopsis Kids!

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A CYNOPSIS MESSAGE FROM A+E Networks Unforgettable Stories That Move Audiences to Action Fuel Q3 with Our Original Content… Terry McMillan Presents: May/December | The Icons That Built America American Godfathers with Michael Imperioli | Alone | BIOGRAPHY: ODB Find My Country House Stories. Solutions. Service. A&E | The HISTORY Channel | Lifetime |