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Toy Companies and Content Adapting Properties to TV Spanish Toons
POW!’s Stan Lee Studio 100’s Hans Bourlon & Gert Verhulst Disney Junior’s Nancy Kanter www.tvkids.ws
THE MAGAZINE OF CHILDREN’S PROGRAMMING
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4Kids Entertainment www.4kidsentertainment.com
“ The 4Kids catalogue represents
• Yu-Gi-Oh! Zexal • Tai Chi Chasers • Yu-Gi-Oh!
a nice blend of new content, such as Tai Chi Chasers, and popular series such as Dinosaur King and others.
Over the last few years, one of 4Kids Entertainment’s biggest successes has been the Yu-Gi-Oh! franchise. The last offering from the hit animation brand is Yu-Gi-Oh! Zexal. The 52-episode series “represents an entirely new creative strand of programming built upon one of the genuinely iconic characters of Japanese anime,” says Brian Lacey, the executive VP of international at 4Kids. “Yu-GiOh! Zexal goes to the creative heart of the franchise— colorful fantasy-adventure programming targeted to the 6- to 11-year-old viewing demographic. For those broadcasters who have been with Yu-Gi-Oh! for the past 11 years, it provides an excellent opportunity to extend this global brand.” Lacey is also excited to be presenting the entire Yu-GiOh! back catalogue. For new digital platforms and other media, the Yu-Gi-Oh! catalogue of 514 episodes provides a terrific opportunity to launch the brand to an entirely new generation of kid viewers.”The episodes, Lacey says, “are available in more than 25 languages.” Other highlights include Tai Chi Chasers and Dinosaur King.
Toy with Me
Producers are adapting books, comic strips, video games and more for TV 42
Spain Toons In
Interviews POW!’s Stan Lee Studio 100’s Hans Bourlon & Gert Verhulst Disney Junior’s Nancy Kanter FME’s Sander Schwartz Zodiak’s Nigel Pickard
Making the Leap
A look at Spain’s leading animation companies
9 Story Entertainment
IN THIS ISSUE Toy brands are influencing the content business
48 50 52 55 56 58
• Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood • Almost Naked Animals • Camp Lakebottom
Boosting its catalogue, 9 Story Entertainment recently scored the rights to two new animated series from Skywriter Media: Camp Lakebottom, produced for TELETOON in Canada, and Vivi, a co-production with Mixer for TVO. 9 Story takes over all production and distribution for both series. Camp Lakebottom features a 12-year-old mastermind and the most horrible summer camp in the world. Vivi follows the adventures of a 7-year-old girl who is taken on extraordinary adventures by her grandmother, a famous photojournalist. Both will be featured at MIPTV, alongside the preschool animation Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood and season three of Almost Naked Animals.“Our slate has never been stronger,” says Natalie Osborne, 9 Story’s executive VP of business development. Also on the slate are a new season of Wild Kratts and new episodes of Arthur. “In addition, we are launching the first 9 Story–produced prime-time animated sitcom, Fugget About It.”
Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood
“ Following the tremendous response to the
pilot episode of Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood at MIPCOM, we are bringing five new episodes to MIPTV.
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American Greetings Properties www.agpbrands.com • Welcome to Care-a-Lot • Strawberry Shortcake’s Berry Bitty Adventures • The WotWots
Ricardo Seguin Guise
Executive Editor Kristin Brzoznowski
Editorial Assistant Simon Weaver
Online Director Meredith Miller Lauren Uda
American Greetings Properties’ (AGP) veteran Care Bears brand is being reintroduced to preschool viewers with the new CGI series Welcome to Care-a-Lot. “The Care Bears have been popular for decades and the new series is sure to have global appeal,” says Gia Delaney, AGP’s VP of program sales. “The series will premiere in the U.S. this summer.” Delaney continues, “In addition to the Care Bears, a new season of Strawberry Shortcake’s Berry Bitty Adventures will be brought to the market. The second season of Strawberry Shortcake introduces a brand-new character named Cherry Jam. She’s a rock star who has a hard time finding real friends but quickly discovers true friendship with Strawberry Shortcake and her pals in Berry Bitty City.” New to the catalogue is The WotWots, produced by the Academy Award–winning Weta Workshop of New Zealand. “The brand-new season finds a pair of brother and sister aliens traveling to numerous scenic locations and contains a beautiful mix of CGI and live action,” Delaney says.
Welcome to Care-a-Lot
“ The number one
priority for American Greetings Properties at MIPTV is to secure worldwide placement of the much anticipated new CGI Care Bears series, Welcome to Care-a-Lot.
Production & Design Directors Phyllis Q. Busell
Art Director Cesar Suero
Sales & Marketing Director
• Chuck Chicken • Harry & Bunny • My Ugly Little Brother
Business Affairs Manager Vanessa Brand
Sales & Marketing Assistant
Ricardo Seguin Guise
Executive VP & Group Editorial Director Mansha Daswani
VP of Strategic Development
TV Kids © 2012 WSN INC. 1123 Broadway, #1207 New York, NY 10010 Phone: (212) 924-7620 Fax: (212) 924-6940 Website:
“ Our slate of projects
Animasia Studio is focusing its MIPTV slate on animated comedy, led by the 52x11-minute Chuck Chicken, targeted to kids 7 to 11. Currently in preproduction, the show is slated for completion by mid-2013 and has already notched up several presales, says Edmund Chan, the managing director of Animasia. Animasia also has a new development project, Harry & Bunny, the Malaysian studio’s first non-dialogue series. “We are scouting for potential buyers, co-production partners and/or distributors to jointly develop this great concept,” Chan says. Also in development is My Ugly Little Brother, which is co-produced with China’s ZN Animation. Animasia is looking for potential partners to invest in the show. “We are expecting good responses for our new shows,” Chan says, especially Chuck Chicken. “We also expect to gather valuable information and feedback from potential buyers for Harry & Bunny and My Ugly Little Brother, as we hope the concept is acceptable to the buyers before we go into full production.”
includes trendy and up-todate character designs, good story lines and excellent animation.
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Australian Children’s Television Foundation www.actf.com.au • You’re Skitting Me • Dancing Down Under • Horace in Slow Motion
The Australian Children’s Television Foundation (ACTF) has three brand-new shows to offer buyers at MIPTV. There’s You’re Skitting Me, which Tim Hegarty, international sales executive at ACTF, refers to as the “first-ever true sketchcomedy show aimed at 10- to 15-year-olds.” Dancing Down Under is a “drama-filled observational series” following a group of young Australians as they vie for the top prize in an Irish dancing contest. Horace in Slow Motion, meanwhile, is now in its second season, continuing the adventures of a lovable pig in a series of short-form (45-second) episodes. “We most definitely expect to create considerable interest amongst content buyers in our three newest shows,” Hegarty says. “At the same time we will endeavor to confirm sales for our programs launched at MIP Junior last year, which we have been corresponding with buyers about over the last six months.We also hope to form new business relationships with those we’ve not met with before, and introduce them to the ACTF’s award-winning catalogue of programs.”
You’re Skitting Me
“ These new programs, as well as the rest of our catalogue, offer children of all ages a fabulous viewing experience.
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CAKE www.cakeentertainment.com • Fleabag Monkeyface • Plankton Invasion • Let’s Go Pocoyo
In the animated comedy Fleabag Monkeyface, a man-made half-monkey, half-boy embarks on entertaining adventures with the two boys who created him, Gene and Gerald. The series is one of several “high-quality and very distinctive” shows CAKE is bringing to MIPTV, says Ed Galton, CAKE’s chief commercial officer and managing director. Galton points to the breadth of the CAKE catalogue, which includes the recent addition Let’s Go Pocoyo, from Spain’s Zinkia Entertainment.The preschool series is now in its third season. CAKE also has a new show from the makers of its global hit Angelo Rules. Plankton Invasion is about three tiny sea creatures aspiring to world domination, without much luck. Other key offerings from the company include the Total Drama franchise, the preschoolertargeted Tom & the Slice of Bread with Strawberry Jam & Honey and the live-action drama The Sparticle Mystery. Galton says he is looking forward to sealing “some great deals for us and our producers.”
“ Our shows are high quality and very distinctive. Plus there’s something for everyone.
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Cyber Group Studios www.cybergroupstudios.com
• Patch Pillows • Zou • Nutri Ventures
Cyber Group Studios has built up a catalogue of 368 half-hours of high-definition programming catering to kids, tween and family audiences. “Cyber Group Studios’ mission is to bring to children and families around the world the best quality entertainment experience, thanks to the company’s pool of international top creative talent, its breakthrough technology enabling it to bring theatrical animation quality to TV, new digital platforms and its distribution organization giving access to top broadcasters worldwide,” says Carole Brin, the company’s head of international sales and acquisitions. At MIPTV, the catalogue of content available to buyers includes Patch Pillows, a preschool show produced in CGI animation. Also for young viewers is Zou, featuring the adventures of a lovable 5-year-old zebra and his extended family. Skewing slightly older on the Cyber Group slate is Nutri Ventures, a 2D HD series, encompassing 26 22-minute episodes, set in a world where certain types of food grant children superpowers.
“ Cyber Group
seeks partnership opportunities with other producers around the world that share its values.
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Daewon Media www.daewonmedia.com/en • GON • Paboo & Mojies • Noonbory
One of Korea’s leading animation producers, Daewon Media, is focusing on two key properties at MIPTV: GON and Paboo & Mojies. “We are excited to announce that after a long wait, TV Tokyo will be launching GON in April 2012 in Japan,” says Bul-Kyung Kim, director of the content division of Daewon Media. “We have received many positive responses for GON for its high-quality animation and the action-based, super-fun stories.” The show, an action comedy for boys, focuses on a dinosaur-like creature named GON. Paboo & Mojies is a preschool series co-produced with Sega Toys in Japan. “We are happy to have Nelvana joined in this exciting project,” Kim continues. “Paboo & Mojies is a 2D animation with many interesting characters based on transforming alphabet [learning] toys. The show is very entertaining for preschool children with a bit of educational sense to it.” Also on the slate are two seasons of Noonbory.
“ We hope to expand our relationships with other renowned companies.”
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Edebé Audiovisual Licensing www.edebeaudiovisual.com Jonás
• Jonás • Never Ending Tales • Snails
Founded in 2007, Spain’s Edebé Audiovisual Licensing has put an emphasis on creating content that balances kids’ entertainment and educational needs. “In a world where kids spend lots of hours watching TV, we [give] them funny, interesting content that provides them with values and laughs at the same time,” says Ivan Agenjo, the company’s sales director. “And we also care about developing ancillary products through our licensing department in a 360-degree strategy. We do not only produce animation: we build branded entertainment.” At the top of the MIPTV slate is Jonás, an animated series for children up to 8 years old. Edebé Audiovisual Licensing has also taken on animated titles from the Galician company OQO, Never Ending Tales and Snails. OQO’s “beautiful stop-motion products have won different awards around the world, including a nomination at Annecy as best animation series in 2009 for Never Ending Tales,” says Agenjo. “We recommend it to all channels that trust in educational properties for children.”
“ Our programs show a perfect balance
between entertainment and education for children.
The Jim Henson Company www.henson.com • Pajanimals • Sid the Science Kid: The Movie • The Doozers
Topping The Jim Henson Company’s slate for MIPTV is Pajanimals, a music-filled show for preschoolers that airs on Sprout in the U.S. “Pajanimals has proven to be a great success for us, for two reasons,” says Richard Goldsmith, the executive VP of global distribution. “One, it deals with two items that are really urgent to parents—how to put kids to bed and daytime routines, brushing your teeth, getting dressed, etc.” Two, Goldsmith says, “it has amazing music. It really resonates well with kids and with parents.” New to the market is Sid the Science Kid: The Movie, which is being produced in 2D and 3D. “There’s really a lack of new movies for young children,” Goldsmith notes. “Broadcasters who have not licensed the series are buying the film; if the film does well we expect they’ll also take the series.” New seasons of Sid the Science Kid and Dinosaur Train will also be on offer, as well as The Doozers, a CGI animated series that is a spin-off of the Henson classic Fraggle Rock.
“ Pajanimals, which has already secured
TV sales in many global markets, has been referred to as ‘Mom’s best helper,’ and we believe it will continue to be a big hit with buyers this year.
—Richard Goldsmith 270
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Mediatoon Distribution www.mediatoon.com • The Garfield Show • Quiz Time • Chicken Town
The Garfield Show, the animated series featuring the world’s favorite lazy, cynical, pudgy, orange tabby cat, is now in its third season. Mediatoon Distribution has 156 11-minute episodes of the Dargaud Media production to offer the market. Targeting a similar age demographic is Chicken Town, a 39x8-minute series about an irresponsible but lovable rooster that is always busy encouraging his chickens to lay eggs. The series was first introduced to buyers at MIP Junior, and Mediatoon will look to expand the reach of the Ellipsanime production at MIPTV. Broadcast partners already include Canal+ Family in France, NRK Norway, Clan TV in Spain and Canal+ Poland. Another recent launch for Mediatoon is Quiz Time, an edutainment series from Ellipsanime and Studio Redfrog.The series of four-minute episodes, sold to Disney in EMEA, helps preschoolers learn about numbers, colors and more. Other titles in the Mediatoon catalogue include The Adventures of Tintin, The Magic Roundabout, Contraptus, Cedric and Taratabong.
Mondo TV S.p.A. www.mondotv.it • Gormiti • Dinofroz • Puppy in My Pocket
Puppy in My Pocket
In line with efforts to enhance its brand-management activities, the Italian animation giant Mondo TV S.p.A. is working with toy major Giochi Preziosi on two boy-targeted properties: Gormiti, which has 26 half-hour episodes in 3D CGI, and Dinofroz, consisting of 26 30-minute episodes. Mondo TV is also working with Giochi Preziosi and MEG Toys on Puppy in My Pocket, for which there will be new episodes available at MIPTV. The show targets girls aged 4 to 8. Working with toy companies “is a smart way” to deliver a successful TV show and an accompanying licensing and merchandising campaign, says Micheline Azoury, Mondo TV’s head of international sales and brand manager. One of Azoury’s priorities at MIPTV is meeting more buyers from the Middle East, now that Mondo TV represents Turner Broadcasting’s kids’ catalogue in the Middle East and North Africa.
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Nerd Corps Entertainment www.nerdcorps.com • Slugterra • Endangered Species
In six years, Nerd Corps Entertainment has grown from a 60-person operation to a 200-plus-person operation, all the while maintaining its focus on delivering high-quality animation that will resonate with kids around the world. Ken Faier, the president of the company, highlights Nerd Corps’ efforts in “pushing the boundaries of 3D animation. We have a very stylized look. [We’re] trying to deliver the emotional connection that 2D animation [brings], using the wonderful techniques of CG.” As the production side has evolved, Faier notes, so has its TV distribution and licensingand-merchandising divisions. All those segments will be brought to bear in the rollout efforts for two new series: Slugterra, which is slated to premiere on Disney XD, and Endangered Species. Faier says Nerd Corps is also keen to produce new concepts. “[We] invite creators to bring us their best ideas so that we can help them bring their visions to life and take advantage of the wonderful opportunities that Canada offers as a place to produce.”
“ You have to focus on only
the highest quality projects— the best writing, the best animation, and ultimately it’s got to be funny and fun.
Nottingham Forest Media Advisors www.nottinghamforest.es Laland
• Champions • Laland
Nottingham Forest Media Advisors is bringing two kids’ series produced by its fellow Spanish outfit Kotoc Produccions to MIPTV: Champions, a fantasy action series, and the music-infused Laland. “We expect MIPTV 2012 to be the best scenario for the worldwide launch of Champions and Laland,” says Laura García Ortega, the head of international sales. “The market is demanding high-quality programs, with the careful treatment of art, animation and scripts” as well as multiplatform potential, she says. “Both properties are [suited for] transmedia, so the kids can enjoy the content fully on companion devices.” Champions, for example, orginated as an online game on the RTVE website before premiereing on Clan TV, García Ortega says. Laland, meanwhile, “is being developed using an innovative multiplatform technique that allows production for different platforms at the same time.... Also the writing, which is funny and straightforward, and the music originally produced for the show make this content suitable for every platform.”
“ We will continue screening [Laland] to
channels and co-producers from all over the world, in order to fulfill the budget and seek partners for future seasons.
—Laura García Ortega 274
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PGS Entertainment www.pgsentertainment.com
“ We look forward to continuing to [work]
• Chaplin & Co. • The Jungle Bunch • The Little Prince
with broadcasters…with our catalogue of shows from the leading independent producers around the world.
Bringing Charlie Chaplin’s iconic Little Tramp character to audiences in a new way is Chaplin & Co., a Method Animation production that PGS Entertainment will be looking to make new deals on at MIPTV. Also ready for delivery is The Jungle Bunch, about a penguin who thinks he’s a tiger and his misfit friends. Another highlight, according to Philippe Soutter, PGS’s co-founder and president, is The Little Prince. “The ratings are phenomenal,” Soutter says, noting that he wants to continue building the presence of the show worldwide. Alongside the newer properties are additional seasons of hit brands like Marsupilami and League of Super Evil, both in season three, and Iron Man, now in season two. Discussing the strength of the slate, Soutter notes that PGS is one of the largest providers of 3D content, with 78 half-hours available. In addition, he says, the company provides “high-quality animated programs with strong co-viewing opportunities.”
The Jungle Bunch
Portfolio Entertainment www.portfolioentertainment.com • Julie & the Phantoms • The Cat in the Hat Knows a Lot About That! • Brilhante F.C.
“ There has definitely been an uptick in our
sales over the last several months, and with a refreshed, quality slate, I certainly expect that trend to continue.
In the tween live-action series Julie & the Phantoms, a teenage aspiring musician accidentally brings an ’80s rock band back to life after playing a long-forgotten record on an old turntable. Julie creates a new group with the resurrected musicians—unfortunately, she’s the only person who can see them. Produced in Brazil, the 26x30-minute show “is doing really well on Bandeirantes TV and Nickelodeon Latin America,” says Louis Fournier, the VP of sales and acquisitions at Portfolio Entertainment, which is bringing the show to MIPTV.“It recently won the APCA award for best youth program in Brazil. We have full episodes available for screening and lots of interest already.” Fournier will also be closing up new deals on The Cat in the Hat Knows a Lot About That!, which “continues to do very well in the international marketplace with new sales to Germany (KI.KA), France (TiJi), Disney Italy and Disney Australia to name a few,” Fournier notes.“Twenty new episodes and a one-hour holiday special are currently in production.”
The Cat in the Hat Knows a Lot About That!
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Studio 100 Media www.studio100media.com • Maya the Bee • Vicky the Viking • House of Anubis
The German classics Maya the Bee, Vicky the Viking and Heidi are being refreshed for modern audiences “using the latest state-of-the-art technology,” says Patrick Elmendorff, the managing director of Studio 100 Media. “We are delighted to offer strong brands, which have been available and recognized for over three generations.” Skewing older, meanwhile, is the hit teen series House of Anubis, which Elmendorff says combines “elements of drama, humor and mystery.” The show originated in the Netherlands and has since been adapted in Germany and the U.S. Elmendorff is also excited to be presenting the animated series The Woodlies, created by the children’s book author Cornelia Funke. The show is set in a “magical parallel world in the woods,” Elmendorff says. “It resembles the world of kids and has a strong ecological aspect, with a message that says protect your environment and let there be harmony between humans and creatures in the woods.”
Maya the Bee
“ With our extensive library of new and
existing programs on offer, we expect to sell our key properties into an increasing number of European markets and internationally.
Telescreen www.telescreen.nl • Mia and Me • Ask Lara • Pixi and the Magic Wall
A fantasy and adventure series for girls, Mia and Me is the first co-production for the German brand-management firm m4e. The show is among the top MIPTV properties for m4e’s distribution arm,Telescreen, which is offering a 26episode first season with a second season in development. Telescreen is also bringing to market the animated comedy Ask Lara and the educational show Pixi and the Magic Wall. “Our biggest assets are a very strong and diversified back catalogue with all kinds of animation as well as live-action programs, and a strong slate of new programs; some of them were partially produced by m4e/Telescreen,” says Sjoerd Raemakers,Telescreen’s general manager. In addition to animated series, Raemakers will be meeting with buyers to discuss Miffy the Movie, which is currently in production. “This will mark the first theatrical appearance of the popular and famous character Miffy. It will have its theatrical release in the Netherlands in January 2013 in over 70 cinemas (distributed by Warner Bros.) and will hit the big screens in many other territories as well.”
“ Our slate offers programming for various age groups. Thus we expect our programs to find their way into the international market.
— Sjoerd Raemakers
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Toon Goggles www.toongoggles.com
Launched in 2011, Toon Goggles is a free portal where children can enjoy an ever-growing library of programming that is pre-screened and determined to be safe and age-appropriate for kids under 13. Hundreds of content producers from around the globe are currently supplying animated features, programs, series, clips, trailers and games to Toon Goggles’ library of kid- and parent-friendly offerings.All programs are available to watch free of charge. Most recently, Toon Goggles added several new animated shows from German studio Your Family Entertainment to its library. Toon Googles has now gone mobile, with the release of a free iOS app, available in the Apple App Store.The app gives viewers quick access to the Toon Goggles channel and its library of more than 500 hours of programming.
ToonBox Entertainment www.toonboxent.com
The Beet Party
• The Nut Job • The Beet Party • Bolts & Blip: Battle of the Lunar League
The Canadian animation outfit ToonBox Entertainment is set to premiere its first stereoscopic animated feature, The Nut Job, in 2013. At MIPTV,ToonBox will be looking to shore up presales on a TV series version of The Nut Job. Also a priority will be closing deals on The Beet Party, a series of non-dialogue two-minute interstitials, “and establishing new co-production partners,” says Thom Chapman,ToonBox’s VP. Rounding out the slate is the 90-minute animated feature Bolts & Blip: Battle of the Lunar League. “We are really focused on familyfriendly comedies,” Chapman notes.
“Our strength is producing high-quality entertainment that kids and parents will enjoy on various levels.”
Vodka Capital www.vodkacapital.com
“We want to move the financing conversations for Pirata & Capitano to the next stage.” —Steven Posner
• Jelly Jamm • Pirata & Capitano • Bugsted
Pirata & Capitano
Vodka Capital has three projects at various stages of production and development to showcase at MIPTV. Currently in production on a second season following its strong debut in 150 territories is the preschool 3D series Jelly Jamm. Vodka Capital is working on the financing of another 3D preschool show, Pirata & Capitano. In development, meanwhile, is Bugsted, aimed at kids aged 6 to 12. “Bugsted is our first move into an older kids’ demographic with an app-based property designed for the interactive entertainment world,” says Steven Posner, the managing partner of Vodka Capital. 280
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The major toy companies are exerting their influence on the children’s programming business. By Bill Dunlap
ver since the beginning of children’s television—let’s say Howdy Doody in the United States—toymakers and program producers have marched hand in hand into the realm of children’s playtime and imaginations. Since the mid-1950s, when Kagran Corp., an RCA subsidiary, licensed Howdy Doody toys and paraphernalia, toy companies have played a key role in kids’ TV, but usually offstage. Now, top toy companies around the world have jumped with both feet into the ownership and, in some cases, distribution of kids’ TV shows globally, many of which are based on existing toy lines. The most aggressive has been Hasbro, the world’s secondlargest toymaker, which, after launching its own production house, Hasbro Studios, in 2009, created an international-sales division two years ago and, in October 2010, launched The Hub, a U.S. kids’ channel in partnership with Discovery Communications. By the end of 2012, Hasbro Studios will have produced almost 600 half-hours, including Transformers Prime, My Little Pony and Scrabble Showdown. Earlier this year, the top toymaker, Mattel, no stranger to TV production itself, closed a deal to acquire the U.K.’s HIT Entertainment and its popular brands Thomas & Friends, Bob the Builder, Angelina Ballerina and others. The Canadian toymaker Spin Master launched its entertainment division in 2008 and has co-produced the boys’ action shows Bakugan and Redakai: Conquer the Kairu.This year it has plans to enter into the preschool and family areas. And in Italy, producer-distributor Mondo TV, which has had long ties with U.S. toymaker Morrison Entertainment Group (MEG) and the Italian toymaker Giochi Preziosi (GPZ), is bringing to MIPTV two new kids’ shows that are coproductions with GPZ, GorFME’s Max Steel.
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the U.S., which is one of the countries in the world where there are relatively few outlets. It’s a way to get your show in front of eyeballs if you do have a licensing program, but the problem is they’re not yet really delivering those eyeballs.” At the same time, Dumont fears that toy companies might be too anxious to cut deals, weakening an already depressed pricing structure. “Those companies are coming to market with properties made from toys, so the broadcasters, regardless of the quality of the content, almost, do know the toy companies absolutely need it on the air at key times of the year,” he says. “The scheduling of the show is absolutely crucial, so as a result they tend to get the shows for very little, if any, money, plus often a piece of the back end. Therefore they have brought the market Playing your cards right: 4Kids’ Yu-Gi-Oh! Zexal is the latest in the [prices] down or they’re using time slots. That Yu-Gi-Oh! franchise, which started in manga before becoming a TV show means fewer slots for independents.” and then a trading-card game. Josh Scherba, the senior VP of distribution at miti and Dinofroz, and a new season of Puppy in My Pocket, a DHX Media, is confident his company can compete against the co-production with MEG and GPZ. Though Mondo TV toy companies. “Our focus is making great content and making is not an arm of MEG or GPZ, Micheline Azoury, Mondo TV’s head of international sales and brand manager, says the company works closely with the companies in the development process. “We work along with our partners in tight brainstorming meetings on a weekly basis, where the production team sits along with their creative team to work on each little detail of any brand or character or story.” UNCERTAIN PLAYING FIELD
There are two big questions about the larger role in programming that the toy companies are taking. First, will these new ventures produce more popular and higher quality kids’ fare than has historically been the case when shows have been developed from successful toy lines? Efforts like the shows based on Hot Wheels from Mattel and the original Pound Puppies, then a Tonka line in the 1980s, come to mind. Second, will the sales strategies involve discounted pricing to encourage a viewer base to support retail toy sales, or will the toy companies and their distributors, in-house and partners, seek market prices to maximize program profits? The answers to those questions and the impact of such beefed-up players in the business, long- and shortterm, aren’t easy to pin down, but so far executives at independent companies in the toy business are taking a calm, wait-and-see attitude. Olivier Dumont, the managing director of Entertainment One (eOne) Family, believes independents can compete. “One positive factor is that it makes you look good because you’re coming in with an original property, maybe one that is based on a book rather than made out of a toy. It helps you stand out from that perspective,” he says. Another positive Dumont sees is that Hasbro’s participation in The Hub makes it a stronger platform than the Discovery Kids channel that it replaced. “Quite a few independent companies have sold series to them,” he says. “In a way it’s an additional outlet to sell content [to] and get revenue [from] in 4/12
With the boys: Mondo is working with the toy company Giochi Preziosi on the new series Dinofroz.
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Powering up: Power Rangers, sold by MarVista, has become much more than a TV brand, with a huge slate of products available at retail.
sure that that’s the focal point of what we’re doing,” he says. “It isn’t coming up with a great idea for a toy and trying to create a show around it. We’ve seen it over and over again. If it’s not truly in the DNA to make great content it doesn’t end up rating on television.” Ancient history aside, Scherba says Mattel, Hasbro and Spin Master are sending the right messages and may be successful. “We’ve seen it in the conversations, at least. They’ve got real content people in there now who are concerned about creating a strong content experience from every aspect, television being the centerpiece of it.” CONTENT FIRST
Scherba still leans toward the traditional modus operandi of putting the program first. “We’re looking to partner with toy companies in most cases and we feel we can bring value to the partnership. We know how to develop and make great content for content’s sake, and if they can bring that added piece to how we ultimately turn this into a new experience for the viewer—where once they view the television show they want to play with a toy based on it—that’s fantastic.” A plus for DHX is that it owns animation studios that do service work for the likes of Mattel in Los Angeles and Hasbro in Vancouver. “It’s positive for that side of the business,” Scherba says. “When it comes to the more traditional developing, making and selling of television shows, the impact of the toy companies is in two subgenres of the kids’ space, preschool and boys’ action. Those traditionally have been the spaces in which you can have a consumer-products program. In some cases, we’ve seen some downward pressure on license 284
fees because the business model for the toy companies is certainly different from making and selling television shows and hoping you get a consumer-products program.” Another believer that content rules all is Brian Lacey, the executive VP for international at 4Kids Entertainment. “I still hold to the principle that content is king,” he says. “If you’ve got great content, you’ll find homes across all the platforms. If you control a platform, a cable channel or a streaming platform, if the content isn’t good no one is going to watch it.” Lacey welcomes The Hub as another U.S. outlet, but he thinks it will be a long, slow build to success. “As an independent, The Hub gives us another platform to sell content to.The challenge is that it doesn’t reach a lot of viewers. As a distributor you want to see all these channels healthy.” While Lacey does see some downward pressure on prices by the new players, he says top broadcasters look for quality content rather than incentives and cut-rate pricing. “There are a number of broadcasters who, if they don’t believe a program will deliver for their channel, they don’t take it,” he says. “You can throw all sorts of money at TF1 in France or Mediaset in Italy or CITV in the U.K.; it doesn’t matter.” NATURAL SELECTION
Fernando Szew, the CEO of MarVista Entertainment, sees the toy company plays as natural developments. “I understand why the toy companies are shifting that way in the same manner that I understand that a lot of entertainment companies are conceiving of things that end up being theme-park rides. It’s just the nature of maturity of the marketplace where you have strong players going upstream and downstream to get close to the consumer and touch the consumer in as many ways as possible. That’s what is at the core of it.” Szew believes being closer to product creation gives toymakers an edge that maybe they didn’t have earlier with toy-driven shows. “Hasbro in particular has been successful at taking properties and getting very, very close, meaning they’re in control of the creative process both in the feature world and the TV world, understanding entertainment. They have the guns to be successful, there’s no doubt about it.” For buyers, there are certain advantages and disadvantages, Szew says. “They’re being careful in their approach. In my interactions with broadcasters—some of the gatekeepers, so to speak, in the kids’ business—I find everybody understands the impact of making sure we’re not just putting a commercial on the air for 11 minutes or 20 minutes. It has to have entertain4/12
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The right buttons: Redakai: Conquer the Kairu was created by Spin Master Entertainment and is sold by Zodiak Kids.
ment value. Those that succeed absolutely have entertainment value. If that value can be expanded into play patterns, that’s the trick.” TOYS ARE US
From the toy company side, the executives in charge of creating successful television properties are pretty confident, and they have the resources to back it up. Mattel, which closed its deal for HIT Entertainment in February, wasn’t available to discuss how the HIT team will fit into its development plans at press time, but it did announce that it had brought in the former Disney executive Edward Catchpole to be the senior VP of HIT Brands. He has reportedly been visiting HIT offices around the world, which suggests that the company will retain a role in distribution, at least of the popular HIT brands. Catchpole reports to David Allmark, the executive VP of Mattel’s Fisher-Price unit. “This appointment clearly demonstrates Mattel’s commitment to own, develop and grow world-class brands,” Allmark said at the time. And it has been reported that Mattel has retained HIT’s successful TV-development unit. Prior to closing the HIT acquisition, Mattel reached a deal with FremantleMedia Enterprises (FME) to revive the boys’ action series Max Steel, based on a toy line that is one of Mattel’s top brands globally, even though it isn’t especially big in the U.S. An earlier series ran three seasons, until 2002. According to Sander Schwartz, the president of kids and family entertainment at FremantleMedia Enterprises (FME), the show hasn’t been seen much recently outside of Latin America, where it remains popular. “Mattel decided they wanted to reinvent and relaunch the brand both inside and outside of Latin America,” he says. Schwartz adds that toy company participation has always been a part of kids’TV and that recent developments are just part of a natural evolution. “The value of [a television show] now counts for a smaller piece of [a brand’s] value chain,” he says. “A greater piece of it is the home entertainment, publishing, merchandising and licensing, and other sources of ancillary revenues. That being the case, the toy companies would like to own as much of the IP as they can in order to participate in the ancillary revenues derived from it. The toy companies are evolving and are becoming more like media, entertainment and IP companies, rather than just toy manufacturers and distributors.” DHX was also bidding for the Max Steel series, and Scherba applauds Mattel’s approach. “Through that process it was enlightening as to how they were approaching it, which was really to make a great tele-
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Flights of fancy: eOne has a number of licensees on board for its preschool hit Ben and Holly's Little Kingdom.
vision show first,” he says. “Mattel had the concept, but wanted a partner to be able to influence it creatively and go out there and place it as a television series rather than use their ad-sales team to go out and force it down people’s throats.” TAKING A SPIN
Spin Master, founded 18 years ago, is a relative newcomer in the toy game. Around 2000, the company started looking for licensing opportunities and building relationships with content creators and television networks, says Matthew Wexler, the executive producer for Spin Master Entertainment. “We were seeking licensing partnerships but also in the back of our minds contemplating jumping into the arena and creating something original and great,” Wexler says. “We thought there was space in the marketplace for us to create something original and collaborate with partners we’ve worked with on the licensing side for so long. That’s when the Bakugan opportunity came along. That was a toy idea that we thought was a great opportunity to build a story and a world around.” Bakugan, a co-production with Nelvana Enterprises, Sega Toys and TMS Entertainment, launched in the fall of 2008. It’s on TELETOON in Canada and Cartoon Network and terrestrial broadcasters in other markets. “As on our toy side, Spin Master isn’t precious about where the ideas come from,” Wexler says. “A lot of companies in the toy business have legacy brands. We don’t have legacy, multigenerational brands. We don’t have the problem or the opportunity of legacy brands yet. Being an independent company and producer, we can partner with any writers, studios or networks in the world to create something we think will be amazing and original and will travel globally and be around for years to come. We’re not just trying to spread the risk; we want people at the table who can add real creative value.” Spin Master’s second show, Redakai: Conquer the Kairu, was not based on an existing toy line,Wexler says. “We partner with people just looking for great ideas.The toys can come out of that. I’d say maybe a third of the things that we develop come from a toy idea or a category inspiration.The rest come from writers, creators and producers from around the world.” And as for selling shows at deep discount to achieve viewership, Wexler insists that that is not part of Spin Master’s business model. “We don’t distribute our own shows outside of North America,” he says. “Our aim is to be profitable. Our partners handle our distribution and it’s not in their best interest for the shows to not be profitable. There are conversations [with Spin Master brand managers] but it’s the distributor who is making the deals. We’re not in the business of making 22-minute toy commercials. ...The aim is to create great content that will create great brands.”
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Producers are turning popular books, comic strips, video games and more into hit TV series. By David Wood There’s an innate kind of risk aversion in the world of television. From drama to children’s TV, broadcasters prefer adaptations of well-known properties to original ideas.There’s no doubting the instant appeal of remakes in kids’ TV and there are several good reasons for it. First of all, broadcasters are much more likely to look kindly on an adapted children’s property (preferably based on a bestselling book that has sold all around the world) because it gives them a kind of insurance policy. Adaptations are perceived as a safer bet than something new. Secondly, broadcasters’ views are echoed by parents—important gatekeepers in the world of children’s TV. “In a crowded market, it’s tough for channels to exist with 30 to 40 competitors,” notes Philippe Soutter, the co-founder and president of PGS Entertainment.“So programs that are adapted from well-known kids’ properties help the channel define itself and, perhaps more importantly, they tell the parents what the channel is about.They say to parents, ‘This is a safe environment we can trust.’” Another important advantage of reversioning is that it cuts out a lot of the hard work in bringing properties to market. “If a property has already been distributed as a book throughout the world, then it is pre-promoted and much easier to make a TV show out of,” says Hans-Ulrich Stoef, the chairman and CEO of m4e. “It brings an audience to the show and gives the broadcaster a head start to get significant ratings.” “It saves time,” adds Lionel Marty, the president of worldwide distribution at Moonscoop. “Establishing connections and building relationships with children can take a long time. Original properties such as SpongeBob SquarePants and The Simpsons took a famously long time to find their audience. With adaptations, the big advantage is that the relationship between the viewer and the property is already in place.” Tom van Waveren, the CEO and creative director of CAKE, has noticed a clear link between economic conditions and the popularity of remakes. “When the economy is down, broadcasters prefer projects that lower their perceived risk, which leads them to embrace the reinvention or adaptation of known and popular characters,” he says. “When the economy is buoyant, new ideas are perceived as more exciting. Obviously now, it’s more a case of the former.” So if audiences have already embraced characters in a book or video game, then there’s reason to believe that a TV version will also be popular.The next step is getting those audiences to migrate. Executives agree that the crucial first step in determining the success or failure in any adaptation is to clearly identify and retain the elements that resonate with kids.
PGS’s Chaplin & Co.
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“Ask yourself, ‘What do kids want?’ ” says Caterina Vacchi, the senior manager and an executive producer at Atlantyca Entertainment, which turned the children’s book brand Geronimo Stilton into a successful global TV show.“They want to be able to recognize themselves in the story lines and have an emotional involvement in the content.” Not all properties can make the leap to TV, insists m4e’s Stoef. The most successful way to decide what will work is to think hard about who the story is aimed at. “You have to ask yourself the question, Does this really translate into TV content? There’s no question that in some cases, even with well-known properties, the appeal is lost in translation.” BACK IN FASHION Pretty in pink: First launched on greeting cards 30 years ago, Strawberry Shortcake now stars in a CGI series, Strawberry Shortcake: Berry Bitty Adventures, from American Greetings Properties.
American Greetings Properties (AGP) has successfully recreated its biggest properties, Strawberry Short- Colorful kitty: CAKE represents the Coolabi-produced Poppy Cat, adapted for Nick Jr. in cake and Care Bears, a number of the U.K. from a British children’s book series by Lara Jones. times in the 30 years since they were originally launched as characters for greetings cards. initial scripts for the TV version didn’t work because in video “In each iteration we’ve focused on different areas to inject form that character appeared obnoxious rather than smart. We newness, yet what is core to the brand is always present,” says worked out that it was the observations that Angelo made that Ryan Wiesbrock, the VP of creative at AGP. “We try to always kids liked, so instead we made him into a child’s ideal best friend: look back to the very first version of the property and a confident 12-year-old boy who reads people quite well and uses remind ourselves what is special, what works, and what that information to improve his life and the life of his friends. It shouldn’t be tampered with. Next we look at the was a subtle change to make him come alive on screen and tell competition and try to see what is working the story differently.” for other properties. What are kids respondWith PGS’s Chaplin & Co. from the French producer ing to today? Who would our neighbors be Method Animation—which also produced the book-based on the toy shelf, or on a network? Where can The Little Prince—the challenge was to update Charlie Chapwe fit in and do we fit in?... Lastly, we brain- lin’s much-loved Little Tramp character for a new generation. storm on where we can innovate and come “Method’s approach was to go back to Chaplin’s slapstick up with something no one has ever seen these roots in the Keystone Cops silent comedies, which kids find characters do. We ask, ‘What can we do to hilarious,” says PGS’s Soutter. “Our research showed that nine spice up the storytelling, or change up the out of ten Dutch kids said that Chaplin & Co. was their design aesthetics?’ ” favorite show.” The series works on a psychological level Bringing something new to the table is because the Chaplin character is an adult who kids can easily often an important way to make an adapta- relate to, explains Soutter. “Like when Dad spills food on his tion stand out in today’s crowded kids’ marshirt it’s really funny, because it connects with kids in that it ket. But there is always the risk that a large says to them: ‘Dad’s just like us, he makes mistakes.’ ” number of CGI adaptations can end up One frequent creative requirement in the reversioning of kids’ looking too similar. “Humor is often somecharacters for TV is the fleshing out of more thinly sketched book thing that can help make a property unique comcharacters, cartoon strips or games. From CAKE’s Poppy Cat to pared to another,” suggests Moonscoop’s Marty.“In CCI Entertainment’s Billy In B.E.T.W.E.E.N—based on a action adventure the risk is they all look a bit same-y, but comic strip—the ambition was to develop a property without humor enables you to create a distinctive quality.” losing the key elements that appealed in the original version. Sometimes success is just a question of working a little “The challenge with popular picture books or cartoons is harder to find the right approach.Van Waveren recalls to retain the USP [unique selling point] of the books, be it that this was the case with CAKE’s co-production their charm or humor, while expanding the characters to with the French producer TeamTO on Angelo Rules, sustain a more complex TV version,” explains CAKE’s van which was based on a series of French books. Waveren. “Even if it’s a really well-known brand, it needs to be “The books were about a smart kid who finds well developed with story and appealing characters first.Withways to really annoy people such as his dad. But the out that it won’t work.” 292
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Allen Bohbot, the chairman and CEO of 41 Entertainment, argues that there is no mystery to successful adaptations. “If you take an established character with historical success and contemporize it using new technology, you can appeal to an existing fan base—parents—and reach the kids, since to them it’s an all-new and very modern project.” Bohbot recommends giving remakes the stereoscopic 3D treatment.“Kids don’t want traditional 2D.To them, it is old and dated. By re-creating in stereoscopic 3D, content owners can deliver the established story line and designs while delivering a brand-new and very modern look and style.” That’s just what Bohbot is doing with the 3D reversioning of the Namco Bandai Games property Pac-Man. TOY STORIES
Open to ideas: Carlsen Verlag’s hugely popular Pixi books are the basis for the Pixi and the Magic Wall series (right), sold by m4e’s distribution arm, Telescreen.
Of all the potential sources of IP for TV adaptation, the toy brands are the most challenging. As Arnie Zipursky, the president, CEO and cochairman of CCI Entertainment, points out, while books carry an integrity that lends them to adaptation, toy company projects are greeted with far more suspicion by broadcasters and by parents. For that reason alone, some producers and distributors regard the development of toys into TV properties a taboo area. Of course, there’s no reason a toy brand can’t be turned into a very successful adaptation. It’s just that translating the appeal of a toy into a successful TV product can be complicated. “You have to be careful how you adapt, particularly with the younger demographic,” says m4e’s Stoef.“The view of the parents is important.They are the gatekeepers who control how their kids consume media.They want to see an educational and entertaining product.” Stoef explains that in Germany, m4e’s domestic market, parents prefer public broadcasters and don’t want their children to watch too many commercials. “The toy companies need to be grown up enough to realize that TV adaptations are not extended commercials for their products.These complications mean that for us, preschool concepts based on toys are a no-go.” Producers and developers have traditionally found book fairs across the world to be a useful source of content. Now that search has widened to the world of games and the Internet, which is proving to be an increasingly important source of ideas. Recent examples of digital brands making the jump to television include the YouTube hit Annoying Orange, now being turned into a series for Cartoon Network. The games developer Rovio is adapting its wildly popular Angry Birds for television, while Mind Candy’s social-networking brand Moshi Monsters has been developed into toys and magazines, and there’s now a TV series in development. There’s no questioning the growing importance of digital, says CCI’s Zipursky. “Both in terms of new ideas and brand development, it’s critical. I can’t think of anything we are doing 294
where we are not thinking of it on multiple platforms. What started out as a marketing tool to promote television has now completely flipped, so that development for mobile, the Internet or the iPad is paramount.” CCI Digital’s GeoFreakZ is one of the company’s leading examples of a multiplatform kids’ property. It’s an integrated social network, web and TV experience based around the treasure-hunting family sport of geocaching. The online version of GeoFreakZ drives audiences to the TV adaptation, where they can find useful online clues for the game. DIGITAL STORE
Experiences like this are helping to expand an increasingly significant digital market for adaptations, underlined by recent statistics that suggest that 64 percent of downloaded apps are for preschool properties. With an estimated 52 percent of kids under the age of 8 using devices such as iPods, tablets and mobile devices, perhaps it’s no surprise that 81 percent of the top book publishing apps on the iPad are for kids. “Kids just want more of everything— TV, websites and iPad apps,” insists Atlantyca’s Vacchi. “They want to get really close to the characters and want to know more about them.” As children’s properties nowadays have to live on multiple digital media and devices, there is a new onus on creative consistency across platforms. As Vacchi says, the best way to ensure this is to define a brand’s transmedia bible: a set of immutable rules at the core of the brand that apply across all platforms. These would include the values and relationships of the characters, the kind of language they use, the design of the characters, and subjects to avoid, such as religious references. Ironing out any content that might hinder a property’s international sales is an important consideration. Vacchi points out that one reason that Atlantyca’s Geronimo Stilton has traveled to 180 countries is that it contains no religion and no violence that might have impeded its progress. For Kristin Lecour, CCI’s VP of licensing and marketing, the biggest challenge is finding properties with global appeal. “Properties tend to be strong in some territories but not all. All territories have IP that resonates with their culture, but the best ones somehow manage to resonate with all cultures. So you want to avoid content that is too niche or too localized.” While there’s no doubt that the world of kids’ TV remakes is changing fast, two features of the marketplace remain constant. The most popular source of material is still the world of book publishing. And the appeal of TV exposure remains undiminished. As CAKE’s van Waveren concludes, “For all the challenges of the growth of digital platforms such as online and the iPad,TV is still the leading platform where everybody wants to be.” 4/12
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Toons In With creativity and co-production financing models, Spanish animation companies are finding ample international opportunities. By Elizabeth Bowen-Tombari
he Spanish animation industry’s variety and vibrancy have earned international recognition. Spain ranks third in Europe and seventh worldwide in the export of animated shows—to more than 150 countries—and animation houses derive 50 percent to 80 percent of their revenues from international sales, compared with only 25 percent for companies producing fiction. One of the brightest moments for Spain’s animation industry came in 2009, when Ilion Animation Studios produced the animated film Planet 51. It catapulted Spanish production to the big leagues of the global industry.The movie cost some $70 million to make and raked in more than $105 million globally. The same success stories can be found in television. A plethora of awards and distinctions have been showered on Spanish preschool, children’s and teen animation. Each show is fueled by creativity, a faithful rendering of its producer’s vision. “We’re very creative companies, changing perspectives every time we start a project,” says Carlos Biern, the executive VP for co-productions and worldwide distribution at BRB Internacional. “In Spain, companies have different backgrounds—Internet, video games, publishing, advertising—they come from many sectors, but when it comes to the brand, we focus on two things: the international appeal of our projects and working globally with every tool available for production.” BRB Internacional is celebrating 40 years of producing, distributing and licensing family content, and over the course of four decades it has made more than 1,800 originally produced half hours. Its animated fare has traveled around the world. Currently, the company is working on stereoscopic 3D and CGI animation with Canimals, Kambu and Suckers, among others. There are several reasons for Spanish animation’s increased presence in the international space. “There’s marvelous creativity in Spain, there are many talented people, so it’s only
Vodka Capital’s Bugsted.
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natural that beautiful and creative ideas flourish,” says Steven Posner, the managing partner atVodka Capital.“Since Spain isn’t a market that’s been highly subsidized, we’ve had to go international because the local market and [domestic television license fees] are not enough to move a project forward.” GLOBAL PLAYGROUND
Due to the financial crisis that refuses to loosen its grip, broadcasters have been tightening their budgets. In addition, new DTT channels have limited funds, which has had a severe impact on investment in production. Thus, co-productions have become the preferred financing formula for Spanish production companies who simply can’t fund their projects with revenues from their domestic market. “Spanish producers are used to going to the international market to to finance and sell their productions,” says Laura García Ortega, the head of international sales at Nottingham Forest Media Advisors. “Some of them, in the last ten years, have seen [their shows] broadcast in Europe, Asia and America. Chances are this trend will become more prevalent in the coming years.” Nottingham is representing two new properties from the Spanish outfit Kotoc Producciones at MIPTV: Champions, a fantasy action series, and the music-infused Laland. Christophe Goldberger, the director of distribution and marketing at Imira Entertainment, notes that there was a time in Spain when productions were financed locally with strong broadcast partners like Televisión Española (TVE) or Televisió de Catalunya (TV3). It was possible to make a series without the pressures of having to compete in the international market. “However, this model collapsed and production outfits had to become creative and innovative in order to find funding for their projects and compete internationally,” he says. “This in turn created a new generation of producers that adopted new development techniques and HD production,” Goldberger continues. “The conditions in the media landscape have changed and forced people to be more creative to find solutions and go to the international market.” Imira Entertainment, along with TV3, RAI Fiction in Italy and Top Draw Animation in the Philippines, have co-produced Lucky Fred. It launched in Latin America last November on Nickelodeon, then it debuted in Spain in February on Disney Channel; TV3 will follow suit later this spring. Vodka Capital has had success both in Spain and internationally with its series Jelly Jamm, which launched in more than 150 countries last fall.The company is currently working on a new production, Pirata & Capitano, geared toward kids 3 to 5, and a transmedia project called Bugsted. “The reception for Pirata & Capitano has been excellent,” comments Vodka Capital’s Posner. “It’s a very well done series and, I dare say, even better than Jelly Jamm in terms of creative concept, structure and story.What has surprised us is that many channels have opted for presales, and I mean important European channels, as well as international territories.” Eva Fontanals, the managing director at Edebé Audiovisual Licensing, a division of the publishing company Grupo Edebé, points to Four and a Half Friends, an animated show based on a book series that has been successful in more than 40 countries. “The books are by German author Joachim Friedrich and we were very familiar with them because we had published them in Spanish for Spain and Latin America,” Fontanals explains.“We 4/12
liked them so much we decided to make a junior detective TV series and ZDF joined us as co-production partner. We got the Canadian outfit Yowza to co-produce as well. They’re a great company out of Toronto, very specialized in production, and we were really impressed with the quality of their work.” TV3 is also a co-production partner on Four and a Half Friends. Other titles in the Edebé catalogue that have done well globally include the preschool series Let’s Play with Boomchiki Boom! MORE THAN ANIMATION
Motion Pictures, a producer and distributor set up in 1977, is also active in the licensing-and-merchandising segment. “We’re producing Pumpkin Reports with TVE,” says Xavi Mas, the international sales and co-production manager at Motion Pictures. “We have a few presale confirmations in France, Scandinavia and Asia, but we have yet to find a co-producer.” Mas says that they’re evaluating a number of options, with plans to find not only financing but also a partner that can bring added value to the project. Laura Tapias, the CEO of Aviatrix Entertainment, says the company has three very distinct strategies for the year. “On the one hand, we’re buying preschool and kids’ content for Canal Panda. On the other, we’re offering the best Spanish and Latin content to Latin America and Brazil.We’re also proud of the new property from Argentina, El payaso Plim Plim, that currently airs on Disney Junior Latin America.And finally, we’re offering Applicaster, a new VOD and live-streaming platform for all content owners and broadcasters.” BRB Internacional is looking for new business opportunities. “The first thing is content, high-budget feature films in 3D and stereoscopic 3D,” says Biern. “The first is Bernard, based on a well-known character around the world, which is being seen in over 150 countries.” The company is also working to find new and future audiences.“We’ll be focusing on creating apps, video games and content based on well-known brands for new devices.We think we can work more with media agencies and not only networks.” World Screen
The right beat: Edebé’s slate of successful shows includes Let’s Play with Boomchiki Boom!
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Macau, because there’s no theater in the Western Hemisphere big enough to handle this show! We’re also developing three new superheroes—a Chinese superhero, an Indian superhero and a Latin [American] superhero. We feel we want to give the rest of the world the same attention and privileges that we have accorded to our own wonderful nation. Now on top of that, so you don’t think that we’re just sitting idly around, we have done a book called Romeo and Juliet: The War. It’s one of the most beautiful graphic novels ever published. We’ve taken the story of Romeo and Juliet and we’ve projected it 200 years into the future. We’ve still maintained the love story, which is the world’s most famous, but we’ve also played up the war between the Capulets and the Montagues. One of those [families] is made up of cybernetically enhanced humans and the others are super-powered humans. I believe it’s already on The NewYork Times best-seller list. And we have a series of children’s books called Stan Lee’s Kids Universe, both traditional and digital [media] titles.You can see I’m very shy and reluctant about using my name in these things. [Laughs] We also have a Stan Lee’s World of Heroes [online channel] for YouTube. We’re doing that in partnership with Michael Eisner’s company, Vuguru, and we’re going to have all sorts of exciting programs on there. We’re also doing a new series of comic books called The Mighty 7, and in order to make that different from everything else, we’re thinking of them as reality comic books, like reality TV shows. There are real characters that we know from real life in these stories. Because I managed to overcome my shyness, I’m one of the characters in the story.
Stan Lee! By Mansha Daswani
Spider-Man, the Hulk, the X-Men, Iron Man and Thor are all characters that started out in comic books and have since become multimillion-dollar franchises encompassing animated series, blockbuster live-action theatricals, video games, toys and more. All of those, and many others, were co-created by the legendary comic-book artist Stan Lee during his long career at Marvel. Today, at 89, Lee continues to churn out projects at his company, POW! Entertainment, where he serves as chairman and chief creative officer. He recently spoke to TV Kids about POW!’s new endeavors, which include feature films for the Asian market and digital-media projects with Vuguru, and the enduring appeal of the many superhero characters he has created over the course of his long career.
TV KIDS: What are some of the new projects you’re working on at POW! Entertainment? LEE: We’re developing four movies.We’re developing two TV series.We’re developing a live rock-opera-style theatrical musical called Yin Yang:The Battle of Tao. It’s a big live-action musical in which the audience actually plays a role—that’s never been done before. It’s so big we may open it up in a theater in 298
TV KIDS: And you’re also a playable
character in a new video game? LEE: Oh, yes! I forgot about that. I’m a playable character in Activision’s new Spider-Man video game. I haven’t seen it yet but I can’t wait to play me. [Laughs] We’ve also just launched [a website], TheRealStanLee.com. And that’s obviously in opposition to the phony Stan Lee—we don’t want anybody to get that.
TV KIDS: You’re working in so many different mediums. Is
your creative process different when you’re approaching a comic book versus inventing a new superhero for a featurefilm franchise? LEE: Not really. Basically, we think of ourselves here at POW! as entertainers in the most literal sense of the word. Everything we do must be entertaining. Whether we’re writing a comic book, whether we’re developing a motion picture or a TV series, the only thing we look for is, the project has to be filled with surprises, the reader or the viewer must be seeing and enjoying something that he or she has not seen before, and it should hold the audience’s interest. It should seem fresh, new, exciting, and it should be fun.Whatever we do, we want it to be fun. TV KIDS: How do you think that iPads and other devices are
going to change the way that people experience graphic novels and comic books? LEE: The iPad and other tablets really allow the readers to interact with the stories in fascinating new ways. There are animated effects and games that they can play within 4/12
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the story. There are even a few applications where you can hear me read the story of a Marvel superhero to you. It creates an entirely immersive reading experience and it might help readers form an even stronger bond with the characters. But above and beyond all of that, it still [has to be about the] story telling and making the stories as entertaining as possible. TV KIDS: Looking at some of the characters you’ve created, did you ever think that they were going to have the kind of longevity that they’ve had, and that they would be reinvented in feature films and video games and other platforms? LEE: I’d love to say I knew all the time how great these things were, but I didn’t have the slightest idea! I don’t think any of us did—the artists or the letterers or the colorists. All we were hoping was that the comics would sell and we’d keep our jobs and be able to pay the rent. We never looked much farther than that.
TV KIDS: Can you tell me more about the new international
superheroes you’re creating? LEE: We’ve [started with] a superhero who is Chinese. His
story will bring him to America and the climax of the story takes place back in China. This is not a movie merely for the Chinese audiences—it’s a movie for people worldwide.What we are trying to do, and I think we’re accomplishing it magnificently, is to get heroes who are not all Americans. [We want them to] represent people from all over
TV KIDS: What was your
approach to creating some of the characteristics of these classic superheroes? LEE: Basically, if you’ve read my stories you know I’m very scientific minded. For example, I didn’t just have Spider-Man gain a spider power miraculously, I did it as scientifically as possible—he was bitten by a radioactive spider. It could have happened to anybody. When the Hulk became the Hulk, it just didn’t happen casually—there was a gamma-ray bomb that exploded. If you ask me what a gamma ray is, I would have no idea at all, but it sounds very scientific, I think.The Fantastic Four, they gained their powers from cosmic rays, of which I know as little as I do gamma rays, but they sound impressive. At that point I ran out of rays, so when I had to do the X-Men, I took the cowardly way out, I said, well they’re just born that way, that’s all. They’re mutants. That got me off the hook there. I can give you a very clear and definite understanding as to why I and the people at POW! and at Marvel are so much more scientific than the competition. Here’s the example.You’ve seen Superman flying on the screen, haven’t you? What is his means of propulsion? What makes him fly? He doesn’t have a jet engine, there’s nothing pushing him, he just sort of assumes a horizontal position, lies on the air and off he goes.When I wanted a character to fly, such as the Silver Surfer, I gave him a flying surfboard—perfectly scientific, perfectly understandable, and not the least bit as frustrating as wondering how Superman does it. So as you can see, science is really something I’m very much into and every factor of our stories is as scientifically accurate as I can make them. 4/12
and show not only that any person of any nationality or any race can be a superhero, but we can make these stories [compelling] enough that people around the world will be interested in them. That’s what our objective is. The fact that we’re a business, that’s just a front—we’re a social organization that’s striving to make this a better world, and we’re hoping at some point the world will realize that and we won’t have to pay taxes! [Laughs] TV KIDS: You attend a lot of fan conventions; is that still
fun for you? LEE: Oh, I love it! I just love it. All my life I’ve done it and
people at other companies used to say, “Why do you waste time spending so much time with the fans?” And I used to say, “You guys are crazy that you don’t do it.These fans are the ones who are keeping you in business and when you talk to them and they tell you what they like and what they don’t like, it’s the greatest education you can get for the work that you do.” To me the fans are the most important. In fact I’ve even formed a brigade, and I, of course, am the beloved generalissimo and all of my fans are brigadiers. I can’t tell you what our plans for world domination are because I’m sworn to secrecy, but it’s become a very big thing! World Screen
A web of ideas: One of Stan Lee’s best-known creations has a new animated series on Disney XD, Ultimate Spider-Man.
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TV KIDS: What is it about the show that is able to appeal to children from different countries? BOURLON: First of all, there are recognizable characters and some very recognizable relationships, love histories and so on. But the most important thing is the mystery, which is in all of the series, and young people always like mysterious stories that unfold. TV KIDS: What kind of changes had to be made for the
American version? VERHULST: We didn’t have to make too many changes
because all the Nickelodeon channels share the same programming values and production rules. As we had already made the series that were suitable for Nickelodeon in Holland and in Germany, we didn’t have to change too many things for the American series. BOURLON: We did make some changes for Anubis U.S. For example: we had the story of an American girl who enters an English boarding school, which gives a kind of specific tension to that series, while in the Dutch series, it is just a Dutch girl entering a Dutch boarding school. TV KIDS: What are the challenges, as writers and creators,
to keep the series fresh year after year? VERHULST: The series is a mix of soap and mystery. We
try to keep the soap interesting by adding some new characters, not too many, and to add new love stories. We also try to find new mysteries. It’s not always easy but I think we have succeeded.
TV KIDS: There is a lot of competition in children’s televi-
Hans Bourlon & Gert Verhulst By Anna Carugati
When Hans Bourlon and Gert Verhulst founded Studio 100, in 1996, they had one main goal in mind—to create high-quality entertainment for children. Fifteen years later, the company is involved in TV shows, films, graphic novels, music, live shows and theme parks. One show in particular, House of Anubis, which they made originally for Nickelodeon in the Netherlands, has become a hit on Nickelodeon in the U.S. and elsewhere. Bourlon and Verhulst tell TV Kids how their original commitment to quality has paid off.
TV KIDS: House of Anubis has been very successful. Tell us about the original show. VERHULST: The original show was made for Nickelodeon in Holland and we started almost six years ago, in September 2006, with the first episode. The first season was very, very successful and we made a second season. Because of the huge success in Holland and Belgium, we produced a version for Nickelodeon in Germany, which was also very successful. That is why the executives from Nickelodeon in NewYork decided to make the show for the States. 300
sion in many countries. Is high quality something that broadcasters are looking for? BOURLON: It is indeed not easy nowadays. In 2008, as part of our strategy, we acquired an immense European library of classic characters like Maya the Bee, Vicky the Viking and Heidi, which were popular all over Europe in the ’70s and ’80s. We are now making new 3D animated programs of these characters, using the state-of-the-art techniques of today. We see that this is a very good way of entering the market because there is a lot of nostalgia. It is a very important element these days because parents like to share those programs and characters of their youth with their children, or grandparents with their grandchildren. This is working out very well because it is not easy nowadays to come up with a successful new concept. There are so many broadcasters that to make something that is popular with all of them is a really difficult task. TV KIDS: And yet House of Anubis is an original idea. BOURLON: Yes, that is correct, and we are very thankful to
Nickelodeon in the Netherlands that they wanted to invest in it and think with us about the content of the show. And the fact that it was popular in the Netherlands had a lot of consequences, because Nickelodeon is an organization where all their channels in different territories are in contact with each other. They communicate, they learn from each other and that is the reason why we could break through all those other territories. We are not only in the U.S. and Germany, but also in the U.K. and Australia and the Dutch version has been dubbed and is broadcast in 4/12
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Scandinavia and the U.S. version is distributed all over the world now in a dubbed version.
shows, theme parks and television, taken all together, these are the content drivers that make a business successful.
TV KIDS: Besides your strong catalogue, are there other factors that have made Studio 100 successful in today’s very competitive market? VERHULST: In terms of turnover, television is only about 15 percent of our business. We also make theater productions. We are very active in producing songs and musicals. We have a graphic division; we write a lot of graphic books and novels. We make feature films, we have made about 20 up to now. And the most specific thing is that we own and exploit, for the moment, five theme parks in Europe, which are [based on] our characters.
TV KIDS: Are there any upcoming shows or projects you would like to talk about? VERHULST: We are focusing on the 3D remakes of Maya the Bee, Vicky the Viking and Heidi.We also have two animation studios, one in Sydney and one in Paris, where we are creating totally new episodes. And we have TF1 from France as coproducer for these three shows and also ZDF from Germany as co-producer for Maya the Bee and Vicky the Viking.
TV KIDS: So, if one activity perhaps isn’t doing very well, the
ones that are successful can compensate. BOURLON: Yes, it’s a totally integrated system because if you are
in television nowadays, it’s not easy to have a breakthrough show, to be popular among the target audience group. But when you have families who get into their cars, or take a train, and come to a theater show, or come to one of our theme parks [you can generate revenues in many ways]. Books, shows, songs, theater
TV KIDS: When you reintroduce a show for today’s genera-
tion, besides making them in 3D, what elements need to be updated for today’s children? BOURLON: We look at the stories. Those programs from the ’70s had a different look but also a different feel. For example, they were all 25 minutes in length, which today little children are not used to watching. The characters were also a bit more violent, there was more tension than is usual nowadays. And the story writing is totally new. We only took the characters and the backgrounds and we made totally new programs.
Class act: Nickelodeon in the U.S. followed the lead of its Dutch and German counterparts, signing on for its own version of the tween soap House of Anubis.
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A little more than a year ago, Playhouse Disney was rebranded as Disney Junior, with a new look and feel for its preschool viewers. In the U.S., Disney Junior recently expanded from a programming block on Disney Channel to a full stand-alone 24-hour service. The channel is home to many characters near and dear to preschoolers’ hearts, including Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse, but also features some new faces, such as Doc McStuffins. Nancy Kanter, the senior VP of original programming and general manager for Disney Junior Worldwide, talks about extending the Disney heritage to a new generation of viewers.
We’re also hard at work producing new shows, both longform and short-form, so we have a rich pipeline of content for the new channel. TV KIDS: What’s your focus for Disney Junior’s slate of
original content? KANTER: We have seen that shows like Mickey Mouse Club-
house and Jake and the Never Land Pirates, which have those classic Disney heritage characters, can really work if you make a good, smart show that makes sense for today’s kids around the world. So we looked back at the history of characters throughout the Disney legacy. Minnie is one example. Minnie has been part of Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, and her episodes are powerful and appealing, so we thought she deserved her own moment in the spotlight. She now has Minnie’s Bow-Toons. We also have new original characters; it’s not only about the heritage characters. Doc McStuffins, which just launched in the U.S., features a brand-new character for kids, and we are also in production on a show called Sofia the First. Sofia is a little girl who becomes a princess when her mom marries the king. There’s a chance for us to embrace what we know girls love about princesses—the pretty shoes and ball gowns—but also go a little deeper in terms of message and offer stories that go to the heart of what it means to be a princess. We’re also in production on a preschool western. We’re looking at archetypes and genres of storytelling that have been around for many years and [looking] at them through the lens of what a preschooler might enjoy watching.
Nancy Kanter TV KIDS: Tell us about the rebranding and rollout for Disney
Junior. KANTER: On February 14, 2011, we transitioned what had
been Playhouse Disney to Disney Junior. Playhouse Disney was already a 24-hour stand-alone channel around the world, but in the U.S., we were just a programming block on Disney Channel. From a brand perspective, there was an opportunity to think about what we wanted to be for preschoolers and for their families, to redefine our image and our message. We wanted to make it crystal clear that what set Disney Junior apart from every other preschool service was the essence of Disney, the part of Disney that makes it so unique, the characters, and, really importantly, storytelling with heart. When you think about a Disney movie that you’ve gone to yourself or you’ve taken your child to, going to the theme park, having that first Disney book, it really touches you in a very special way. We wanted to make that [connection] really prominent and the essence of our brand. So we transitioned the name and the look and extended our demo a bit to include 2- to 7-yearolds, offering more programming that the whole family can enjoy together. We redid our look to really reflect all the Disney heritage and magic and recognized that in the U.S., we had the opportunity to be more than just a block. The audience was there. We’d certainly heard many times in focus groups and talking to moms, “I wish we had Disney programming on throughout the day, not just in the morning and the early afternoon.” So for us it was a real opportunity to fulfill the need that we’d been hearing about. TV KIDS: How have you gone about filling all the slots for
the 24-hour channel? KANTER: All the shows that were on the block are on the
channel. Because we have 24 hours, we also have the opportunity to program shows that had been on Playhouse Disney, but that we had taken off because we had limited slots. In preschool television you get a brand-new audience every two or three years, so we can reintroduce these shows to a new generation of kids. We looked at the library, and some of those series that were made with Disney characters will find their way back on air.We’ve acquired some new shows as well that seem to complement and work well with our brand. 4/12
TV KIDS: What core values do
you look for when introducing a new Disney character? KANTER: The most important thing when we’re looking at developing a new show is the quality, the depth and the richness of the characters and the storytelling.That’s really what defines Disney. It is that very special kind of storytelling that has an emotional connection.You leave that experience thinking about those characters and being touched by them. Whether it’s an older heritage character or a brandnew original character, we want to see if we can imagine telling multiple stories around this world and how we will build those stories into something that will really resonate for a child. World Screen
By Kristin Brzoznowski
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Sander Schwartz By Mansha Daswani
When FremantleMedia Enterprises (FME) decided to expand into the kids’ entertainment business in 2009, it turned to Warner Bros. Animation veteran Sander Schwartz to lead the new division. As the president of FME Kids & Family Entertainment, Schwartz has been building up a roster of partnerships with broadcasters and producers worldwide.
of the ancillary rights, this attracts talent and potential partners. On top of that, I’ve learned a little something about kids’ content in my 30 years of business (as has Bob Higgins in his 20 years), and that experience, coupled with many long-term relationships, has given us an advantage. Putting those three factors together we were able to quickly assemble a portfolio of projects with key producers and networks, such as the BBC in the U.K., ABC in Australia, and Nickelodeon and Disney in the U.S. Our buyers are well aware that independent producers and distributors have been having a hard time surviving in recent years. So when you have a new player coming in, saying, “We want to be in this space, we want to partner with you, and we have resources to contribute”—you get a warm reception and are embraced by the business.
TV KIDS: Why was it important for FME to enter the chil-
dren’s programming business? SCHWARTZ: The decision was taken after a great deal of thought and market analysis before my appointment. FME looked at a range of opportunities in television and related media, and children’s and family entertainment worked out to be the most logical extension of their business.The FME infrastructure already included many of the components to service the sector, including program distribution, merchandising and licensing, home entertainment, as well as all of the back-office functions (such as legal and business affairs) required to manage the business—it was the perfect setup for a kids’ and family-entertainment division. All they needed to enter the fray were experts in the field. Hence my arrival on the scene, followed closely by the hiring of Bob Higgins and, over time, the rest of our team. Of course you might say that it’s already a very crowded business and the economic times weren’t very good [in 2009]. But, by the same token, when there are challenges in the marketplace, it creates an opportunity for there to be new entrants who can react to the market conditions, adapt to the changing business and be well positioned to take advantage of an evolving landscape.
TV KIDS: Who are some of the producers you’re working with? SCHWARTZ: We’re working with Fresh TV, the creators of the
Total Drama franchise.We work with them on the tween series My Babysitter’s a Vampire, which was the number one primetime cable show for kids (airing on Disney Channel) in the U.S. last summer. It has opened to great results in key territories around the world, including in the U.K. and Australia. We also have Really Me, a live-action comedy, [with Fresh TV].We are also working together on an all-new animated series called Grojband. This has been greenlit and will launch next year. We have been lucky enough to establish partnerships with key broadcasters, producers, writers, around the world. In Australia, Sticky Pictures is our producer on Bindi’s Bootcamp with Bindi Irwin.We’ve announced one show with Animation Collective in New York, Alien Dawn. We have The Aquabats! Super Show!— by The Magic Store, the co-creators of Yo Gabba Gabba!—which will be coming to The Hub soon; and we have Monsuno premiering on Nickelodeon and Nick Toons.We’re working hard to build a very diverse slate of programming, with top-quality talent attached, in all segments of the business—preschool, kids’ comedy, boys’ action adventure, and teen and tween. TV KIDS: The kids’ content market has faced some difficult
TV KIDS: What factors have driven
the growth of the division over the past two years? SCHWARTZ: The commitment of FME to support the business has been paramount to what we’ve been able to achieve. Secondly, the reputation of FME as a great packager, producer and distributor of shows, as well as a world-class distributor
challenges over the last few years. What opportunities do you see going forward? SCHWARTZ: From the time that we started this [division at FME] I set as our goal to become the leading independent developer, producer and distributor of kids’ and family fare in the world. It’s a high and a lofty goal, but one that the company really supports internally and one that our content partners have embraced.The kids’ business, although it’s changing and has for some time been going through challenging times, is vibrant and well. From all of the dislocations and changes in recent years, there have come great opportunities for directors, writers, creators, producers, to sell their shows. Never has it been easier to get a show seen by an audience because there are more channels than ever before. On the other hand, financing those shows is more challenging than ever, as a more fractured audience means more fractured license fees, and [as a result] funding new series [is] more complicated. For those who can figure out how to put together the patchwork quilt of funding required to finance television series today, there is great opportunity.The future of the business as a whole is quite bright and I believe has turned a corner. It’s up to the creative community out there to rise to the challenge and to get as creative on the business side of the equation as they have always been on the creative side of production. 4/12
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not because they’re bad shows but because they are justifiably parochial in reflecting local kids. Then there are shows that are clearly developed from the outset with having international appeal. Preschool has quite an international following and British preschool programming probably has led the world for the last ten years.A lot of preschool, because funding is quite difficult, has an international perspective from the outset. Animation is obviously the global language of kids’ television—it’s easy to dub, it appeals to lots of people, it works for the audience—so that’s another area that’s obviously always developed with an international view, not a local view. And then you have local programming, which you may get some post-production sales on, but you probably didn’t make them with an international viewpoint, you were making them very much for your lead broadcaster. TV KIDS: Zodiak’s Fort Boyard format has been remade for the
U.S.What potential do you see for the kids’ formats business? PICKARD: I think there are opportunities.We’ve got to be quite
Zodiak Media Group’s
Nigel Pickard By Mansha Daswani
Having spent time at CITV and CBBC, Nigel Pickard has firsthand experience of what kids’ broadcasters are looking for. He has brought this experience to bear at Zodiak Media Group, where he serves as the CEO of the U.K. Kids and Family division. On the board of the Zodiak Kids group and the chairman of the British production outfit The Foundation, Pickard is working to make sure that the company’s British output, which includes hits like Waybuloo, will resonate with children worldwide.
TV KIDS: Zodiak Media owns a number of kids’ businesses;
how do you all work together? PICKARD: There’s The Foundation [in the U.K.], which I chair
and look after on a day-to-day basis, and two major kids’ producers, Marathon and Télé Images, both in France.We retain our producer identities.That’s the case across the whole group. Zodiak Rights represents all these companies in the international market. We created, within Zodiak Rights, a specialist group called Zodiak Kids, which is only responsible for the exploitation of our shows and for raising co-production [financing].The Zodiak Kids board includes me, Philippe [Alessandri, from Télé Images], Marathon’s Vincent [Chalvon Demersay] and David Michel, and Zodiak Rights’ Karen Vermeulen and Matthew Frank.We discuss exploitation and strategy, but we all have our own development slates.We all do our own individual pitching and we try not to compete with each other, but sometimes we overlap. TV KIDS: How do you ensure that your British commissions at The Foundation will have enough international appeal that they can then be sold worldwide by Zodiak Kids? PICKARD: Clearly, the principal commissioner in the U.K. is the BBC. By the nature of their public-service obligations, their shows serve British kids. Some of those shows won’t travel— 306
selective about what those formats are. We’re looking at two [models]. One is hub production, where you make a show for everybody [using a set] in one territory—Fort Boyard is the original production hub; it’s very difficult to move a Napoleonic fort anywhere else! And then we have a magic format, Tricky TV, which ran on ITV for several years, that Cartoon Network picked up and made an Indian version of.You’re starting to see [broadcasters] recognize great formats but they want to make it themselves in local territories. You are seeing people wanting to localize their shows and they don’t want to just buy a dubbed version. I don’t think it’s going to be the high-end shows, the very expensive shows; [it’ll be the] shows that are financially manageable and lend themselves to being transferred. TV KIDS: What do you see as the major issues facing the British children’s market today and how are you navigating them? PICKARD: While some doors [have] closed, others have opened. Three years ago, for The Foundation and Zodiak to have a couple of shows on the U.S. kids’ networks—that would not have happened. That may be about how we’ve grown, but it’s also much more about how the networks have changed the way that they’re buying programs. The position in the U.K. has changed for various reasons. There’s no public-service obligation for ITV. There was a ban on advertising fatty foods. And we’ve seen the growth of the digital channels. Producers in the U.K., although it has been tough, have adapted to thinking more internationally. Last year we made shows in Korea, Australia, the Middle East and France. Five years ago that would’ve been newsworthy, now it goes with the territory that you have to take a far more global approach to the business. TV KIDS: What areas are you focusing on in the next 12 months? PICKARD: Continuing to be innovative in the preschool
market because, although it’s very crowded and very competitive, the preschool market offers the most reward if you can get it right.We are excited about our forthcoming series Tickety Toc for Nickelodeon. Clearly the 7-plus audience is something we need to focus on growing. We’ve done a lot of these liveaction entertainment formats like Fort Boyard, Escape from Scorpion Island. We’ve got a couple other shows in that genre that there’s quite a lot of interest in. Narrative fiction is still an area [that we’re focusing on], both comedy and drama. 4/12
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