Kid cable net Nickelodeon held its 2006-07 upfront presentation today, unveiling new animated series and heralding the launch of a new content development strategy that includes a multi-million dollar slate of multi-platform, non-linear productions. On the linear television side, the broadcaster will premiere 254 new episodes during the upcoming season.
Nickelodoen has teamed with video game publisher THQ and developer Avalanche Software to introduce an animated series based on the popular video game Tak and the Power of JuJu. The CG-animated adventure-comedy show will debut in 2007 with 15 episodes following the adventures of a fun-loving, mischievous, 14-year-old Tak, who has gained access to the magical, mythical jungle realm of the colorful and powerful Jujus. Former Talk Soup host Hal Sparks (Queer as Folk) stars as the voice of Tak, with Tommy Davidson lending his voice to pal Keeko and Colleen O’Shaughnessey as Jeera.
Also premiering in 2007 is Mr. Meaty, a 13-episode show based on a series of shorts introduced on Nickelodeon’s TurboNick broadband platform. The comedy is set in a fast-food franchise and focuses on the working life of two teenage slackers, Josh and Parker. Full of teenaged self-importance and slouching indifference, the boys are willing to endure one of the most soulless jobs on earth in order to save enough money to produce their dream project’a horror movie called Ninja Zombies.
An original animated series titled Downward Doghouse will join the 2007 lineup with 20 episodes developed and produced through a partnership between Nickelodeon and Wang Films. In the tradition of Dora the Explorer, the show will introduce preschoolers to the many aspects of Chinese culture and language through a five-year-old Chinese-American girl named Kai-lan. Each half-hour centers on Kai-lan and her relationships with her grandfather, her animal friends and the natural world. Downward Doghouse is created by Karen Chau and exec produced by Mary Harrington. Animation will be produced in both Shanghai and Taiwan under the supervision of Wang Films.
Based on the upcoming CG-animated feature film of the same name, Barnyard will debut on Nickelodeon with 13 episodes in 2007. From creator Steve Oedekerk (Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius), the 3D comedy series which takes a humorous look at what really happens in a barnyard when the farmer’s back is turned. Otis, a once carefree party cow, has recently taken over as the patriarch of the farm and struggles to protect his fellow animals while getting dubious advice from pals Pip, an outspoken mouse, Freddie, a neurotic ferret and Peck, a level-headed rooster.
The previously announced Wow! Wow! Wubbzy! will entertain preschoolers in 2007 with the debut of 26 episodes. Created and exec produced by Bob Boyle (The Fairly OddParents, Danny Phantom), the series was first introduced as The Wubbcast, a trailblazing video podcast of preschooler programming. The TV series will celebrate the spirit of teamwork and cooperation through a curious little creatures named Wubbzy, Widget and Walden, who live in a whimsical and imaginative world. Each half-hour episode will feature two, 10-minute adventures with the themes of the day reinforced through an original music video. The show is a production of Bolder Media for Boys and Girls, in association with IDT/Film Roman. Susan Miller of Bolder Media, Inc. and Mixed Media Group, and Fred Seibert of Bolder Media Inc. and Frederator Studios, also serve as exec producers.
Nickelodeon Television will also launch 13 episodes of the new animated series El Tigre next year. Inspired by Mexican folk art and spaghetti westerns, the comedy-adventure was created by husband-wife team Jorge Gutierrez and Sandra Equihua (El Macho). El Tigre centers on a teenage boy, Manny Rivera (a.k.a. El Tigre), who must choose to become a great superhero like his father, Rodolpho, or a feared super-villain like his grandfather.
From the minds of Scary Movie creators Shawn, Marlon and Kenan Ivory Wayans comes Thugaboo, a series of three animated specials that take a humorous look at the trials and tribulations of nine very different kids growing up in the inner city. The first production will premiere this August, offering young viewers valuable lessons about everything from the importance of friendship to never giving up on a dream. In addition to producing and writing episodes, the Wayans brothers will lend their voices to Thugaboo, which will also feature celebrity appearances by Michael Rapaport, Tracy Morgan, David Alan Grier and Kim Wayans.
The Nicktoons Network Animation Festival will return on August 26 for a third helping of animated shorts from around the world. The films will screen for six nights and a grand jury will select a $10,000 grand prize winner from the top ten films chosen by the pre-selection jury. The festival will also be available to view online at www.nicktoonsnetwork.com, and will kick off with a two-day live screening event at the Nicktoons Studios in Burbank on Saturday, Aug. 12 and Sunday, Aug. 13.
Nickelodeon’s 2006-07 season will also include 20 new episodes SpongeBob SquarePants, 18 feash installments of LazyTown, 20 new Backyardigans adventures and 20 new episodes of the Nick Jr.’s hit Go, Diego, Go!
In addition to its TV slate, Nickelodeon will continue to introduce online game content and is introducing video podcasts that will make TEENick shows such as Zoey 101, Nickelodeon’s Kids’ Choice Awards and various Nick Movies available on Nick.com and iTunes.
‘The first Nickelodeon generation of kids grew up in a video democracy where the words broadcast and cable meant nothing, and great characters and stories meant everything,” says Cyma Zarghami, president of Nickelodeon and MTVN Kids and Family Group. “This next generation of kids is platform agnostic. We already are programming to kids on 15 different platforms and we’re excited to be expanding our tradition of strong content development to reach across broadband, digital and wireless screens that have become a daily part of their lives.’
Among the new initiatives at Nickelodoen is the introduction of an animation laboratory dubbed “Inkubators.” Based at Nickelodeon’s animation studio in Burbank, Calif., the lab will be dedicated to the development of original animated content made specifically for a diverse range of platforms, including broadband, wireless, portable video devices, online and gaming. The network will also be committing development resources to the creation of long- and short-form content developed from creators in international markets.