Nick to Air New SpongeBob Episodes

After spending some downtime on the continental shelf, the Emmy-nominated animated series, SpongeBob SquarePants, is set to return with 20 all-new episodes to air on Nickelodeon in 2005. Series creator Stephen Hillenburg will serve as executive producer on the new episodes, which will reunite voice cast members Tom Kenny (SpongeBob), Bill Fagerbakke (Patrick), Rodger Bumpass (Squidward), Clancy Brown (Mr. Krabs) and Carolyn Lawrence (Sandy Cheeks).

SpongeBob SquarePants launched in July 1999 and has remained the top kids’ show on broadcast and cable television for almost three years. It is the most successful property in Nickelodeon’s 25-year history. Hillenburg will focus on the new installments once work is completed on The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie, set hit theaters on November 19.

Helming day-to-day production of the new episodes is Paul Tibbitt, one of the co-writers and storyboard artists on The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie. Tibbitt served as a director and writer on SpongeBob SquarePants for the past three seasons, and wrote some of the show’s most memorable episodes including "Ripped Pants" and "Mermaid Man and Barnacle Boy."

SpongeBob SquarePants is a Nicktoons Production, with Hillenburg’s United Plankton Pictures, and is produced at the Nickelodeon Animation Studio in Burbank, Calif.

SpongeBob will also test the big-screen waters this holiday season as Paramount releases SpongeBob SquarePants: The Movie on November 19. Yesterday, Paramount held a press event in conjunction with the release during which the talented voice of SpongeBob,Tom Kenny, introduced several hilarious clips from the feature, accompanied by Bill Fagerbakke (the voice of Patrick Star). The plot centers on our yellow absorbent hero leaving his town of Bikini Bottom to find King Neptune’s stolen crown. In addition to Kenny and Fagerbakke, the movie also boasts star turns from voice guests such as Alec Baldwin, James Earl Jones, Scarlett Johansson, Jeffrey Tambor and Clancy Brown.

From what we saw, this might be the big underdog toon of the year–a hilarious, well-written (gasp!) traditionally animated feature which could give all the big-budget titans of CG animation a run for their money.