Nick US unveils plans at annual upfront

MUMBAI: US kids broadcaster Nickelodeon, at its annual upfront presentation, unveiled plans for 650 new episodes—its most ever—of both new content and returning hits.

The network also announced premiere details for the animated series, ‘The Legend of Korra‘; a stop-motion ‘SpongeBob SquarePants‘ Christmas special; primetime TV movies; casting for the new Nick at Nite series ‘Hollywood Heights‘ (formerly ‘Reach for a Star‘); an animated series based on the Raving Rabbids video games; and new projects with UK pop sensation One Direction, iCarly/Victorious show creator Dan Schneider and iCarly star Jennette McCurdy.

Viacom‘s Nickelodeon Group president Cyma Zarghami said, "Kids have a ferocious appetite for new content and it is our intention to serve them more, innovative work than ever before. We are tapping into new sources and proven hit-makers to maintain our position as the top entertainment brand for kids and families."

Animation: Nickelodeon will roll out a new roster of over 300 new animated episodes in 2012 which includes new episodes of returning series including ‘SpongeBob SquarePants‘‘Kung Fu Panda: Legends of Awesomeness‘ and ‘The Winx Club‘.

e Legend of Korra‘, in which the mythology of the animated franchise from ‘Avatar: The Last Airbender‘ creators Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko, continues. The series centres around a new Avatar named Korra, a 17-year-old headstrong and rebellious girl who continually challenges and bucks tradition on her quest to become a fully realised Avatar in a world where benders are under attack. The half-hour series will debut on 14 April.

‘Raving Rabbids‘, which will join the net‘s animation line-up next year, brings to television the hysterical physical comedy that has become so popular in Ubisoft‘s Raving Rabbids video games. Nickelodeon has secured global broadcast rights for 26 new CG episodes of the show, which will be produced by Ubisoft.

‘Monsters vs. Aliens‘, the new animated television series, marks the third partnership between Nickelodeon and DreamWorks Animation. Green-lit for 26 episodes and based on the characters from the 2009 film, the new series will continue to follow the funny escapades of the beloved, well-meaning monsters.

‘Robot And Monster‘ will also be hitting Nickelodeon‘s air for a 26-episode run for the 2012-2013 season. This CG-animated buddy comedy is set in a unique world where gangs of Howling Cyber Monkeys roam the streets at night, everybody loves bacon, and robots and monsters live side by side, but typically don‘t get along.

‘It‘s A SpongeBob Christmas!‘ - Nickelodeon‘s first full-length stop-motion animated special - is inspired by the classic Rankin/Bass specials. The SpongeBob song released in 2009, ‘Don‘t Be a Jerk, It‘s Christmas‘, written by Tom Kenny (voice of SpongeBob) and Andy Paley. In ‘It‘s A SpongeBob Christmas!‘, Plankton vows to get his Christmas wish — the Krabby Patty formula — by turning everyone in Bikini Bottom bad by feeding them his special jerktonium-laced fruitcake.

The special features John Goodman as Santa Claus, and will air in December 2012.

Live Action: As part of the overall 650 new episodes the network is rolling out this year, Nickelodeon‘s live-action slate will include:

- More new episodes of ‘iCarly‘, ‘Victorious‘, ‘Big Time Rush‘ and ‘Supah Ninjas‘.

- A 26-episode pick-up of ‘Marvin‘ starring Internet sensation Lucas Cruikshank (AKA Fred). The half-hour comedy follows the exploits of Marvin, an alien teen, living with a human family, while trying to fit into life on earth.

- A development project for UK pop sensation One Direction, who will next collaborate with Nick when they perform live at Nickelodeon‘s 2012 Kids‘ Choice Awards in Los Angeles on 31 March.

‘Figure it Out‘ is a contemporary revival of the ‘90s family friendly game show. The show, which begins production in Los Angeles this April, will launch later this year with 40 brand-new episodes. Figure It Out features a panel of celebrities trying to guess kid contestants‘ unique talents and skills by asking ‘yes‘ or ‘no‘ questions while being bombarded by messy visual and tactile clues.

Zarghami also highlighted several live-action projects currently in development, including pilots for Nick at Nite with Scott Baio (Daddy‘s Home); ‘Wendell And Vinnie‘, a comedy about a goofball uncle (Jerry Trainor from iCarly) who becomes the guardian to his conservative 12-year old genius nephew; and a new Nickelodeon series from hit-maker Dan Schneider that will star Jennette McCurdy from iCarly; and a series starring The X Factor sensation Rachel Crow.

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