Television

Nick US to give multi million dollar push to non-linear entertainment platforms

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MUMBAI: At its 2006-07 upfront presentation US broadcaster Nickelodeon launched into a new era of creating entertainment for kids in the digital age.

While continuing its unprecedented leadership in linear television production, Nickelodeon announced a slate that will include content developed from such platforms as feature films, video games, broadband and international production, as well as announcing a multi-million dollar development slate for non-linear productions.

On air Nickelodeon will also premiere 254 new episodes during the 2006-07 season. Nickelodeon and MTVN Kids and Family Group president Cyma Zarghami says, “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. 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.

"Kids are the first adapters of the digital age and we are going to fully integrate our brand into that space with great character and story-driven content that will be developed specifically for the products they are accessing.”

Zarghami added that Nickelodeon is committing to a multi-million dollar development slate to introduce new original content specifically for non-linear platforms.This includes launching an animation laboratory called Inkubators based at Nickelodeon's animation studio in Burbank, Caqlifornia.

The Inkubators 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. Additionally, Nickelodeon will be committing development resources to the creation of long and short form content developed from creators in international markets.

During the 2006-07 season Nickelodeon will also introduce several series that were developed from non-traditional platforms. They include -

Tak and the Power of JuJu - This premieres in 2007 on Nickelodeon. Developed from the successful video game series, Tak and the Power of Juju is a CGI animated adventure comedy series created in conjunction with THQ, Nickelodeon and game developer Avalanche Software which follows the slightly skewed comic adventures of fun-loving, mischievous 14-year old Tak, who has gained access to the magical, mythical realm of the always colourful and powerful Jujus.

Set in a jungle paradise, Tak and his partners in adventure, Keeko and Jeera constantly find themselves in over their heads, but somehow always find a way out by relying on their native wits. Hal Sparks stars as the voice of Tak, with Tommy Davidson as Keeko and Colleen O’Shaughnessey as Jeera.

Mr. Meaty - This also premieres in 2007 on Nickelodeon. Developed from Nickelodeon’s TurboNick broadband platform where it appeared as a series of shorts, Mr. Meaty is an animated comedy set in the flashy façade of a fast-food franchise and focuses on the working life of two teenage slackers, Josh and Parker, the unofficial, unaware champions of the underdog in a world that relies on the cookie-cutter mentality and the veneer of a perfect customer service experience.

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 – an awesome horror movie called “Ninja Zombies.” From their six-by-six foot square food-court bunker, they plan to improve their lives and their ultimate escape from the monotony of minimum wage.

Downward Doghouse - This premieres in March 2007 on Nick Jr. Developed and produced through a partnership between Nickelodeon and Wang Films, Downward Doghouse is a new, original animated series that introduces preschoolers to the many aspects of Chinese culture and language through a five-year-old Chinese-American girl named Kai-lan.

Following in the tradition of Dora the Explorer and Go, Diego, Go!, this new play-along series features an intergenerational Chinese-American family and teaches the Mandarin language to preschoolers at home – a first for preschool television. Each half-hour centers on Kai-lan and her relationships with her grandfather, her animal friends and the natural world. Kai-lan is an emotionally gifted child who is driven to understand the world and how things are linked together both physically and emotionally.

Every episode follows the adventures of Kai–lan and her friends as they learn to identify their emotions and stop to consider the feelings of others. The series explores the colorful aspects of Kai-lan's upbringing and background including family, food, and language while encouraging preschoolers to care for others and their environment. Downward Doghouse is created by Karen Chau and Executive Produced by Mary Harrington.

The animation production for Downward Doghouse will be done in conjunction with Wang Films, with animation taking place in both Shanghai and Taiwan. In addition to the animation work, key episode designs will be created and produced at the Wang studio in China.

The Nicktoons Network Animation Festival premieres in August 2006 on Nicktoons Network. After two successful festivals and entries received from around the world, Nicktoons Network, the 24-hour animation network owned by Nickelodeon, will partner for the first time with Kidscreen Magazine and again with Frederator Studios, for this year's Nicktoons Network Animation Festival. Animators from around the globe can submit their original short films created in any style of animation 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 debut on Nicktoons Network's air on August and will run for six nights. For the first time, the animation 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, CA on 12 August and 13 August.

Meanwhile Barnyard was developed from the upcoming feature film of the same title and created by Steve Oedekerk. This is a CGI animated comedy series which takes a hilarious look at what really happens in a barnyard when the farmer’s back is turned. The series centers on Otis, a former carefree party cow who recently took over as the patriarch of the farm. Otis is advised (and sometimes ill-advised) on how best to govern the barnyard by his best friends: Pip, an outspoken mouse; and Freddie, a neurotic ferret and Peck, a level-headed rooster.

Constantly faced with protecting the barnyard animals from all that lurks just beyond the fence, Otis must balance his desire to be the irresponsible cow of his youth with his new, grown–up responsibilities.

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